This month’s name takes us reeling a jig over the sea to the Emerald Isle.
Aidan is currently very popular around the English-speaking world, although, in both America and Britain the spelling Aiden is now preferred, presumably because of influnece from Jayden and friends.
But, unlike Jayden, Aidan has a long and distinguished history — and is a particularly fine Pagan name.
Aidan is the usual Anglicized form of Irish Aodhán, which combines aodh “fire” with the diminutive suffix -án. Thus it means “little fire.”
It was used in Ireland from at least the sixth century; though the usual Old Irish form was Áedán, and the “full form” Áed/Aodh were much more common. Numerous figures from history and legend bore the name.
Aodh is also the name of a God, regarded as a sun God. He is one of the children of Lir, who were turned into swans through the machinations of their evil step-mother Aoife.
The most famous Aidan, however, has to be the seventh-century saint of the name, associated with Lindisfarne. St Aidan is credited with introducing Christianity to Northumbria from Iona.
Still, it is clear it was a Pagan name before him :).
And as well as its ancient Pagan credentials, let’s not forget its potent meaning:
Fire is one of the classic four elements. Its importance to humankind is attested by the myriad of mythological stories which surround it, especially about how humankind first acquired it— from the tale of Prometheus in the Greek tradition, to the Choctaw story of Grandmother Spider stealing fire.
Understandably, fire is associated with the Sun, and — in all Northern Latitude countries — with the South, with summer and with the color red. It is representative of energy and passion, and the “spark” of life that animates and burns within us all. We use expressions in everyday English such as “hot” or “fiery” tempered without thinking, so common and embedded is the notion that anger or passion and fire are one.
Gods and goddess of fire play a significant role in most mythologies, such as the Irish Brigid, who is one of the most revered Goddesses in modern Paganism.
And many modern Pagans mark the festivals with a fire, especially the classic “fire festivals” — namely the cross-quarter ones of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.
So, if you’re looking for a boy’s name which is popular and well-known, but which has lots of Pagan mojo, why not consider the lovely Irish Aidan?