Naming Names: Thoughts on what we call Them

The Gods have been called by many names. The Goddess, in particular, is often referred to as “She Whose name is every name”. Technically, then, we shouldn’t have any trouble referring to the Divine as George and Gracey, but I’d be very surprised (and highly amused) to be in a circle where They were beseeched using those names.

Throughout most of Dragon’s Weave’s history, there was never a particular Goddess-form to Whom we called. In most cases, it was left to the Priestess casting the circle to do that, mindful of the purpose of the circle we were coming together to perform. If the primary purpose of the circle was healing, we generally did not call on Morrigan, for example. The God was less varied; He was typically called in one of the Horned aspects, Herne being the name I usually called.

I hadn’t given much thought to the names we used, although I was never really happy about the fact that the Goddess never seemed to have a name, when I called to her.
None of the classical or pre-classical pantheons seemed to fit. Then along comes Dianne Sylvan and her (now-defunct) EarthDance tradition. One of her core ideas really struck a chord with me:

    3 – EarthDance will have its own deities and myths as well as liturgy and standard Circle Casting, initiation rituals, and other practices. These will not be based on a pre-existing culture or pantheon (ie Greek, Egyptian, et cetera) but will be unique to EarthDance and reflect both our Wiccan ideals and our modern lives.

What an idea! I thought. And with that, I shed the accumulation of names and pantheons and began a serious exploration of the question: If there was no one else to tell me what Their names were, what would I call Them?

After some thought and meditation, I have finally heard the Goddess’ name. No, she didn’t lean down, and murmur softly in my ear. (Frankly, the Goddess I’m familiar with would likely bite.) For this, I learned to recognize what her voice would sound like. It is the sound of creation, the sound of the beginnings.

One of the earliest sound combinations humans are capable of incorporate the sounds that are part of many languages’ word for “mother”. These sounds are a back open unrounded vowel sound “a” and the bilabial nasal “m”. All us English-speaking Americans recognize the simplest formation of these sounds: “ma”, which is still used in parts of our country to refer to one’s mother. Mama, Mom, and Mommy are also recognized forms. In foreign languages, “madre”, “maman”, “ama” and “mater” all incorporate these sounds. The sounds also show up in other places. One variant of pronunciation of Om is voiced as “aaaaauuuuuuummmmmmmmnnnnnnnn”.

These pieces of evidence reinforce an intuition I have that Her name, if I were the one doing the telling, is Awma, pronounced more closely as “AU-mah”. That initial dipthong should start as a pure “a” and glide to “u” before proceeding to the “m”.

Now, maybe I’m bug-nuts, here. Maybe this isn’t anything but wishful thinking, but I believe it’s accurate. It’s also a lot more liberating than trying to divorce a name from an entire culture. Insisting on calling her Morrigu, when I don’t use any other Gaelic elements introduces a kind of dissonance that I can live without.

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