What’s In a Name?

I'm so glad I didn't choose "Dante." I'd never live with myself.

I’m so glad I didn’t choose “Dante.” I’d never live with myself.

One of the things that are very important to people are names. As a parent, I can tell you that it can be agonizing, trying to pick out the perfect name for the child growing inside of you. You constantly have doubts that the name won’t work for the soul and personality of your future child. And you have to be conscientious about how the name you’re looking into works with the last name you’re saddling the child with. It’s really a good deal more complicated than one would think. I know I didn’t think about it until my son was forming inside of me. And it took months of suggestions and arguments and ideas from everyone before I got my way. And my son is just so the name that I gave him. In even thinking of the possibility that I nearly named him “Dante” and I’m like, nope. This kid is not a Dante.

As a kid, I never really hated my name. It was different enough to be memorable and unique. I’ve always felt that I could, and so maybe possibly a little am, these two things. The bit I liked, first, about my name was that it was a “family name.” It made me feel tied to my ancestral line in a way that’s difficult to describe. It’s more than just having a last name that could stretch back a few hundred years. It tied my French and English lines together. The other part I liked about my given name was its meaning, “elven ruler.” If that just ain’t fucking awesome right there, then what is? The only thing that got me, and still does oddly enough, is that my name will never never show up on this campy name license plates. Aubrey may be getting up in popularity, a song by Bread notwithstanding, but it’s no Anne, Sarah, or Theresa.

Since I’ve been pretty content with my given name, the whole lure to find myself a magical name pretty much passed me by. I watched as all the cool kids did it and was just like, “I don’t fucking get it; you have a name.” Years later, I’m finally beginning to get the whole point: secrecy, quiet, pseudonym and all of that. But, really, let’s be honest here. The big point in finding a new magical name is so that kids who hate their names can call themselves whatever they want. Unfortunately, they tend to forget that the magical name is one of those sticks-with-you things. I’ve seen people change their name a thousand times before finally just decided, “Yeah, this will do, I suppose.” I know I’m guilty of it; I’ve long since jettisoned my “magical” name.

But, like I said, since I was content with the given name, I wasn’t really interested in finding one. However, it’s also one of those rites of passage thing that’s big in covens and stuff. (I guess?) I felt like I had to find one. It’s even possible that my coven mates told me I should have one. I don’t really know. I don’t really care. I ended up backing away from all of those magical name websites that are out in the trillions and decided that I would find a name that I thought worked for me. Fire Rain Willowtree or Samara Mistwalker. The names over there just seem awfully hippy to me and you know, I liked the way they dressed but not how they named their kids. So, I stepped out of that hullabaloo.

And I came up with Aisling.

You see how often I use it now, right?

I chose the name because of its meaning. I’m very big on name meanings. It was because of the

Drum roll, please.

Drum roll, please.

magical qualities in my son’s name and the lore behind that name that pushed me in that direction. As I said, I always found it really interesting and neat that my name meant “elven ruler” or “elven power.” (It’s a Norman French bastardization of a Germanic name, if you must know.) I’ve always looked into the meaning behind the names I choose whenever I name characters in my novels and short stories. So, it was with that background in obsessing over name meanings that I ended up choosing Aisling, and let me tell you know, nobody saw that fucking coming. They were sure I was going to go with something like “Nefertari” or what have you. A Gaelic name? For me? What? But, I liked the meaning of “dream” or “vision.” Since I was embarking on a sort of dream world with the magical stuff and also, the fact that it’s a relatively new creation in the lexicon of names meant a lot to me, too. I was being newly created with this newly found name, right?

Symbolism, man; it’s fucking everywhere.

But, I used the name for all of two months before I realized that I was done with that. I was still part of the coven when I began shying away from it. The name was great; the symbolism behind it was right. However, it just wasn’t me. And I’ll admit, I didn’t really look for a new name. Why did I care? I didn’t. I liked the name I was given and the nickname that went with it because they both fit me just fine. The thing is that when you decide that you’re going to join the at-large pagan community and you’re still quasi-in the closet, then maybe you need to hide your identity a little.

This crisis didn’t happen until I joined up at TC so many years ago now. I had to choose a name and I wasn’t all right with being, “HI MY NAME IS AUBS. LOVE ME PLZ.” I mean, now I don’t really care. Obviously. But, then, I was kind of like, “Eh, I should probably come up with a clever little play on words to describe me.” I didn’t. I chose something stupid and awkward, but I figured it was a “foot in the door” and you could change your username back then if you wanted to. I ended up changing it to Sekhemib-Nymaatre a few months after I had established myself as a member of the forum over there.

This was actually a dual composition. I chose Sekhemib because it meant “strong in heart.” I felt that this was appropriately loving toward Sekhmet who had long since established her role in my life by that point. And I wanted to honor her in the name I was choosing for myself as an online alias. But, I also ended up adding to it Nymaatre, which means “belonging to the justice of Re.” While this was a mix of two pharaohs’ throne names, I thought it was appropriate… until it wasn’t.

Just because you choose a nice sounding name doesn’t mean it’s going to last.

While surfing around on the Internet one day, I ended up on a page about the Queen Sobekneferu, who ruled towards the end of the 12th Dynasty in ancient Egypt. I was actually looking for the female throne names used by the few queens that actually ruled in ancient Egypt. I had gone with Sekhemib-Nymaatre to convey who I was on the Internet, especially in this blog, but it didn’t work for me. It was just all wrong. What sort of justice did I have to do with? None. And at the time, I wasn’t feeling particularly strong of heart about anything. So, I was just looking and looking until finally… Satsekhem.

I’ll be honest. I was sort of but not really looking for a new name for myself, but this was it. This was the one. It was charming me. I pushed away from the name, thinking, I have a name; I have an Internet presence; I’m good. But, I kept going back to stare at it over and over again. It was like, “This is something you need to look at and you have to know.” It wasn’t really me doing the looking anymore, I don’t think. I think Sekhmet was pushing me to look on her behalf. She wanted to be acknowledged in the presence I was shoving out to the people. She wanted more than that, though. She wanted everyone to know that I am her daughter in as much sense of the word as can be conveyed into our little three-dimensional brains.

So, there you have it.

That’s what this name thing is about. That’s where I come from.

It’s always been all about her…

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3 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  1. I never really liked my name until my later teen years when i went through a lot of growth and learned to love it. I’m glad I did as I’ve semi-recently discovered that my name (Robert) is a family name and that a lot of my ancestors back to the middle ages had that nam which with that information I now feel a little closer to said ancestors….even more so when my biological father’s surname translates to “son of Robert.” I’ve grown to be proud of my name, even more so when i realized that the surname I had since a little after birth was my step-grandfather’s and i took my wife’s surname so she could keep it…So I am a little protective, if that makes any sense, of keeping well attached to my name. If I ever have son I’ll probably end up naming him William as ancient family naming tradition is whenever there is a Robert or a William in the family during that generation, one of their sons, usually the eldest, has the other name. As far as spiritual names go , well I always use a form of Robert. When I was a Gaelic polytheist i went by either Roibeard or Raibeart in those settings and communities and now that i have finally settled into Anglo-Saxon heathenry I go by Hrodbeorht when its approperate.

  2. I didn’t like my name growing up, but now I’m perfectly fine with it. I only chose the name Zenith for WordPress because most of it happens to be part of my last name, backwards, and I’ve always been fond of the word zenith and its meaning.

    I also used to desire a “magical name” of my own, but now I’m pretty okay with not ever picking one. Funny how that goes.

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