I’ve been asked about my name at least 100 times. Probably more. I give different answers, depending upon the circumstances and my frame of mind at the time.
When someone I don’t know well or am just meeting asks something like, “Is that your real name?” I respond with some version of, “it sure is.” Sometimes the persistent acquaintance will follow up with, “but is it the name your parents gave you?” and I reply with something along the lines of, “It is my real name and it is not the one my parents gave me. At this point my name has been Blaze for half of my life and I don’t share my original name because it isn’t a factor anymore.”
Of course there is more to the story and I do tell it when the time and place are right, and when the person asks with a wide open face and heart. It’s best when there’s time for a mutual exchange, because everyone has a story and it’s nice to share.
It occurred to me recently when meeting a lovely couple of women who I was about to give a reading with that I needed a better answer to the question at times when I wasn’t in the space to tell my story. So here it is, in some version of fullness, in a place and on a date I can remember. The next time some intrepid, curious soul ventures into my craggy waters, I can say, “if you really want to know the full story…”<points to blog>
As early as the second grade, I had a feeling my given name wasn’t right for me. When someone said my name, it felt like “who, me?” One day at recess, I was swinging for all I was worth in the sun before the bell called us back to class. Little Johnny, who’d apparently developed a crush on me, stood at the pole supporting my swing, calling my name repeatedly with love and longing for my attention. I became annoyed by the weight of his affection and snapped, “Don’t call me that. You can call me Rose.”
It was a moment’s inspiration and the name didn’t stick past that moment. Nonetheless the seed was planted and the roots spread out and grew within me.
When I was nearing the time of my high school graduation, the urge to re-name myself sprouted up again. The timing was perfect. I would make a clean break of it and my new college friends would only know the new, true name. I bought name-your-baby-books and tried names on, wrote out different combinations in my journal, but nothing fit. Nothing lasted beyond a temporary interest and there was so much else to figure out and prepare.
I moved on with my old name and my ambivalence about it. I was searching for a meaningful life in many ways when I happened onto the Feminist Spiritual Community, where I found a group of (mostly) women who were also seeking and celebrating authentic lives and a spiritual connection to the earth. After participating in FSC for a couple years, I joined one of their small groups–Native American Spirituality. Having a bit of Native blood way back in my family heritage, it felt like a good path for exploration. That first night we talked about creation myths and the creation of a personal mythology. We did a guided meditation to help connect with our deeper knowing about how to approach our life stories.
As I journeyed I saw sparks and went toward them. There was a fire and I stood hearing it pop and feeling it warm my face. I saw the life of the fire as it aged from tinders to embers, and knew it was my story. I asked myself, but where am I now? And I answered I am a Blaze.
The shock of it ran through me like lightning. I had come home to myself. This was the name, my name, and so it has been ever since.