20 Feb ‘Funlayo Says…: What’s in a Name?
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New Name? says…
I received a Yoruba name upon my beginning on this portion of my spiritual path and lately I have been pondering the possibility of changing my “government” name to my Yoruba name. I love the history that goes with my given birth name and I also love the name given to me at my entrance into the Ifa tradition, so I am feeling conflicted. I am also recently married and am carrying my husband’s last name and he has also been thinking about changing his name. In certain circles I am known by the name my mother has given me, in others by my Yoruba name. What are your thoughts on naming for those in the Diaspora in a similar position to mine?
First, congratulations on your new marriage! This is definitely not an easy decision to make. My birth name was given after my father’s great grandmother and so has some ancestral ties and, like you, I was somewhat reluctant to part with it. That particular name, however has such strong Christian connotations that as I moved through my initiations and stages of spiritual development I felt less and less connected to it and more and more connected to the Yoruba name(s) I was given by my Babalawo. The way I have resolved this for myself is by using my birth name as my middle name, that way I have not completely relinquished it but I am not called by it on a daily basis. My family and some others who knew me before continue to call my by my birth name, but even many of them have transitioned as they hear everyone else call me ‘Funlayo. I am in the process of legally changing my name which I know will certainly be a tedious process, but it is worth it for me to be fully represented in the way that I and my spirit find most appropriate.
As an olorisa (orisa devotee) I would not make any major moves — particularly with regard to something as important as a name — without consulting Ifa. So, with regard to the last name, you and your husband may want to consult to find out if it would be an auspicious move for you both to change your last names. With regard to the first name, since the name was already chosen for you by the spirits it comes down to what you feel comfortable with and how you are moved. Do you like to be called by your Yoruba name more than your birth name? How does it feel when someone calls you by your birth name? How does it feel when they call you by your Yoruba name? Pay attention to the way the ase moves in you when either of those names are called and that will help you find an answer. And also remember that it is perfectly ok to like both names and to have some people call you by one and some people call you by the other. In Yoruba culture a person traditionally gains names as s/he continues along the life path so it is not uncommon to find one person being called by multiple names .
I pray that this has helped and pray all the best for your and your husband as you continue your journey! Ire o!