Saturday, September 22, 2012


Blessed Mabon to my fellows in the north hemisphere, Blessed Ostara to those in the south! Mabon is the festival of the fruit harvest. In honor of the season, let's take a look at the goddess of fruit.

Pomona (pronounced "poh-MOHN-ah") is a Latin name derived from pomum, meaning "fruit." This is where the French word for apple comes from, pomme, and by extension many other names like Pomeline and Pomeroy. It is the name of a Roman goddess that symbolizes the autumn season.

Pomona is often depicted as a beautiful young woman with either branches of fruit trees or with a cornucopia, or "horn of plenty," which is fitting since she is the goddess of abundance. Although she is worshipped as a goddess, she is said to be a wood nymph. Specifically she is one of the Numia, a group of guardian spirits that watch over and protect people and their homes. Although she loved all fruit, apples are by far her favorite. She must have been very important in Ancient Roman culture because she had her own priests. There is a grove of hers that still exists called the Pomonal. It's located not far from Ostia, Italy.

If her name sounds slightly familiar, that might be because I've mentioned her before when I profiled Vertumnus. She was beloved by woodland gods like Silvanus and Picus, but Pomona was determined to remain a virgin and locked herself away in her orchard. Vertumnus was in love with her and seduced her. Like Vertumnus, Pomona does not have a Greek counterpart. It is likely that she is based on an earlier Italian goddess.

Pomona has never been a popular name in the United States. There are not that many human namesakes either. Harry Potter fans will recognize this name because of Pomona Sprout, head of the Hufflepuff house and the herbology professor. But that's really it. I must confess that I like Pomeline slightly better. And I love Pomeroy too. Some people believe it has a sissy image. I dont' see it.

I think that Pomona deserves more use. It's beautiful, has a friendly goddess attached to it, and I get a very cheerful vibe from it. If you're particularly in love with the autumn season, Pomona is a good choice for you.


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Thursday, September 20, 2012


Z. Budapest has two sons. I've already profiled Laszlo, now let's profile Gabor.

Gabor (pronounced "GAH-bohr," although I've heard it pronounced "gah-BOHR") is basically the Hungarian form of Gabriel, a Hebrew name meaning "strong hand of God" and one of the seven archangels. As a surname it was often used by Jewish people living in Hungary. I find it interesting that Z. Budapest, arguably one of the strictest Wiccans around, picked names for her children that were so obviously linked to Christianity.

It's also interesting that they both have ties to film. Although this name is traditionally masculine, I can see it being used for girls because of the famous Gabor sisters. Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva Gabor were actors and socialites during the post-war period. Aside from their careers they were also famous for their multiple marriages and their accents. Zsa Zsa was the most successful of the three, and she is the only one who is still alive today. Many names referencing the golden age of Hollywood are coming into use, so why not Gabor?

Out of the two, I prefer Gabor over Laszlo because I associate it with the Broadway musical Spring Awakening. Melchior Gabor is the lead character. He's the heart-throb and also the most precocious of the children because he has the most access to books. His actions set the story into motion. He gives his tormented best friend a sexual pamphlet and has a romantic tryst with a girl named Wendla.

According the the Urban Dictionary, Gabor is apparently slang for a very sexy and talented man. I have never heard anyone refer to anyone as a Gabor. I'm not sure if I would trust the Urban Dictionary, but at least it's not a bad association.

Gabor has never been a common name in the United States. It is an interesting option. It's not for me, but it has potential for getting used more.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Some people might think that using this name is completely bonkers, but I don't think that it's out of the question.

For some reason I assumed that this word was Greek. It looks like it could be Greek, doesn't it? But Calico (pronounced "KAL-ih-koh") is actually a corruption of the place name Calicut. Calicut was the European name for the Indian city of Kozhikode, which was a very popular port town during the 1000s right up to the 1900s.

This city made a particular type of fabric that was popular with the British for a long time. Calico fabric is basically cheaper, unbleached, unprocessed cotton. It usually has a cream background and was dyed with a small, all-over floral print. It's worth noting that Americans use the term more for that type of print than for the actual fabric. The fact that the cloth was traditionally manufactured in India for the use of the English will probably make the name off-putting for some people, assuming you know India's history with the English. But that's not really the biggest problem that people have with Calico.

The biggest problem most people have with using Calico as a name is that it's associated with cats. Or to be more specific, cats that are white with black and orange spots. That wasn't always the case. In terms of animals, the word was originally used to describe the coloring of horses. It also refers to a type of butterfly and a type of crab. But it's the cat thing that's going to get to people.

Calico cats are very pretty. There is also a coloring called the diluted calico, which is white with grey and golden spots. They are also very pretty. Most myths surrounding this type of cat are positive, and they are considered to be lucky in many cultures. They are sometimes referred to as "money cats" in the United States. The breed Japanese Bobtail, and by extension the famous Maneki Neko figurines, are almost always calico cats. And, well, we all know about Witches and their cats. An association with them is not likely to be seen as a negative.

I think Calico is cool. It fits in with other "-o" names that are experiencing more use today. Fabric names have been used in the past, although none of them have been particularly popular (think Velvet or Cotton). And it has a similarity to Chloe, which is quite popular. So I like Calico and would love to see someone use it.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A long time ago I promised to profile more Egyptian names. Here's another one.

Imhotep (pronounced "EEM-oh tep," or at least that's how they say it in the movies) is an Ancient Egyptian name meaning "he who comes in peace" or "is with peace." It is sometimes written as Im-hotep, Immutef, or Ii-em-Hotep. Until I had to write this profile I hadn't looked into the historical Imhotep all that much. My my, isn't he a over achiever!

Imhotep was born around 2650 B.C. He served under King Djoser as Chancellor and High Priest of Ra at Heliopolis. His full list of titles in expansive. He has the distinction of being considered the first physician, architect, and engineer ever. He designed the Pyramid of Djoser (also known as the step pyramid of Saqqara) and might have been the first to use columns in his creations. He also wrote an encyclopedia of architecture that was used thousands of years after his death. Imhotep was one of the first to become interested in anatomical observation and used his knowledge for medicine. He was also a very gifted poet and philosopher.

After he died, he became one of the few non-royal Egyptians to become a god. He often got confused with Thoth, as they are both associated with architecture and medicine. Imhotep's cult was most popular in Memphis, but his influence reached Roman culture as well as Christian culture. Despite all that, Imhotep is a little bit of a mystery. Not much is known about his life before he worked for the Pharaoh, as he was a commoner. He built his own tomb and made it very difficult to find, so his mummy has not been found.

Perhaps people who don't know much about Ancient Egyptian history will only see this name as "The Mummy." You know what I'm talking about. The newish movie and it's sequel that stared Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. That movie was a remake of another film that came out in 1932 called, oddly enough, The Mummy. The story pretty much remained the same. In the movies, Imhotep is mummified as punishment for trying to resurrect his dead lover. Fast forward to modern times, and archaeologists accidentally resurrect him. Imhotep meets a woman who looks a lot like his former lover and tries to mummify her and make her his bride. Some people might stay away from this name because of the films. But as far as horror movie monsters go, Imhotep is not up to the same cultural status as Frankenstein's monster or King Kong, so I doubt that there will be much of a problem there.

Imhotep has never been a common name in the United States. I can't think of any popular names that sound similar to it. So Imhotep's biggest obstacle as far as the name goes might be stylistic. I can see it as a great, strong magickal name very easily. It's not bad for a child, I just have a hard time picturing it on a child. But if you're in love with it, it'll definitely be an eye-catcher.


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Monday, September 17, 2012


Does it really count as a request if I had it lying around my unfinished profiles anyway? Whatever, I'll give xxdiediedie credit for it.

Foxglove is one of the oldest names for the plant formerly known as digitalis purpurea. It means pretty much what you think it means. The Anglo Saxon foxes glofa is the earliest known form of the word. This name comes from the shape of the flowers which resemble the fingers of a glove. Some believe that the name came from a different meaning. In English, the plant was originally called folksglove, the "folk" part referring to "fairy folk." "Folks," "fox," they sound pretty similar.

Foxgloves originated in Europe and is an especially popular wildflower in Britain. The plant was then introduced to the North America, and they have settled in pretty well here. They don't need a lot of soil to thrive, preferring to grow in wooded areas. Like the lupine, foxglove improves the soil for other plants to use. The life of a foxglove is short as they only live for two seasons. This plant is a favorite to bees, who hide inside the flowers when it's raining. The flowers typically come in shades of purple but sometimes are pink, yellow, rose, or white.

As it's earlier name suggests, foxgloves are heavily associated with fairies. It was believed that fairies used the flowers as mittens. Another legend says that they gave the flower to foxes so they can use the flowers as shoes that would muffle their footsteps. Some other names of the plant are witch's gloves, bloody fingers, gloves of our lady, dead man's bells, or fairy thimbles. The Norwegian name for this plant is revbielde, meaning "foxbell" (which would make a great name as well). In Christian traditions, the plant is associated with the Virgin Mary. This is probably a coded reference to the plant's earlier connection to Venus.

Foxglove is poisonous when eaten, and can cause cardiac arrest and death. But it is also used in heart medication, so it can be beneficial if you know how to use it. But I wouldn't take any chances. The Ancient Greeks and Romans used foxglove juice to heal sprains and bruises. Rumor has it that Medieval Witches would use this plant for death potions. I don't know if that's true, but it would work. Giving foxglove tea to your plants will improve their health.

Foxglove has never been a popular name in the United States. I don't see any indication that it was used during the Victorian flower craze either. It does, however, appear to be a popular magickal name in the Neo-Pagan community. It has a well-known Neo-Pagan associated with it. Katrina "Foxglove" Kessler, a young woman who died suddenly earlier this year, was well known for her video podcasts.

Foxglove keeps getting added and deleted from my favorites list. It's a very interesting botanical name and it's very unique. It also feels like the name for a fairy, which isn't really the vibe that I would want to go for for my own children. But if you're into that sort of thing, Foxglove is a fantastically witchy name.


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Monday, September 10, 2012

Character Names for Desert Dawn

Now for something fun! Desert Dawn needs names for a Harry Potter fanfiction she's writing. She wants Celtic festivals for their last names. She already has characters named Antimony Imbolc and Faolan Lughnasadh. She needs a female baddie and a male hero.

As far as names of Celtic festivals go, you still have Beltane and Samhain to choose from. The Solstices and Equinoxes were split into what was known as the four Albans: Alban Arthuan, Alban Eiler, Alban Heruin, and Alban Elved. Obviously, you can't use Alban for a Harry Potter fanfiction (too much like Albus), but everything else is up for grabs. So if you wish to stay with the holiday thing, those are your surnames.

As for the first names, let's try the traitor girl first. I have to admit, I'm not sure what qualifies as a "traitorous girl" name, all I know is that it can't be weak:


Now let's do the hero guy. Desert Dawn described him as being like James Potter, which I interpreted as a more British everyman-type name:


Putting them together:

Imelda Beltane
Claudia Samhain
Hyacinth Arthuan
Medora Eiler
Leonore Heruin
Salome Elved

August Beltane
Langston Samhain
Sydney Arthuan
Griffin Eiler
Thomas Heruin
Wallace Elved

Hope this helps! Maybe some readers have other ideas.


Image Credit:
Illustration by Mary Grandpre

Friday, September 7, 2012


Here's something that's daring, exotic, and strong.

Sirocco (pronounced "sih-ROH-koh") is an Italian word meaning "hot wind blowing from the Sahara Desert." Sometimes spelled scirocco, this name might ultimately come from the Arabic sharqi, meaning "Eastern" or "the east wind." For the Spanish speaking people reading this, this name is not to be confused with Socorro.

This particular wind is well known for being incredibly hot and dusty. That dust is the red sand coming off of the Sahara and it can reach as high north as Britain. This hot air mixes with the cooler air of Europe and causes storms and heavy rain. The wind is very strong and can last up to four days. In the Sahara Desert it could cause dangerous sand storms. In Europe they're a lesser concern. While the damage from siroccos is not usually extreme in the same way that hurricanes are, they do cause property damage and health concerns. Another name for this wind is Ghibli, which is where the name for Studio Ghibli came from. Studio Sirocco somehow doesn't work as well.

In Greek mythology, deities known as the Anemoi ruled the winds. Notus was the one in charge of the south winds and therefore siroccos. He was feared as a destroyer of crops and brought the storms of late summer and autumn. In Roman mythology his name is Auster.

Sirocco has never been a popular name in the United States. It is probably not used as a given name in Italy. Aside from Scirocco, other variants are Siroc, Sirokos, Siroco, and Xaroco. Apparently there's a car called Scirocco now? Ugh. I hate it when that happens. It might open up more people to the name, but it could also cheapen it.

Sirocco is one of my favorite unisex names. I am slightly superstitious though and I think that a child with this name could turn out to be a lot to handle. A little whirlwind of energy. It could be shortened to either Siri or Rocco. No matter what, Sirocco will be a name that isn't heard every day.


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Monday, September 3, 2012


Could this name cross over into America?

When I learned that the founder of Dianic Wicca, Z. Budapest, had two sons named Laszlo and Gabor, I thought that was just too awesome. Those names were obviously inspired by her Hungarian heritage. Since there is a sizable Neo-Pagan population in Central/East Europe I should really be profiling more names from that region anyway.

Laszlo (pronounced "LAHS-low") is a variant of Vladislav, a Slavic name meaning "to rule with glory" or "one who commands glory." There is a famous saint-king attached to it who's historical name was Ladislaus I of Hungary. Interestingly enough, he is also known as Saint Lancelot in some Medieval texts.

No other Hungarian king is held in as high esteem as Saint Laszlo. He started off as an advisor to his brother, King Geza I. After he died in 1077, the succession passed down to Laszlo in accordance with Hungarian tradition. Hungary had a long period of civil wars up to that point, he strengthened royal power with strict new laws. He also spread his territory into what is now Croatia. He is traditionally depicted with a battle axe, which is unusual for saints. Laszlo is apparently a common name in Hungary, and it's easy to see why.

Laszlo has never charted in the United States. But it could be an interesting boy's name. I can see Laszlo catching on for girls, even. It follows but the surnames trend and the ending in an "o" sound trend. Other variations include Lazlo and Laszly, and it is frequently translated as Leslie.

This name's got a lot going for it. If you want to honor Hungarian roots, Laszlo is a great option for you.


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Name Round-Up: And the Band Plays On

Names inspired by musical terms like Harmony, Melody, Lyric, and Cadence have been used before. But what about names inspired by the musical instruments themselves? Having once been a major band geek in high school, I can see how someone would be interested naming someone after a musical instrument. Some instrument names don't have a chance on this earth for being bestowed on a person (tuba? didgeridoo? sackbut?), but there were quite a few that caught my eye.

Angelique (a type of lute)
Apito (a whistle used in samba music)
Bandora/Bandore (a bass stringed instrument)
Baryton (a bass bowed instrument)
Celesta (a piano-like instrument)
Cithara/Kithara (Ancient Greek guitar)
Concertina (similar to an accordian)
Conch (a seashell that makes a horn-like sound when you blow through it)
Cornet (similar to the trumpet)
Dulcian (predecessor of the modern bassoon)
Dulcimer (string instrument lays on the lap and then plucked)
Epinette (a type of zither)
Guitarra (Spanish for "guitar")
Jingle (the rattle in a tambourine)
Kora (a West African high-pitched guitar)
Koto (the national instrument of Japan, similar to a dulcimer)
Lute (a stringed instrument like a guitar)
Lyre/Lyra (an ancient harp)
Marimba (similar to a xylophone)
Musette/Musetta (a small bagpipe)
Ocarina (an ancient, flute-like instrument from China)
Orpharion (yet another guitar-like instrument)
Pandura (an Ancient Greek lute-like instrument)
Rebec (an early violin)
Regal (a small, portable organ)
Tabla (percussion instrument common in Indian and some Middle Eastern music)
Tabor (portable drum common in traditional Celtic music)
Timbrel (early predecessor of the tambourine)
Saxonette (a type of clarinet)
Sitar/Sitara (Indian guitar)
Soprillo (a type of saxophone)
Venu (Indian flute)


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We are still woefully low on African names on this blog, but there's a reason for that.

African names, much like Native American names, don't have the most reliable sources. The meaning that they say it has might not be it's actual meaning at all. Pretty much everyone agrees that Jabari (pronounced "jah-BAHR-ee") is Swahili. One of my sources says that it means "valiant," but it's been wrong before.

Jabari first appeared on the American top 1,000 in the 1970s which is pretty telling. I actually don't have a source for what I'm going to say next as I'm recounting this chunk of information from memory. Please excuse me if I get this wrong. After the Civil Rights Movement, a sizable group of Black parents didn't want their children to have "slave names." Names from Greek and Roman mythology were popular slave names as were more conventional "White" options like Betsy and Will. That was what they wanted to get away from.

So they felt like they had two options. One was to find names from Africa. Unless you knew someone that immigrated from there recently that could be difficult. There was no Internet back then, and even with the Internet now it's hard. The other option was to make up something completely new, thus the birth of the infamous Shaniqua and her ilk. So I'm not surprised that Jabari was one of the African names that they latched on to during this period.

Jabari's peak was in 2006 at #609. It's fallen since then and now sits at #914. There are a few variations like Jabar, Jabbar, or Jabir. There are also three namesakes that I found, two of which are basketball players. The other one's a football player.

Since Jabari tends to be claimed by a specific type of subculture, there are still going to be some people who had never heard of it. Jabari was one of my first name crushes. I'm actually not kidding. It was during my African culture phase that I went through after seeing The Lion King. I've since moved away from it, but I still like the sound.


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