Posts Tagged ‘Pomona’

Jera is one of those runes which features only in a couple of alphabets — the Elder Futhark and the Anglo-Frisian.

The runic alphabet shifts again with Jera, with what at first seems an inexplicable leap from the depths of winter to the other side of the wheel of the year and the harvest.

Or is it?

For after the hardship and difficulties of the last three runes, Hægl, Nyd and Is, Jera represents the fulfillment of hope, the rewards of perseverance against all the odds. With Jera, we reap what we have sown, and reminds us that all things have their season.

Change — for good, for bad — is inevitable. Enjoy the fruits of Jera while you can.

Literally, it means “year” and “harvest” — and carries the sense of “prosperity”. Interestingly, it is etymologyically related to the Slavic words for “the spring,” and the Greek for “hour.”

Jera itself certainly has fairly good name potential, Jeran possibly even more, while Jeraz offers that slightly more exotic edge. With its meanings and associations of prosperity, there are lots of other names in harmony with Jera, such as those I listed under Feoh, and Wynn.

And I’ve already covered some harvest-related names in my post on the Equinox.

Some other names, and name suggestions, which resonate with Jera:

  • Aika — Finnish: “time”
  • Amser — Welsh: “time.”
  • Anna Perenna — Roman Goddess of plenty, who presides over the wheel of the year. Both this Anna and Perenna may have links to the Latin for “year”: annus. It also means “circuit.” Perenna is usually derived from perennis “through the year.”
  • Annona — another Roman Goddess, who personified a year. Also from annus “year.”
  • Berry
  • Calendula — the botanical name for the English marigold. It acquired its name, from the Latin kalends, used of the first day of a month, because it has the ability to flower all year.
  • Carme — Cretan Goddess of the Harvest
  • Chakana — ancient Incan symbol of the Wheel of the Year.
  • Chronos — the Greek God of time.
  • Consus — Roman God of the harvest
  • Crop
  • Denbora — Basque: “time”
  • Ekin — Turkish name: “harvest.”
  • Gather
  • Harvest
  • Hour
  • Idő — Hungarian: “time”
  • Kausi — Finnish: “season”
  • Mimela  — Lakota: “to be round,” “to be circular.”
  • Ona — Hebrew: “season”
  • Pomona — Roman Goddess of fruit.
  • Reap
  • Saison — French, German: “season.”
  • Season
  • Sezona — Latvian: “season”
  • Teamhair — Old Irish: “time,” “season”; this is the Irish name for TaraTeamhair na Rí, and the name of the Goddess who presides over that place.
  • Tempest  — derives ultimately from Latin tempus “time.”
  • Tempo
  • Tempus — Latin: “time.”
  • Time
  • Tími — Icelandic: “time.”
  • Tymor — Welsh: “season.”
  • Zaman — Persian, Turkish: “time”
  • Zeit — German: “time”

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This weekend, people of all faiths and none across the world will be celebrating Halloween.

For most, it is just an excuse to dress up and have a party, the start of the midwinter party season which culminates in Christmas and the New Year.

From an anthropological perspective, the scary, spooky theme which most embrace belongs to a time honored tradition of facing our deepest fears in a controlled, safe environment.

We embrace all the monsters from the wardrobe, including the scariest of them all (as far as most folk are concerned) — death — but live to party another day.

It is a form of catharsis.

No one can doubt that the roots of Halloween lie deep in the past. Probably the ancient, Pagan past. “Halloween” — more often “Hallowe’en” in the UK — means simply “All Hallows’ Eve” — a reference to the fact that November 1st is the Christian feast of All Hallows — generally called “All Saints” today.

In Mexico, November 1st is “The Day of the Dead,” a feast of commemmoration of loved ones who have died. This often continues on November 2nd (the Catholic feast of All Souls). Although it shares many characteristics with Halloween, its origins are indiginous, and was originally a festival in honor of the Aztec Goddess of the Underworld.

While most Pagans participate in all the fun aspects of Halloween just like most people, Pagans often mark it with more sober observation too. Like the Mexicans, it is considered a time to honor and remember those who have died.

Many regard it as the end of the old year and start of a new, as seems to have been the case in Ireland into the medieval period.

And to distance it from the vernacular celebrations, the Irish name Samhain is often prefered.

It derives from the Old Irish sam “summer” and fuin “end.”

In Wales, Pagans and non-Pagans call it Calan Gaeaf “the first day of Winter.”

Whichever way you look at it, it is clear that the Celts regarded it as a time of transition.

Today, it is regarded as not just a time of transition between seasons, but between worlds. Between the planes of existence.

This ethereal, otherworldliness pervades all four of the year’s “quarter-days”, which fall midway between the solstices and equinoxes.

They are often called the “fire festivals” as there is evidence to suggest that fire — symbolic of purification and light — featured in the celebration of all the quarterdays.

But the sense that the “veil between worlds is thin” is felt particularly strongly at Samhain, and the festival which faces it on the other side of the wheel of the year — Beltane.

The focus of Samhain is very much on reflection — looking back, and looking inward. It is a time of remembrance and contemplation at the start of the season when the earth itself retreats within itself, to sleep.

Everywhere, there are signs of dying, death and decay — but we know it is only a semblance. An illusion.

For come the spring, it all springs up anew. Rejuvinated. Regenerated. Reborn.

The wheel always turns. There is no beginning. And no end.

And when it comes to names? Here are just a few to mark this special season:

Apple — apple bobbing is an old Halloween tradition, probably bound up in an ancient fertility rite to Pomona, Goddess of fruit, whose name derives from the Latin pomum “fruit,” source of the French pomme “apple” — a hint that of all fruit, apples are the fruit. English “apple” is cognate with the Welsh afal, with which Avalon, is also connected, a hint at the apple’s Otherworldly and mystical connections. She’s on my list to feature as a Pick of the Week, so I’ll say no more for now.

Aradia  — an Italian Witch-Goddess, introduced to the world by the American folklorist Charles Leyland in 1899 in the influential Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. Probably a form of Herodias,  which derives ultimately from the Greek hêrôs “hero.”

Autumn — appropriate for this festival as much as for the Equinox.

Calan — deriving ultimately from the Latin kalends a word used to mean “first of the month.” Calan Mai is used as the Welsh equivalent of Beltane, though it is used by all Welsh speakers to mean simply “May Day.”

Circe — one of the most famous mythological Witches. A daughter of the Sun, her name derives from the Greek for “to encircle” — no doubt with enchantments. Other legendary Witches with wonderful names include  Ceridwen, (the Witch of) Endor, Lilith, Medea, Morgan/Morgana, all who deserve posts (and will get them) all to themselves.

Edric — an Old English name meaning “rich ruler.” Wild Edric is a figure of English folklore, associated with the Wild Hunt — and Halloween marks the start of the Wild Hunt season. Of course, chief among those associated with the Hunt is Odin.

Eve — Instead of Halloween, think All Hallow’s Eve. Eve as an established name is the English form of the Hebrew Ḥawwāh. But there is also the English “eve” a poetic form of “evening,” redolent of twilight, and thus perfect for the season.

Hallow — an Old English world meaning “saint.”

Halloween, Hallowe’en — not without precedent, such as a little girl called Hallowe’en Lucy Trodden in Durham, England, in 1899, but it certainly makes for a very bold choice.

Hecate — the famous Witch-Goddess of the Greeks. Although not specifically associated with Halloween (although she may have a festival at the end of the November), she is a Goddess of the earth and boundaries. Many Wiccans and Witches regard her as the Goddess in her Crone aspect, making it an appropriate — if distinctive — name for a girl born at this time of year.

Nicevenn — a Scottish Goddess, equated with Hecate, Diana and others, whose name means either “daughter of heaven” or “daughter of frenzy.” She is particularly associated with Samhuinn.

November — a neglected month name, but why not? It comes to us direct and unchanged (except in pronunciation) straight from ancient Pagan Rome too, with the literal meaning of “ninth month.”

Nox — the Latin for “night”. Nights are drawing in quickly now, and we have more night than day. With Halloween’s association with death, and darkness, Nox resonates well.

October — same comment as November, except it means “eighth month.”

Pumpkin — the vegetable which has come to symbolize Halloween more than any other. Its etymology provides more suble options, such as the original Pompion, from Pepon, a type of melon or gourd, deriving ultimately from the Greek pepôn “ripe,” “mellow.”

Samhain — As already said, this is the name which many Pagans, especially Wiccans, use for Halloween. Others, especially Druids, often use a slightly different version, the Scots Gaelic cognate Samhuinn. With the meaning “summer’s end” it would make a good name generally for those born at this time of year.

And with that, I wish you a bright and blessed Halloween!

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This 6th Century BCE dinos (wine-mixing bowl) by Sophilos shows a procession of Greek Gods attending the wedding of Peleus and Thetis

There seems to be a bit of a controversy in Pagan circles about the use of the names of Gods and Goddesses, either for children, or as a new name for oneself.

There are those who argue that it is inappropriate. Even hubristic.

But as with most aspects of Paganism, much of the answer to this question comes down to your own personal beliefs, and how you view the Divine.

And this, of course, will play a big part in whether you think it is acceptable or not to use a God or Goddess’s name.

If you are a polytheist — if you consider the Gods to be distinct, individual entities, completely separate from mortal life — perhaps you might agree that using their names is inappropriate.

In which case, you should, of course, avoid, or choose names which contain a deity’s name, or carry the meaning ‘belonging to such-and-such’, rather than the deity’s name itself.

But if you are a pantheist — if you believe that the Divine is in all things, making us all essentially ‘divine beings’ — then choosing the name of a God or Goddess might be seen as not just acceptable, but suitable and respectful.

Using the actual names of Gods and Goddesses is not a new phenomenon.

Several names from ancient Paganism have long become established as given names in the English-speaking world. These include  Aurora, Branwen, Bridget, Diana, Felicity, Flora, Freya, Irene, Iris, Lilith, Luna, Maia, Phoebe, Rhiannon, Sophia and Victoria.

The names of male divinities used for boys is less common, but there are still some, which have seen varying amounts of use, such as Adonis, Augustus, Dylan, Hercules, Julius, Odin — and Jesus. This last may be principally found in the Spanish community, pronounced ‘he-SOOS’  and used in reference to a Catholic festival, but nevertheless, it’s still the name of a figure considered divine by many, and currently ranking 92nd in the US.

In some religions, such as Hinduism, it has long been considered not just acceptable to use the name of a God or Goddess, but desirable, because it is believed that the child will grow to be like the deity, as well as be protected by them.

And incorporating the name of a divinity within a given name is a tradition as old as writing — take a look at my articles on Sumerian names Part 1 and Part 2 to see some of the earliest.

There’s also the power of the positive. Call it ‘good’, ‘light’, ‘love’, ‘karma’ whatever. It seems common sense to choose names with as much positivity as you can.

And, let’s face it, you can’t get much more positive than the names of the Divine itself!

There are literally tens of thousands of named Gods and Goddesses across the world, and my only caveat when choosing a God or Goddess’ name would be to select one that you not only like the sound of, but also feel an affinity with.

Here is just a small selection from some of the world’s principal mythologies:

Greek: Aphaia, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athene, Atlas, Bia, Chaos, Coeus, Cratus, Cronos, Demeter, Dionysus, Eos, Epimetheus, Erebus, Gaia, Geras, Hades, Harmonia, Hebe, Hecate, Helius, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Hyperion, Iapetus, Iris, Leto, Mnemosyne, Morpheus, Nice, Nyx, Oceanus, Pan, Persephone, Phoebe, Phoebus, Poseidon, Prometheus, Proteus, Rhea, Selene, Tethys, Themis, Tyche, Zephyrus, Zeus

Roman: Abundantia, Aesculapius, Anna Perenna, Apollo, Aurora, Bacchus, Bellona, Bona Dea, Caelus, Carmenta, Ceres, Cloacina, Consus, Cupid, Deverra, Diana, Egeria, Fauna, Felicitas, Flora, Fortuna, Fulgora, Hilaritas, Hora, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Justitia, Larentina, Liber, Libera, Libertas, Lucina, Luna, Lupercus, Mars, Mater Matuta, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Ops, Pax, Pietas, Pluto, Pomona, Priapus, Proserpina, Quirinus, Robigus, Saturn, Silvanus, Sol, Tellus, Terminus, Trivia, Vacuna, Venus, Vertumnus, Vesta, Virbius, Volumna, Voluptas, Vulcan

Egyptian: Aken, Aker, Ammit, Amun, Amunet, Anhur, Anubis, Anuket, Apis, Ash, Aten, Bast, Geb, Ha, Hapi, Hathor, Hedetet, Heka, Heqet, Horus, Huh, Iabet, Iah, Imentet, Isis, Kebechet, Khepri, Khnum, Khonsu, Ma’at, Mafdet, Mehen, Menhit, Meret, Min, Mnevis, Monthu, Neith, Nekhbet, Neper, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Pakhet, Ptah, Qebui, Rem, Renenutet, Satet, Seker, Sekhmet, Serket, Seth, Tatenen, Taweret, Tefnut, Tenenet, Thoth, Wadjet, Wosret

Hindu: Aditi, Agni, Arjuna, Aruna, Asura, Bhadra, Bharani, Bhavani, Bhudevi, Brahma, Chamundi, Chandra, Daksha, Danu, Dhumavati, Durga, Ganesha, Garuda, Gayatri, Hanuman, Hari, Indra, Kali, Krishna, Lakshman, Lakshmi, Lalitha, Mahavidya, Matangi, Mitra, Mohini, Nandi, Narada, Narayana, Nataraja, Navadurga, Padmavati, Parasiva, Parvati, Prajapati, Rama, Rati, Rudra, Rukmini, Saraswati, Sati, Shakti, Shatarupa, Shiva, Shree, Sita, Soma, Surya, Tara, Uma, Ushas, Varuna, Vasu, Vayu, Vishnu

Celtic: Abellio, Adsullata, Agrona, Alaunus, Alisanos, Andarta, Andraste, Arausio, Arduinna, Artio, Belatucadros, Belenus, Belisama, Bormana, Bormo, Brigantia, Camulos, Cernunnos, Cissionius, Cocidius, Coventina, Damara, Damona, Epona, Esus, Fagus, Grannus, Icovellauna, Lenus, Leucetios, Lugus, Maponus, Moritasgus, Nantosuelta, Nemausus, Nemetona, Nodens, Ogmios, Robor, Rosmerta, Sabrina, Sirona, Smertrios, Sucellos, Sulis, Tamesis, Taranis, Toutatis, Verbeia, Veteris, Vindonnus.

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Well, this is it — tomorrow the last installment of Harry Potter hits the cinemas. Of course, we all know what happens — but it’s still pretty thrilling, all the same (yes, I am an unabashed Potter fan – and I’m off to see the film first thing tomorrow!).

Last week, I marked the première in London with a look at the names of some of the main characters. Today and tomorrow, I’m going to pick out some more of my favorites from J. K.’s Dickens-esque imagination. Today’s are all well-known characters, tomorrow’s will be  my favorites from the hundreds characters mentioned just once or twice — not an easy task, given just how many gems there are.

First up is Draco. I love Draco — the name, anyway. Pre-Potter, it would have made my list for consideration as a name for my Small Child — but even I would think twice about it at the moment. It’s still a strong contender for the next cat or dog!

Draco is the Latin for ‘dragon’, the name of a constellation, as well as the Latin form of the genuine Ancient Greek name Drakôn. The 7th Century BCE Athenian statesman Draco the Law Giver is so notorious for the harshness and severity of the laws he introduced, that he gave his name to the English adjective draconian. The ultimate source of the name and drakôn ‘dragon’, ‘serpent’, etc is a Greek verb meaning ‘to see clearly’; serpents and snakes were associated by the Greeks with clarity of vision, knowledge and prophecy. It is no coincidence that the most famous oracle in the Greek world was the Pythia, the famous oracle of Delphi. The name derives directly from Pythô — the source of our ‘python’ — the great pre-Greek she-snake or earth dragon slain by Apollo, who then took over the shrine.

Minerva has to follow — Minerva McGonagall really couldn’t have had any other name. Well-known as the Roman Goddess of wisdom, and counterpart of the Greek Athene, the origins of Minerva are obscure. It is probably simply the Latin form of Menrva, the Etruscan Goddess of wisdom and war, but whether the name is Etruscan or from another source is impossible to say. Too little is known about Etruscan to even establish what — if any — language group it belonged to. It is tempting, however, to link it to the Proto-Indo-European *men-mn- ‘thought’ and ‘mind’. Mina and Minnie are the obvious pet-forms — not that I could ever imagine Professor McGonagall answering to either!

Pomona follows naturally from Minerva — another Roman Goddess, this one of fruit and fruit trees. The name comes from the Latin pomum ‘fruit’.

I can never make up my mind whether I like Professor Sprout for the character — or because I just love Miriam Margoyles.

Next is Rubeus, a straight-forward name to explain — Latin: rubeus ‘red’, ‘reddish’ and ‘made of brambles’ (the Latin name for the bramble or blackberry is rubus). The bramble is very much associated with the wild and untamed, their vigorous growth means they’re often one of the first plants to colonize waste ground — quickly. It is a plant of paradoxes; loathed for its relentless spread, vicious thorns and untidy habit, but loved for its fruit. All of this suits Rubeus Hagrid — whom Rowling has herself likened to the Green Man — rather well!

I have to finish with Gilderoy, one of my favourite characters — and names — in the book. Forget Voldemort, Gilderoy is the one I love to hate… couldn’t you just imagine him on Celebrity Big Brother? Or, I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here? The name is one of Rowling’s best coinages — as good as anything Dickens came up with — oozing vanity and conceit. Believe it or not, Gilderoy is a genuine name, used in the 19th Century, particularly by the Romany — Gilderoy Scamp was King of the Gypsies in the early 20th Century. Dudley & Gilderoy; A Nonsense was a 1929 novel by Algernon Blackwood — and perhaps Rowling’s source of the name (and also of Dudley)? Or possibly she picked it up from the American expression higher than Gilderoy’s kite, which first occurs in Mark Twain, and derived from an old ballad about an 18th Century Highwayman of the name, who was strung up ‘like a kite’ upon his execution:

Of Gilderoy sae fraid they ware They bound him mickle strong, Tull Edenburrow they led him thair, And on a gallows hong; They hong him high abone the rest, He was so trim a boy. They ‘hong him high abone the rest’..

The same Gilderoy featured in Charles Whibley’s Book of Scoundrels (1897).

As for its origin, Gilderoy started out as a surname — though of uncertain origins. Some claim that is Huguenot, but this is an erroneous interpretation based on the seemingly French ending -deroy ‘of the king’. Gild ‘to gild’, however, is of Anglo-Saxon origin. Gilderoy is in reality a corruption of the Irish Gilroy, from the Irish Gaelic Giolla Rua ‘servant of the red-headed lad’. However, where fiction is concerned, its real mean is definitely less important than its apparent — and ‘gilding of the king’ definitely suits Rowling’s Lockhart best!

He is another strong contender for my next pet!

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