Naming my mythic links

In Finnish, as well as in Hungarian, (two of my ancestral lineages), my maiden name means raven or crow. Etymologically and mythically, my last name is also tied to the Scandinavian underworld goddess Hel, as well as to our common greeting “Hello.”

© Dr. Margaret Merisante, all rights reserved.

Greetings Crow!  Hello Hel!  Both are ancient salutations to beings of power, mystery, and liminality.

Mythologically, crows are associated with creation, dissolution, and bringing knowledge to humans. Symbolically, Crows are messengers who travel between worlds. Hel’s ravens (not Odin’s) who perch on her shoulders as she surveys the underworld are Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory).

The Corvus family of birds (crows, ravens, jays) are the avian world’s most intelligent members. Crows are very vocal. It’s estimated they have over 250 sounds in their repertoire. Endlessly curious and community oriented, crows are one of the few animals besides humans that make tools. To be connected through my ancestral name to the Crow clan is significant and special.

Symbolically, depending on the language (i.e. Persian, Sanskrit, Syraic, or Old English), Margaret has several meanings: pearl, the Way or Path, pebble of the sea, or a cluster of flowers. The cluster of flowers refers to marguerites—a type of aster that resemble small white-petalled daisies.

 Pearls are linked to wisdom in several cultures. Metaphorically, pearls can teach us to take small irritations (like botched meetings, inconsiderate strangers, stressed husbands, etc) or large vexations (such as the system of patriarchy or the United State’s slow response to climate change) and through time, patience, and attentive care, transform that irritation into a lustrous jewel. Through calm and patient action around aggravations, we may obtain wisdom—the Pearl of Great Price.

In Sanskrit, mārga means the Path, i.e. the road to spiritual knowledge and liberation. This path reinforces the pearl’s connection to wisdom. Women who wear pearls typically do so as a necklace, which keeps them close to the heart. The heart is where we transform the grit and grittiness of life. Perhaps, allowing our wise hearts to lead in transforming the grit of life into jewels is one reason pearls appear to glow when we wear them.