This month, it’s the turn of the sparkling, seasonal Stella.
As most people know, Stella means “star” in Latin.
“Stella Maris,” meaning “star of the sea” in Latin, is a well-known title of the Virgin Mary — and widely believed to have originally been an epithet of the Goddess Isis.
Although, there is actually no document from Antiquity explicitly linking Stella Maris with Isis — we do know that the ancients used “Stella Maris” of the star Polaris, and it is likely as a title to have originally belonged to Isis.
It was Eusebius, writing in the fourth century, was the first to say that Mary was “Stella Maris” (although it is not actually recorded as a title until the ninth), and it is well-established that Mary acquited many of Isis’s attributes and associations after Christianty became the official religion of Rome.
Stella was first used as a given name in the seventeenth century, possibly inspired by Sir Philip Sidney’s use of it in his Astrophel and Stella (1591). The Stella of the sonnets is often identified with Lady Penelope Rich, first cousin twice removed of Queen Elizabeth I (and possibly even the Queen’s great-great niece — a question mark hangs over the paternity of Penelope’s grandmother, Catherine Carey, daughter of “the other Boleyn Girl,” Mary).
Sidney himself is virtually universally identified with the Astrophel of the poems, a coinage of Sidney’s own from the Greek astêr “star” and philos “lover.”
Stella was 85th in the USA in 2010, having risen rapidly since 1998 when it re-entered the top 1000.
It left it slighty over ten years earlier, having been dwindling slowly with the passing decades since its previous peak almost 100 years exactly; it was 55th in 1889.
In the UK, it was a much lowlier 372nd, with its use possibly influenced negatively at the present time by the popularity of the Belgian lager, Stella Artois.
Stella did, however, enjoy a fair amount of popularity in the UK in the late ninteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was at its most popular in the 1920s, reaching 81st place in 1924.
Amongst real and fictional bearers are Stella Mayfair, a witch in Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series (1990–94) and Paul McCartney’s daughter, designer Stella McCartney (born 1971).
So, as you can see, if you want a Pagan Witch or Wiccan name that doesn’t scream Pagan, Stella makes a stellar name!