We’re back for Round Two of names from my Native American background. The other piece of my Native American side is Choctaw. Though the naming traditions and pronunciations of the Cherokee and Choctaw are very similar, I’ll give a brief overview all the same.
As a Choctaw child, you could have many names over the course of your life. The first name you were given was bestowed at birth by your parents and usually was related to an event that happened around the time of your birth or something that was seen during the event. The women birthed outdoors near streams and so the names tended to be related to nature and animals seen during the process. During the rest of your life, many namse could be added, based on anything from a small happening to a great victory in battle. Many names came from specific groups of names (color, animal type, etc), but there were exceptions to this, too. The red or humma group was one of distinction. Taking a red name called on the Choctaw to act with honor and courage, and was probably one of the largest name groups. Holahta was another name group, roughly meaning “leader,” and was reserved for special use.Here is a selection of Choctaw names:
Yule, or The Winter Solstice, marks the death and rebirth of the Sun-god. It also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King, the god of the Waning Year, by the Oak King, the God of the Waxing Year. The Goddess, who was Death-in-Life at Midsummer, now shows her Life-in-Death aspect. Modern Christmas celebrations are full of pagan symbology. Santa Claus is the Holly King, the sleigh is the solar chariot, the eight reindeer are the eight Sabbats– their horns representing the Horned God– the North Pole symbolizes the Land of Shadows and the dying solar year, and the gifts are meant both to welcome the Oak King as the sun reborn and as a reminder of the gift of the Holly King, who must depart for the Oak King to rule.
There are several herbs that are used to decorate the Pagan household at this time of year. We adorn doorways and mantles with evergreen boughs and bunches of dried summer herbs. Our ancient ancestors brought an evergreen tree inside to ensure that there would be light all year round. The evergreen retains sunlight, staying green all year, and reminds us that life is forever present and renewable.
As many of you know, I’m a good half Greek, but as not too many of you know, the other half of me is Choctaw and Cherokee Native American. Today, I’ll focus on Cherokee names and naming rules and next time we’ll look at Choctaw.
Cherokee has its own alphabet and its own naming rules, much like any other language. For example: There are no Cherokee sounds for the letters B, F, P, R, V, X, Z, SH, or TH. Cherokee speakers replace them with the lettesr QU so they would pronounce Rebecca “quay-quay-gah”. SH becomes S, TH becomes T, R is sometimes L or QU (Mary would be may-lee), and KR/CR/CHR becomes QU so Chris becomes quiss.
In Cherokee, syllables end in vowels so if your name ends in a consonant, like Megan, you become Megana.
Perusing through the Nameberry database, it occurred to me that all the nature names are pretty straightforward, normal names. So, in my never-ending search for unheard of names, I discovered these nature names that aren’t to be found there that I think are ripe for the picking. Since they’re nature names, I won’t separate them into gender categories since technically, all nature names should be unisex, but I will express my preference.
Aletris – Otherwise known as Colic Root, Blazing Star, Unicorn Root, and Stargrass, this is a flowering plant whose roots are used to make medicine. The flowers are tiny, delicate wide bells. The root is used for digestive problems (including colic), muscle problems, and some women use it to prevent miscarriage, though I wouldn’t recommend it without a doctor’s permission. As a name, I think it’s very cool. It sounds like it could fit into the ‘ancient name’ revival trend, or the ‘boyish names on girls’ trend as it does have a sort of masculine sound. For boys, it’s got the nickname Al and for girls there’s Allie and Lettie.
Well, summer’s here and with it I have a whole new list of sizzlin’ summer Greek names. In the summertime, there’s swimming, heat, and lots of outdoor fun. Plus, according to an article on livescience.com, summer is the time of year when the most babies are born, with August tending to be the busiest month. That being said, I hope all you expecting moms find a name you like for your little bundle of summer sunshine. Here are some ideas from the ancient Greek pantheon.
Theros — THEH-rohs– Theros is the Goddess of summer in Greek mythology and I think it has a very cool sound, reminiscent of names like Maris. With the long O sound at the end, it could conceivably be a new way to get to the nickname Rose.