May 24, 2012

What’s in a Name? ~ Lisa Avebury


Avebury Circle

“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” ~ Voltaire

What’s in a name?

This question was first posed by Shakespeare. And yes, a rose by any other name would indeed smell as sweet.

A name can be an introduction or an association. It can also be a representation. What if on a deep, subconscious level every time you hear your name, see it in print or have to sign something it reaffirms a connection you have come to view as negative?

This is something I was faced with recently.

We are much more then a name of course. We are ever expanding spiritual beings who were never born and will never die. We have been called so many names over many lifetimes. But in this lifetime it can be hard to disassociate with something you are faced with moment to moment, day by day.

If we seek to transform how do we continue to do that attached to something that feels wrong?

To me, that is kind of like calling a rose a blue. Yes, still smells sweet but somehow not quite right.

It’s not the first time the idea of changing my name crossed my mind.

But this time was different.

I hadn’t been thinking about it. Five years had passed since the last time it came up. And I always managed to reason my way out of doing it. This time it arose of its own volition. In meditation the voice of my Guru was clear.

“It’s time to change your name.”

Silbury Hill

It was a direct message. It wasn’t the result of trying to figure out how to reinvent myself, it was simply the answer to a call for guidance.

My response was immediate

“To what?”


Avebury is one of my favorite places. An ancient stone circle in Wiltshire England that is so large that a town grew up inside it. The ring got its name from John Aubrey, a rebel, who brought it to public attention in 1649. He devoted most of his life and funds to stone circles. The area is known as the triangle due to two other prehistoric sites within 1.5 miles of the ring.

The other points of the triangle are made up of Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow. Silbury is the largest, man made, neolithic hill in all of Europe. It is said to be a living representation of the earth mother. The West Kennet Long Barrow, built 400 years before Stonehenge, is a underground ritual space actively still in use. Needless to say the landscape has a life energy that is palpable and strong.

I spent five nights in a house situated in the middle of the ring Summer 2009. The first night I could not sleep for staring out the window in awe of where I was. I felt incredibly blessed. I also hoped to see one of the crop circles that dot the area during the warm months be born before my eyes.

I had been to Avebury before, the first time in 1995, but only for day trips. I longed for a time I could “live” there, if even for a few nights. And having been granted that wish I was indelibly changed by it.

Sitting among the stones alone on the soft, chalky ground, albeit some sheep and cows, the crowds of tourists had left. I watching the sky turn from blue to peach then pink and eventually go dark and moonlit, it felt like home.

I knew I had been there before, possibly many lifetimes.

I began visiting stone circles in 1995 and have been as far north as the Hebrides, as far west as Cornwall and even left the British Isles for France to explore the Breton stones of Carnac.  I’ve lost count of how many I have “met.”

When I chose my email address in 1998 I created my own adjective, circleseeker. It was my first renaming. Its symbolism revealed a larger meaning for me. A beginning to a completion, a sense of balance and harmony among what has sometimes been chaos. Not surprising I have three tattoos that encompass circles. These choices were not deliberate but organic. I have never really thought about circles, they have just showed up.

So, with this directive from God and Guru I began the process to change my name. I came up against a bit of the expected challenges that arise when undertaking anything legal. Upon arriving at the court house I found they did not do name changes at that location. A kindly security guard appeared and guided me to where I could go for legal aid. I left there frustrated but found myself whispering “It doesn’t matter, I love Lisa Avebury.”

When I realized what I had been chanting it brought tears to my eyes.

In all of my life a more powerful mantra had never been uttered so naturally and with such conviction from my lips.

I am now awaiting the day in June when the judge will sign the papers and it will be official. I have already started the cathartic process to change my name where I can.

I smile every time I see my new name. I have been touched by the support I have received from strangers when I explain my name change.

Many have been inspired by my choice to change something intrinsically linked to our daily routine. There have been a few who have assumed it is due to marriage and when informed it is not have responded with a quizzical tone.

But those have been the minority.

And never people that know me.

The people that know me have only commented on how my name suits me.

The choice hasn’t been completely without reservation.

Although I felt clear and directed, I had to reconcile the release of my old name and the idea that I could somehow be disrespecting people I loved. My paternal grandmother herself changed her last name five times.

Before she died, in her 90s, she changed it back to her maiden name. If she were still on earth, I know she may not understand my reasons for needing to do this, but she would support my doing it if I felt it was positive. That’s the kind of person she was.

My grandpa, whose name it is I am releasing, I barely knew. What I remember of him was his smile and infectious laugh. That is the part of his name I identify with and will carry within me. He lived in another part of the world so our meetings were limited and brief. Looking back I wish I had been given the opportunity to know him better.

I now have a deeper understanding of why in so many varied religious and spiritual traditions the taking of a new name is part of the process.

To this day people who apply for American citizenship are given the opportunity to change their name once they naturalize. This could be viewed as an attempt at assimilation. I prefer to see it as demonstration of willingness to embrace a different way of being in the world. The culmination of a cycle and the commencement of another.

I feel my new name is a gift.

I did not choose it, it was chosen for me after much consideration. So Avebury is my “given” name. My own personal form of baptism.

Reclaiming my name and association to it has resulted in the ability to shift my perception of who I am and what I stand for.

A paradigm has reset.

Another chapter in “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” a story that, for me, is a metaphor for life. Hold on during the twists and turns, trust you are on the right path, laugh along the way and enjoy the ride.

Isn’t it incredible that we have the opportunity to make a change?

Hence another circle forms.


Editor: Elysha Anderson

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