In August of 1969, Latin rock band Santana played a career-launching set at Woodstock and (a few weeks later) released its debut album, Santana.
In September of 1970, the band followed up with a second album, Abraxas, which included the popular songs “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va.”
Abraxas ended up becoming the #1 album in the U.S. for six weeks at the end of 1970. The very next year, right on cue, the baby name Abraxas debuted in the U.S. baby name data:
1971: 5 baby girls named Abraxas [debut]
Where did the name of the album come from?
Carlos Santana discovered it in Hermann Hesse’s 1919 novel Demian, which he quoted in the liner notes of the album:
We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it Abraxas…
In the book, Hesse used Abraxas — an obscure Gnostic deity — as a symbol of unity/totality, saying that Abraxas contained “both the bright world and the dark world,” and combined “the godlike and the devilish.” (He contrasted Abraxas with Jehovah, who represented only divine things — the rest being “ascribed to the Devil” and “swept under the table and buried in silence.”)
Little is known about the Gnostic god, and the etymology/origin of “Abraxas” remains a mystery (though we do know that the original spelling was “Abrasax.”)
After debuting in 1971, the name dropped back out of the SSA data and didn’t return until the 2010s — this time as a boy name.
While we’re talking about Santana, I’ll also mention that the baby name Santana started seeing higher usage for both baby boys and baby girls in the early ’70s, thanks to the band’s success.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Abraxas? How about Santana?
P.S. A few years after Abraxas came out, Carlos Santana, as Devadip Carlos Santana, created the album Illuminations with Turiya Alice Coltrane.
The rare name Turiya has appeared in the SSA’s baby name data just twice so far, in 1974 and 1975:
1975: 7 baby girls named Turiya
1974: 6 baby girls named Turiya [debut]
Where did it come from?
Signs point to Alice Coltrane, who wasn’t just the widow of famous jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, but also an accomplished jazz musician in her own right. She played piano and organ professionally starting in the early 1960s, and later learned to play the harp as well.
Following the death of her husband in 1967, Alice did two things: she “devoted herself to Vedic practice,” and she began recording albums as a bandleader (instead of as a sideman).
In the ten years that followed, she released about a dozen albums on Impulse! and Warner Bros., many of them masterpieces that imagine a meeting point between jazz and psychedelic rock, gospel traditions and Indian devotional music.
So how does “Turiya” fit into all this?
At some point in the early ’70s, Alice adopted the name Turiyasangitananda, which she translated as “the Transcendental Lord’s highest song of bliss.” The Sanskrit components of the name are: turiya, meaning “the fourth (state of the soul),” sangita, meaning “music,” and ananda, meaning “bliss.”
The shortened version, Turiya, soon started appearing in song titles: “Turiya & Ramakrishna” (1970) and “Galaxy In Turiya” (1972).
But its most prominent appearance came in 1974 with the album Illuminations, which was co-created by “Turiya Alice Coltrane” and “Devadip Carlos Santana.” (In Sanskrit, deva means “god,” dip means “lamp” or “light.” Like Narada Michael Walden, Carlos Santana was a follower of Sri Chinmoy.)
Though Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda eventually left her professional music career to head a spiritual community — not to mention raise four children (Michelle, John Jr., Ravi and Oranyan) as a single mother — she never stopped making music.
The Hindu name Narada first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the late ’70s:
1983: 19 baby boys named Narada
1982: 18 baby boys named Narada
1981: 29 baby boys named Narada
1980: 48 baby boys and 7 baby girls [debut] named Narada
1979: 19 baby boys [debut] named Narada
Where did it come from?
Musician and producer Narada Michael Walden, whose songs “I Don’t Want Nobody Else (To Dance with You)” and “I Shoulda Loved Ya” both reached the top 10 on Billboard’s R&B chart in 1979.
He went on to have a successful career, being nominated for a total of eight Grammys and winning three (two in the ’80s, one in the ’90s). He produced music for people like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Al Jarreau, Gladys Knight, Shanice Wilson, Tevin Campbell, etc.
He was born Michael Walden in Michigan in 1952. In the early ’70s, he became a devotee of Indian guru Sri Chinmoy. Chinmoy gave him the spiritual name Narada, and Walden chose to use Narada as part of his stage name. (Carlos Santana, another follower, went by “Devadip Carlos Santana” for a time.)
In Hindu tradition, the character Narada is a sage and musician. He is portrayed “as both wise and mischievous, creating some of Vedic literature’s more humorous tales.”
Do you like Narada as a baby name? Would you use it?
“140” boy names: Dontavious, Markanthony, Fitzwilliam, Prometheus
5 via 149
The boy name Montavious adds up to 149, which reduces to five (1+4+9=14; 1+4=5).
What Does “5” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “5” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “5” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“5” (the pentad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They called the pentad ‘lack of strife,’ not only because aether, the fifth element, which is set apart on its own, remains unchanging, while there is strife and change among the things under it, from the moon to the Earth, but also because the primary two different and dissimilar kinds of number, even and odd, are as it were reconciled and knitted together by the pentad”
“The pentad is the first number to encompass the specific identity of all number[s], since it encompasses 2, the first even number, and 3, the first odd number. Hence it is called ‘marriage,’ since it is formed of male and female.”
“The pentad is highly expressive of justice, and justice comprehends all the other virtues […] it is a kind of justice, on the analogy of a weighing instrument.” (i.e., It is the central number in the row of numbers from 1 to 9.)
“Because it levels out inequality, they call it ‘Providence’ and ‘justice’ (division, as it were) […] Likewise, it is called ‘nuptial’ and ‘androgyny’ and ‘demigod’ – the latter not only because it is half of ten, which is divine, but also because in its special diagram it is assigned the central place. And it is called ‘twin’ because it divides in two the decad, which is otherwise indivisible […] and ‘heart-like’ because of the analogy of the heart being assigned the center in living creatures.”
“Nature separated each of the extremities of our bodily part (I mean, the extremities of our feet and hands) in a five-fold way, into fingers and toes.”
“5” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Five – a change imminent, ever, in the activities of whatever influence with which it may be associated” (reading 261-14).
“Five – as seen, a change” (reading 5751-1).
“Five always active – and double the two, and one – or three and two, which it is the sum of. Hence, as is questioned here, no factor is more active than would be that of a five…in any activity. Five being the active number” (reading 137-119).
Does “5” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 23, 50, 77, 131) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “23” reminds you of chromosomes and genetics, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 5, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? And which ones decreased the most?
The U.S. SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I prefer to answer it by looking at raw number differences, and to take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kylo, +2,368 spots — up from 3,269th to 901st
2. Creed, +370 spots — up from 1,352nd to 982nd
3. Benicio, +356 spots — up from 1,331st to 975th
4. Adonis, +307 spots — up from 701st to 394th
5. Fox, +288 spots — up from 1034th to 746th
6. Kye, +281 spots — up from 984th to 703rd
7. Hakeem, +256 spots — up from 1,161st to 905th
8. Shepherd, +242 spots — up from 1,105th to 863rd
9. Wilder, +238 spots — up from 961st to 723rd
10. Zayn, +222 spots — up from 643rd to 421st
Kylo was influenced by the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Creed and Adonis were influenced by the movie Creed (2015).
Hakeem was influenced by the TV show Empire (2015-). So was Bryshere, which debuted last year.
Wilder could have been influenced by either Gene Wilder or by boxer Deontay Wilder, or both. (Or neither.)
Zayn was influenced by British singer/songwriter Zain “Zayn” Malik.
1. Mateo, +1,516 baby boys — up from 5,010 to 6,526
2. Oliver, +1,340 baby boys — up from 11,635 to 12,975
3. Bryson, +1,239 baby boys — up from 3,094 to 4,333
4. Lincoln, +1,094 baby boys — up from 5,982 to 7,076
5. Benjamin, +899 baby boys — up from 13,670 to 14,569
6. Grayson, +735 baby boys — up from 7,887 to 8,622
7. Theodore, +723 baby boys — up from 4,136 to 4,859
8. Greyson, +704 baby boys — up from 3,591 to 4,295
9. Leo, +678 baby boys — up from 4,582 to 5,260
10. Maverick, +675 baby boys — up from 2,265 to 2,940
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Owen, Sebastian, Ezekiel, Lucas, Ezra, Leonardo, Santiago, Conor, Gael, Everett, Rhett, Jameson, Killian, Tobias, Arlo, Easton, Finn, Rowan, Elias, Asher, Calvin, Thiago, Bodhi, Legend, Lukas, River, Elliot, Harrison, Roman, Adriel, Paxton, Julian, Ace, Josiah, Waylon, Messiah, Nash, Ellis, Matias, George, Barrett, Connor, Wade, Kyrie, Milo, Amir, Bennett, Elliott, Silas, Matteo, and Axel.
Rowan is rising quickly for both boys and girls right now.
Kyrie, which was once given primarily to girls, is now being given primarily for boys thanks to basketball player Kyrie Irving.
Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Jonael, -475 spots — down from 921st to 1,396th
2. Aaden, -239 spots — down from 784th to 1,023rd
3. Triston, -230 spots — down from 957th to 1,187th
4. Freddy, -222 spots — down from 993rd to 1,215th
5. Yaakov, -213 spots — down from 992nd to 1,205th
6. Braeden, -203 spots — down from 792nd to 995th
7. Chace, -202 spots — down from 935th to 1,137th
8. Brantlee, -176 spots — down from 777th to 953rd
9. Gannon, -173 spots — down from 533rd to 706th
10. Robin, -171 spots — down from 969th to 1,140th
The name Jonael got a lot of exposure in 2015 thanks to 11-year-old Puerto Rican singer Jonael Santiago, who won the 3rd season of La Voz Kids, which aired from March to June. It didn’t get as much exposure in 2016, which accounts for the drop in usage.
1. Logan, -1,697 baby boys (12,897 to 11,200)
2. Jacob, -1,498 baby boys (15,914 to 14,416)
3. Jayden, -1,455 baby boys (11,518 to 10,063)
4. Mason, -1,399 baby boys (16,591 to 15,192)
5. Ethan, -1,291 baby boys — down from 15,049 to 13,758
6. Aiden, -1,271 baby boys (13,429 to 12,158)
7. Alexander, -1,186 baby boys (14,507 to 13,321)
8. Jackson, -1,032 baby boys (12,242 to 11,210)
9. Brandon, -1,024 baby boys (5,100 to 4,076)
10. Blake, -951 baby boys (4,220 to 3,269)
Unlike Rowan, Blake is falling on the boys’ list, but rising on the girls’ list. In fact, the graph (right) makes a gender switch look inevitable. This is not something I would have anticipated a decade ago, before the emergence of Blake Lively.
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Landon, Caleb, Gavin, Anthony, Christopher, Andrew, David, Parker, Colton, Jase, Hunter, Brody, Brantley, Gabriel, Jonathan, Jordan, Tyler, Kevin, Nathan, Joshua, Carter, Daniel, Joseph, Dylan, Christian, Noah, Angel, Brayden, Iker, Chase, Nicholas, Austin, Dominic, Camden, John, Ayden, Michael, Colin, Bryan, Riley, Kyle, Hayden, Bradley, Nathaniel, Jake, Samuel, Luke, Cayden, Evan, Zachary, Steven, Kaden, Cooper, Marcus, Ryan, Tristan, Bryce, Ryder, Micah, Brady, Bentley, Kaleb, Levi, Alex, Conner, Jeremy, Isaac, Ian, Gage, Brian, Kayden, Jaden, Carlos, Sean, Jeremiah, Abel, Devin, Adrian, Giovanni, Garrett, and Adam.
Jase has seen a dramatic rise and fall over the last few years: big gains in 2012 and 2013, followed by big losses in 2014, 2015, and now 2016.
Similarly, Iker was on the rise for a while, with partcularly big leaps in 2011 and 2012, but usage is now on the wane.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please leave a comment.
(In 2015, the big winners were Oliver and Riaan, and the big losers were Jase and Arnav.)