Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by K. M. Sheard, author of Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names.
Is there such a thing as a Pagan name? In the same way as people talk about Christian, Jewish, and Muslim names?
As a Pagan who has spent the last two years writing a book on names, my answer might surprise you. My answer is no.
But, I would also argue that there is no such thing as a Christian, Jewish or Muslim name either. There are only ever names for Christians, Jews, Muslims—and Pagans.
And, if you dig deep enough into a name’s history, you’ll find that almost every name, from every time and every place, could fit the bill for Pagans.
I know a lot of Pagans who are tempted to reject many names because of their long use by the Christian majority of the last fifteen hundred years. They feel that the names have somehow been tarnished or contaminated, and want to embrace new, fresh names, free of baggage. And there’s no reason not to do that; there is a whole world of possibilities out there just waiting to be embraced.
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Remember, many of those Christians of the last fifteen hundred years didn’t have much say in their religious affiliation. For much of that time, adherence to Christianity was not optional (and we all know what happened to those who tried to opt out). Yet, somewhat ironically, most of the names sanctioned for use by the Church, went back well into pre-Christian times. What do you know? They were first used by Pagans! And there’s no reason why they can’t all be reclaimed.
That’s why, in my new book (Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names) I have included most names that have seen at least modest use at some time or other over the last thousand years or so, and why I have dug deep, down to their roots (which, in one way or another, invariably turn out to be Pagan).
Perhaps I do believe in Pagan names after all!
Our thanks to K. M. Sheard for her guest post! For more from K. M. Sheard, read her article “A Light in the Darkness: The Light Personal Names Shed on Ancient Paganism.”