A Light in the Darkness:
The Light Personal Names Shed on Ancient Paganism
by K. M. Sheard
Names. We all have them. They are so integral to our society that few
people ever pause to reflect on their cultural significance and what
they reveal about our way of life.
These days, in the West, names are largely a label. Most of us possess
a hereditary surname, coupled with a name chosen at birth by our
parents, largely on a whim. The only rule regarding the naming of
children is that they must be named.
But even today, naming practices vary considerably across the world.
And the naming practices of our ancestors were equally diverse. And,
what’s more, they offer us a unique window through which to glimpse
their lives, how they lived, and what they believed.
The names that have come down to us from antiquity are very revealing.
The best documented are those of ancient Rome. Roman civilization was
by far the most structured, organized—and regulated—society prior to
our own, and Roman names very potently reflect this. Citizenship was
what mattered to a Roman, and names to Romans were their badges of
citizenship. The most important part was an inherited family name,
called a nomen—quite
literally, this was their "name," so integral that it is the source of
the English word "name" itself.
These nomina were quite
comparable to our own surnames, deriving from a similar mish-mash of
place-names, personal names, nicknames, and occupational names. Some,
however, particularly of the oldest and most aristocratic families,
derived from the names of deities. The Junii, for example, claimed the
Goddess Juno as its namesake, and while the Julii claimed descent from
Venus, their name almost certainly derived from that of Jupiter.
A Roman citizen typically had three names. In addition to their nomen
was their praenomen, essentially a "first name." It was little more,
however, than a formality, a token. By the time of the Roman Empire,
there were only a handful in regular use, and the vast majority of men
bore one of just three: Gaius, Lucius, and Marcus.
the full article.
Back to Top
with Author K. M. Sheard
1. Your new book is
Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names,
which is a compendium of names that
are, in general, related to Paganism, Shamanism, and other earth-based
worship. What inspired you to research and write this book?
Ever since childhood, I have been
fascinated by names, and naming practices past and present. The first
book on names I owned, when I was about seven, wasn’t even a book; it
was a tiny old almanac, containing all sorts of useful little lists,
such as the Kings and Queens of England, units of weights and
measurements, capital cities, etc. The section on names was just three
pages long, but I loved browsing it. Even though it was short, there
were names on it I’d never encountered in real life, and that captured
my imagination: they possessed a kind of magic that carried me from a
dreary northern English city to meadows and forests, and a time when
the world was a greener, more wholesome place. I was hooked—and,
basically, I have been collecting and researching names ever since.
The idea to put it all in a book came a
couple of years ago, after a conversation with a friend about the lack
of really informative and thorough books on names specifically for
Pagans. She suggested I write one, and I thought, Why not? I was
dissatisfied with all the name books on the market, and it was clear if
I was ever going to possess the book I wanted, I was going to have to
write it myself!
2. As noted, the book is
Pagan in nature. Does that mean it is for Pagans only?
Not at all. Although it was written from
a Pagan perspective with Pagans in mind, it is still a predominantly
factual book. The difference is that it has been written through a
"Pagan lens," giving the book a "Pagan flavor," which I would hope that
Pagans and non-Pagans alike will find a refreshing change to
conventional books on names. Most names that have seen use in the
English-speaking world over the last few hundred years are included,
regardless of origin, as well as many names from other cultures, and
they have all been given a thorough—and honest—treatment. I have taken
a "warts and all" approach, so people can make up their own minds about
the worth—or otherwise—of a name.
3. As it is a book of names, Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names
is a great resource for Pagan parents. How about other uses aside from
the full interview.
Witches Really Fly?
by James Endredy
For untold centuries, the stereotypical vision most have
of a witch includes a broomstick and flight. But, can witches really
fly? James Endredy, author of The
Flying Witches of Veracruz, has experienced the flight of the
witch, though no broomsticks were used. How is this possible? What
secrets do the witches of Veracruz hold?
Invoking the Egyptian Gods
by Judith Page & Ken Biles
Begin a soul-level transformation and awaken to your own
strength, power, and divinity by communicating with the Egyptian Gods.
Judith Page and Ken Biles, co-authors of Invoking the Egyptian Gods, discuss how and why
these energies are so powerful and restorative.
Sex Magic for Beginners
by Skye Alexander
Most of us want to lead better lives. We want to be
happier, healthier, wealthier, and so on. We’d like to take control of
what happens to us, instead of being at the mercy of chance, fate, or
the agendas of other people. That’s why most magicians do spells in the
first place, and sex magic is an especially effective way to accomplish
your objectives. Skye Alexander, author of Sex Magic for Beginners, discusses just exactly
what sex magic is and how to begin using this potent form of magic.