Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Blog!

Just want to say, for those that don't already know, that I've been writing a new blog: Bewitching Names and Curious Ideas. Update your links if you want, because I'll be deleting this blog pretty soon.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


It's no secret why this was the first name profile I did back when I started this blog in 2010. It is an incredibly popular name in the modern Pagan world. If you go to a Pagan event or a Wiccan forum, it's likely you'll find about a dozen Ravens.

Even if you're not magickally inclined, you probably have a picture in your mind of what a person named Raven looks like. A woman with long, flowing, jet black hair. Perhaps she's a bit of a goth girl (like Raven in Teen Titans), or perhaps a hippy. That's probably the stereotypical image that a lot of people have.

It's really not hard to see why this name is such a favorite in Pagan circles. This jet black bird has played a role in mythology throughout North America and Europe. Also, it's just an awesome animal all around.

The raven (pronounced "RAY-vehn" for you non-native English speakers out there) is an intelligent and curious animal, having one of the largest brains in the bird kingdom. They are highly adaptable and eat almost anything. They can mimic human speech like parrots. Ravens usually travel in mated pairs, and are devoted to their families. They horde shiny objects like jewelry, pieces of metal, and shiny stones, possibly to impress other ravens.

There is a wide variety of depictions of ravens in mythology and culture. In most Western societies, the raven was considered a bad omen, due to it's diet of dead animal carcasses and it's all-black plumage. A raven was the bearer of bad news in Edgar Allen Poe's classic poem "The Raven."

The Norse god Odin has two ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), who fly all over the world, observing everything.

Personally, the name appeals to me because of Haida/Tlingit mythology. The Raven is described as a cunning trickster god who loves to change things up and enjoy life. He's also a bit of a horny bastard. In one story a fisherman beats Raven to a bloody pulp and throws him down a latrine when he discovered him locked in an intimate embrace with his wife.

But the most known and retold story is "The Raven Steals the Light," in which he conspires to take the stars, the moon, and the sun away from an old man hording them in boxes. Raven transforms himself into a single hemlock needle that floats down a stream and into the old man's daughter's basket. The daughter becomes thirsty and swallows the needle, and in nine months Raven is born in human form. While in the form of a boy, he cajoles his now-grandfather to give him the boxes, until he gives him the light. Whereupon he instantly transforms back into his true form and flies away.

If we let conventional opinion have any say in the matter, Raven is a feminine name. According to social security records, Raven has charted as a girls name since 1977, and it has never left. It's highest year was in 1993 at #139. It's popularity has dwindled since then, it is now at #543. It is worth stating that this name was particularly popular amongst African Americans, Raven Symone is a famous example.

This doesn't mean that boys named Raven are completely unheard of. Raven even appeared on the social security listings for boys between 1997 and 2002. It's best year was in 1999 at #812.

Ravena and Ravenell are sometimes accepted as variants, but neither one of those have ever charted. Not that I'm aware of, anyway. There's also Draven, if you want to be generous.

As I said before, this name is pretty common in modern Pagan circles and a few of those people have achieved a level of notoriety. Raven Grimassi is the nome de plume of a Wiccan author who help launch the Stregheria tradition, which he described as "the witch sect of Old Italy." And he's a man. I've met him actually, he's very nice. Another well known Pagan is Wiccan author and lecturer Silver Ravenwolf.

I think there is a little bit of a cultural divide between Pagans and non-Pagans in regards to this name. When talking to other name enthusiasts I found out that when most people picture a Raven their first thought is the color (raven can be used as a more poetic term for "black".) I'm willing to bet that most Pagans like it because of the bird and all of its mythical implications.

By the way, all of these dozens of witchy Ravens that I'm talking about are adults. I have yet to meet a child from a Pagan family named Raven. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps the name is a bit tired. Perhaps it screams, "Hey I'm a witch!" a little too much.

But that is exactly why I love this name for a boy. I would argue that it's fresher and cooler for a boy. There's a bit of a rock star edge to it. And I always love to bend gender expectations.

Changes for Bewitching Names

No I'm not dead. I was just taking a break. I have some life issues to deal with.

After thinking about it for a few months, I've decided that this blog is going to go through a bit of an overhaul. Here are some changes that you might see here.

1) I'm going to try turning off the comments for a while (except, of course, for the "Request a Name" section). This is because I am so sick of dealing with the spam. Seriously, it seems like every other comment is about bank loans and it's just exhausting going through and deleting them all. I'm very sad about this as I've enjoyed most of the commenters here. Maybe I'll bring it back in the future.

2) I am slowly going to be revisiting and rewriting past posts. Yay!

3) I know that the pretty images is one of the things that made this blog popular, but I am going to start replacing them with something that has less copyright issues attached to them. I'll make sure that they're still pretty cool images.

I hope to get at least 5 post per month, and hopefully you'll enjoy the new stuff here. Until then, blessed be.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Name Round Up: Inspired by Sagittarius

And so it has come to an end. I started with Capricorn, so that would make this the last one.

This post is also late as the month of Saggitarius ended ten days ago, but I've had day after day of family obligations. Forgive me?

So if naming your child Sagittarius is not your style, here are some other ideas:

1. Archer. Probably the most obvious option, this one has been getting increasingly more popular.

2. Bowman. I haven't seen this one used as a first name, but it means the exact same thing as Archer.

3. Chiron. The name of the centaur that the constellation of Sagittarius represents. Chiron is known for being a father figure and teacher to many boys in mythology, including Achilles. His name is Greek for "hand."

4. Arrow. Another archery related name. I've seen this used a few times on little boys.

5. Bow. A less obvious and less used archer related name.

6. Katniss. I'm not kidding. The scientific name for this plant is Saggitaria.

7. Nona. Latin prefix for "ninth." Sagittarius is the ninth astrological sign.

8. Moran. Means "teacher" in Hebrew. Sagittarians are very intelligent and like to share what they're learning with others.

9. Freedom. Sagittarians don't like anything holding them down.

10. Joy. Sagittarians tend to be jovial and good humored.

11. Jove/Jupiter. Sagittarians are ruled by this planet.

12. Plum. The color most associated with Sagittarius is deep purple.

13. Topaz. Other gemstone names that work well with Sagittarius are Amethyst, Ruby, Turquoise, and Sapphire.


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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Name Round Up: Inspired by Yuletide Carols

I hope all of you had a Blessed Yuletide/Happy Solstice! I wanted to post this yesterday, but I had to cook, bake, and then spend time with family.

If you're a Pagan who grew up loving Christmas carols, Yuletide presents a little bit of a problem. "Joy to the World," "O Holy Night," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" are all beautiful songs. They are also aggressively Christian. Once I went on the Wiccan path, I no longer felt comfortable playing those songs.

So over the years I've looked through amazon, bandcamp, and various blogs in order to find Yuletide, Solstice, or just wintery songs. I have an impressive collection now. So I've compiled a few names inspired by them:

1. Rozhanitsa. I was so happy to find "Rozhanitsa" by Julianne Marx and Craig Olson. Also, not their only explicitly Pagan Yule song! Rozhanitsa is a Russian goddess of winter who is known for having antlers.

2. Orion. I was also very happy to find "Bold Orion" by Susan Mckeown and Lindsey Horner. The constellation of Orion can only be seen in the winter, hence the inspiration for this song.

3. River. "When the River Meets the Sea" is one of my favorites. Of course, we only think of it as a holiday song because of The Muppets, but you take your secular songs where you can get them.

4. Yule. Obvious, but worth a mention. There's "Cool Yule," but the Pagan holiday is also mentioned in "Deck the Halls."

5. January. "January Man" is a traditional English song about the turning of the year.

6. Wren. I have two wren related holiday songs: "The Cutty Wren" and "Hunting the Wren." They sound essentially the same. It comes from the Celtic tradition which considers the wren a symbol of the year that past.

7. Aspen. "Aspenglow" gets to stay in my carol collection since it's secular. It references the glow of Colorado mountaintops at dawn and dusk.

8. Sunshine. There's lots of sun in Yule carols or, at the very least, we try to include as many sun themed songs as possible. "Thank You Sunshine," "Here Comes the Sun," and "To Try for the Sun" are all favorites of mine.

9. Mistletoe. "Mistletoe" is my sultry, lovey-dovey Yule song of the moment. The one I have is sung by the Indigo Girls. It's not to be confused with the Justin Beiber song.

10. Claus. Because "Santa Claus is Pagan Too" as the song by Emerald Rose reminds us.

11. Felice. "Feliz Navidad" is one of the few obviously Christmasy carols to survive the purge. It's kind of a tradition if you have any Hispanic blood in you.

12. Belle. There are a lot of bells in holiday songs. "Jingle Bells," "Sleigh Bells," and "Carol of the Bells" are all in my collection.

13. Jethro. This is cheating a little bit. But no Yule is complete without "Ring Out Solstice Bells" by "TULL, BABY!" as my dad always says whenever it's playing.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Very Late Baby Name Advice Part 2: Baby Leonardis

I have another request for baby name advice and this one is for a little Leonardis. This baby is due on March 12, so I'm still on time!

The sex of the baby is unknown, but it doesn't really matter because the family has a preference for unisex names. The parents are hobo style travelers (he hops freight trains, she hitch hikes) so a name with a sense of adventure is key. Because the baby will be a Pisces, Mama Leonardis is also looking for water names. She prefers the first, middle, and last names to all have a different amount of syllables. Here are the names that they like so far:


So far the winner is Farren because it rhymes with the mother's name (Lauren) and it means "traveler" (more on that later), but she has a hard time finding middle names to fit.

They're lifestyle is so fascinating! Their adventurous ways made me immediately think of Venture, Meander, Wilde/Wilder, Sojourner/Sojourn, Journey, and Odyssey. Venture Leonardis. Journey Leonardis. Meander Leonardis. I've even seen Traveler used as a name, but perhaps that's a little too obvious.

Peregrine/Peregrin also sprung into my mind very quickly. It means "pilgrim." Peregrine Leonardis. Pippin is a variant, if you don't mind the hobbit association. Rumer could also work, as it references pilgrims going to Rome. Rumer Leonardis. Rover means "wanderer," if you can get over the dog association. Wallace/Wallis means "foreigner." Mercury is a god of travelers, and even though he's a man the -ee sound at the end would make it okay for a girl. Or how about Atlas? I think a family like yours could pull of Atlas on a girl.

It might also help to look at famous explorers for inspiration. Kit (Carson), Meriwether (Lewis), and Osa (Johnson) are ones that seem a bit more unisex.

Ocean makes me think of River. River Leonardis. Or Mariner, Harbor, Cove, LakeRain, Delphin ("dolphin"), Kai ("sea"), Marlowe ("drained lake"), Afon ("river"), Dacre ("trickling stream"), and Morgan ("sea warrior"). Delphin Leonardis. Harbor Leonardis. Afon Leonardis. Mako (like the shark) could be interesting. Horizon is also lovely. Faro means "beacon" or "lighthouse," technically not water related but close enough. Faro Leonardis.

It seems like you enjoy unusual virtue names in general. Silence and Surrender make me think of Revere, Resolute, Prosper, Concord, Valor, Peace, Bravery/Brave, Courage, Merit, Freedom, and True. Prosper Leonardis. Freedom Leonardis.

Another name that rhymes with Lauren is Claren. Claren Leonardis. Koren, Oren, and Maren also come to mind. Or how about just Wren? Wren Leonardis.

Asa is a style outlier as it doesn't appear to have anything to do with travel or water. It's an Old Testament name, but it's also a name found in several African cultures, Japan, Indonesia, and Portugal. I'm not sure what to make of it honestly. In any case some names with a similar style are Avi, Noa, Levi, Kaya, Mose, and Zev.

But to be honest, I have a strong suspicion that Lauren already knows the baby's name: it's Farren. I've done some research and found that Farren/Faron is an Old English name meaning "handsome servant" and could have possibly been an old occupational surname for people who herded oxen. I was concerned that I was going to have to break the news that the favorite name doesn't mean what Mama thinks it means. But then I saw that Farren/Faron could also be a variant of Faramond, an Old English boy's name meaning "traveler's protection." Faramond might also be a possibility. Faramond Leonardis.

Still, I'm pretty certain that Farren is the baby's name. She just hasn't found the right middle name. Part of the problem might be the desire to have all the names containing a different number of syllables. It's a bit too stringent a requirement in my eyes. Let's try it out by saying this name out loud:

Farren Rumer Leonardis

...Sounds perfectly fine to me. Here are some other combos:

Farren Bravery Leonardis
Farren Cove Leonardis
Farren Mercury Leonardis
Farren Journey Leonardis
Farren Peace Leonardis
Farren River Leonardis
Farren Zev Leonardis
Farren Gypsy Leonardis
Farren Prosper Leonardis
Farren Odyssey Leonardis

Here's more combos with other first names:

Noa Faramond Leonardis
Peregrine Kai Leonardis
Faro Horizon Leonardis
Gypsy Afon Leonardis
Prosper Avi Leonardis

The more combos I make the more it feels like Farren is THE name. So, Mama Leonardis, I hope this helped.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Very Late Baby Name Advice Part 1: Sibling for Pepper

People! I am so far behind on requests that I have two requests for name advice for upcoming pregnancy that are months old! This one in particular came to me in July for a baby that was due...early December. Ugh. Blog fail.

For the sake of fun and creativity, let us pretend that I am not a moron and that this is actually vaguely on time. I'll start with Chloe and, once again, I'm very sorry. They have one daughter already: Pepper Karen Pnina Albertine. Karen is a family name, Pnina is her Hebrew name, and Albertine is a French name honoring the grandmother's origin. The last name rhymes with "almond." The gender of the new baby was at the time unknown. She was looking for a gentle name that evoked plants and the high dessert. They've thought a lot about Fox, but that seemed way too "playful and wily."

Pepper makes me think of Forest, which could work for a boy or a girl. Or Cedar. Or Cypress. I like Pepper and Cypress for two little girls. Bryony, Clover, Juniper, Meadow, and Fawn all have potential.

If it's a boy I really like Hawthorne. Pepper and Hawthorne. Or Sage. I love Sage on a boy. Others that could work are Ash, Cyprian, Indio, Hickory, and Harvest.

The attraction to Fox makes me think of Foxbelle, which is another term for the Foxglove plant. I've heard of Foxwell and Foxworth used for boys. Reynard is a fox name that also incorporates France.

But it sounds like you want to stay away from that rascal fox energy altogether. Perhaps birds are more your thing. Bird/Birdie, Lark, Wren, Sparrow, Avi, Dove, Finch, Jay, Nightingale, Paloma, Swan, and Whimbrel work great with Pepper.

You're probably not going to like Wolf, but how about Lupin/Lupine? It's a plant name too. Pepper and Lupine.

The idea of the desert makes me think of Sirocco immediately, but perhaps it's too energetic. The desert also makes me think of shades of yellow like Saffron, Goldenrod, and Sunglow. It also makes me think of shades of brown like Copper, Tawny, and Fallow.

The attraction to Hebrew names makes me think of Zohara, Adalia, Seraphim, Zipporah, Zilpah, Salome, Tobias, Enoch, Gideon, Gershom, Malachi, Nathaniel, Ishmael, Ira, and Jethro. These will also help give the name a desert feel.

Albertine makes me think of Marcel/Marceline. Or Genevieve. Or Phillipa. Eponine is daring while still being gentle. You can also use Capucine, Celeste/Celestine, Clemence, Clotilde, Delphine, Florence, Gisele, Noemie, Ophelie, Patrice, Raphaelle, Sabine, Zephyrine, and Violette for girls. For boys I like Anatole, Auguste, Clovis, Honore, Isidore, Jules, Laurent, Phillipe, Sylvain, and Theo. Valentine could work for either gender.

Chloe didn't mention if there were any family names that she wanted to incorporate so I can't weigh in there.

Finally, here are some combinations. Somehow I don't think I have to worry about it being a mouthful considering the first child's name. I am assuming that you want to include a Hebrew, French, and nature name into the child's name:

Lupine Zipporah Raphaelle
Cypress Zohara Ophelie
Lark Salome Valentine
Delphine Goldenrod Seraphim

Whimbrel Jethro Isidore
Hawthorne Ishmael Phillipe
Wren Tobias Laurent
Theo Hickory Auguste

So that is my very, very, very late collection of ideas that will probably not help the requester at all on this point, but I hope they appreciate the thought anyway. There's always the possibility that the baby was born today.

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