Saturday, January 23, 2010

Welcome, Friends!

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I've started a blog. I'm looking forward to sharing my journey through life with my fellow human beings: you. Thanks for reading and please feel free to post comments - I will actually pay attention to them, I promise.

Oddly enough, the hardest part about setting up this blog was deciding on a name for it. Friends and family offered helpful suggestions. As I sifted through the possibilities, I reflected on what I've been called throughout my life and the recent journey I've made back to my birth name.

Although I dabbled in paganism beginning in my teens, only in my mid-twenties did I finally join the wider pagan community. At that time a new name descended on me with alarming force: Arachne.

That time in my life was both painful and enlightening, not least because I was fighting to survive as the single parent of a profoundly disabled child. Arachne gave me strength during those years, a strength that was reinforced every time someone spoke my name.

Soon after that time I was also gifted with a second new name, one I rarely used other than as an afterthought, but I'll get back to that in a minute. Right now I want to tell you about the name I avoided using for years, the one that made me profoundly uncomfortable all the time: Laura Perry. No middle name. I hated it.

Not only was it a terribly boring name but everyone always got it wrong. They spelled it Lora or Lara. They pronounced it 'Laurie.' My last name became Parry or Perrie or anything else incorrect you could think of. Very frustrating. You can see why I was thrilled to be known as Arachne.

Then, when my daughter died my life changed profoundly. The name Arachne no longer fit no matter how hard I pushed to use it, but I couldn't find a replacement that worked. I went back to using my birth name not because I preferred it but simply because I couldn't think of anything better. I began to ponder that name, its meanings and implications, and it slowly grew on me.

Did you know that Laura is a Greek term that means the mother house, the center of a monastic community? Or that Perry is hard cider made from pear juice, a beverage my Norman-Irish ancestors made so well it became their family name? I didn't, at least not until I began investigating. Have you ever sought out the meaning of your name?

The most interesting part is that, once I started appreciating my birth name, people began to spell it and pronounce it correctly. Go figure.

But I wanted something more poetic than just "Laura Perry's Blog" for a title. Let's face it, that phrase doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. So I turned back to that other name I mentioned, the one gifted to me at a gathering years ago, the one I used as a 'postscript' to Arachne but never appreciated on its own until now. Gentleheart.

It's been whispering to me for a while now, a quiet but persistent refrain in the back of my mind. I don't know whether I'll ever choose it as my 'main name' the way I did Arachne, but Gentleheart has worked its way towards the front of my consciousness and I can't put it away again. Perhaps it's the other side of Arachne...the quiet strength of compassion rather than the fierce strength of sheer survival. Regardless, I'm sure 'gentle' in this sense can't be equated with 'weak.'

So, after far more explanation than you probably wanted, here it is, Notes from a Gentle Heart. Shall we wend our way down the paths of life together?