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The naming of blogs is a serious matter

February 15, 2011

The emotional effect of importing my iomramh posts here, re-attributing them to myself as disirdottir, and planning to close that livejournal has really been enlightening.

For context, allow me to quote from my user info profile for iomramh from livejournal:

“An iomramh – or in the archaic form immram – is not just any kind of voyage, however. To summarize,

‘(It) is one of a class of Old Irish tales concerning a hero’s sea journey to the Otherworld. . . . located in these cases in the islands far to the west of Ireland. The hero sets out on his voyage for the sake of adventure or to fulfill his destiny. . . . He may or may not be able to return home again’ (from the Wikipedia article on “Immram”).

Geographically, it has special resonance for me because I live in Seattle, located on the edge of Puget Sound with the San Juan archipelago to the West. This feels right. For as long as I can remember, salt water, islands and the travels between them have called to my soul.“

I’ve always found the immrama tales very compelling, on multiple levels. In retrospect, however, it was not the best basis for a name, not a good foundation upon which to develop a self-concept – a poor anchor, if you will.

A voyage implies movement, decisions about where one is going, constant evaluation of where one is to assess progress and next actions. There’s the necessity to either figure out a plan in advance or deliberately choose to improvise, accepting the consequences of letting the elements have their way. Journeys are limited in duration; how do you know when you’ve arrived at your destination spiritually? Is it even possible to do so short of death? If there is some way to arrive while living, what do you do when you make landfall if your focus has been entirely dedicated to challenges of getting there?

It feels to me like there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety wrapped up in the concept. It may also foster the tendency of looking for external input to triangulate position, to confirm the validity of one’s own perspective.

The name disirdottir is in many ways the antithesis to the name iomramh. It is unmoving bedrock, a statement of incontestable truth: I am the daughter of my ancestresses. Wherever I go and whatever I do, this will not change. It will forever be an entirely valid description of who I am. Not comprehensive, but entirely valid. It speaks from who I am, not about what I am doing.
It is an explicit declaration that I do not perceive myself primarily as a solitary individual, rather that connection is a key part of my self-identity. It acknowledges that my existence is dependent upon the decisions and actions of my forebears, and that I not only respect that fact out of duty but also honor it out of gratitude.

I’m finding I write differently as disirdottir. In the past I’ve tended to explore every aspect of a topic I could think of in great detail – I went all over the place. As disirdottir, I’m finding a tendency to start doing that, then stop myself, and return to a more limited but deeper focus, a more finely crafted message. It’s centered rather than scattered. A reflection of the grounded name taking the place of the one based in motion?

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