Nomen est omen. (Names are destiny)
— Ancient Roman saying
Names are, on one hand, super important.
According to Jewish tradition, God’s most mystical name, a 72-letter tag that was revealed to Moses at the Burning Bush and with whose help he parted the Reed Sea, contains all the names of God, and with it, the mysteries of the many dimensions of the universe.
This same name was “written” in letters of fire adjacent to the walls of the Temple. Worshipers were never able to memorize The Name, no matter how clever their attempts. Stationed at the front entrance of the Temple were guardians of The Name, lions who’d roar as each person exited, scaring The Name – and the power it conferred to all those who could whisper it – out of them.
Legend has it that a rabbi, teacher and carpenter known as Yeshu got his healing and magical powers directly from the source. One day he visited the Temple. He wrote The Name on a piece of parchment, cut vertically into his leg with a knife, and inserted it. The power of The Name healed his cut immediately, of course. (Couldn’t you totally see the scene on the big screen?)
Possessing the secret name within helped Yeshu turn water into wine, walk on water, and see the world as loving behind the veil of fear.
In some cultures, you’re given two names: one which everyone knows you by, and another secret one that only your parents and you will ever know. In this context, names are powerful shapers of character and destiny. In ancient Egypt, if your real name fell into the wrong hands, he’d likely carve it onto the bottom of his sandals. As he walked around and your name rubbed off, so would your life force.
In Hebrew, God’s everyday name (there are infinite divine variations) is “HaShem,” which literally translates into (you guessed it!) The Name. As in: I’m all the names you can ever think of calling me.
I’ve often wondered what our lives would be like if we had even just a half-dozen names, each one powerfully prodding us to express a different way of being in the world.
On the other hand, some streets are nameless, and still well worth walking down. A name can be limiting, as I’ve sometimes believed of my own. And even for those of us who sculpt and chisel language, there are some feelings and experiences that are better left not put into words.
I’m in a personal global assessment kind of space. Rosh Hashana is almost upon us, and this season before the New Year is a good one to look at the past, get super intentional about what we want to create. As part of my annual ritual of rumination, I’ve decided to change the name of this blog.
Adventures in Reiki seemed too flippant for something profound. (I still reserve the right to being 100% irreverent.) More to the point, the name didn’t seem true to what I was actually writing about most weeks. This blog often goes beyond Reiki and into other elements that I believe make for a wise life.
It’s been damn hard to write about Reiki, and this fellowship I’m doing, because of confidentiality. This week for instance, I got to work on a number of interesting folks, including a frazzled nurse, a medical student getting over something she picked up on a recent health mission to Haiti, a man in the ICU who is very responsive to my touch and looks at me with gorgeous dark puppy eyes but as of yet hasn’t regained his ability to speak since a major health event in his life, and an artist who was totally tripping on my table, in the best of all possible ways. We had a blast talking through his Reiki-inspired time travels.
Maybe next week, I’ll find a way to write Reiki.
For now, it’s enough to say that changing a name can make things feel a little more real, a little more reflective of who we really are inside.
Until next week!