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Posts Tagged ‘Stella’

It’s the Winter Solstice tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere (and the Summer Solstice in the Southern — I’m not jealous, really, I’m not).

That is to say, it’s the shortest day, or — as my mum used to say — the longest night.

And whatever your religious persuasion, or none, there’s something special about it.

It marks the very deepest, darkest moment of winter — that’s the bleak bit.

But it means from now on, the days gradually start to lengthen again. The ever turning wheel of the year has shifted, and we’re on our way back to the warmth and light. Yippee!

However, for a few days, each side of the Solstice, to the naked eye, the sun appears to rise and set in the same places — hence the name, from the Latin sol “sun” + sisto “to stand still.”

Of course, we know today that the reason why the sun grows weaker and the days shorten after the Summer Solstice is because the Earth goes round the sun, spinning on its axis, which is on an angle.

But for most of human history (and prehistory) most humans thought it was the sun doing the moving, rising in the East, setting in the West.

As the Winter Solstice approached, they thought the sun was dying; the Sostice marked the point when the sun was reborn, to strengthen and grow until it reached the peak of its power at the Summer Soltice.

No wonder this period is marked with numerous festivals, frequently of light.

Chief among them in the pagan Roman Empire was Sol Invictus — “The Unconquered Sun” — whose birthday was celebrated on December 25.

It is no coincidence that it shares December 25 with Christmas, only celebrated on that date since the fifth century.

December 25 is the first date after the Solstice when the sun stops seeming to “stand still” and the day is discernibly a little longer.

The word “Christmas” actually dates only to the twelfth century. Prior to that, the festivities which took over Sol Invictus were called Yule (the earliest Old English form known is geohol), almost certainly the name of the Germanic pagan festival celebrated at this time.

The ultimate source of the word “yule” is uncertain, but it is either cognate with, or derived from the Norse jól and is, most likely, connected with “jolly,” though there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation about which came first.

The original Norse festival of Jól was celebrated between the 20th and 31st December.

Yule and Yuletide are still used generally as an alternative name for Christmas, as they have for centuries, but it is the preferred name for the season by most Pagans of all persuasions, who usually use it now for the Solstice, rather than December 25.

Druids, however, will often call the Solstice Alban Arthan, which was first recorded by Iolo Morganwg.

So, what names for a Winter Solstice baby?

  • Aglaia — Greek aglaios “splendor”; one of the Graces
  • Alban — Welsh “solstice”; identical to the name of the saint, and quite probably sharing the same roots in the Common Celtic *albiyo- “upper world” and “white.”
  • Amaterasu — Japanese 天  “heaven,” “sky” and 照 “shine”; the name of the Japanese Goddess of the sun
  • Amber — one ancient belief was that amber was the solidified light of the setting sun on the sea.
  • Anwu — Igbo “sun”
  • Apollo — God of the sun
  • Arevik — Armenian name meaning “sun-like”
  • Arthan — An Old Welsh word meaning “winter”, connected by Iolo Morganwg with arth “bear.”
  • Arthur — Druids see Arthur as symbolic of the sun and equate him with the winter solstice.
  • Arun, Aruna — In Hindu mythology, Aruna is the charioteer of the sun.
  • Aster
  • Aten — Egyptian “disc of the sun”; the name of an Egyptian God, considered an aspect of Ra.
  • Aurinko — Finnish “sun”
  • Bay — one of the herbs traditionally added to a seasonal mulled wine
  • Cam — the Romani word for “sun” (and “to love”)
  • Cardamon — a spice added to mulled wines in the Middle Ages
  • Cerah — Malaysian “sunny” and “bright”
  • Chrysogon — Greek khrusogonos “gold-born”; Grisegond is an old variant
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrine — used since the eighteenth century as the name of a type of yellow topaz; it is believed to radiate the energy of the sun
  • Clove — one of the most important ingredients of a mulled wine
  • Cressida — derives ultimately from the Greek mythological Chryseis, meaning “(daughter) of Chryses” — a male Greek name from khrusos “gold.”
  • Day
  • Diell — Albanian “sun”
  • Eguzki — Basque “sun”
  • Enya — in the Native American language of Papai, enya means “sun.” The Irish Enya originated as the Anglicized form of Eithne used by the Irish singer-songwriter Enya; Eithne is an old form of Áine, the name of an Irish Goddess, whose name means “heat” and “light”.
  • Frankincense — an ancient resin, used as an incense since ancient times, and used for purification in Pagan temples. It is considered to be ruled by the Sun even today, and the Ancient Egyptians used it particularly in the worship of the sun God Ra.
  • Geola — Old English form of YULE
  • Gold — associated with the sun since ancient times
  • Grian — an Irish Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”
  • Günay — Turkish girl’s name combining güneş “sun” + ay “moon”; Aygün is a variant
  • Haru — Japanese boy’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight”; Haruki, another boy’s name, combines it with 輝 “radiance, shine” or 生 “life,” while the girl’s name Haruko combines it with 子 “child.”
  • Heliodorus, Heliodora — Greek “gift of the sun”
  • Heliostásio — Modern Greek “solstice”
  • Helius — Greek God of the sun; his name means “sun”
  • Heuldro — Welsh “solstice”
  • Heulwen — Welsh haul “sun” + (g)wen “white,” “blessed” and “pure”; used since the late nineteenth century
  • Hina — Japanese girl’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight” or 日 “sun,” “day” + 菜 “vegetables”
  • Honey — associated with the sun since ancient times
  • Iolo — although unrelated, Iolo (with its feminine form Iola) has a very similar ring to YULE…
  • Jólnir — a byname of Odin. Old Norse: jól “YULE”
  • Jolie — French jolie, feminie of joli “pretty,” derives from, or shares the same origin, as the Old Norse jól “YULE”
  • Jolly — sharing the same origin as JOLIE, if you find this too light, why not consider the “long-form” Jolyon, a form of Julian, deriving ultimately from Julius? Although, like Iolo, not related to Yule, the similarities are there…
  • Jua — Swahili “sun”
  • Kem — Romani “sun”; a variant of CAM
  • Khurshid — Old Persian “shining sun”; the name of an angel in Zoroastrianism associated with the sun
  • Light
  • Lucius
  • Lucy — English form of Lucia, the feminine of LUCIUS. St Lucy’s day was celebrated in many parts of Europe last week on the thirteenth; until the switch over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, St Lucy’s used to fall on or around the Solstice.
  • Lux — Latin “light”
  • Maeve — Usual modern form of the Irish name Medb, which derives from the Common Celtic for MEAD (cognate with mead itself)
  • Matahari — Indonesian “sun” (from mata “eye” + hari “day”)
  • Mead — a beverage made from HONEY, dating back to ancient times; probably the unofficial official Pagan drink, especially for the Solstices; it shares honey’s associations with the sun.
  • Midwinter — a word used of the Solstice since Angl0-Saxon times
  • Mithras — the Greco-Roman God of the mystery religion of Mithraism, popular with Roman soldiers. His worship arrived from the East in the first century; he is identified with Sol Invictus, and his birthday was also celebrated on December 25.
  • Mull — “mulled wine,” from the verb “to mull” meaning “to warm.” The Island of Mull gets its name from a Gaelic word meaning “bare,” also quite appropriate for the season, since all is bare (the cognate Welsh word is used of bare, “bald” hills).
  • Myrene — an Amazon in Greek myth; Greek: murinês “sweet wine.”
  • Myristica — botanical name for NUTMEG, meaning “fragrant”
  • Naran — Mongolian name meaning “sun”
  • Natalia — from the Latin natale “bitth”; these days, associated with the birth of Jesus, but is just as appropriately applied to the rebirth of the Sun, as celebrated at Sol Invictus; Natalie and Nathalie are the popular French forms, and Natasha, the Russian pet-form.
  • Noel — Anglo-Norman noel “Christmas” from Latin natale —  see NATALIA
  • Nutmeg — another spice often added to a mulled wine
  • Oenone
  • Orange — oranges, being round and, well, orange, are often associated with the sun
  • Oriana — coined by Elizabethan poets in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, from Latin orior “to rise,” used specifically of the rising sun.
  • Orinda — another poetic invention coinage from orior (see Oriana above), this time of the seventeenth century.
  • Orun — Yoruba: òrùn “sun”
  • Phaëthon — Greek “shining”; the name of a son of Helius, famous for almost crashing the chariot of the sun
  • Phanes — a primeval Greek God, associated with MITHRAS; his name derives from the Greek phainô “to bring light.”
  • Phoebe
  • Phoebus — Greek: phoibos “bright” and “radiant”; epithet of Apollo
  • Ra — the Egyptian God of the Sun, whose name means “sun”
  • Ramesses — The name of a famous Pharaoh, meaning “RA/the sun bore him.”
  • Ravi — Sanskrit “sun”
  • Renaissance  — French “rebirth”; generally used since the nineteenth century of the cultural “rebirth” at the end of the Middle Ages, its basic meaning is simply “rebirth” and could be used as a name with reference to the rebirth of the sun at the Winter Solstice
  • René, Renée — French forms of RENATUS
  • Renatus, Renata — Latin “reborn”; used of the rebirth of the sun
  • — Chinese 日 “sun,” “day”
  • Samson — Hebrew: “child/man of SHAMASH”; Sampson is a common variant
  • Saulė — Lithuanian Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”; Saulenė is a variant
  • Shamash — major Assyrian God; his name means “sun” in Akkadian
  • Shams — Arabic “sun”
  • Shemshi — Swahili “sun”
  • Sherry — rolled out across the land at this time of year, particularly to leave out for Santa…
  • Soare — Romanian “sun”
  • Sol — Latin “sun”; Norse Sól meaing “sun” is the name of the Norse Goddess of the Sun
  • Solar
  • Solaris — Latin “of the sun”
  • Soleil — French “sun”
  • Solifer, Solifera — Latin “sun-bearing”
  • Soligena — Latin “sun-born”
  • Solstice
  • Solveig — Old Norse sól “sun” + veig “strength”
  • Sonne — German “sun”
  • Sorin — Romanian name, usually derived from SOARE
  • Sorina — feminine of SORIN
  • Sounia — epithet of Athena, from Sounion in Attica, which may, possibly, derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *su(w)en- “sun”; Latinized as Sunia
  • Stella
  • Sulien — Old Welsh name, probably meaning “sun-born”
  • Sun
  • Sunčana — Croatian name from sunče “sun”
  • Sunday — could be interpreted as referring to the Solstices as well as the day of the week
  • Sunlight
  • Sunna — Goddesss of the sun in Germanic tradition.
  • Sunniva — Old English: Sunngifu “sun-given”
  • Sunny
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Sunshine
  • Surya — Sanskrit “sun”; the Hindu God of the sun
  • Svarog — Slavic God of the sun; Slavic: svar “bright”
  • Tesni — Welsh name deriving from tes “sunshine” and “warmth”
  • Wassail — originally a salutation used when passing a cup to a guest; from the Old English wes hāl “be in good health”; in time it came to be used of the drink too, especially the spiced ale drunk during the twelve days of Christmas
  • Wine — another popular beverage of the season, especially mulled
  • Winter
  • Yáng — Chinese  陽 “sun,” “positive”
  • Youko — Japenese girl’s name: 陽 “sun” + 子 “child”
  • Yule — of course. Also the fab variant Yul. Yule was actually used as a given name in medieval times (with a feminine form Yula), surviving for some time on the Isle of Man in the form Jole.

With Yule and Sol Invictus to celebrate, I’ll be back at the Nook when the mead’s worn off…

A bright and blessed Solstice, Yule, Alban Arthan and Christmas one and all. :)

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Yesterday’s Pagan Name of the Month Stella inspired todays Pick of the Week choice — Aster.

Aster is a direct adoption of the Greek astêr “star.”

Not only is it cognate with the Latin stella but also the word for star in most European languages, some of which are, of have been, used as given names, including the Welsh Seren, English Star — and Old English Steorra (which was also used as a name) — German Stern and Russian Zvezda.

In the early seventeenth century, “aster” was adopted into English as an alternative word for star, though this usage has since become obsolete.

The word is best-known now, however, as a flower name. It was first used as such in the early eighteenth century, as an alternative name for starworts, becoming the formal botanical name later for a genus of the daisy family, because of the star-like nature of the flowers. It includes the Michaelmas daisy.

As a given name, there are a couple of examples of Aster known from Antiquity, but it certainly wasn’t common.

In the English-speaking world, Aster is found in the records as early as the seventeenth century, although in many cases this may represent variant spellings of Esther, Hester and Easter (which also got thoroughly muddled), or of the surname Astor.

This surname itself is a variant of Easter — but mostly a different Easter to the festival. It derives from the Old English ēowestere “sheepfold,”  or Good and High Easter in Essex, which share the same source. Occasionally, however, it may be from Easter as a medieval girl’s name, which is the adoption of the name of the festival.

There are also a number of rather nice related names:

Asteria — feminine form of the Greek adjective asterios “starry.” Borne by more than one character in Greek mythology, and used for the name of a precious stone by the Romans, possibly an asteriated sapphire

Asterial — an English adjective meaning “star-like” derived from the Greek

Asterias — scientific name of a genus of star-fish

Asteridas — a rare Ancient Greek personal name. The –idas ending was originally used with the sense of “son of,” so Asteridas can be interpreted with the meaning of “son of a star/the stars.”

Asterion asterios plus the name suffix –ion. The name of two sacred kings of Crete, one of whom was the father of King Minos. The other is often identified with the Minotaur himself, and is used as such in Jorge Luis Borges in his short story “The House of Asterion” (1949). In Antiquity, it was the name of the white campion, which the Greeks used to weave garlands for Hera. It is also an alternative name for the star Chara.

Asterope (“as-TEH-roe-pee”) — one of the Pleiades; her name combines astêr with ôps “face.”

Astoria — an elaboration of the surname Astor (see above), originally used of the famous New York Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria.

Astra — the plural of the Latin astrum, a Latin cognate of the Greek.

Astraea — feminine form of the Greek adjective astraios “starry.” This is the name of Virgo — the “starry maiden.” Astrea is a variant.

Astral — another English adjective meaning “starry” or “relating to the stars,” perhaps best known through mystic and esoteric beliefs such as “astral spirits,”astral body,” “astral plane” and “astral projection.”

Astrantia — the botanical name for the masterwort, coined from astêr or the related Latin astrum.

Astrion — an obsolete English name of a type of precious stone, probably an asteriated sapphire

Astro — generally a prefix, as found in words such as “Astrophysics”; it was used of two investigative missions to Mars in the ’90s.

Astromancer — rare old English word meaning “diviner by the stars.”

Astron — Greek astron “star” — a variant of astêr.

Astronoe (“as-TROH-no-ee”) — Greek form of the name of a Phoenician Goddess — probably Astarte — remodelled to give it meaning in Greek, i.e. astêr plus nous “mind.”

Astrophel

Astrophorafeminine form of the Greek adjective astrophoros “bearing-stars.” Astropher would make an enticing alternative to Christopher…

In 2010, 16 girls were called Aster in the US; and 4 in the UK. It didn’t make it into the official records as a boy’s name at all. But it has been used for boys, and given how little used it still is, there’s no reason not to.

Aster is a rarity — but it’s definitely a magnificent little star…

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Pagan Name of the Month here at the Nook explores a name in the US or UK top 100 which has plenty of Pagan umph.

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).

Stella also lies behind Estrella, Estelle and Estella, as well as the more unusual French Étoile.

So, as you can see, if you want a Pagan Witch or Wiccan name that doesn’t scream Pagan, Stella makes a stellar name!

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This week is ‘Sneak Peek Week’ at Nook of Names. Each day, I shall be previewing the entry or entries for the names of five friends who first ‘put their hands up’ when I announced it on Facebook.

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Estelle. It’s a good name to start with, as it demonstrates very well how one entry often leads to another — a name in capitals indicates that name has an entry of its own. And Estelle leads us on a journey that takes us to Rome and beyond…

Estelle

A French name. It may be from an old form of French: étoile ‘star’ < STELLA. A comparative development of how the word étoile arose from stella can be seen in the development of Étienne from Stephen. However, another plausible option is that Estelle developed as a variant of ESTHER. The -er ending sits awkwardly in French, and the linguistics involved in a shift to -elle in French are slight. Certainly, the resemblance to the Latin stella, if not an archaic form of étoile (no coincidence, as stella and Esther are probably cognate anyway), may have encouraged the development. The name was rare in France before the 19th Century, being found only in Les Charentes and Provence – another hint that its origins lie in Esther; Provence was where Isabella developed from Elizabeth. Although it had become more widespread by the 2nd half of the 19th Century, Estelle’s use in France still largely postdates the publication of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1860-61), the heroine of which is Estella – which naturally became Estelle in the French version. Bearers: Estelle Masterson, a (shrewish mortal) character in the US film I Married a Witch (1942).

Stella

Latin: stella ‘star’. Stella was used by Sir Philip Sidney in his Astrophel and Stella (1591). Stella Maris meaning ‘star of the sea’ is now considered a title of the Virgin Mary, but it is likely that the title was originally bestowed upon the Goddess Isis. 17th Century. Bearers: Stella Mayfair, a character in Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series (1990-94).

Esther

In The Bible, Esther was the name given to Hadassah when she entered the harem of King Ahaseurus. It is widely believed to have derived from the Old Persian stāra ‘star’. However, it may actually be from ISHTAR. Esthêr was the Greek form used in The Bible; the Latin forms were Esthera and Hestera, with Esther deriving from the former and HESTER from the latter. Both came into use in the 16th Century and quickly became confused with EASTER and each other. Variant: Esta (modern). Diminutive: ESSIE. Czech, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Portuguese: Ester, Finnish: Esteri, Dutch, French, German, Spanish: Esther, Hungarian: Eszter; Eszti (diminutive). Bearers: Esther Vanhomrigh (c.1688-1723), probably the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s VANESSA; Esther Forbes (1891-1967), the US writer among whose works was A Mirror for Witches (1928) about the Salem Witch trials. Esther (1689) is a play by Racine.

As you can see, Estelle’s journey doesn’t end with Stella and Esther – but that’s quite enough for today :).

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