Thursday, January 31, 2013


Ursula Rowe has requested Minerva, and what a witchy name it is.

Minerva (pronounced "mih-NER-vah") is the name of an Roman goddess. Many sources will state that her name is derived from the Latin word mens, meaning "mind" or "intellect." However, Minerva is based off of an earlier goddess from Etruscan traditions called Menrva, who was originally called Meneswa. She was only equated with Athena later. Meneswa means "she who measures."

Minerva is the daughter of Jupiter and as the stories go she was born in the same way that Athena was: she burst fully formed out of his forehead. She presides over wisdom, medicine, commerce, poetry, crafts, weaving, and magic. She was worshipped throughout Italy but Rome was the only place in which she shared the same warlike attributes of Athena. She is often depicted with an owl, but the Romans actually didn't like owls the same way the Greeks did. They thought they were bad omens. It made no sense to keep it but I guess they did.

The cult of Minerva spread pretty far throughout Europe. In Britain she was often equated with the local goddess of wisdom named Sulis. According to Etruscan traditions she is part of a holy triad that included Tinia, the supreme god, and Uni, the supreme goddess. She is also a part of the Capitoline Triad with Juno and Jupiter. In Ancient Rome, her festival is called Quinquatria and it took place from March 19th to March 23rd. The day was particularly important to artisans.

Today, there are literally tons of public monuments to this goddess, usually in universities and libraries. Seriously, there is a long list of institutions devoted to learning that make references to her. Minerva is displayed on the Medal of Honor, the highest military distinction awarded by the United States government. A large mosaic of Minerva is in the Library of Congress. In the early 1900s, President Manuel Jose Estrada Cabrera of Guatemala tried to start a "cult of Minerva" in his country with little success.

This is also the name of a famous fictional witch. Minerva McGonagall is a teacher at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. As the head of the house of Gryffindor she's a pretty prominent character, and has to deal with Harry, Ron, and Hermione's adventures quite often. She is described as a severe and prim woman, but she's still pretty spry considering that she's seventy when we first meet her. She's also an Animagus, she can shape shift into a cat. At the end of the story, she is shown as a courageous warrior battling Voldemort.

Minerva has been used as a given name in the Western world ever since the close of the Renaissance. It's had more use in the United States than I first assumed. It peaked in the 1880s at #242 and wasn't off the charts until the 1970s. I suppose it fit in well with Mildred and Mabel.

I'm aware that many name enthusiasts love Minerva. I'm not a fan. I just don't like the sound. It's a bit too severe for my tastes. But if you do love the sound, than it's a great name for a Witchy family.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spirit Animal Round Up: Owl

Here's another series of round-ups that I've planned: names to do with specific animals. According to my calendar, owls are the sacred animal of January. I don't know how much stock I would put into that, but owls are especially sacred to those of the witchy persuasion.

Owls are one of the world's oldest species of vertebrae animals. There are fossils dating back 60 million years that show that they haven't changed that much over time. Owls have a definite association with Witches due to it's preference for--and abilities in--the darkness. In many places they are still omens of death or illness. But for Neo-Pagans the bird is a symbol of wisdom, clairvoyance, and perception. It represents goddess energy, in particular the crone aspect of the goddess.

So it makes sense that someone would be looking for a name related to these birds. Here are a number of owl related names that I've gleaned from my search:

1. Athena. Her name is always the first that pops up when you look at owl related names. The owl that she carries around with her at all times is a symbol of good fortune.

2. Noctua. Athene noctua is the scientific name of the little owl, a species that lives in parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The Athene part is not accidental, this is the specific species of Athena's pet. It's perfect for the bird's relationship with night.

3. Albertine. The albertine owlet can be found in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

4. Arianrhod. A Welsh goddess who can shape shift into an owl.

5. Tawny. A few species of owls use this term and it most likely references their color. It is also a Gypsy/Romani name.

6. Owlet. Might be a little on the unusual side, but it could be cute. It's a term for a smaller owl, obviously.

7. Lakshmi. In Hindu mythology, this goddess rides a giant owl. On her holiday, Diwali, an estimated 1,000 owls are killed by black magicians so that their body parts can be sold.

8. Hibou. The French word for "owl," specifically the horned owl. There was a time in which owls were granted very high esteem in France, and as a result several of them were named as dukes.

9. Xiao. The Chinese word for "owl." The calligraphy character is associated with ferocity and bravery.

10. Wisdom. Aside from the bird's traditional association with wisdom, a "wisdom" is a group of owls (although it can also be a parliament of owls, but Parliament doesn't work as well as a name).

11. Snowy. Arguably the most popular species, the snowy owl has a famous ambassador in the form of Hedwig from the Harry Potter series.

12. Ulula. The northern hawk-owl from North America has the scientific name of Surnia ulala.

13. Bubo. The scientific name for the snowy owl is Bubo scandiacus.


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Monday, January 21, 2013


A while ago xxdiediedie requested Omega. I'm happy to oblige.

Omega (pronounced "oh-MEY-gah") is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. It was used in ancient times and it is still in use in Greece today. Phonetically, it's pronounced like the vowel sound in "raw." Omega is actually a Byzantine word (Medieval Greek). The Ancient Greeks simply called this letter "O." The word literally means "great O" as mega means "great." As a vocabulary word, it is often used to denote the last, the end, or the limit.

Omega would be a meaningful name if the parents are into either math or science. I'm too dumb to understand half of the concepts that physicists, mathematicians, astronomers, biologists, and computer engineers have applied omega to, but I'll list off a few anyway. In astronomy, Omega represents the density of the universe and is also used as a ranking for a star's brightness within a constellation. It is used as a measure of evolution at the protein level (whatever that means). And that is literally all I could at least slightly comprehend.

Omega appears in other instances too. Depending on how old you are, you might recognize it as the symbol of resistance against the Vietnam War era draft. It is sometimes used to represent the date of death on grave markers. In wolf packs, omega is the lowest ranking member of the group. The name has a slight Christian tinge to it because in the New Testament God describes himself as the "alpha and omega." As a name, it appears in a few comic books and science fiction television shows, movies, and books.

Omega has never been a common name in the United States. I feel that Omega works in the same way that Ultima does. It's great for an only child or the last child, but it's strange any other time. Omega is so heavily associated with "the end" that it would be weird if it was given to the first child.

Still, it's a great option. It's unusual but most everyone will know how to spell and pronounce it. I almost said it was nickname proof until I saw the "Meg" possibility. Personally I see it as more masculine, but it could work for both genders. So Omega's got a lot going for it.


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Saturday, January 19, 2013


Aleister Crowley had a daughter named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith, who unfortunately died when she was two years old. And you thought Uma Thurman gave her daughter a lot of names?

Nuit (pronounced "NOO-it" or "NOOT") is the Ancient Egyptian goddess of the heavens. Her name can also be written as Nut, Nwt, Neuth, or Newet, but they all mean the same thing: "sky." She is a very old goddess. Originally she was only the goddess of the night sky, but gradually she came to represent the sky in general. Nuit also protects people in the afterlife. Her many titles include "Coverer of the Sky," "Mistress of All," "She Who Protects," and "She Who Holds a Thousand Souls."

Nuit is the daughter of Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. Her brother, who also became her husband, was named Geb. Geb and Nuit are a bit of an anomaly of mythology. Usually it's the male deity representing the sky while the female represents the earth. This is one of the few times in which it is the other way around. Most of the time, Nuit is depicted as a star-covered nude woman arching over Geb, the earth. It is believed that her hands and feet touch the four cardinal directions. She is also sometimes shown as a giant cow. She had at least four children: Isis, Osiris, Set, and Nephtys. In some variations of the mythology she is also the mother of Horus, but in most cases Horus is her grandson. The inside of tombs were often painted a deep blue with lots of stars to represent her, and her image was painted inside the sarcophagus.

The story as to how she gave birth to her children is an interesting one. Ra, the sun god, was paranoid over others stealing his throne. So when it became known that Nuit was pregnant, he became furious and decreed that Nuit was not allowed to give birth on any day of the year. At this time there were only 360 days in a year. Nuit hatched a plan with Thoth, the god of wisdom. Thoth played gambling games with Khonshu, the god of the moon, and every time Khonshu lost he gave Thoth some moonlight. Eventually Thoth had enough moonlight to make five extra days. Since these were technically not a part of the year, Nuit could have her children. When Ra found out, he separated Nuit from Geb for all eternity, but she never regretted her actions.

The reason Aleister Crowley gave this name to his child is because Nuit is an important goddess to the religion he founded, Thelema. Basically she represents the All, or the universe. Crowley's second daughter, in case you were curious, was named Lola Zaza. Pretty tame by comparison.

Nuit has never been a common name in the United States. It's interesting to note that Nuit is also French for "night." Some sources will claim that the name of the goddess is the origin for the English word Night, but I highly doubt that.

Nuit is definitely an interesting choice. I would never suggest going for the variant Nut, though.


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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Name Round Up: Names that Fight Back

There is some debate over the appropriateness of naming children after weapons. One of the most controversial celebrity baby names last year was Breeze Beretta. I didn't recognize the handgun reference, so it didn't bother me as much. It also didn't bother me because I can picture a scenario in which I would use the name of a weapon. Let's say that the child is born sick and I want to bestow a name that will give them a fighting spirit (I am a little superstitious that way). I'm also attracted to the spiritual side of being a warrior. Some Neo-Pagans don't like to believe that this is true, but there are times in which being a warrior is good. I personally prefer more premodern combat weapons as well as the names of mythical weapons (you might notice that I love my swords). So here are the ones that have jumped out at me over the years:

1. Baudelaire. Most well known nowadays as the surname of an unfortunate set of siblings, a baudelaire is a type of short sword.

2. Gladiola/Gladiolus. It's the name of a flower, but it means "sword." It also brings gladiators to mind.

3. Remington. This is the name of a gun, and I don't usually go for that. But I always liked Remington, even though I wouldn't use it for my own child. It sounds distinguished.

4. Katara. Most well known as a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it's the name of a type of dagger from India. And if you use Katara, why not Katana as well?

5. Bilbo. Yes, a bilbo is a type of sword that was popular in America for a while. The name comes from the city of Bilbao, where they were made and exported.

6. Mameluke. The name comes from the Mamluk warriors of Egypt. It's a type of sword similar to a sabre. Speaking of which...

7. Sabre. I always liked this as a name. Probably because it's so similar to my grandfather's name: Sabin. Nowadays, the sabre is popular for the sport of fencing.

8. Claymore. Comes from the Scottish Gaelic claidheamh mor, meaning "great sword." This particular weapon is strongly associated with the late Medieval period.

9. Ida. A type of sword used by the Yoruba people of West Africa. But it's also a retro girl's name in the Western world.

10. Harpe. In Greek myth, Harpe is the name of the sword Perseus used to slay Medusa. Of course, this could also refer to the musical instrument.

11. Hrunting. A magical sword that appears in Beowulf. It might appeal to those that like Hunter.

12. Joyeuse. It's believed that Charlemagne gave this name to his personal sword. It means "joyful."

13. Technically cheating with the numbers here, but Excalibur, Arohnight, Clarent, Galatine, Secace, and Coreiseuse are all swords from Arthurian legend.


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I've been an absolute brat about the requests and I apologize. I took a break from them last month and this one has been waiting forever. I have to admit, I had never heard of Breifne before xsapphirerainx brought it to my attention. It's not an easy name to find a lot of information on.

The first thing that popped up in my search was the Kingdom of Breifne. The Kingdom of Breifne was the territory of an Irish tribe known as the Ui Briuin Breifne. This tribe ruled the land from the 7th century to the 17th century. Breifne (pronounced "BREHF-nee") is believed to be derived from a very old Irish word that means "hilly," which describes the landscape very well. Breifne was ruled by the O'Rourke and O'Reilly chieftains, so if you have a connection to those families this could be an interesting namesake.

Another possible origin could be Brefne, a person who is described as a "brave soldier-woman" in early Irish onomastic texts. There's not much known about her, and the one passage I could find that mentions her is written in an old-fashioned style, so it's kind of hard to understand. She was the daughter of Beoan mac Bethaig, and as far as I can tell she was slain by a warrior named Regan because they were fighting over territory.

I'm sorry to say that there's really not much else I could find. There's a couple of schools with this name, and I assume that they're all in that area of Ireland. I've also found out that Breifne/Brefne is slang do I put this the nice way..."slut." According to the Internet, anyway. Perhaps in parts of Ireland it's used that way, but not here.

Breifne has never been a common name in the United States. Brefne is used a little bit in Ireland, and is particularly associated with Northern Ireland. Breifne sounds similar to Britney, which might make it feel a little dated in America as that name peaked in the 1990s. Variants include Breffny, Brefnie, and Brenny.

It is certainly interesting when I come into contact with names I've never heard before. Maybe someone else can fill in some of the gaps for me on this one.


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Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Hope you all are having a good new year! When I was doing the astrological names two years ago, Capricorn got ignored. I didn't think it was "namey" enough at the time. But I've since seen it on baby name resources, so let's take a look.

Capricorn (pronounced "KAH-prih-korn") is the tenth astrological sign. This sun sign takes place from December 22nd to January 21st. The name is Latin for "horned goat" or "goat horn." The constellation of Capricornus is located in a part of the night sky known as "the Sea" or "the Water," the same area that contains other water-related constellations like Aquarius and Pisces.

Capricornus isn't just any goat, but no one is really sure why that is. The creature could either be depicted as a goat with the tail of a fish or as a regular old goat, and these images have been around since Babylonian times. The goat-fish could have been symbolic: the mountainous buildings of Babylon were built along the Tigris River (fish swim in rivers, goats climb mountains). It could also have something to do with the Sumerian god Enki, who was the patron god of both goats and fish.

There are two different stories from Greek mythology that explain Capricorn. One story states that Capricorn is actually Pan. When he was attacked by the monster Typhon he dove into the Nile river for safety. His upper half remained goat-like, but the parts of his body that was under water turned fish-like. Capricorn can also be identified as Amalthea. Amalthea was the goat that took care of the infant Zeus after his mother Rhea saved him from his father who intended to eat him. The goat's horn was broken off and transformed into the cornucopia, the traditional symbol of prosperity.

In astrology, Capricorn is an earth sign ruled by Saturn. People with this sun sign are characterized by their grounded, realistic approach to life. They know how to set goals and plan for the future. They want to bring something of worth to the world and need to feel useful in order to be happy. They are usually the ones that finish the work started by the the more "pioneering" sun signs. But they also possess a strong need for recognition for their good work. Capricorns are not known for taking risks and generally prefer conservative lifestyles. They feel the most safe staying within the framework of conventional society. Although they take pleasure in living a simple life, they do have a tendency to enjoy status symbols. Capricorns can occasionally be a bit lonely, and unless they have a particularly flamboyant moon sign they don't show their emotions easily. They are also susceptible to mood swings. However, they are loyal and most marry for life. My mother and my brother are both capricorns. They're both practical, conventional people, even though Mother is very...colorful. Must be the moon sign.

Capricorn has never been a common name in the United States. I'm still not completely convinced that it sounds like a name. It's not bad, I just have a hard time seeing it as an option. It doesn't sound like any established name that I can think of, which may make it more or less appealing depending on your tastes. Well, to each her own.


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