What’s In A Name

Aoife from the Legends of Cuchulain – artist and original source unknown.

What’s In A Name?

My post-divorce name is Aoife Aylya Mayze. I took the opportunity of the divorce to completely change my name, all of it, since I never liked either my birth name nor my married name. It is also to remind myself that this is my fresh start. The prior me allowed herself and her children to be shockingly abused. The new me will not stand for that again. Since many people are finding my name weird, I’ll explain why I chose it.

Aoife(EE’-fa) – is a Celtic name from the Irish word for “beauty” or “radiance.” It is most associated with a character from the legends of Cuchulain, the famous Irish hero. Aoife was the greatest warrior in the world, whom Cuchulain managed to defeat only through trickery. Although it is mostly an Irish name, the character in the myth was supposedly from Scotland. My mother’s family was American – by which I mean they were a mix of many, different races both foreign and domestic. The most dominate race in her family history, if only by a slight margin, is Scottish, although there is Irish in the mix as well. I chose this name to honor that side of my family and, hopefully, to help me find in myself some of the strength, courage and agility of this impressive heroine. Aoife is also used as a derivation of Eve or Eva, because it’s pronunciation is so similar. The name Eve means “life” which, in my opinion, is something too precious to waste. I use this name to remind me of that.

Aylya(ah-LEE’-ah) – Is a Hebrew name that is transliterated into English in many different ways. Perhaps the most common are “Aleea” or “Alia” but I was drawn by the symmetry of Aylya. It simply means “to go up” or “to rise,” with the connotation of drawing closer to God. This is what I plan to do from now on, rise and grow constantly closer to God. My father’s family are Jewish and I chose it to honor them.

Mayze(MAY’-z) – is simply a fun name, if a little corny (as in “maize” – a word for corn). To another of my many branches of ancestors, corn was an important food crop. A phrase to describe something that is worthless is, “it won’t grow corn.” I hope to prove to have great value, so I chose to add Mayze to my name, thereby allowing me to “grow corn” as I grow my name. I also like the image of a maze – a confusing path with many twists and turns that eventually leads to a destination, after you have been lost for a while. Right now, that seems to be a good analogy for my life, especially if you imagine a garden maze with much beauty along the way. This name reminds me to enjoy where I am, but to keep striving, because there is almost certainly something lovely around the next bend and a wonderful destination I plan to reach.

Put together, there are a lot of “Y”’s in this name. “Why,” you ask. “Exactly,” I answer. I am the sort of person who is always seeking to know why, so it seemed fitting. I also worked in two capital “a”s. The way I write a capital “A” looks like a star and is a lot of fun to draw. I just figure that, as much as we write our signatures, we ought to really enjoy doing it. On top of everything else, I like the way my first and middle names blend with Mayze to make a word sounding like “Amaze.” I hope not only to amaze others, but also to constantly allow other people and the world, in general, to amaze me.

2 Replies to “What’s In A Name”

  1. Very interesting how you came up with this and what it means. Of course I immediately thought of ol’ Bill Shakespeare’s line, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

    More than one might realize!

    1. I have always enjoyed Shakespeare. One of my least favorite works of his, however, is “As You Like It.” To my surprise, this play is popping up in rather a dominant position in my work-in-progress “The Escape of Motley’s Rose.” Of course, the main character in this story is named Rose (and the main character in “As You Like It” is Rosalind). Now you’ve quoted Juliet, from “Romeo and Juliet,” “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” You are probably right in making a connection I didn’t consciously notice.

      Juliet is, of course, saying that names don’t speak to the essence of who a person truly is. Ironically, because of this play, Romeo’s name became a common shorthand for a romantic male lover. If Shakespeare had named him Gus, instead, would we now be talking about a romantic man being such a “Gus?” Maybe Romeo’s name didn’t make the character who he was, but who he was made the name synonymous with a romantic lover.

      Juliet’s right, in a sense, but in another, our names become a primary part of our identity. When my aunt was battling cancer, her rabbi suggested she change her name and take on one that would have the sound or image to her of the strength she needed to survive. Sadly, in the end, it wasn’t enough, however I can see her rabbi’s point. Thinking of the quality of strength whenever anyone calls you by your name, or when you write it or use it for yourself, especially when you have thoroughly identified yourself with that name of strength, could only help you develop the strength you are actively seeking. At the very least, it couldn’t hurt.

      Mostly, to me, Aoife carries its literal meaning – beauty and radiance. I don’t dwell too much on Aoife from the legends since she does have a dark side and a tragic story. It is just the connection with a woman who so excelled that she is acknowledged as the greatest warrior in the world, greater even, perhaps, than the hero of the legend in which she appears, appeals to me. I would like to so excel, though at something other than war.

      In the end, I can only be as beautiful, radiant, and strong as God made me to be, but I have not yet found those limits in myself, and perhaps, even when I do, calling myself constantly “beauty and radiance” in the image of a warrior will help me push those qualities in myself past even the limits set by God – if God allows, of course.

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