Faith and Begorrah (What’s in a name?)


“Those who do not believe in the hereafter give the angels female names.”

The Q’uran

My parents have never adequately explained why they named their eldest son after a Celtic river goddess, and a Christian saint.  Dana Patrick Pattillo is my full name.  Dana, or Danu, as in the Tautha de Danaan, the “Children of Dana,” is the goddess of flowing water and synonymous with the goddess of poetry, Brigit, thus coterminous with St. Brigid.  The Danube is named after her.  Odd that I should be given the name of a Celtic mother goddess as my first name, by two people I am certain had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of pagan mythology or Irish history. Odder still that my parents gave me for a middle name that of Patrick, the man who “drove the snakes” (of the goddess) from Ireland and brought Christianity to the last homeland of Celtic paganism.  No one in my family and no extant friends of my parents bore the names Dana or Patrick before me.  Mom and Dad named one of my sisters Stacy, which is an ambisexual moniker, too, but usually presumed male.  Dana of course is usually presumed female. The name Stacy also has no predecessors in our family.  An impulse right out of the Collective must have prompted my parents to attach such androgynous labels, names with bent genders, to their offspring

My last name, Pattillo, originally Pattilloch until the “ch” fell off sometime during the 16th century, is Scottish Gaelic, meaning (so I’ve been told) Foot-of-the-Lake or By-the-Lake.  Pattillo is usually presumed to be Hispanic and read off as Pa-tee-yo instead of Puh-til-loh by those who don’t know me.  I have occasionally styled myself D. Patrick Pattilloch for purposes of recreational pettifogging, and sketched out a bio for the lesbian Latina poet Dana Patillo in case I decided to apply for a grant or enter a contest in which my masculinity would be held against me.  My friend Deb volunteered to appear in person as me, in case I actually entered and won anything, in return for a lifetime supply of batteries for her vibrator, Betty Crocker, and a new Water-Pik (A gadget that substitutes for your toothbrush.  Cleans your teeth by means of a pulsed jet of water.  Clever Deb had discovered another use for the pulsed jet.).

Names are like hats.  My Greek sailor’s cap gives me a different aspect and people react to me differently than when I wear one of my fedoras.  Dr. Omed is a funny hat I wear to the Blogger’s Ball.  Dana has plumes, and makes a woman of me.


3 responses to “Faith and Begorrah (What’s in a name?)

  1. I’d always assumed that the name was of Cornish origin. It seems to occur a good deal in Cornwall. The Celtic link, I guess.

    Good to see the shamrock on the head of the pint of stout. Only Irish Guinness seems substantive enough for it still to be there when the pint’s finished.

  2. Dave at collinda

    A goddess and a saint (aka imperialist stooge). Seems you were predestined to become founder and leader of a tent show equipped revivalist religion.

  3. As Frank Winters once suggested,
    we all should be latina lesbian
    poetesses together.

    From about 1945 to 1965 parents
    picked the names of their offspring
    out of baby name books, a magical
    process, a sort of nymomancy.
    Then they went back to mollifying
    the older relatives or bowing to the
    soap operas.

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