There seems to be a bit of a controversy in Pagan circles about the use of the names of Gods and Goddesses, either for children, or as a new name for oneself.
There are those who argue that it is inappropriate. Even hubristic.
But as with most aspects of Paganism, much of the answer to this question comes down to your own personal beliefs, and how you view the Divine.
And this, of course, will play a big part in whether you think it is acceptable or not to use a God or Goddess’s name.
If you are a polytheist — if you consider the Gods to be distinct, individual entities, completely separate from mortal life — perhaps you might agree that using their names is inappropriate.
In which case, you should, of course, avoid, or choose names which contain a deity’s name, or carry the meaning ‘belonging to such-and-such’, rather than the deity’s name itself.
But if you are a pantheist — if you believe that the Divine is in all things, making us all essentially ‘divine beings’ — then choosing the name of a God or Goddess might be seen as not just acceptable, but suitable and respectful.
Using the actual names of Gods and Goddesses is not a new phenomenon.
Several names from ancient Paganism have long become established as given names in the English-speaking world. These include Aurora, Branwen, Bridget, Diana, Felicity, Flora, Freya, Irene, Iris, Lilith, Luna, Maia, Phoebe, Rhiannon, Sophia and Victoria.
The names of male divinities used for boys is less common, but there are still some, which have seen varying amounts of use, such as Adonis, Augustus, Dylan, Hercules, Julius, Odin — and Jesus. This last may be principally found in the Spanish community, pronounced ‘he-SOOS’ and used in reference to a Catholic festival, but nevertheless, it’s still the name of a figure considered divine by many, and currently ranking 92nd in the US.
In some religions, such as Hinduism, it has long been considered not just acceptable to use the name of a God or Goddess, but desirable, because it is believed that the child will grow to be like the deity, as well as be protected by them.
There’s also the power of the positive. Call it ‘good’, ‘light’, ‘love’, ‘karma’ whatever. It seems common sense to choose names with as much positivity as you can.
And, let’s face it, you can’t get much more positive than the names of the Divine itself!
There are literally tens of thousands of named Gods and Goddesses across the world, and my only caveat when choosing a God or Goddess’ name would be to select one that you not only like the sound of, but also feel an affinity with.
Here is just a small selection from some of the world’s principal mythologies:
Greek: Aphaia, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athene, Atlas, Bia, Chaos, Coeus, Cratus, Cronos, Demeter, Dionysus, Eos, Epimetheus, Erebus, Gaia, Geras, Hades, Harmonia, Hebe, Hecate, Helius, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Hyperion, Iapetus, Iris, Leto, Mnemosyne, Morpheus, Nice, Nyx, Oceanus, Pan, Persephone, Phoebe, Phoebus, Poseidon, Prometheus, Proteus, Rhea, Selene, Tethys, Themis, Tyche, Zephyrus, Zeus
Roman: Abundantia, Aesculapius, Anna Perenna, Apollo, Aurora, Bacchus, Bellona, Bona Dea, Caelus, Carmenta, Ceres, Cloacina, Consus, Cupid, Deverra, Diana, Egeria, Fauna, Felicitas, Flora, Fortuna, Fulgora, Hilaritas, Hora, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Justitia, Larentina, Liber, Libera, Libertas, Lucina, Luna, Lupercus, Mars, Mater Matuta, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Ops, Pax, Pietas, Pluto, Pomona, Priapus, Proserpina, Quirinus, Robigus, Saturn, Silvanus, Sol, Tellus, Terminus, Trivia, Vacuna, Venus, Vertumnus, Vesta, Virbius, Volumna, Voluptas, Vulcan
Egyptian: Aken, Aker, Ammit, Amun, Amunet, Anhur, Anubis, Anuket, Apis, Ash, Aten, Bast, Geb, Ha, Hapi, Hathor, Hedetet, Heka, Heqet, Horus, Huh, Iabet, Iah, Imentet, Isis, Kebechet, Khepri, Khnum, Khonsu, Ma’at, Mafdet, Mehen, Menhit, Meret, Min, Mnevis, Monthu, Neith, Nekhbet, Neper, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Pakhet, Ptah, Qebui, Rem, Renenutet, Satet, Seker, Sekhmet, Serket, Seth, Tatenen, Taweret, Tefnut, Tenenet, Thoth, Wadjet, Wosret
Hindu: Aditi, Agni, Arjuna, Aruna, Asura, Bhadra, Bharani, Bhavani, Bhudevi, Brahma, Chamundi, Chandra, Daksha, Danu, Dhumavati, Durga, Ganesha, Garuda, Gayatri, Hanuman, Hari, Indra, Kali, Krishna, Lakshman, Lakshmi, Lalitha, Mahavidya, Matangi, Mitra, Mohini, Nandi, Narada, Narayana, Nataraja, Navadurga, Padmavati, Parasiva, Parvati, Prajapati, Rama, Rati, Rudra, Rukmini, Saraswati, Sati, Shakti, Shatarupa, Shiva, Shree, Sita, Soma, Surya, Tara, Uma, Ushas, Varuna, Vasu, Vayu, Vishnu
Celtic: Abellio, Adsullata, Agrona, Alaunus, Alisanos, Andarta, Andraste, Arausio, Arduinna, Artio, Belatucadros, Belenus, Belisama, Bormana, Bormo, Brigantia, Camulos, Cernunnos, Cissionius, Cocidius, Coventina, Damara, Damona, Epona, Esus, Fagus, Grannus, Icovellauna, Lenus, Leucetios, Lugus, Maponus, Moritasgus, Nantosuelta, Nemausus, Nemetona, Nodens, Ogmios, Robor, Rosmerta, Sabrina, Sirona, Smertrios, Sucellos, Sulis, Tamesis, Taranis, Toutatis, Verbeia, Veteris, Vindonnus.