Category: african names
We’re all familiar with the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons of mythological deities, from Adonis and Athena to Zeus, but there a number of other ancient names from other cultures with their own pantheons of intriguing god and goddesses. We’ve delved into the some of the most intriguing mythologies—Egyptian, Phoenician, Norse, Celtic, Indian, African, et al– and discovered some striking ancient names for the intrepid baby namer.
ÁINE (AWN-ya)– Irish Celtic goddess of love, summer, wealth and fertility
AINO (EYE-no) – A Finnish mythological water sprite
ANAHITA – A Persian mythological goddess of river and water
ANNIKKI (accent on the first syllable) – A forest goddess in Finnish mythology
ANU – Irish Celtic goddess of fertility, magic, moon, air and prosperity
ASTARTE – Ancient Phoenician goddess of love, fertility, motherhood and war (morphed into Greek mythology as Aphrodite)
ASTRILD – Norse goddess of love
ATLA—Norse water goddess
BELISAMA – A Celtic goddess of light and fire
BRANWEN –Irish Celtic goddess of love, beauty, sexuality and the sea
BRIGHID (pronounced breed) — Irish goddess of fertility and creativity, martial arts and healing
DANU – Irish Celtic mother of the deities , goddess of rivers, water, magic, prosperity and wisdom
ELAINE – A Welsh Celtic maiden moon goddess
FREYA – Norse goddess of love, beauty, war, magic and wisdom; the most beautiful of the goddesses
INANNA – A Sumerian goddess of the earth, sky and love—and also war
ISIS – an Egyptian goddess, known as mistress of charms or enchantments
KALMA – Finnish goddess of death and decay (maybe skip this one)
KALI – Hindu goddess of power (and—oops—destruction)
LAKSHMI—Hindu goddess of beauty and prosperity, purity, chastity and generosity
LEZA — African goddess of protection and divination
Our newly-elected President, Barack Obama, has famously called himself “a skinny black kid with a funny name.” He’s the first one to admit how difficult it’s been living with such an unusual moniker. In a video aired during the Democratic National Convention, he said Barry Obama might have been okay, or Barack Smith, but being named Barack Obama made everything doubly difficult. And at the Alfred E. Smith roast, he humorously declared that Barack was Swahili for “That one” and that Steve and not Hussein was his real middle name.
But Barack Obama has obviously triumphed over any challenges presented by his name, symbolic of an American future in which diversity is not only tolerated but celebrated. Many parents have already embraced a baby-naming ethic that champions ethnic names, distinctive names, and genuine if odd family choices. One pro-Obama group even launched a campaign in defense of unusual names.
Barack Obama was named for his African father. Called Barry as a child and young adult, he later reverted to the full, authentic, form of his name. Barack, which means blessing in both Swahili and Arabic, is, when spelled Barak, an Old Testament name meaning lightning–fitting in view of the numbers of parents worldwide who have instantly started using it as a namesake for their babies.
Interestingly, Obama’s older daughter is named Malia, a Hawaiian name that celebrates that part of his heritage. Under President Obama’s lead, the next four years should prove to be livelier and more forward-thinking in terms of baby names along with everything else.