being human,  embodiment,  writing

A Sage Alchemy

I have always loved my name, Heather; the thought that I was named after a flower is beautiful to me. But my mom didn’t have a middle name and she didn’t give one to either my brother or myself … I always wanted a middle name and through the years I’ve had friends give them to me: Ann, Marie, Michelle, but none stuck.

When mom passed and my only daughter moved out of the house, the entire world as I knew it disappeared. Vanished. Hell, I vanished too. I’ve written about it plenty here so no need to belabor my three year ‘dark night of the soul,’ except to say that when one goes through such a thing, one either burns to the ground or allows that fire to transform them, to alchemize their being. This is the story of how I alchemized a middle name in the process.

For as long as I can remember, my online ‘handle’ has been Namaste Heather. It was the name of my website, my Instagram name, Facebook page, etc. It worked as a yoga teacher, but I stopped teaching yoga during said ‘dark night.’ For a long time I thought I’d return to it and maybe I will, but it’s clear now that it will never serve the same function it once did. It was my entire identity for nearly two decades, but in 2020, I shut down my dedicated social media accounts related to yoga and transitioned to personal accounts. I was writing a lot at the time, something I’ve done professionally my entire career, but the writing encompassed so much more than yoga. I dabbled in poetry, personal reflection and memoir. Yoga was in there but it wasn’t the entirety of my messaging anymore.

During this time, I began to recognize the wisdom and depth of my writing and life. I began to deeply explore the divine feminine. I worked with a Jungian Analyst who helped me see the deep transformation I was in, which pulled me from the abyss I might have otherwise sunk into. And I recognized that somehow I was approaching my crone years. In archetypal language, the maiden, the mother, the wild woman, and the crone all personify the feminine in different stages of life.

At the same time, one of my soul sisters and a few former students commented on the ‘sage advice’ I often wrote about or offered, and this middle name, Sage, began to alchemize into my being. I remembered the Catholic practice of taking on a new name, typically of a saint, at confirmation and it seemed fitting that I would do the same thing in my transformation so late in life. I published a book under this name and changed my online presence to reflect it.

Is it weird to have given myself a middle name? Yes, a little, but we are always forming ourselves at the hands of life and it simply feels right without my mom here on the planet with me. I am no island; I do not exist in isolation, but it seems to me that motherless daughters must step into their crone identities in loving, purposeful ways. Adopting Sage as my middle name has provided a powerful daily reminder of who I’ve become. I’ve earned it. Because life.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash