Thursday, August 1, 2019

Lughnasadh Blog Hop: The Power of a Name

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It's that time yet again when I participate in the Tarot Blog Hop! For this one, we celebrate the holiday of Lughnasadh/Lammas and the importance of names. Under either name, the holiday celebrates the first harvest and has strong ties to wheat and bread.

Lugh, for whom the holiday is named, is tied closely to the Welsh Lleu Llaw Gyffes who appears in my Llewellyn deck as The Sun. The sun is a card that appears frequently in my blog hop readings, but I don't feel that I have ever fully explored his story beyond the hope he gives me.


As both Lugh and Lleu, he is tied to the sun, though his ties to the harvest are stronger in his incarnation as Lugh. As Lugh, he was destined to kill his grandfather, and so as an unnamed babe he was tossed into the sea. He came to be raised by foster parents and given their names and allying him to their families. As Lleu, his mother denied him a name, and thereby denied his existence and power. Over time with the help of his uncle, he was able to receive the gifts he was denied. Their stories share many similarities and each incarnation, both Celtic and Welsh, are given an abundance of names which they are known by. However, each have their own legend, their own set of names, and seem to be distinct from each other. The tie that binds them as related exists only in the roots of their names and connection to the sun.

Naming has the ability to give or take power, bind loyalties, and reveal or hide truths. Lleu's mother tried to deny his spirit the power a name would give him. Lugh's grandfather attempted to divert destiny through a similar solution. Neither worked, because at their core there was a truth to their existence which in turn manifested the names they came to be known by.

My first encounter with the concept of names giving power over things was in the Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula K. LeGuin. By learning the true names of things, wizards were able to call on ancient powers and face dragons who would have otherwise made a meal of anyone daring to enter their realms. The wizards themselves protect the knowledge of their true names to prevent others from having power over them. We see this concept appear in other popular literature such as Harry Potter's lack of fear of speaking Voldemort's name. It appears again in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet when Juliet laments that no matter what name Romeo existed under she would love him the same, but that as a Montague, she is unable to marry him.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

She may argue that there's no power to a name, but she undermines her own premise by asking that he break his binds to his name (and family) by taking another. There is magic in the underlying truth of a name and the connections it forms. But would changing his name truly change the truth of his heritage? Would it change who he is? It may break a binding to family, but he will always be their blood.

Much as deities have many named aspects, and each are called upon according to purpose, so it is as well on earth. Plants have a common and scientific names. Cats have their true name known only to them and the many names given to them as they pass through the lives of humans. We each have a given name, a family name, and some of us a nickname or other chosen name. Does it change who we are or just manifest an aspect of our truth?

Often artists resonate with specific aspects of tarot cards and change or modify the names of some cards. In some, they change the order according to their own truth. However, does this change the power of the card? Does it change its core truth? I would argue that it does not. The card is always tied to its inspiration. It carries with it the meanings and its history. A name may obscure those ties or attempt to break them, but in the breaking does it only bind it more strongly as an influence. The changing of a name simply highlights an aspect which may have been less clear previously.

And so as Lugh and Lleu are not the same, their truths represent similar meanings to both the Irish and the Welsh. They are inextricably tied to one another - separate and inseparable in being. And thus the tarot continues to be a constant study as we seek to learn the truths at the core of each iteration of the cards and so find how those truths manifest in our lives.

This post is part of a series. Use the navigation to browse ahead or behind in the series, or visit the master list to go directly to a blogger. If you are a tarot reader with a blog and wish to join future hops, join our TarotBlogHop Facebook group.

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1 comment:

  1. Great blog post. I really enjoyed reading about Lleu and Lugh and the power of names.

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