Saturday, July 11, 2009

What Lies in a Name

Names are very very powerful things. We see this theme in mythology, fantasy (and fiction in general), and even in our lives. I have spent the last few years thinking about names, and I have a lot of ideas about them.

It really began when I was in high school. I had my given name from birth, Jeremy. And I hated it. I never felt like a Jeremy. I wasn't sure what I felt like, but I knew that wasn't it. I had met a few other Jeremy's, and (no offense to any Jeremy's who read this), I have found them all tp be douchebags. They were rude, arrogant, and we just had personalities that did not click. I have always found that people with the same name (if it is the correct name for them) have similar qualities or characteristics. This is why sometimes you meet people and when they tell you their name, you think, "really? You look more like a __(insert different name here)__." I think subconsciously we pick up on these patterns, and instinctively know when a person's given name does not coincide with their "True" name. I use "True" in quotes, because I am not sure what other term to use.

So continuing the story, in High School I began thinking about the process of changing my name. But the problem was, I didn't know what my name should be. I experimented with lots of angles, but nothing seemed right to me. Then I arrived in college, and found a close group of friends. They agreed that my name didn't seem to fit, so they gave me the nickname "Jake." And I liked that. It felt stronger, it resonated differently with me. It didn't feel so wrong when people called me "Jake."

During all this, I was beginning my Pagan journey. And around this time, I started coming across the idea of the "Magickal Name" more and more often. So I decided it was time to figure out my Magickal name. I spent years with different names, changing it, until one day, it struck me, and all the pieces fit together - Tobias.

I don't know how many of you ever read the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. But in this series, there were six characters who could transform into animals. And Tobias was my favorite ever since I was 7 years old. I just identified with him. He came from a broken home where he felt unloved, had very few friends, was very shy and introspective. And even from a young age, my heart had an outpouring of sympathy for him. His main animal form was the Red-Tailed Hawk. And not long before that, I had spent a great deal of time connecting to one of my totem animals, the Red-Tailed Hawk. It just fit, and it felt warm and comfortable, and right. And so Tobias had become my magickal name. (Incedentally, Jake was also a character in this series, and Tobias's first real friend).

Then my college friends and I drifted apart, and I began using the name "Jake" less and less. I still don't know if Tobias is going to be my legal name or not, or if there is still a name out there for me to find. But for now, Tobias is comfortable. I think it may even be possible that our "True" names change over time as we change as people.

I truly believe that everything potentially has a name. If it is something that you care about or love, you put your energy into it, and awaken a kind of spirit within it. I have known people to name their cars, computers, swords, paintings. I personally try to give as many things as possible a name, and I spend days, weeks, or sometimes even months coming up with the right name. I love getting a new pet, and spending time with it, figuring out the right name for it. Sometimes it has to do with the meaning of the name, and sometimes its just the name that sounds right.

In the bible, God never gave its "True" name, referring to itself instead as "I am that I am," or simply, "I am"
I have seen many people of faith who refuse to even write the word God, writing instead G*D, so that if the paper was ever damaged, the name would not be.
Many Pagans choose Magickal names that are associated with a particular Deity, to try and emulate the attributes of that Deity.
The Inheritence book series (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr) have a HUGE theme of names, and True names. Knowing anyones True Name (which is an perfect reflection of their inner character) gave you power over that person. And the True Name could change, if you changed who YOU were, your innate character. This theme also exists in the Diadem novels.
If we dont want to be found, we create false names, or aliases, like a spy or secret agent would. Nowadays, knowing someone's name lets you look up a huge amount of information about them because of the internet.

So in conclusion, spend some time thinking about your name, and the names of the people you know. Do you notice patterns as well? Do you find that everyone's name resonates with who they are? Its a topic that deserves a great deal of thought.

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts. Brightest of Blessings, and have a wonderful day.


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