I've been slowly digesting The 13 Original Clan Mothers by Jamie Sams. To say this work of literature is both breathtaking and engrossing still does not do justice to what Jamie has gifted all of us. Like so many books I have found in my hands these last few years, it's a book of Remembering. Jamie shares the ancient knowledge of the thirteen original clan mothers and the wisdom their stories bestow upon the collective. I am purposefully taking my time, truly letting the lesson of each mother be digested before moving along to the next revelation of truth.
I was reading about the eighth moon cycle clan mother, She Who Heals. She is the keeper of the healing arts and is the Guardian of Serving the Truth. One of the stories of this clan mother centers around a birthing woman who is struggling to keep her strength during the intensity of birthing pains. Her Orenda (spirit, soul) was weakening and her unborn child's Orenda was becoming fearful as she waited for her body to be born so she could enter it. The child's Orenda begins to whisper to her mother, a deep remembrance of her personal power. This excerpt really spoke to me during this story:
"If you whisper your own name and picture what that means, you will rediscover your personal Medicine."
WOW. I let how deeply that resonated truly set in.
My name, Azia René, has always caused me great trouble. Truth be told, I have spent more years hating it then embracing it. Most people pronounce it wrong, whether it be Uh-zee-uh, Uh-ziy-uh, Ah-zee-uh, etc. It was and still is basically impossible for people to read my name and say it correctly, as it is pronounced like 'Asia'.
"Like the continent" became a type of mantra to me growing up. It was also a reclamation of taunting from bullies. One of my earliest school memories was riding the bus home in 1st grade and all of the children repetitively shouting, "Azia's a continent! Azia's a continent!" Being six, I had no idea what a continent was, and ran home bawling hysterically, assuming continent was the equivalent to disgusting loser. My mom laughed and explained that it was a 'large land mass' (which later contributed to me spending most of my life believing I was fat), but, anyway, "Like the continent" became a phrase repeated thousands of times in my 30-odd years in this body.
So where did my parents come up with the name 'Azia'? Actually, I was named after the band Asia, whose album covers were most known for making the 's' look like a 'z'.
My parent's loved their "big" hit, Heat of the Moment. And my father had an affinity for names that contained the letter Z. A fun fact, my parents, though born 7 years apart, share the same birthday of May 23rd. They were not a couple when my mother discovered she was pregnant with me, but, coincidentally, I was born on February 25th, almost exactly 9 months after what I can only imagine was a great birthday bash. Some might say I was quite literally conceived in the (wait for it) heat of the moment! *ba dum tss*
Yes, this name of mine sure did contribute to a lot of strange complexes growing up, as you can see. I decided my name was made-up and completely ridiculous. I gave barista's my wish-it-were-my-basic-name-Claire and called it a day.
But, about 11 years ago, I was looking up the meaning of names for my unborn oldest child. I ended up typing in 'Azia name-meaning' and discovered that most of my life had, in fact, been a lie. 'Azia 'was not a made up name! It was Arabic. 'Azia' means "the rising sun." That discovery felt really, really good. My parents may not have intended that meaning when they chose my name, but my name has meaning. And I was able to choose to channel that. I began to feel more pride with my name. It didn't feel so shallow or a source of embarrassment. The rising sun, yes, that made sense. I love the warmth, the sun on my skin. It is my heaven to be under the heat of that star in the sky. I resonated finally with Azia.
Let's go back in time now, a little bit.
As a child, I was a very quiet girl. Like I had mentioned, I was picked on in elementary school A LOT. I remember one particular instance, in 4th grade, where these girls, two of them whose names I still remember, Jacki and Jozelyn, and a few of their friends, broke into my desk at school. I used to feverishly write, even as a child. I would sit at recess under a tree with a special notebook (Lisa Frank puppies!), a matching set of pencils with a pencil sharpener and write my little heart out. Well, apparently, this bothered these girls, and they decided it would be a great idea to steal my notebook, pencils and pencil sharpener. They shredded every page (after reading it and telling everyone I was a "poet weirdo") and smashed and broke my belongings. They left the destruction in my desk for me to find. They laughed when I cried. The school forced them to write me apology letters, I think I actually still have them somewhere. I don't know why I kept them. But, that's what school was like for me. I was weird and quiet. And I got picked on. Home wasn't much better. I'm not going to go into the deep list of abuses I experienced as a child today, but I will say there were many. And I tried my hardest to become and stay invisible.
By the time I was a teenager, I was sick of being perceived as weak. I was sick of crying. I was angry and angsty and quickly developed a reputation of mouthy-feminist-bitch. Essentially, the total opposite of, cry-baby-sensitive-Azia. I liked it. People left me alone. I had a mouth on me, got kicked out of class for saying things like "I'm not fucking going to use this shit." (Read: Rebel.) YET-- I also had the support of my Dean, who I think saw that my life at home was a wreck and that I was actually soft and full of shit. She believed in me. I'm grateful for her. She kept a small part of me alive during high school and gave me the push to go away to college.
I kept up the hard persona for a long time. But, I was getting sick of the mask. It's really exhausting pretending to be someone that you are not. I had spent so long thinking that strong was the opposite of soft. But, I was finally beginning to understand that the safety of softness was strength. It was the ability to be who you are, no matter what anyone else thought. I had created such thick, tall, walls, and I was tired of it. I wanted to let the light in.
So, what does this quick history have to do with my name? Well, I never looked into what my middle name meant, René. I just discarded it, didn't like it. I didn't like how it sounded. I just pretended I didn't have a middle name. When your first name is Azia, no one really pays attention to any other part of your name. You're typically the only one within a 300 mile radius. That changed a few weeks ago.
Did you know that the name 'René' means reborn? That's right. My first and middle names loosely translates to 'The Rising Sun Reborn.' WHOA. WHAT?! Now, that is some deeply, intensely nourishing soul food right there. Talk about pulling strength from your name!
The name I hated my entire life held the key to my liberation: I don't have to be stuck or afraid or building walls or being hard to protect my softness. I have an opportunity each and every day that I wake in this body to choose to rise and be who I AM. To come back to life and breathe life and fight for life. The sun rising each day is a promise. It is a reminder that there is always another day waiting for you. It is warmth and light. To be reborn means to be brought back to life.
That passage: if you whisper your own name and picture what it means, you will rediscover your personal medicine opened a portal of remembering for me. And I love my name now. I see why I chose it. I see why it was gifted to me. I hear the message. And I am so grateful for it's healing message. For the reminder of strength and promise and warmth.
What's the medicine in your name? It's time to remember.