This month’s Pagan Name of the Month (a name with great Pagan potential ranked in the top 100 names in the US or UK) was chosen by my Small Child.
She decided today that “ruby red” was now her favorite color (after months of it being blue), and when I asked her for a name, she didn’t hesitate to offer Ruby.
Sadly, it happens to be firmly in my personal category of “Old Biddy” names — but I guess that’s just me and my childhood prejudices, and I promise I won’t let it influence me :).
Certainly, Ruby does have a lot in its favor. As the name of a precious stone, it’s obviously a good choice to emphasis the precious nature of a child.
And, unlike some precious stones, the meaning’s quite good too. The word “ruby” comes to us from the Old French rubi, which in turn derives from the Latin rubeus (as in Hagrid) meaning “red.”
Red is a wonderfully symbolic color. Principally in the West, it is associated with fire and blood – and because of this, it is symbolic of those emotions thought to “stir the blood,” such as love and anger.
Perhaps because blood is regarded as a pollutant in many cultures, it also has acquired association with the Christian notion of “sin.” Christians usually portray their “devil” red, partly because of the color’s association with sin, and partly, no doubt, due to their notion of a fiery hell over which he is said to rule.
However, the shedding of blood is also symbolic of the self-sacrifice made by warriors, thus the color red has taken on this symbolism too, along with the courage that goes along with it.
Its association with war is cemented by the fact that Mars – the planet of the Roman God of War – is also red.
And – simply because of red’s brightness – it has become the color of warning.
Meanwhile, in some cultures – because red is the color of fire, and fire is the color of the South, and both have positive connotations – it is also associated with good luck.
This is especially true in China, where it is also associated with fertility and success.
Red is the traditional bridal color in both China and India, while in Ancient Rome, brides also wore a “flame-colored” veil, generally understood to be red.
Rubies share many of the same associations as the color red, such as passion and fire. This led to an old legend that said a ruby dropped in water would cause it to boil.
Regarded as the birth stone for July and Cancer – though also sometimes associated with Capricorn – rubies are believed to inject energy, and stimulate passion for life. They represent courage, integrity and strength.
In Hinduism, it is believed the homes of the Gods are lit by rubies and emeralds, while in Burma, rubies are considered to be the blood of Mother Earth herself.
Ruby first appeared as a girl’s name in the eighteenth century – possibly earlier – but it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century when the fashion for using gemstones as names came in that it became widespread.
It is currently very popular indeed in the UK. It was number 1 in 2007, while in 2010 it was 7. In the USA, it has still to break into the top 100 again; in 2010 it was ranked 113.
If you want a mainstream name that is cheerful, bright, and rich in significance, Ruby might be exactly what you’re after.