Category: Personal History

What’s in a Name?

I don’t think I have many followers of this blog right now, but keen observers may have noticed that my name here used to be Liss LeFay, and it’s now Kendria Madrone. This is because Liss LeFay was just a placeholder name until I could find a Druid name. Well, I have finally found it! This post details a bit of the process I went through to decide on the right name for myself. During this process I was looking for all the information I could find on how to choose the right name, so hopefully this will be helpful to others who may be looking for the same. This was my process and yours may look very different, but that’s very much okay! This is a very personal journey for any Druid.

Disclaimer: This post contains a link to a book that can be purchased. I get a commission for purchases made through this link.

What is a Druid Name?

If you do an internet search for “druid name”, you’ll get a bunch of baby name and name generator websites, and tips for naming your Dungeons & Dragons character. There’s not a lot of information available publicly about druid names specifically, but taking on a magical or craft name is fairly common in Pagan and Witchcraft communities for a variety of reasons. A craft name can be used for privacy reasons, for getting into the right mindset to raise energy or magic, as a confidence booster, or just because it’s fun! There’s something empowering about naming yourself. It adds a new layer of your own sovereignty, and Druidry encourages creating your own path.

A craft name or Druid name can also be given to you by an elder or higher ranking person in your grove or group, or a close friend or family member. Some traditions use it as part of their initiation process.

How I Chose My Druid Name

I started out by making a list of meaningful name elements and putting them together to see what sounded good and resonated with me. I also did some meditation on the subject and hoped that something would come to me from the universe or my subconscious or something. I came up with one name that I liked, but I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the right one. I mentioned to some other Druids that I thought I might have a name figured out but that I wasn’t sure, and one of them recommended the book The Witch’s Name: Crafting Identities of Magical Power by Storm Faerywolf as a possible guide to help in my self-naming journey. It’s written from a Witch’s perspective, but it can be applied for Druids. I bought the book and it gave me many insights and ideas for finding the right name. I didn’t do everything in the book, only what felt right for me, but ultimately it made me more confident in my final choice.

I have a difficult time with choices like this. I don’t know if it’s due to my ADHD, autism, or just my own self-confidence issues, but I tend to second guess myself… a LOT. I have a very hard time trusting myself and my instincts and I wasn’t sure if I would ever come to a final decision on my name. I’ve had many aliases over the years from various online endeavors, so coming up with an alternative name for myself was nothing new to me. But this wasn’t just an internet handle, this was something that was going to be a large part of my identity. I have no plans to legally change my name, but I do have big plans for my future as a Druid, so this was a very important decision for me. The more important something is, the more indecisive I get.

Gathering the Ingredients

I continued to collect and list name elements that I identified and resonated with from various sources, using some sources that were suggested by the book, and some from baby name sites. If it weren’t for ad blockers, I’m sure my targeted ads would be trying to sell me all kinds of baby and new mother stuff by now! I used translators to enter words that I wanted to incorporate and find the translations for those words in other languages that relate to Druidry and even my nerdy interests. I translated words into Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Irish, and Sindarin (one of Tolkien’s Elvish languages). I also looked up the scientific names of trees that are important to me, but those usually don’t translate well to names. Welsh, Scots Gaelic, and Irish can be difficult to pronounce, so I tried listing the phonetic spelling of some of those words to use as possible spellings for those names.

Some elements that I came up with from the translation exercise were coille (Scots Gaelic for forest), eòlas (Scots Gaelic for knowledge), afon (Welsh for river), glad (Sindarin for forest), and craban (Sindarin for crow). I then started trying combinations of the elements such as using Gladcraban as a last name, or combining coille and eòlas to make Coilleòlas, which I learned is Scots Gaelic for forestry, which makes sense since it is literally “forest knowledge”.

The book also recommends drawing inspiration from deities, animals, and fictional characters that inspire you. Some Goddesses from Welsh mythology that I’ve become quite fond of are Blodeuwedd, Branwen, and Arianrhod. Some animals I considered incorporating into my name were the crow and the owl. Ivy was another component that I considered because I’ve always been a fan of the character Poison Ivy from the Batman comics, and an eco-warrior would be appropriate for a nature based spirituality! But Druids are also about peace, and Ivy isn’t exactly peaceful. I also wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite characters from the Discworld novels, Granny Weatherwax, so I strongly considered using Weatherwax as my last name. It is a fairly common surname in magical communities.

Making a Decision

Some good advice from Faerywolf’s book is to make this a name that not only represents you as you are now, but also represents who you aspire to be. I definitely took that into consideration when deciding on my name. Another requirement that was important to me was making sure that the elements of fire and water were both represented. It was okay if neither of them were, but if one was, I wanted both of them to balance each other out. Another preference, but not a hard requirement, was that the full name have a total of five syllables. I’m pretty sure I have OCD in addition to my other neurodivergences (not just because of my preference for certain numbers, there are MANY other signs), and I tend to prefer odd numbers over even numbers, and I also have a love of haikus.

Ultimately, I found Kendria on a baby name site that allows filtering and searching based on origin and meaning. It has the meanings of keen leader, wise leader, greatest champion, and clear water. So that covers the water element and aspirational requirements. I also ended up settling on that one by unconsciously using the KonMari method. I was flipping through some of the options, and that one sparked joy, so I kept it! It feels feminine and beautiful, and those are aspects of myself that I’ve been trying to cultivate and embrace lately. The “wise leader” aspect, while aspirational, makes me feel empowered, which is a good thing for any craft name to do.

Madrone is a tree that I’ve recently connected very strongly with and have come to love. They don’t grow in many places, but there are hundreds of them on a plot of land in the Sierra Nevadas that my husband’s family recently purchased, and I have become enthralled with their strength and beauty. With their peeling, many-colored bark, they represent transformation. They represent fire with their bright red and gold bark. They’re resilient to fire, and it’s even a part of their life cycle! Transformation is another element that I wanted to be sure to incorporate into my name because I’m constantly evolving and transforming into, hopefully, a better version of myself. I feel that transformation and versatility are aspects of my ADHD that I wanted to embrace and highlight with my name. Change is a constant in life, and especially so in mine.

I nearly named myself Kendria Phoenix because the Phoenix is another symbol of fire and transformation, plus it just sounds badass! But I ultimately went with Madrone for three reasons: it flows better with Kendria, my best friend and husband both liked it better, and Madrones are so important to me that I wanted to make sure they were represented.

So there you have it, the long journey of crafting a Druid name for myself! This ended up getting more lengthy than I expected, but I wanted to detail as much of the process as I could. Both for my own journaling purposes, and because when I was searching for information for how people come up with their names, I wanted as much information, personal stories and anecdotes as I could find. I hope that some other neurodivergent (or neurotypical) Druid who also likes as much info as possible finds this helpful.

Yours from under the madrone trees,

/|\ Kendria Madrone

Header image by Johann Reinbacher.

Medications and The Path Forward

Content Warning: This post discusses substances that are not legal in all jurisdictions. The use of ketamine is legal where I live, and I only use it under the care of medical professionals and with the help of a trained guide. I do not condone or recommend the use of any substances which are illegal where you live, or the use of ketamine or any other psychedelics without the guidance of a medical professional and guide or therapist.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I have nothing against medications, nor do I have any negative views against anyone who takes medications for any reason. I’ve personally had mostly negative experiences with prescription psych medications, and the purpose of this post is only to talk about my experiences and my own path forward. This should not be taken as medical advice. Everyone reacts to various medications and substances differently, and you should talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any medication.

But First, Some History

Note: If you don’t want to read all the history and details of how I ended up with the conclusion of being on the autism spectrum and having ADHD, you can skip ahead to the section titled “The ADHD Medication Situation and How it Relates to My Druidic Path”. I won’t judge you. Trust me, I get it…

I was diagnosed with ADHD at age forty, but my history with psych meds goes back about twenty-six years to when I was about fourteen and starting to enter my rebellious teen years. At that age, I desperately wanted to fit in and impress my peers. I was definitely an outcast and didn’t understand why I didn’t fit in. I don’t think I was a bad kid, I was just very bad at saying no to anyone in my age group because I wanted them to like me and I wanted to impress them. You know, teen stuff.

This eagerness to go along with peer pressure eventually led to me running away. From my perspective, I wasn’t running away from home, I was only spending the night with some people who I wasn’t supposed to be staying with, and I lied to my mom about where I was. In my mind it should have been no big deal. But of course, this being the real world and not the idealized world inside my teenage head, it resulted in the police becoming involved and a search for me ensued throughout my small town. I came back home the next day, but this triggered my mother to seek out psychological help for me. From her perspective, I was acting out, which must have meant that I was mentally disturbed. But from my perspective, I was just doing what I needed to do in order to survive the social pressures of adolescence.

My initial diagnosis was depression, so I was prescribed an antidepressant. When that gave me sleep paralysis, I was switched to a different antidepressant. When the new one gave me paranoia and hallucinations, I was switched to yet another. Throughout these medication changes, I continued to see my psychologist. This was the early nineties, and around that time, new research was starting to come out that showed that bipolar disorder could occur in children. My psychologist had been studying the subject and decided that it described me, so I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at around age sixteen and prescribed lithium along with the antidepressant. Then somewhere along the line I got an additional diagnosis of anxiety and had anti-anxiety meds added to my chemical cocktail.

The Path to the Right Diagnosis

Fast forward around eighteen years and many medication changes later, and I was a woman in her early thirties who was starting to question her bipolar diagnosis. From everything I had read on the subject, it just didn’t match up with my experience at all. So once I was able to get health insurance, I decided to start tapering off of all my medications under the guidance of my physician and a therapist. It took about two years to get completely off of everything and it was an incredibly difficult process. It took about another two years before all the withdrawal symptoms went away. I went through another few years of figuring out who I was without the medications. That can be a difficult task when you’ve been on these medications since before your brain had finished developing. I also had to learn how to regulate my emotions and often felt like I had “teenage brain” all over again.

My search for the right diagnosis first led me to Autism Spectrum Disorder, which I had never even considered before because most of the info about that is based on how it presents in males (those assigned male at birth), and the stereotypes found in the media. I wasn’t able to get a formal diagnosis of ASD because I have a husband and a job, so I don’t need help and therefore don’t qualify for a diagnosis because it “doesn’t negatively impact my life enough”. I agree that I don’t need supports and I wasn’t seeking that, but I wanted to get that confirmation so that I could feel comfortable “coming out” as someone on the spectrum. I still don’t feel comfortable telling most people in my life without that formal diagnosis, even though I know that self-diagnosis is widely accepted in the neurodiverse community and even in some circles of the psychological community. I know that there are people who, due to the above-mentioned stereotypes, will not believe me.

I also got an assessment for ADHD at the same time as my ASD assessment. I was told that I could not have ADHD because I did not have certain symptoms as a child, and because I was able to complete a “very boring” game. Apparently they had never heard of hyperfocus and forcing yourself to complete something because you don’t want to disappoint anyone. Did they expect me to get up and storm out of the room in the middle of the test? I’m not a child. All the tests in that assessment felt like they were geared toward children. After doing more research on ADHD in women, I discovered that those symptoms listed that I didn’t have as a child, are all symptoms that mainly present in boys. When I learned of how ADHD presents in girls and women, it became very clear that’s what I have. I ended up asking my doctor for a referral to a neuropsychiatrist because I was definitely struggling with ADHD symptoms even though I didn’t have a formal diagnosis. I got the referral, and the neuropsych agreed that I have ADHD (and it’s now on my medical chart so I call that a diagnosis), so we began looking at treatment options.

The ADHD Medication Situation and How it Relates to My Druidic Path

My neuropsych first started me on a non-stimulant medication while we waited for me to get medically cleared for stimulant trial. I also didn’t want to start with stimulants and wanted to see if a different type of medication would help me. My reasons for this were that I am very sensitive to caffeine (not all people with ADHD are coffee fiends!) so I was worried stimulants would have a similar effect on me. And I had heard horror stories about how difficult it can be to continuously get the prescriptions because it’s a controlled substance here in the US. The first medication we tried helped greatly with some symptoms, but the bad side effects far outweighed the benefits. We tried two other non-stimulant medications that both ended up about the same as the first, just different side effects.

I was finally cleared for stimulant trial shortly after I discovered Druidry and had begun my studies with OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids). Meditation is a big part of Druidry and my bardic grade studies, and I was doing relatively well with that in my first few weeks of the course. I had always struggled with meditation because of my wandering brain, but this course gives me a focus so that my brain has somewhere to go.

I started my stimulant medication trial, and the first day was amazing! I had motivation, energy, and focus, which were three things that I couldn’t achieve all together with the other medications. I was finally starting to get optimistic about my future! But as the week progressed, the side effects started showing up. I was getting heart palpitations every day, whereas before, I only got them maybe once a month or so. My blood pressure also went up and I was having more anxiety. One day during that week, I attempted to do a meditation exercise and ended up having a panic attack. The total opposite of what meditation is supposed to do.

At that point, I felt like my path had split in two, and I could only follow one of them. One path was to continue to take stimulant medications for the benefits and deal with the side effects, but at the same time, feel like I’m not able to fully pursue Druidry. And the other path was to struggle with my ADHD without medications, but being able to fully pursue Druidry, and hopefully Druidry could help me deal with the ADHD. I ultimately decided to stop taking the stimulant, not only because it was interfering with my spiritual path, but because I was afraid it would exacerbate my heart issues.

So, What’s Next?

I have been researching psychedelics for a while and seeing from various studies and the experiences of others with ADHD that it can be very beneficial. I discovered that Ketamine therapy is legal here in California and I found a provider for at-home Ketamine treatments. I feel that this will work well with Druidry as it will enhance, rather than hinder my meditation practices. I’ve only done one treatment so far, but I think this will definitely be a good thing to help me with the struggles along my path.

Once I’ve gotten a few more treatments under my belt, I’ll make another post about my experiences with that.

Yours Under the Blue Oaks,

/|\ Kendria

Header image by Steve Buissinne.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén