Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Blessed Samhain everyone! Even though I just learned that Samhain is technically tomorrow. But that's cool, because then it's possible to celebrate Halloween on October 31st, Samhain on November 1st, and Dia de los Muertos on November 2nd! Together they can be the Hallows! And I hope everyone in the southern hemisphere is having a Blessed Beltane!

Hallow comes from the Old English halgian, meaning "consecrated" or "to make holy." Or it could be from the Old English se halga, meaning "holy man." It doesn't really make much of a difference, does it? It ultimately derives from the Proto-Indo-European word kailo, meaning "whole," "uninjured," or "good omen."

Today, this word is mostly used in reference to the holiday of Halloween and Hallowmas. Hallow is another word for "saints," which makes sense considering that Hallowmas is more commonly called All Saints Day. This name definitely has a Christian tinge, as the word is mentioned in the beginning of The Lord's Prayer.

I have mentioned this name once before, it was second runner up in my Pagan Name of the Year contest last year because of the Deathly Hallows movie. In the book, the Hallows are three magical objects: the Elder Wand, The Cloak of Invisibility, and the Resurrection Stone. In real life, hallow is another term for a holy relic that could be either Christian or Pagan, real or legendary. The Holy Grail is considered to be a hallow. So are the Four Treasures of Ireland: the Spear of Lugh, Stone of Fal, Dagda's Cauldron, and the Sword of Light. In modern times, some Neo-Pagans believe that the four suits of a traditional tarot card deck (swords, wands, pentacles, and cups) are hallows.

Hallow has never been a common name in the United States. But I think names like Haven, Heaven, and Harlow lead the way to Hallow very easily. It does sound a lot like hollow, which could put people off. But I think that's a silly reason to discount it completely.

Halloween might be a bit much for a name, but Hallow would work perfectly.


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Monday, October 29, 2012

Name Round Up: Favorite Girls Names that Sound Like Boys Names

Welcome to Part II, in which I take the gender bending over to the boy's side.

My main criticism of the unisex name trend because it is very one-sided. Mainstream thinking says that we can name a girl Madison but we can't name a boy Heather. I think that's a load of crap, and it will start a lecture on how we need to value feminine qualities as much as masculine ones but I'm not going to get into that now. It's not like it hasn't been done before. Douglas was a girls name long ago. People always say that it's harder to bring names back to the boys side after they have been claimed by the girls. Lets challenge that. Here are my favorite girls names that sound like boys names:

1. Vesper. I'll admit it. This one reads masculine to me. I like it for girls too, but Vespertine sounds more feminine in my opinion. Vesper reminds me of Prosper, which is one of my favorite boys names.

2. Briar. I cannot even picture giving this one to a daughter at all. I know that the name is linked to Sleeping Beauty, but I can't get over the thorn connection.

3. Monserrate. I do have a family connection to this name, and I'm a fan of the idea of naming boys after the women in the family.

4. Artemis. It was a rare English tradition for boys to be named Artemis in honor of their fathers if their fathers were great hunters. I am not making that up. Also, the Artemis Fowl books.

5. Raven. This one feels masculine to me because I live in the Pacific Northwest and we are saturated with the story of the Raven from Native American mythology. It almost feels like a cliche to give this one to girls, because of all the witchy characters named Raven.

6. Opal. This idea became planted in my mind due to the Hindu boys name Gopal. It's just one letter off. Why not?

7. Lark. The novel Sharp Teeth introduced this name to me on one of it's toughest male characters. I love it for girls too, but I've always pictured using it for a son.

8. Ember. The first time I heard this one I instinctively thought it was a boys name. I was actually pretty surprised to learn differently.

9. Betony. One of the botanical names used during the Victorian flower craze, Betony feels very boyish. I know that it looks a lot like Bethany, but you can get the nickname Tony out of it and that was my first thought.

10. Saga. -A ending or no, Saga sounds manly to me. In my mind it's like naming him Legend or Epic. It's traditionally given to girls because of the goddess.

11. Madrone. Not commonly used for either gender, but Neo-Pagans will recognize it as the name of the heroine in The Fifth Sacred Thing.

12. Cricket. Cricket is traditionally given to girls because it was used as a nickname for Christina. But there is also a guy named Cricket in the film Lawless, which is based on a true story. I like Cricket for a boy much better.

13. Sojourner. Someone informed me that this name's connection to Sojourner Truth made it "too special" to ever give it to a child. Honestly, I'm not certain that I buy that. In any case, it always sounded more like a boys name to me due to a male character in a comic books series I always used to read.

So how about you? Are there any names usually given to one gender that feel more appropriate to the other in your mind?

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Name Round Up: Favorite Boys Names that Sound Like Girls Names

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a great champion of defying gender stereotypes in naming.

Using boys names for girls is quite popular at the moment. I've seen little Elliots, Logans, and Ryans all decked out in pink. And lets face it, there are many boys names from history that no one would even consider giving today. Here are thirteen of my favorite boys names for girls:

1. Phoenix. I'm still all for giving this one to boys like it was done originally. However, I love it more for girls. That might be because it's less popular for girls.

2. Meriwether. I love this name, and I'm fascinated by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but I cannot picture giving this one to a boy at all. But on a girl it's such a happy name.

3. Evelake. The name of a king in Arthurian legend and traditionally given to boys, the Eve part makes it look like it should be for girls.

4. Cymbeline. The name of a king in the Shakespeare play of the same name. It just seems a little too...pretty for a boys name (not that boys names can't be pretty, but you know what I mean). It's also the name of a wedding dress designer.

5. Katriel. It's because it looks like a combination of Kathrine and Ariel. It's a great way to get to Katie, if you're looking for something unique.

6. Seraphim. When people think of angels they usually picture women these days, even though the Seraphim are all male (or at least male looking, I don't know if they're supposed to have sexes). People use Seraphina, why not Seraphim?

7. Saturn. I might be completely insane, but this on would be awesome on a girl. Oddly, I would feel like it would be too much on a boy. It defies all logic.

8. Rune. I still love this one for boys, but it also has a similarity to Rue. This makes me think that it would be a great strong girls names.

9. Forest. It's beautiful, and switching this one over to the girls side might get over the Gump reference.

10. Zephyr. Don't get me wrong, I still love this one for boys. But it's growing on me in a major way for the girls.

11. Cloud. The name of a saint. Also the name of a popular video game character. Both boys. Using it for girls seems obvious, but it doesn't look like many people have thought of it.

12. Archer. While it is rising in popularity as a boys name, I think it would be badass for girls. Doesn't seem like many people have thought of it yet, but with Harper going strong it's only a matter of time.

13. Zen. Traditionally used as a boy's name in Japan and some other regions, it could be a great hippy name for a girl. It's very peaceful.

If you think I'm crazy now, wait until you see the one for the boys...

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Sunday, October 28, 2012


This name comes from a beautiful gemstone that people either love or fear.

The origin of this name is not as straight forward as some sources would suggest. Opal (pronounced "OH-pal") could be derived from the Sanskrit upala meaning "jewel." That's what most reference material will say and the argument for that is pretty strong. But Ancient Roman sources suggest that it has something to do with Ops, the wife of Saturn and mother to the Olympians. The Romans were the ones that brought opals to Europe, presumably from India but no one knows for sure.

Opal is a form of silica related to quartz, which means that it is non-crystalline. Although it is well known for being clear or white, opal comes in pretty much any color you could imagine. That's why it's called the "rainbow gem." Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, and they currently produce 97% of the world's supply. Other places you can find opal deposits are in Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Commercially, opal is the birthstone for October.

In ancient times it was believed that this stone was very lucky. Because of the many colors it can have the opal possesses all of the powers of every other gemstone. However, the Australian Aborigines would disagree with this. They associate opals with the Rainbow Serpent, and therefore fear it. Some even believed that opals could grant the wearer invisibility when it was wrapped in a bay leaf. For this reason, it was called the patron stone of thieves.

Westerner's perception of this gemstone changed when a book by Sir Walter Scott called Anne of Geirerstein came out in the 1820s. In the book, the Baroness of Arnheim wears an opal talisman, but when a drop of holy water falls on it she dies. The novel was so popular that the sale of opals dropped 50% within a year. Years later, the stone still has an "unlucky" tag without anyone remembering where that association first came from. Still, Neo-Pagans today use the stone for many positive magickal applications. Opals are used to bring out the inner beauty of the wearer and for healing the spirit.

Opal as a name was most popular during the 1910s, ranking at #92. It fell out of the top 1,000 in the 1960s. There is also the variant Opaline, which is one of my favorites, and Opala. It appears that this name has been only used for girls, but I don't think it's out of the question for boys. Particularly if you use Opalus, which is the Roman term for the gem.

I think Opal is due for a comeback pretty soon, and I would love to see it happen. It's feminine without being prissy, and people are interested in making the old new again. I will be on the lookout for this one.


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Friday, October 26, 2012


I'm in a dark goddess type of mood this week apparently. Next up is Kali.

Kali (pronounced "KAH-lee") is the feminine form of Kala. This Sanskrit name primarily means "time," but it also means "black" or "the black one" because in Hindu mythology time was created before light. Although Kali is often depicted as having black skin. Sometimes blue skin. She also has a very long tongue. She looks corpse-like to be to be perfectly frank. Since Kala is another name for Shiva, Kali is often considered his consort.

Kali is not evil. Yes, I can see how the scary face, bloody sword, and necklace made out of various human body parts can throw you, but she's actually on our side. Kali is a warrior against evil forces and she is seen as a benevolent and protective mother goddess. She is sometimes called Ma Kali, meaning "black mother." As you can guess from her name, Kali is the goddess of time and death. She is also the goddess of destruction and creation. Kali will destroy aspects of yourself that keep you from reaching your true path in life. In Wicca, she is one of the goddesses in the popular Goddess chant.

Her most famous legend involves the demon Raktabija. The goddess Durga and her assistants attempted to slay Raktigija with various weapons. But every drop of blood that Raktabija spilt transformed into a clone of himself. Durga's forces became overwhelmed. So Durga summoned Kali or transformed into Kali, depending on who tells the story. Kali defeats Raktabija by drinking his blood and eating his clones. Pleased with her victory, she danced on the corpses.

In all likelihood, Kali rose to popularity due to it's similarity to familiar names like Callie and Kelly, not because of it's connection to the goddess. It's peak was in the 1990s at #389. It now ranks at #493. In 2008 it ranked #284 in Canada and #450 in Scotland. Once they find out the name's past, many people find it empowering. Others find it too heavy. I remember a function that I went to where we were trading magickal tools and I had a hell of a time getting rid of my Kali statue. Someone told me, "Kali brings about drastic change, and not everyone wants drastic change." So Kali is one of those very powerful goddesses that many Neo-Pagans are careful around.

Kali is in the unusual position of being very formidable and dark but also completely accepted into the mainstream. I almost get a cheerleader vibe from Kali, as strange as that is. It fits into both the mundane world and the magickal one.


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Thursday, October 25, 2012


Last year I went to a fundraising party for Samhain. They conducted a ritual and Lilith was the goddess that was invoked.

Lilith (pronounced "LIH-lith") is a very ancient name and I was met with conflicting ideas when it came to finding it's origins. It is commonly listed as a Hebrew name but it actually predates Judaism and it's probably Babylonian or Akkadian. It derives from lilitu and it means "of the night." However, both layil in Hebrew and layl in Arabic both mean "night." The Lilitu is a class of female demons in Mesopotamian mythology. Although we have scores of material for Lilith in Jewish religion, we have next to nothing in regards to it's Pagan origins.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not Lilith is actually mentioned in the Old Testament. A Lilith is mentioned on a list of "unclean animals," but that's really it. The popular story of her being Adam's first wife is a Medieval invention. In it, she was created alongside Adam as opposed to being made using Adam's rib like Eve was. Lilith refused to be subservient to Adam and as a result was punished by God and transformed into a demon. At the time the story was a warning to women, but this is why Lilith is often regarded as a feminist icon today.

Depending on what type of Neo-Paganism you embrace, Lilith is looked at in different ways. However, the "primordial dark mother" tag seems to remain constant. In Wicca, she is an darker embodiment of the Great Goddess. In Aleister Crowley's book De Arte Magica, Lilith is depicted as a succubus. It appears that Crazy Uncle Al loved the name so much that he gave it to his first child. His daughter was named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley (I am not in the least bit surprised). Doreen Valiente called her the goddess of the Craft, stating that she is "the personification of erotic dreams, the suppressed desire for delights." If you're into Stregheria, Lilith is often associated with Aradia.

Is Lilith a controversial name? I actually don't know. I assume it would be in conservative Christian or Jewish circles, but how about everyone else? I've never seen anybody raise a stink about it. In any case, it's not controversial enough to not appear on the charts: it now ranks at #923. It's a new addition, it first appeared in 2010. So who knows if it'll be fully accepted in the same way that Delilah and Salome have.

I think it has a definite chance. Lilith has a very soft sound, kind of like a combination of Lily and Gweneth. Also, the popular women's music festival Lilith Fair has done a lot to put a more positive spin on this name for more mainstream people. And there may be a character named Lilith in True Blood? I don't avoid that show, but I think that's true. Despite all that, there are still going to be a few Neo-Pagans that will find this name too loaded. I actually agree with both viewpoints, Lilith keeps entering and leaving my favorite name list. Still, I love seeing it on the children of others.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I have not one, but two requests for Persephone. Although she is often seen as the personification of spring, I actually think the name is more appropriate for this time of year.

The meaning behind Persephone (pronounced "per-SEF-oh-nee") is a little bit of a mystery. It could derive from the Greek pertho ("to destroy") or from phone ("murder"). She may be a Greek and Roman goddess, but that doesn't prove that her name comes from either language. In fact, the multiple spellings of her name in ancient sources suggest that the Greeks found her name difficult to pronounce, which would suggest that it was foreign to them. Some historians believe that worship of her, as well as her mother Demeter, predate the Olympian pantheon.

Persephone is the daughter of Zeus, king of Olympus, and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. She is essentially a vegetation goddess, although she is also considered to be the goddess of the seasons. She was commonly worshiped alongside her mother, and in some cases it was forbidden to speak her name due to her association with the dead. When she was adapted into Ancient Roman culture one of two things happened depending on who you ask: she either kept her name or she was merged with Proserpina. Most people are familiar with her story.

Persephone was sheltered away from the other gods by her mother and grew up living amongst nature. Somehow she managed to capture the eye of Hades, god of the Underworld, who fell in love with her. Zeus advised Hades to abduct her because there was no way that Demeter would allow them to be together, which is what he wound up doing. When Demeter found that her daughter had disappeared she became so filled with despair that she forbid the plants from growing. Helios, the sun, saw everything and told Demeter what happened. Zeus was so pressured by the other gods and by the cries of the starving mortals that he forced Hades to return Persephone (although in an earlier telling of this story Hecate rescues Persephone, which I quite like).

Hades agreed to do so, but he tricked Persephone by giving her a kernel of pomegranate to eat. If you eat the food of the Underworld you are doomed to spend eternity there. Therefore, Persephone is obligated to spend six months out of the year in the Underworld. This is the Greek mythical explanation for the four seasons.

One fact that gets glossed over a lot is that Persephone is not her original name. Kore was her name when she was living with her mother. She didn't get the name Persephone until she became queen of the Underworld. Kore is her maiden aspect, Persephone is the queen of the dead.

The new interpretation of the myth that has been circling amongst Neo-Pagans is quite interesting. While Demeter acts like a crazed lunatic on earth, Persephone decides to make Hades work for her affections. Hades sets out to woo his wife and over time she falls for the "dark, tormented bad boy." She also begins to settle into her new life in the Underworld. Here she doesn't have to answer to her overbearing mother. Here she is the boss. And then her mother shows up and Persephone learns that she has killed all of the plants and has left the people of earth in agony. Persephone is torn. She doesn't want to have to choose between two people she loves. So she eats a few seeds of the pomegranate knowing the price of eating Underworld food. Having only eaten a little bit, the gods are able to strike a compromise that will able Persephone to spend six months in each home, therefore bringing balance to the world.

This is why many Neo-Pagans see her as the goddess of empowerment. She could have been the victim but instead coped amazingly well. She also helps her worshippers accept all aspects of themselves: both the darkness and the light. The holidays most associated with her are Mabon and Ostara, as these are the days of her descent and ascent.

Persephone has never been a common name in the United States, although I have seen it used on occasion. I'll admit that it's a bit of a mouthful, and I'm sure there are still many people who would pronounce it like "Per-seh-FOHN." But it's a lovely name. You could use Persie, Seffie, or maybe even Stephanie or Steph as nicknames. I think the goddess gives great energy to this name.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012


I'm back from my vacation! If you're wondering, I went to the New York City Comicon, so I might be making some posts related to that in the future. But anyway, I have a ton of seasonal profiles to get through before that.

The popularity of Jasper makes me wonder if Casper is not far behind. In fact, Casper (pronounced "KAH-sper") is a Dutch and Scandinavian form of Jasper. This name is also related to Christmas, as Casper was one of the Magi who brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

To my surprise, Casper actually used to be on the American top 1,000. It peaked in the 1880s at #400, which isn't too shabby. But it gradually faded from use until the 1930s when it dropped off completely.  It is still quite popular in Sweden and Norway. This name has recently gained some attention when Jason Lee decided to bestow it on his daughter. Can't say that I love it on a girl, but I can't say that I hate it either.

I have to admit that Casper is one of my favorite boy's names. This is probably because of the film The Red Violin, which featured a young violin prodigy named Kaspar. Of course, whenever I mention this name someone always has to bring up the ghost. Do we really have to talk about the friendly ghost? Well, I guess so, since this is for the Hallows season.

Casper the Friendly Ghost started off as an unpopular and unknown children's book made in the 1930s. The rights were sold to an animation studio, and the first cartoon "The Friendly Ghost" was released in 1945. As the title suggests, Casper is unusual in that he would rather make friends with people than scare them. There is some controversy as to whether or not Casper is the soul of a dead child, in the early cartoons it's rather vague. But his pre-ghostly identity was made more clear in the 1995 film which gave him the last name McFadden.

I still don't really understand why this name is avoided. Felix has managed to stay in the charts for as long as we've been recording baby names in this country in spite of the cat. Felix the Cat came out in 1919 and has been revived for years and years since then, so it's kind of the same scenario. And Sebastian is in the top 100 in spite of the crab. So what's the problem with Casper? There isn't one, as far as I'm concerned. I just think the general public is being arbitrary.

I would really like to see Casper used more, and I think that it's only a matter of time.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I'm feeling inspired to profile India because the area I live in is experiencing an Indian Summer (meaning an unseasonably warm and sunny autumn).

India (pronounced "IN-dee-ah") is obviously in reference to the country. It is derived from Indus, which is derived from the Old Persian Hindu, which is derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu. Sidhu was the original name for the Indus River, so it should come to no surprise that the name means ""river," "stream," or "ocean." I know from watching Bollywood films that India was once called Hindustan, but that was back in the day when it also included what is now Pakistan.

India is a country that is well known for a lot of things, many of them positive. One of the first things that pops into my mind is how colorful it is. What also pops into my mind is great song and dance numbers, beautiful artwork, elephants, and some beautiful religious traditions. It is the birthplace of bother Hinduism and Buddhism. Lots of the Wiccan religion is based off of Hindu/Buddhist ideas like karma and reincarnation. However, India is also a place with a lot of poverty and overpopulation. Women's rights still have a long way to go there and even though Pakistan separated from India there is still a lot of tension between the Hindus and Muslims. And there are quite a few witch killings happening in Christian areas of the country.

I was surprised to find that this name was on the American top 1,000 in the 1880s through the 1900s. I mistook India for being a newer name. It was the British Raj who started to use India as a given name which is why some people feel like it has a icky colonial streak. Use of India picked up again in the 1970s, which doesn't surprise me at all. India peaked in the 1990s at #427. It had just recently fallen off the charts. In 2008 it ranked #404 in Scotland. There are a few namesakes like India Hicks and India.Arie.

If you choose to use India, I don't think that there will be much of a backlash. While this name might be slightly controversial in England, I don't think that many people in America will make the colonial connection. But, as much as I love this name, there is always a risk when you name a child after another country. Things might be good between our two nations right now, but we never know what will happen.

Still, India is a lovely name. It's one that I would definitely consider using. I feel a connection to the country even though I've never been there (Ganesh is my guy, after all). So I think it's a nice one for those of the Witchy persuasion to use.


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Sunday, October 7, 2012


Sometimes my brain goes on tangents and I start thinking about names that might exist. Back in the day when I profiled Vertumnus, I thought, "Does Vertumnus have a brother named Autumnus?" It seemed logical. Well no, he doesn't. That would be fun, but he doesn't. Still, Autumnus is a real name.

Autumnus (pronounced "auh-TUM-nus," I assume) is a Latin, or perhaps Etruscan, name. It means pretty much what you think it means. Sometimes spelled auctumnus, it is the Ancient Roman name for this season. Whether or not it was used as a given name in Ancient Rome I haven't a clue, but I have seen Autumnus in some baby name resources.

I'm not sure what I can say about this season that I haven't said in other posts, but I'll try to find something. This season used to be called Harvest before we fell upon Autumn and Fall. It is worth noting that the term "Fall" is almost obsolete in Britain and far more common in America.

Autumn, while potentially a great sounding boys name, has been dominated by the girls for years. It's been in the charts since the 1970s and now peaks at #69. In fact, with the possible exception of Winter, all of the seasons have been claimed by the girls in a big way. At least in the United States.

Autumnus is a great way to get around all that. I don't think anyone would question that Autumnus is for boys. It has a lot of the same sounds as Atticus or Augustus, which makes it seem more familiar than it actually is.

Autumnus has become one of my favorites. So if you have a thing for Latin names (like I do) and want something that represents the season, you can't go wrong with this one.


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Saturday, October 6, 2012


A perfect, if very odd, name for someone with a strong connection to the Samhain season.

Ouija (pronounced as both "WEE-jah" and "WEE-jee") is most famous as the name of a board game that some believe can be used to communicate with the dead. If you've never used one, the idea behind it is simple. The board has the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0-9, "yes," "no," "goodbye," and usually some sort of pretty design. It should come with a planchette, which is a heart shaped piece of wood. One or more people place their fingertips on the planchette, they ask questions to the spirit, the planchette moves seemingly on it's own and points at the symbols on the board to form their answers.

Also known as a spirit board or talking board, Ouija had a very mundane origin story. They were patented by businessmen and sold as a harmless parlour game in the late 1800s. However, the technique that Ouija employs has been used for a very long time. The first time it was used was in the 1100s by the Chinese as a way for them to contact the spirit world.

For what is technically a toy, Ouija has managed to accumulate a great amount of controversy. Many Christians believe that it is a tool of the devil, of course. Scientists believe that the whole things a hoax, a psychological trick based off of unconscious muscular action controlled by subconscious ideas. In the Neo-Pagan world, it is generally accepted as a method of divination although it's nowhere near as popular as tarot cards. Many people (both Pagan and non-Pagan) believe that Ouija can be dangerous because it invites unknown spirits into the house. Ouija boards are often a device used in horror stories.

Where the name comes from is unclear. One of the creators of the board claimed that it was an Ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." Somehow I highly doubt that. It could be a combination of the French and German words for "yes": oui and ja. That seems more likely. I have seen Ouija listed on baby name websites and it always intrigued me because it's not an option that I would consider on my own. I can't prove this, but I imagine that it was introduced as a given name during the Victorian Era, the time when the game was first sold and when people were very interested in the Occult.

I'm not certain what kind of a reaction one would get for using the name Ouija. While the game is controversial, I'm not certain if that makes the name controversial as well. However, Ouija will always have a spooky vibe and if that's what you're going for then rock on. It's a name that will definitely stand out.


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Thursday, October 4, 2012


Samhain is coming up which means that I should get started on some of these Hallows inspired names I have saved up as well as the many old profiles I haven't finished yet. Let's get started with Hunter.

Hunter is an English occupational surname-turned-first name. It pretty much means what you think it means, but I can go more in depth if you like. It's derived from the Middle English hunte, meaning the same thing. Hunters show up a lot in Pagan mythology, but most of them are also archers so I won't go into that again.

In Neo-Pagan circles you'll hear the phrase the "Wild Hunt" used quite a lot, particularly amongst Germanic Pagans. The basic idea is that the Wild Hunt is a group of spectral huntsmen (who depending on who you ask could be dead people, gods, historical heroes, or fairies) with horses and hounds on a mad pursuit through the skies. Seeing a Wild Hunt was believed to be a bad omen, bringing on catastrophes like war or disease, or at the very least the death of the person who saw it. Amongst the Ancient Gallic and Germanic peoples, reenactment of the Wild Hunt was very common, and one particular group of warriors would paint themselves black before attacking their enemies at night. The idea of the Wild Hunt is seen in some form throughout all Pagan cultures, and most all of them have a strong association with the dead. This is what would make Hunter, or Hunt, a understated choice for this season.

In terms of namesakes, most people probably think of American author Hunter Thompson. This counter culture figure started off as a fairly conventional journalist, but soon became well known for "Hell's Angels" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Depending on who you ask, this name's association with him might not be a positive one, Thompson was a lifelong user of alcohol and drugs and had a love of violence. But the name is so familiar and well used that even if you weren't a fan of Thompson no one is likely to make the connection immediately.

Hunter had been teetering in the lower ranks of the top 1,000 for years before it became as popular as it is now. As a boy's name, it peaked in 2000 at #35 and now rests at #55. The name is popular worldwide too. In 2008 it ranked #16 in Canada, #20 in New Zealand, #57 in Australia, and #367 in Scotland. Hunter is also used for girls, although it's nowhere near as popular. It peaked in 1998 at #304, but it's no longer on the charts.

Hunter used to be one of my favorites. But now that it's gotten so common it feels very ordinary to me now and I lost interest in it. It's still a very nice name. And I have to admit that I like Hunter on a girl (because, you know, girls can hunt too). It's a good Wicca-lite name, if you're looking for something with more understated witchiness.


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