Artist’s Journey: What’s in a name?

My monogram representing Morag Frances Noffke which was created last year with Ellie from Elliementallist.

Do you know about the origins of your name?
Have you thought about how you came to be here or who gave you your name? Yes I was a surprise baby. A happy surprise, I am told. My mother had been told that she would either not conceive or that she would in all likelihood loose the baby before coming to full term. So my parents were delighted when I was born. My father had been married before and hadn’t had children from the first marriage either so it was a dream come true for him too. I was an only child and my mother often told me that I was a gift from God.

Journal illustration (2006) of me (Morag) and the yellow and red roses symbolizing my mother and father. The two ribbons symbolizing their love holding me. Image by Morag Noffke.

What is in a name?

I used this question to reflect on my past, my parents, my origins and who I would become. It is an easy way to start a reflection. The exercise is not original and I was first asked to do this with my spiritual mentor in 2006. Then I created an artwork, which was part of a series of expressions, of an inward response to considering the care and love my parents had for me as a baby. I enjoyed crafting and weaving the ribbon in the shape a heart showing how their love held me. In this original reflection I went onto consider what my true calling as an adult was.

Morag Frances Armstrong/Noffke.                  

Here are examples of questions you could ask yourself to help you reflect in this exercise; and some of my answers:
1) Provide the translation of your name and the definition and interpretation of it, in your culture.
Answer: Morag means Sarah in English which means princess/ highly prized (Hebrew) or great sun (Gaelic) as some modern translations have suggested Sun + great. I imagine the essence being like a great shining – like a sun. When I was a little girl I hoped that I really was a real princess (don’t we all). As an adult I realized it was because I wanted to be special. Now I believe we are all special.
2) What is the relationship between your name and your language?
Answer: my father was Scottish so he brought the Gaelic side of the language into our lifestyle.
3) Who gave you your name?
Answer: my father gave me my name
4) What is the story behind your name?
Answer: my mother was thinking of calling me Dawn or Heather because of my complexion but my father insisted that my name was Morag, being a good Scottish name for a lass.
5) Do you feel you live up to your name?
Answer: my name has been an encouragement to me when I have felt down, remembering that I was my father’s princess helped in dark hours, the great sun has been an inspiration to me to aim high. Unfortunately I can’t ever live up to being the great sun or a real princess but it’s definitely been an inspiration.
6) Would you change your name? If so, to what?
Answer: no I wouldn’t change it but I did when I was little as I couldn’t pronounce it. I told people that I was Frances which is my second name. But now I prefer Morag. The only thing I struggle with is how people pronounce it : Morag = sounds like Floor rug.
7) Would you add another name that you feel is applicable for you now?
Answer: Yes. Eldrid: it means wise counsellor. And yes it is a masculine name; that is for my ‘yang’ energy.

Frances is my second name and means free. I feel it describes my free creative spirit.

So when I feel bogged down creatively I remind myself about my second name and speak to the freedom that is needed. I claim that I am uniquely made and that my essence is like a light shining. (And I am queen of my creative kingdom.)

Armstrong is my clan name from Scotland. Legend has it that my for-bearer saved the King of Scotland when he was knocked off his horse; with one arm he picked the king up, thereby saving him. Well it is a nice story – what we really know is that the Armstrongs were a border clan and went on raids; more than that I would rather not say.

Noffke is my married name. It is not a name I know much about but the family came from Poland and moved through Germany and Derek’s grandparents lived in Holland before coming to South Africa.  His ancestors were known to be very good at cabinet making and his family owned a joinery works in South Africa. It is in this business that Derek was trained to make cupboards as a teenager. He is excellent with wood and quite a perfectionist although his profession is engineering and programming. 

Reflecting on: what is in a name.
It is fun and thought provoking to consider where your name comes from and the meanings; and it is also nice to know who chose your name and why your name was chosen. It is interesting how names have meanings: whether we live up to them or need to free ourselves from them is certainly something to ponder. How do you feel about your name?

What I also like to consider is my name as a title or tag and how that might mean different things to each of you individually. Each of you has a unique experience of me and so you might have a specific connotation when you hear or see my name; in this way Morag has many different meanings. I think that is an interesting and abstract idea that I am a different person in the eyes of the beholder. I would be very interested in your thoughts on this topic: what is in a name? Feel free to share about your name if you would like to.

Take care, till next time.

39 thoughts on “Artist’s Journey: What’s in a name?

  1. My name Barbara means strange or foreign…and Susan means Lily…
    I have also enjoyed looking into my name meanings from time to time…
    I think both name meanings suit me…;-)

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You are not only a gift to your parents, but also a gifted one. You have given a beautiful account of your name. As regards name, it matters a lot, as it reaches before one’s actions. Name gives the first impression. But what I feel is that in most of the cases, people start liking and loving his or her name with passage of time. Literal translation of my name in English is “skill teen.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your encouragement and thought provoking words. It is good to ponder on one’s name and embrace it… Or maybe in some cases people feel that they want to reject their name. But I don’t find that often. From reading your writing I get the impression that you have been skillful at school and writing from a young boy. Skillful is an uplifting name.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Names are powerful. They in a way affect our journeys here. Contribute to the core beliefs you have about yourself and your perception of life. Thanks for the detailed share about your names. My first name Kevin according to Google is of Irish origin meaning handsome and the second Kinge is very contested in waning but what I know for sure is that it’s very rare and of African origin shared among many tribes within the continent.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I definitely see your free creative spirit and the inspiration shining through you as an artist. What a wonderful post, it took me back to my childhood days. I got my name from my paternal great grandmother. I did not like my name as a child and would come home from school many a days complaining and telling my mom how I wished that she named me. Then, as a child I preferred the name she had for me, however I eventually grew to like my given name. After all, I love to remind every one at home about the meaning of my name. The one meaning states that my name is of Old German origin meaning “home ruler” and the other says name of French, English origin meaning “estate ruler” How can I not but love my name 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I must admit, your name (and surname) is quite unique – you’ve got a really lovely name. The illustration where your mom and dad are incorporated, is really special and beautifully done.
    My parents did not shy away from tradition and I have typical Afrikaans names (named after my mom, her mother and my mom’s grandmother). I have three names … space is always a problem when I need to write my full names down on any piece of paper!
    My first name is Martha (meaning “the lady” or “mistress” … I think I prefer “the lady” 😉), my middle name is Sophia (meaning “wisdom”) and my last name is Cornelia (meaning “a woman with no moral faults”) … but according to tradition, I am not called by any of these names, but rather a shorter version of one of the names – so, I’m called Corna (from Cornelia). I loved my grandmother I was named after … I remember her as someone who always smiled and had nothing bad to say about anyone … I hope I do her names justice.
    Oh yes, just a side note … between me and my husband, we have 6 names all together 😊 … it took the minister at our wedding ceremony some time to get us married while trying to pronounce all of our names 😄 … but that is a story for another day!

    Liked by 1 person

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