The name was given to me by someone very important to me, and its actually short for Frick the Elf-Sprite-Faerie-Kender-Creature. The use of this name is so prevalent among my friends that there have even been times when people actually thought my given name was Elf!
So even before I chose an SCA name, I had a nickname that was commonly used. My Household, however, has a rule that "You get one name." Within our group, that means pick a name, pick it early, and stick with it. I did none of those really (well, at least not the "stick with it part"), so the name they have always used for me is Elf, as that was how most of them were initially introduced to me.
When I first got involved in the SCA, I chose a really horrible, exceedingly long, quasi-Irish name. Very undocumentable, yet pretty appropriate for the dire persona story I had developed at the time. Yes, like many newcomers to the SCA I wanted a Celtic-Pirate-Gypsy-World-Traveller-and-Inadvertant-Time-Traveller persona. There is so much out there to learn and do that its easy to want to do it all!
I think the key is in realizing that you do not need to invent that story to cover all bases ;-)
So, I had a tragic name initially, then I settled on Teine inghen Sheadhgha or Teine ni Shea (both undocumentable for SCA purposes). When I started my Middle Eastern persona I switched to Basina al-Adarpadyavand (name glopped together from two different name lists). Now, my mistakes should be a warning to folks out there looking for names (any names really, but Middle Eastern or dancer names in particular), there are alot of really bad name resources online. I happened to use one of those to choose that name. I found later that Basina was not Arabic after all, and it did not mean what I thought it meant and it was also undocumentable for my persona. I later settled on (and registered) Umm Hurayrah bint Khalid - which is documentable and Hurayrah means "kitten" (making me Mother of Kitten, daughter of Khalid). It works, BUT is so hard to pronounce that my friends could not use it for introductions and I pitied any poor herald that had to call that mess out in Court.
As I have mentioned before in this blog, I was extremely fortunate, in 2007, to make a trip to Oslo. I already liked the look of the Norse costumes I saw in the SCA, but this journey convinced me that this was something I needed to pursue! By 2012, this had become the primary course of my studies and I decided to choose a Norse name and, also, to finally register my device.
As a kindness to my friends, I deliberately chose a name this time that has "elf" in it. Álfrún ketta it will be from now on and yes, calling me Elf is just fine.
I do have a bit of advice to those seeking out names for use in the SCA:
- When you first sit down to choose a name, look closely at your sources. Are they credible? Are the names you are looking at documentable? Often people are so excited to play in the SCA that they don't take the time to choose a name that works within the context of the Society and they end up regretting it later. It is far easier to choose a documentable name from the start, than it is try to to figure out how to document something later. There are likely heralds in your local group who will be more than eager to help you with this process!
- Despite the rule in my own Household, its not bad to take some time to really find the name you want. Going to a few events and getting an idea of what interests you the most in the SCA (in terms of culture or activities) can really help you narrow down the possibilities to find the right name.
- While it is possible to change your name, or have multiple names, it is not always easy. Often people have a hard time remembering even one name for a person. Be kinder to those around you than I was to my friends. Choose wisely, and if you opt to change or register a second name, it might be good to choose something close to the one you already had.
- If you do change your name, do not get upset if others do not remember it.
- And remember, you do not need to change your persona and name the way you change your clothes. It is very acceptable to carry an Irish name, but wear an Italian Renaissance gown for 12th Night (and you do not need to invent a wild Pirate's-Daughter type story to explain how you came to possess that dress either).
- There are also great resources online to help you pick a name, including the Academy of St. Gabriel. Their newcomer's article can be found here: