For my first blog post I would like to introduce myself to you all. Not as “oh I do this and blah blah blah” but as introducing my names. In my real life I actually have two names I am known by and then to top it off I also have a Viking name. In times gone by your name came with a story and sometimes it defined who you are (i.e Æthelred the Unready). In fact some names have been lost in translation like Æthelred’s for example when it comes to the “unready” part. Unready is actually from the old English word “unræd” which meant bad-counselled. The word “ræd” is from the German word “rat” which is from the German word “Bundesrat”. Bundesrat is the Federal council and so in Germany if you want to go to you local authorities you attend a “Rathaus”. Now we have the background information Æthelred the Unready did not mean he was never on time or unprepared but “ill-advised”.
So onto myself and my very own back story … I was born Helen Price (seems weird when I see this name now) and like many other people I took the surname of my father. Price is actually a Welsh name taken from “ap Rhys” which means son of Rhys. Rhys means “enthusiasm” in Welsh and to a certain degree as a child the surname suited me very well, “Helen the Enthusastic”. Now as a woman it is sort of a tradition in many countries to take on a name as you marry into another family, which ultimately I did as a got older. I was no longer “Helen the Enthusastic ” but, “Helen the Leek Enclosure” as my new married surname “Laughton” meant “leac and tun”, which was the Anglo Saxon term for “Leek Enclosure” or “Kitchen Garden”. In fact as I’m writing this I am sort of chuckling to myself as the Leek is the national emblem of Wales and my previous surname was Welsh. I though have yet another name as my life as a Leek Enclosure ended when my marriage did. I got remarried but this time my name is still originally from the British Isles (even though my husband isn’t).
So now I am known as Helen Groeger which can also be written as Gröger by some families, but it is pronounced the same. The OE together in German makes the same sound as the Ö but to many English speakers like myself it takes some practice. The name though is German due to the letter formation but does not originate from there. In 1603 over in Scotland king James VI (in England known as King James I) issued an edict abolishing the clan MacGregor so many of the clan left the country. Many MacGregors fled the country and some ended up in Germany so the name was given on arrival to the new country. Now I am an English speaker and trying to speak or read German means I mispronounce many words and once I even changed a whole sentence meaning (much to the amusement of my husband). Nobody knows why the name changed in spelling but I’m wondering if it maybe had to do with a Scottish accent saying the name and a German hearing something slightly different or, spelling it as they think they heard it. So now I’m “Helen of Clan MacGregor” under the banner “Royal is my Race” as the clan is from an ancient Celtic royal family. I’m not going to carry on with my names I use daily as this could go on for a while… just to say I’m also known as Steele but that’s a story for my husband to tell.
Now for Brunhilde Gjafvaldrdottir my other self. No I have not got a mental illness or think I’m two people I am now a Viking Reenactor know as this fine lady. I will blog about the lovely Brunhilde in other blogs and what she gets up too, but this blog is about her name.
Firstly Brunhilde. Yes the name is a mighty, well known and historic name known through Icelandic Edna’s and the German Nibelungenlied. Brunhilde was a Valkyie, a warrior maiden of Oden but she was disobedient (very much like me as husband will attest) and Odin punished her. Odin cast her into a deep, everlasting sleep surrounded by a wall of fire.
Now Brunhilde as a name just from that alone is a great choice but I have a different reason for choosing this name. My mother in law’s second name is Brunhilde and she is an amazing lady and I am proud to use her name. My surname means daughter of Gjafvaldr so dottir is added to the end. I will post more about Brunhilde and her adventures in future posts.
Why not trace your family names and see what story you can find. Until the next time …
Gegen alles ist ein Kraut gewachsen ❤️