What’s In a Name?

When I began the dedicant path, I chose Anglo-Saxon as my hearth culture. Before discovering ADF, I was curious about heathenry and had been poking around various Asatru groups. I didn’t know the differences among different types of heathenry and chose to focus on Anglo-Saxon because of my English ancestry. Not that I believe in that folkish stuff. Not at all. yuck. But I figured since I didn’t have a preference anyway, might as well learn a bit about my ancestors in the process. Incidentally, I do have some Icelandic waaaay back there in the family tree. My 37th great grandma is is Groa Thorsteindottir  (This bit of info thanks to my mother, the expert genealogist of the family). Apparently Groa married into a Scottish royal family which essentially ended any further Norse affiliation in my family.

But I digress.

If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you’ll notice that I have used both Norse and Anglo Saxon names to refer to the Gods. I tried forcing myself to use the AS names exclusively, but many of them I just couldn’t get used to. They felt awkward to say, they felt awkward to type, and most importantly, I didn’t feel like I was connecting with the deities with names that remain foreign to me. There are only two Gods whom I prefer to call by their AS name because it feels right (Woden and Thunor). I expect sooner or later I’m going to lose the small handful of my reconstructionist followers – or find that my posts show up in their Facebook groups as comic fodder. haha. But that’s OK :p I don’t think I’m woo enough yet for that honor anyway. lol.

But honestly, though, should I force myself to use the names that don’t feel right with the understanding that eventually they will? And never mind re-programming years of Norse-mythology influence on my brain, what about communicating with everyone else? If I start calling Freyr by is AS name, Frea or even Ing Frea, people may get confused and think I mean Freya since most are not familiar with the AS names. When I said Freo for Freya recently, my husband said “who?”

I’d rather not have to add an explanatory footnote every time I refer to a God or Goddess by their AS name on my blog. Fortunately, most people know, or can easily figure out, who Woden and Thunor are. As for the rest, I am just going to keep on referring to them by the Norse names and hope that none of the “you’re-doing-it-wrong” people come after me 😮

I’m sticking with the AS hearth culture for the dedicant path, but ultimately, I’ll probably end up following my own blasphemous Norse/Anglo-Saxon/ContinentalGerman mash-up with a hint of Gaelic on the side.


Posted on November 5, 2015, in Paganism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I tried using the Anglicised versions of the names a bit as well (seeing as I’m based in East Anglia and all) but it just didn’t feel right. The Norse names are more recognisable and well-known (thanks to Marvel, everyone knows Thor, Odin, Loki and Heimdall these days), so I go with them. I like the idea of a Saxon.Norse/Celtic mash-up…Heathen Druidry!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand where you’re coming from; I’ve faced similar issues regarding the version of Seth’s name that I prefer to use in public. Set, Suti, Sutekh and Setekh are all valid variants, and different people have different reasons for using each of them. But I eventually settled on “Seth” (and often with the “-Typhon” suffix) because that’s the version of His name that I most often see used in archaeological sources. I often call Him Sutekh when I’m actually praying to Him, and some of His other followers prefer to use this or other similar variants because it’s much closer to what the ancient Egyptians would have called Him. But when it comes to discussing Him with the general public, it just feels most right to identify Him by the name that’s most often used for Him in today’s world.

    The important thing is to remember that there are no right or wrong answers to this question. For me, it’s really like debating whether “potato” should be pronounced “poe-TAY-toe” or “puh-TAH-toe”; you’re essentially saying the same thing either way. I think you should just use whichever variants of the Gods’ names that you like best, and not worry about being 100% reconstructionist about it. I really don’t think the Gods care that much, as long as Their names are being respected in any case.

    Liked by 1 person

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