What’s in a name…

I have spent some time this week creating a ‘gravatar’ for myself, the one you now see on my profile, based on a Sorrel leaf.

Before creating my blog, in fact at intervals over the past few years, I have had reasons to consider what name I should use publicly. I could simply use my own name – but that might not be fair to others who share my surname but not my beliefs. I could have used my ‘spirit’ name, my ‘magickal’ name as some would term it, but it is too personal and too easily abused, given the power that lies in a name. I save it for conscious communications of the spirit kind. So I needed a new name, one to use for writing. And if it was to be a public name, it needed to say something about me, and to have the right kind of energies associated with it that I could use to help me with my writing.

I explored several ideas, and was surprised how many potential names were already in use by other pagans. But then as so often happens on this path, everything just came together one day and felt right – the blog name and a writing name, and neither were in use by others as far as search engines could reveal. The simple meanings are given in my profile, the deeper meanings will become apparent over time as they gradually reveal themselves.

Just to be sure, I checked the names using Chaldean Numerology, my preferred system. Sorrel = 22, the same as my own name, and the same as Dragon. Creator and Doer. Pen adds 18, or 9, the Spiritual number. 22 + 18 + 22 = 62 / 8. Theme of Balance. Under a rowan tree = 60 / 6. Theme of Love. As a group of numbers they expressed very well what I wished to create with my blog and I felt these energies should serve me well.

So I had a name, but I didn’t yet have a symbol or image to use.

Having considered and rejected various ideas, I read an interesting passage in ‘Summer with the Leprechauns’ by Tanis Helliwell, where she learns about various spiritual symbols or insignias. The leprechaun for example has a four leaf clover, symbolising control of the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. (What we sometimes interpret as luck, they see as manifesting what is wanted.) Her symbol is a rose, a seeker or keeper of spiritual truths; enlightenment. The elements each have their own symbols. What was my symbol I wondered, and could I use it for my blog?

The easiest way for me to find out would be to journey. (I say easiest, but nothing is easy when you have a small child as a constant companion. The journey was done with a drumming CD and M sleeping half on top of me. No wonder most traditional shamans are male or over fifty!) As is my usual way, I started at a familiar hollow oak tree, about half a mile from here, found my cloak and staff where I had left them, and stated my question to the guardian of the doorway. Oak likes to challenge me with my question before I journey to otherworlds, knowing that I am wont to set off without having properly considered first, just because I have a rare opportunity to do so.

Knowing my question, I thought I was well away today; I knew what I wanted to find out, and I hoped I would find a simple answer. But Oak stopped me in my tracks (not for the first time) by telling me to be sure I knew what it was I was asking, as I would have to look deep within myself for the answer. Also that when I add more names, I was adding more layers of secrecy, confusion, conflict, and potential. Make sure I do it consciously and by choice.

He was not wrong! The experience of having my symbol shown to me was both revealing and unsettling, and I learned more about myself and who I was and where I was going than I could ever have anticipated. Like having a deep truth brought out into the open, one that just felt right and comfortable, but was formidable at the same time given the expectation contained within the truth. However when I asked if this was an appropriate symbol to use, the answer was no. Sorry folks – I won’t be sharing any details just yet! I asked what I should use, and was told I needed to look within myself for something appropriate for the blog. What kind of an answer was that?

So the symbol I have chosen to use, as I said above, is a Sorrel leaf. The heart shape is very like an alder leaf, that of a watery nature with the drop bouncing back up, but tripled like a trefoil or a triskele which I generally interpret as being of three worlds. Very green, so it is aligned with the heart chakra in colour as well as shape. Celtic knotwork is not something I have done much of recently, but it felt appropriate here – one line, connecting all. Following it as I drew and coloured became a meditation of its own, much like walking a labyrinth, considering what it meant and what I hoped it would bring. The fact that it took three attempts to before I was satisfied only deepened my connections. And so my ‘gravatar’ brings alive the craft part of this blog at the same time.

I knew I had got it right. And I also know that had I simply been told what to do it would not have been half as rewarding as working it out for myself.

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