Blogging the stories of our family life on a yoga retreat in the magical village and valleys of Amieira, Central Portugal. Everyday we are tending this beautiful land and its stone dwellings in our journey towards self sufficiency. Moses is the Portuguese name of this place, meaning many mill stones. And, providently, is also the name of our beloved golden retriever, without whom, we'd never have found it. We love you Moses.
One day, not so long ago, before our civilisations ‘developed’, we understood the significance of a name. Our tribes would choose names for us based on a whole variety of factors. Ancestry, parents, family, seasons, moon cycles, days of the week, time of the day, events happening when we were born. All of which, it was and still is believed, had an influence on the character of the people we would eventually grow up to be. Our names were a reflection, it was hoped, of our true nature. Somewhere along the long road from that primitive state, we have lost our wisdom. So here, in a place called Zion, this little motley crew has decided to rename ourselves. We have been given and chosen for ourselves, names which again hope to reflect something of the essence of who we are. They are our Zion names. Received and beginning to be adopted in this holy and beautiful land. We have not abandoned our old names. We still like them a lot. We need them, mainly for operating in the Matrix; to sign cheques, to pay bills, to be officially part of society. But our new names are tremendously exciting. They speak of our freedom from the systems of control and they speak of our potential as heavenly beings. They allude to a new way of thinking, of being, of behaving.
I know River (Vonnie) has explained her reasons for renaming herself, me, "Tom and Jerry", but I wanted to add to it, hopefully to shed more light on why we feel this is not only just a bit of fun but a also powerful statement of intent, of inspiration, of vision. Let me start with the kids.
Eloise means warrior of light. And boy is she. Darkness cannot abide her light. She fills any room, any home, any school, any place at all with the purest of light. Love exudes without inhibition. She gives and gives and gives and with this dispels the darkness wherever she resides. Ellie is also a star. Whatever she chooses to be in the years ahead, she will always be a star to me and to anyone who has the pleasure of knowing her. Her career might be fashion, might be music, might be anything. Whatever she does, she will surely continue to shine brightly in the dark skies above us. So her new name is Starlight. She was also born in the top of our New Cross house next to a fireplace. From the ashes rises the Phoenix to defeat and conquer all the forces of darkness. Thus she is Phoenix Starlight. (Although she also likes Effie Starlight as well. “That can be my dramatic name”. Of course it can be sweetheart.
Joshua means God saves. God’s arm is never too short to reach us and intervene in our lives to bring goodness, clarity and wisdom, and to revolutionise our circumstances. Since Joshi was little we have called him Joshi Bear. He is in many ways very much like a bear. He loves to fish, he will fight to protect those around him particularly where he feels an injustice is taking place, but he is also as gentle as a bear, soft, nurturing, affectionate and patient. Intriguingly, both aggressive and tender in different situations. But he is also more than a Bear. He is lean, fast, graceful, clever, insightful and sharp. More bird-like in nature. When he flies he soars majestically like a bird of prey. And when he swoops in for the kill, usually pretty effective (Ellie can vouch for that I suspect). In nature, part bird, part bear. Joshi’s new Zion name is therefore Falcon Bear. He thinks, like us, it is most cool.
Vonetta, as far as we know, has no meaning. It was however the name of a talented African American singer in the seventies. Maria, her second name, is in constant use here in Portugal, the name she is known by in our village. River, as she so wonderfully described in the post below, sums out perfectly her true energetic nature. For a second name? One of her favourite artists is Minnie Ripperton, who like Vonetta is another seventies diva, and above all else, sang songs of incredible beauty. Her band of musicians gathered around her to enable those songs to be sung and heard by millions. Kind of like what River has already done here with those she is gathering around her so it can be possible to create the gardens and a whole life of outstanding beauty. Ripperton also connects her to the African sisterhood all over the world. Now in central rural Portugal, she’s mainly surrounded by white Europeans, but she’s not separate from her mum, her gran, her aunt, her family, and all those pioneering beautiful and talented black women who with tenacity, genius and grace, have beaten down a collective path for others to walk in. Sounds like her, no? River Ripperton. She sure is.
"Jerry" is derived from the word for Lilly. A flower of innate natural beauty. "Jerry" ebb’s and flows like the Moon. And she is as beautiful and tough as Pocahontas. Moonbeam Pocahontas. See River's blog post for more illustration of why her name fits like a glove.
"Tom" is the Rock. The one on whom we are currently depending on for so many things that will provide the foundational stability for the life that lies ahead. His Zion name is Sunshine Dundee for the reasons River has given. Interestingly, when his name is called loudly over the terraces, “Toooommmm?” it’s normally because one of us needs something fixed. He says when he hears it, it makes him feel startled and he ducks a little as if he was caught in gunfire! But when we call “Sunshine”, or “Dundee”, his response is totally different. His spirit rises and is prepared for whatever is necessary. A powerful change just in the calling of a name.
Michelle is Cocoa Indigo, but since she left this week to stay in Oleiros, I have not yet the chance to explore the significance of the effect of her new name. Will fill you in when I do. Although her Metal elemental characteristics have been well helpful to understand.
Finally, me. Andrew means strong and manly. And Memphis is my new name. I love that character in Happy Feet and am very happy to be Memphis. It reminds me that a big part of who I am is music. In music I am able to express the deeper, more unconscious murmurings of my soul. River said she thinks music is my silence. My way of stilling the thoughts that whizz round and round. I think she might be right. And for a second name? Well, that came to me last night, a name that ties a few of my passions together. Apparently I am fire in the five Chinese elements. I love to play trumpet and drums. I talk quite a bit. Really I do. Especially when I want to explain stuff in my eternal quest for discovering meaning in all that is happening. And in a temper I’ve been known to let rip (sorry kids). So, fires bellow. Trumpets and drums bellow. Memphis bellows. Memphis Bellows. How apt.
Phoenix Starlight and Falcon Bear, Moonbeam Pocahontas and Sunshine Dundee, Cocoa Indigo, River Ripperton and Memphis Bellows. Superheroes in the waking. All with unique special gifts that we are in the process of understanding how to bring for each other and for the people who will inevitably stay with us in Zion for a while. We sound like we could be the Fantastic Four, except that we are seven. The Magnificent Seven. Of course we are.