Naming our own matrilineal lineage is an initiation of our sovereignty and an invocation of our milk line.
My daughter, Nymue, and I did not have the same last name for the first 5 years of her life. We both had the last names of our father, who had the last name of his father's father's father's father... etc. You get the idea. Nymue and I have been looking for a name we can share for a long time.
It has been a big prayer of mine to shed an old skin that got too tight and emerge into something new. Now, we are stepping into the actuality of naming ourselves. It is life changing alchemical business - exciting and terrifying at the same time. There have been a lot of incarnations of all sorts of names, ideas, doubts, revelations and ways to go about this. One idea Nymue and I shared was to name ourselves after the moon.
The moon has, throughout my life, been a talisman on my journeys. It is always there no matter where in the world I find myself. It is completely oblivious to my drama, my laughter, and my tears - yet I still feel myself somehow embraced by moon light - witnessed and held by mamma moon. In moments I have been in anguish it has been an ally to come home to.
Giving birth to my daughter, shaking in pain, I felt the moon light gently radiating in through the storm. Gazing at the moon has been a way of returning back to the stillness inside myself - a way of remembering my center, an invocation of my resilience. It is also central in celebrations - full moon gatherings of wild abandon and new moon circles when I gather with my sisters.
Across many traditions the moon has long been a symbol of the yin, feminine, aspect of life. It is our moon cycles that govern our own birthing of babies, projects, and ideas. Nymue and I have spent many nights holding each other, gazing at the moon and swearing undying love.
I searched for hours online, in every language I could find, for a name that meant moon that simultaneously resonated with us. None were quite right.
Then, one evening, as I kissed Nymue good night, out of seemingly no where, she said, "Mamma, what about Ayla? -for our last name, Nymue Ayla, Bronwyn Ayla". She pronounced it 'eye - la'.
My experience hearing the name was a somatic resonance of something clicking into place in my system. After she was asleep I looked up the meaning of it.
There it is, 'moon light'.
Turkish: "Halo of light around the moon" Scottish: "From a strong or resilient place"
Hebrew: "Oak tree"
Initiating our own matrilineal lineage is a quiet standing in our love and a holding of each other in our connection. It is our birth right to have our names reflect our milk line. It is part of raising Nymue to be a strong feminist, women, and empowered being on this planet.
Being named after one's father, or patrilineality, ensures an individual's family membership, title, and additional ancestors, are recorded only through the male lineage. Economically, it served to make sure the inheritance of property, rights, and real estate stayed within male kinship.
Children come from women's wombs- we birth them, nurse them, they come from our blood and milk. For me, as a full time single mother, it made no sense for my daughter and I to not share our last name.
I can feel the voices of my grandmothers calling me to stand in this power. My grandmother's that didn't have the choices we do today, and my grandmothers that lived in a time before women were systematically stripped of our rights.
Nymue and I are the granddaughters of the witches they couldn't burn. It is incredible what they had to do to break these women. And it's incredible what women have had to endure to gain back some of what patriarchy took.
I am unwilling to perpetuate a system that was employed to sever us from our matrilineal ancestors. We finally live in a time where (some) women can actually choose to do (some) things the way we like it.
My prayer is that I am able to step into this new name in a powerful way. Changing our last name to Ayla is an initiation for our sovereignty and an invocation of our love. May we continue to be surrounded by the people who support us in this journey.