Renaming Myself

Tigers die and leave their skins; people die and leave their names.  ~Japanese Proverb

How about "Googlina?"

Count me among the many victims of trendy names. I was born at the tail end of the 70s into a firestorm of Jennifers and Jessicas, Tiffanys and Stephanies. I wound up as a Heather, which, considering it all, isn’t as bad as being called “Tiff” or “Steph,” or worse, the evil “Jenny.” Heather is a name that suits me well despite its affiliation with cheerleaders and Winona Ryder movies. It is a plant that thrives in the harsh climate of the Scottish Highlands…much like I myself seem to thrive in adversity. Its flowers are a muted purple and it has a lovely “natural” smell. I’m not a Rose or a Lily anyway, so if my parents had to choose a plant name, Heather is as good as any.

I do have a problem with TrendyUgly names (Kaitlyn, McKenzie, Aidan, etc.) and worse, the names that are pulled out of thin air (Kharmana? Tyquavius?) And of course, the Product Placement names (Lexus, Dymond, etc.) None of them are for me. I like names much as I like my saddle and my sword: established, well broken in, and just unique enough to make someone take notice.

One question I like to ask new people is what they would choose to call themselves if they had the chance to change. It’s a very good insight into a person’s character, as a name is something uniquely ours that can never be taken away without a lot of legal hassles. If I chose to rename myself, I might take a hint or two from these gems:


The Shieldmaiden of Rohan

Any self-respecting Literary Strong Woman loves Eowyn. She’s fiery, self-determined, independent, and she killed the Lord of the Nazgul (almost) all by herself. This name, although invented by Tolkien specifically for The Lord of the Rings, has its roots in classical Welsh and Celtic names. So what if nobody can pronounce it quite right (it’s AY-oh-when). It’s a beautiful name.


Another name from literature (Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, among others). It does not share the same root as the similar-looking “Rowan,” but is Old German and means “fame and happiness.” Plus it’s just pretty.


A variation on the more famous “Brunhilda.” Meaning “armored warrior woman,” it was the name of one of the Valkyries. (And it could always be shortened to Bryn.)

Ride of the Valkyries


I’m not personally a big fan of most Biblical names, but the woman bearing this name seemed to be the ancestor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: she smote a guy with a tent peg through his brain. Much more exciting than the average Biblical  woman, if you ask me.

(for Twins) Enyo and Eris

Two war goddesses from Greek mythology: Enyo is responsible for orchestrating the destruction of cities, often accompanying Ares into battle, and depicted “as supreme in war, ” Eris was the goddess of Discord whose golden apple started the Trojan War. Here comes trouble…times two!


There’s a literary connection here too…the name of the heroine in Roald Dahl’s timeless book of the same name, and also more recently a prominent character in S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse series. The name itself means “mighty in battle,” as do half the Anglo-Saxon names, but can be shortened to a softer “Mattie” or even “Tilda.”


Most may remember “Kali” from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The real Kali is the Destroyer and the Dark Mother in Hindu lore, and also serves as part of the cycle of resurrection. Kalisto was a nymph in Greek mythology whose name means “beautiful.” One of her namesakes was also the archvillainess of Xena: Warrior Princess. Also the name of one of Jupiter’s four largest moons (the Galilean satellites.)

Beautiful Callisto


If you don’t know why I love this name, you don’t know me very well. (For the record, its root means “sea protector” or “sea warrior.”) And I’d hate to be the one to make fun of little “Murdie’s” nickname, wouldn’t you?

Murdock showing his cross-dressing streak

OK, so none of these names are as traditional as Elizabeth or Susan, as trendy as Kayla or Emily, as fashion-forward as Zahra or Paris. I don’t care.

My name can beat up your name…isn’t that what really matters?

Got comments? Drop me a line at!


~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on December 2, 2010.

2 Responses to “Renaming Myself”

  1. For me, I will keep my Chinese name. But, I will simply go with nickname/middle name coupled with my last name. The legal name/first name will be ditched if I have my choice.

  2. Hmmm… I think we’ve actually had this discussion before, Heather. If I were ever to have another girl I would name her Eowyn. I would certainly choose that name for myself if I ever had the chance as well.

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abandonen toda esperanza aquellos que entren aqui


You - philosophical, thoughtful, witty. Me - still thinks fart jokes are funny. We should DEFINITELY get together!

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