Pagan?

I love this name and what it stands for, though I appreciate for many people this will have a negative connotation. Still, if someone can be called [name_u]Christian[/name_u], why not [name_m]Pagan[/name_m]? Middle only, perhaps?

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It’s certainly interesting! As a teenager I came up with Athéismé.

I think it would be fair to keep it as a middle name. Putting it as a first would feel like a violation of the child’s religious freedom. I feel the same way about all distinctly religious and ideological names. [name_u]Christian[/name_u], though, feels so conventional that I hadn’t thought about it that way but you actually make a fair point.

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I’m with you there - the child has to take precedence and I don’t like indoctrination. Middle would be ok. It’s just a cool sounding word, too.

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For me, the main difference between [name_u]Christian[/name_u] and [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] is that [name_u]Christian[/name_u] is an established name with famous bearers (e.g. [name_u]Christian[/name_u] [name_m]Bale[/name_m], [name_u]Christian[/name_u] [name_u]Dior[/name_u], [name_u]Christian[/name_u] Louboutin) and [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] isn’t. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a [name_u]Christian[/name_u] to have religiously observant parents, while [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] seems like a more deliberate statement of belief.

(Also, in [name_u]London[/name_u] slang, the word pagan/paigon is an insult so I would caution against it if you live there.)

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[name_u]Christian[/name_u] is an established name with makes its connections to the religion less obvious. [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] doesn’t feel enough like a name to me but if it is very meaningful to you it could maybe work as a middle name.

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Agreed on the established thing, though I would expect parents of a [name_u]Christian[/name_u] to be [name_u]Christian[/name_u], even if not practising. I just can’t imagine why it would be your very favourite name, enough to name your child it, despite such an inescapably strong meaning if you weren’t religious.

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I agree with you there, but also a lot of boys get named after relatives. I can see a situation were a boy might be named [name_u]Christian[/name_u] because it’s his grandfather’s name.

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This is also true - however again for a non-religious person I’d expect it to be a deal breaker no matter if an honour name or not. It will undoubtedly have happened before though. And I also wouldn’t at all expect the parents of a [name_f]Christina[/name_f] or [name_f]Christine[/name_f] to be religious, but I suppose the feminised versions are one step away from the literal word for follower of [name_m]Christ[/name_m].

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Echoing previous posters that [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] feels much more deliberate than [name_u]Christian[/name_u] does in terms of trying to make a statement about religious beliefs.

I agree with you that the vast majority of parents of Christians are probably [name_u]Christian[/name_u] (and as someone who actually likes the sound of [name_u]Christian[/name_u] but wouldn’t use it because I’m atheist, I agree that the religious aspect is probably a dealbreaker to most who aren’t religious). I do think that [name_u]Christian[/name_u] is established enough as a name that if a [name_u]Christian[/name_u] grows up to hold different or no religious belief(s), he wouldn’t feel like he had to change his name. The boys named [name_u]Christian[/name_u] that I know are actually pretty evenly split on whether they’re religious or atheist, and none of the atheists have expressed a desire to change their name. I think it would be easier to live as an atheist person named [name_u]Christian[/name_u] than as an atheist person named [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] (or insert any other religious belief into the place of “atheist”)

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I definitely agree there. However I don’t think Paganism is taken very seriously as a present day religion where I’m from, it’s more viewed as a thing of antiquity. So I don’t think it’s a level playing field with something like Christianity. It’s never been an organised religion in the same sense as others, and I think to most people it feels like something of the ancient past, almost to the point of myth and legend - possibly due to fantasy / folklore cultural intertwinings. Which I guess brings us full circle to one of my first points - If Christian is ok, why not this? The starting point is very different, and should in theory make it more socially acceptable - there are no temples, no doctrine, no real relics to speak of - no surviving present day global organised and highly visible context to the name, which should make it less contentious - but in reality, the reverse is true because of how culturally embedded and assimilated Christianity is due to our history. The name is probably more likely to raise eyebrows for being unusual and maybe even, sadly, sniggers where I’m from. But that alone would be reason not to use it as a first name. It would be burdensome.

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As for why someone might be named [name_u]Christian[/name_u] with little to no comment but [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] would get a negative response, I think Christianity is something people are more familiar with of course (whether they practice or not). There’s a broader negative mindset about Paganism I’d say because of misconceptions & a lack of education about [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] religions. And as others have said, [name_u]Christian[/name_u] is well established as a name — although I never believe in the lack of a name being established as a reason not to use it. All names were once brand new after all.

However, if you’re trying to avoid the feeling of indoctrinating a child through their name, I’d avoid all names directly tied to religion, [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] included. If you’re not worried about that, I think the fact that many [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] religions (because of course Paganism is a broad category of religions) are still alive and being practiced today should also be something to think about. If you are a practicing [name_m]Pagan[/name_m], I would say it seems ok, but if you aren’t I’d say it’s a no-go.

TL;DR: Conceptually, I feel it should be approached the same as [name_u]Christian[/name_u]. If one believes [name_u]Christian[/name_u] shouldn’t be used out of respect for a child’s religious freedom, then [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] should also be avoided. If that’s not a concern, and you are a [name_m]Pagan[/name_m], then it should be as acceptable as [name_u]Christian[/name_u].

!! any practicing Pagans on the forums, your opinions would be especially valuable here

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Yeah, the religious freedom one is a big one for me, and I think ultimately why I wouldn’t use, certainly as a first name.

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I am! I also come from a family that’s Christian, and practicing, on all sides, though my immediate family doesn’t practice.

As a teenager when I converted, I felt the need to hide my witchcraft, not because I felt I’d get in trouble with my parents (my mom found out, she didn’t care) but because of the stigma and lack of education about pagan religions. There are also a lack of resources, community, and even accessible worship spaces for people in the Pagan community. It’s definitely not a level playing field with Christianity, so I don’t view using Christian as a name the same way (though I wouldn’t use the name either as I’m not a Christian, I don’t necessarily assume people with the name come from a Christian background because of the way Christianity has assimilated into “secular” culture in so many countries including mine— USA).

In general, I’m a big supporter of religious-associated names for those who wish to use them, especially if it’s your religion or your family’s/ancestral religion (cultural ties are valid even if you don’t practice!), and I have a fair few Pagan names on my own list (mostly deities, since I am of the variety of Pagans who practices deity worship, also some holidays and other various things).

I share this to say that @the_common_fool’s point about the negative mindset about Paganism is essentially exactly where I stand. If one is not a practicing Pagan, it is also in my mind a no-go to use it as a name.

I don’t speak for all Pagans, of course. We’re a hugely diverse community, some people might think differently about the matter, and it may be that I’m a bit more conservative on that end as some mythology names also make me feel a little iffy since those beings are deities in some religions.

But those are my two cents, and I want to thank everyone in this thread for being respectful about the matter and taking the time to think about it! :slight_smile: Y’all are good folk.

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@itsjustjack Awesome. There are parallels with my situation and yours - I’m from a huge Irish Catholic family background. But my surname, like many English is Norse, direct descendant from the Viking invasion. Do you think Pagan is too ‘on the nose’ literal?

It might be. I’m honestly not sure. [name_f]My[/name_f] practice of Paganism (eclectic) happens to be largely non-Norse, so I’m a little less familiar with the nuances.

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I think for me, it’s less about the religious connotations of the name and more about the weight of giving a name like this to a child. I think it’s a heavy name to carry in the sense that it will require a lot of explanation throughout their life, and it may just be a bit too much to be honest for a child and adult to wear comfortably.

Sometimes we might like a name from a name nerd point of view, because it’s unique and we like the way it sounds and the way it’s spelt and the imagery it conjures up, but I do think when it comes to naming a child, we have to think about the practicality of actually wearing a name for the rest of your life. Sometimes standing out isn’t always comfortable, I knew a girl at school with a very unusual name and she was so shy, the constant need to explain her name gave her crippling anxiety. She eventually legally changed her name to [name_f]Jane[/name_f].

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Expect to get negative feedback in real life using this name! Where I live I would never consider it an option.

I can’t see how this name is like Christian for the reasons others have mentioned.

Tbh, I find it weird to call someone [name_u]Christian[/name_u] too :woman_shrugging: it feels a bit too much to bestow on a child, especially as their beliefs and sentiments may well differ to yours as they get older and the name might become awkward as it’s so specific. I appreciate the sound though and think it could make a nice middle if you are a practising [name_m]Pagan[/name_m]

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I suppose it could work in theory. [name_u]Christian[/name_u] is an established name in the Western world, and Muslim is often used in Arabic speaking countries.
I’d keep it in the middle name spot though. If I met someone named [name_m]Pagan[/name_m] I’d make some strong assumptions about the parents of the child, and I think most people would.

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of course. I think literally labelling a child is wrong, to be honest. I wouldn’t be bothered about people making strong assumptions about me, but as a child is not a parents personal vanity project I think it’s wrong. I’d perhaps use it in a middle spot but not a first. It has certainly made for an interesting discussion!

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