Friday, February 20, 2009

What's in a name?

Exotic names surprise me and I always ask, "What does your name mean?" I don't get the same question in return, as if my common non-exotic name doesn't have a meaning. Why is it that people from non-western civilizations know the meaning of their names and the rest of us usually don't?

My birth name is Jacklyn and it is Hebrew for supplanter. In other words, one who takes over, which is something I've done since birth. I don't go by that name and it is not on my driver's license or any of my legal papers. I go by Jackie, which is the feminine for John and John means "God is gracious". In my case, the gods have been very gracious with me. I've been through the wringer many times and I'm still here.

I've also been blessed with talent and intelligence (no heckling from the peanut gallery) and an easy disposition, as well as many good friends and a family that isn't too reprehensible most of the time. Once in a while they do surprise me, but that is a rare occurrence. Like most families, we are a strange mix of personalities, abilities and prejudices.

In checking the meanings of my brother and sisters' names, I found out that James's name is also Hebrew and means supplanter. He certainly supplanted his sisters in Mom's affections when he was born and he is still at the top of the heap. I guess it's only fair since I supplanted the rest of them as first born, even though I was brought in and not born into the family. Carol is next in birth order and her name is German and means "free man." I'll bet Carol wishes there was a free man in her life, or at least one with enough money to keep her in the style to which she has long been accustomed. James comes after Carol and then comes Tracy (otherwise known here as Beanie), and her name means "Thracius's place". It's Roman in origin and means "of Thracia," or Thrace, which was a region of Greece that is now divided between Turkey and Greece. Spartacus was Thracian and look what trouble he caused for Rome, not that he didn't have his reasons or good cause.

Carol was born in Germany, so it's probably fitting that she have a German name. I won't even begin to get into the middle names because they're all over the place and we don't go by our middle names unless Mom is upset with one of us and wants to give us no doubt as to her murderous intentions.

I find it interesting that my name is Hebrew because many people have asked me if I'm not Jewish, most of whom are Jewish, but I am neither Xian or Jew and am considered a heathen by my family, all of whom are Xians. It's all right. I'm used to being different. It's hard to supplant anyone and be noticed if you're just like everyone else. I'm definitely not like everyone else -- or anyone else for that matter.

In mythology and magic and the occult sciences, names have power, and everyone knows your protect your true name. Your true name changes as you change, evolve and grow and that is something Native Americans knew. They gave babies a name and when the babies grew to be adults they took another name, a name that defined who they were as adults, casting aside their baby names. It's hard to know the right name for someone until you get to know them and it's almost impossible to know a newborn babe whose drawn its first few breaths. Of course, a birth name that changes at the attainment of adult status would throw the IRS into a panic, especially if at some point people decided they needed a new name for every stage of their lives. However, I'm all for throwing the government, and especially the IRS, into a panic at every possible turn. They do, after all, work for us.

So, what's in a name? I guess that depends on whether or not you feel like a Tom, Dick or Harry instead of a Sabu, Wolfram or Bob.

That is all. Disperse.

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