What’s In a Name?

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

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 or my married name. It is also to remind myself that this is my fresh start. The old 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 word for “beauty.” It means “radiant and beautiful.” It is sometimes spelled Aofe since, in Irish, the “ao” combination makes an “EE” sound. This name is most associated with a character from the legends of Cuchulain, the famous Irish hero. Aoife was the best female warrior in the world, whom even Cuchulain could not beat except through trickery. Although it is mostly an Irish name, the character in the myth was supposedly from Scotland. My mother’s family is 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 Irish is, I believe, a close second. 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 legendary woman.

Aylya – (Ah-LEE’-ah) – Is a Hebrew name ( עליה ) that is transliterated into English in many different ways. Perhaps the most common is “Alia” or “Aliyah” but I was drawn by the symmetry of Aylya, which, to me, looks like someone climbing a mountain. It simply means “to go up” or “to rise,” (one makes aylya to step up to read Torah or to go up to Jerusalem) but it carries the connotation of drawing closer to God, which is what I plan to do from now on. My father’s family are Jewish and I chose it to honor them.

Mayze – (MAYZ’) – 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, and I hope to grow this name into something honorable. I also like the image of a maze – a confusing path with many twists and turns that leads to a destination, eventually, though it is difficult to find. 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 persevering, because there is almost certainly something even better around the next bend. I also liked the way my other names combined with Mayze to suggest the word “amaze.” I seek to amaze the world and I hope the world will continue to amaze me.

My name has a lot of y’s. “Why?” you ask. “Exactly!” I answer. My mind tends to question everything. Faith is fine, but I am not blessed with being able to accept anything without questioning it first except, sadly, the lies of those I love. This area of blind trust is definitely a fault I need to fix. Maybe writing so many y letters in my name may help remind me. Also, the y letter is fun to draw. I leaned toward names starting with A for that same reason – I enjoy writing capital A. I draw a capital A like a star. Maybe it will remind me that I need to shine now and be a positive light in this world. If nothing else, however, I now enjoy writing my signature. For all the many times we are called upon to write our names, we might as well enjoy it.

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