This is such a Dionysian month, the only thing I can do is roll with the inspiration as it comes along. Mostly, this means I am being way too personal. I choose topics which are dear to my heart, or share things about my person I might otherwise never have shared. It is as it is. So, today, I am going to tell you about my screen name.

My birth name is not--obviously, unfortunately--Elani Temperance. My birth name is much more Dutch. I have been using the name 'Elani' for almost twelve years and it's as much--if not more--connected to my identity than my birth name is. I feel more at ease when someone calls me Elani than by my birth name.

Elani was revealed to me when I was just a young thing on the Neo-Pagan path. I didn't research it, I didn't question it, I just accepted it for what it was. Later I learned the following about it: Elani has its origins in the Hellenic language, stemming from 'Helen', and closely resembling the ancient Hellenic name 'Eleni'. It means 'torch', light', or 'bringer of light'. Once I learned that, I never doubted my attraction to torch bearing Goddesses (like Hekate) or Goddesses closely associated with fire (Hestia, Brighid) again. Numerologically, Elani indicated a person who needs solitude, who is a good teacher, and a spiritual person.

When I still worked in the on-line LGBTQ-scene, I was told by my boss, I needed a screen name that appears as regular as possible; a first name and surname. While my handle was different for the work I did there, I took her advice to heart when I founded Little Witch magazine. 'Temperance' was the most logical of 'surnames' to adopt. It's the virtue I am most drawn to, that reflects my person the most, and that I struggle with constantly. It was a challenge to myself, but also a declaration to the outside world. When I founded Baring the Aegis, it remained.

A name says a lot about a person. In ancient Hellas, children were named on the seventh or tenth day after birth, during the Dekate. Poor families held the naming ceremony during the Amphidromia--at five or seven days--instead. Names could be changed by the father later on. The eldest son was usually named after his paternal grandfather and subsequent children after other relatives. Sons were rarely named after their father, although it was acceptable to give a child an altered version of the father's name.

Female names came to be largely through the same customs, but were 'feminized' by editing the endings of the word. From '-es' or '-ias' to '-eis', '-e' or '-a' for example, as can be seen with the male name 'Agapias' and female name 'Agapia'. Children were often named after the Theoi, but names were often switched around a bit. To gift a child with the exact name of a Theos or Theia was considered hubris.

Children of both sexes took their father's name, or that of their deme or tribe, as an additive to their personal name. Nicknames were also common to add to a name. Plato, whose birth name was Aristocles, was almost always called after his nickname, which meant 'broad'. Upon marriage, women took their husband's name. If widowed, she would take her son's name, instead. If this was not a possibility, she returned to her father, and took his name again.

Although the practice was far more prevalent in ancient Rome, the Hellens also had a special punishment for someone who had committed atrocious crimes: the removal of their name from all records, so it would be forgotten in time. In latin, the practice was called 'damnatio memorae', and the most famous (failed) attempt is that of Herostratus (Ἡρόστρατος), who burned down the temple of Artemis at Ephesus in 356 BC. This is the main reason I don't write down the names of modern murderers on this blog. I wish their name and memory to be obliterated. They should receive no 'credit' for their acts.

So how do we name our children? Do we name them with our religion in mind? Do we follow the ways of the ancient Hellens? I, for one, will most likely not be naming my children after my father. I love my dad very much, but his name is a bit too Christian for my tastes. I would love to name my children in a Hellenistic fashion, but oddly enough, I won't be naming my newborn son 'Apollodorus'. I was teased as a child, and although kids will find a reason to tease, I'm not giving them ammunition right off the bat. There are, however,   variations which would work today. Dion (after Dionysos), Dia (loosely after Aphrodite), Alex or Alexander, Cassandra, Cleo, Irene, Leo, and Tamara come to mind.

Are you naming your children in the religion? Perhaps in the way of the ancient Hellens? Do you have naming tips for those of us who haven't started their family yet?