…a rose by any other name….
When I was very new to Paganism, I took on the name Amara. It means “Immortal One” and I had originally chosen it for a character I was writing who was a vampire. It seemed fitting for her…and because she was so much a part of me, I took the name as my own.
I began using the name online as well as in Pagan circles. It became a part of who I am, how I identify myself. For a long time it was as common for me to be known as Amara as it was to be known as Natalie, and I would joke that I was never sure which name to use without looking to see who I was with.
Since then, I have also adopted a name I use when I publish erotica. That name is JC Natal, which is really just a play on my given name. I have never felt really attached to that name though. It is really just a tool.
Amara though, she is a part of me. She isn’t distinctly separate from Natalie anymore, but she isn’t wholly the same either.
Professionally, I have always been Natalie. My photography, my writing (that isn’t erotica) all lives in the world under that name. There is one piece of writing out there with the name Amara attached to it, an essay in an anthology of Pagan writers. But mostly, when it comes to the world where I market my creative talents, I am known as Natalie J. Case.
However, aside from that one essay, I’ve never really written about Paganism. One of the outcomes of Pantheacon 2013 for me is a calling to do just that. There is a book to be written. It will be part of my own healing process (the one I thought I was over and done with…but apparently is not complete) as well as hopefully an aid to those who have suffered the pain of spiritual trauma.
The question I am now faced with is now one of identity. Amara is the name I am recognized by in the Pagan community at large. Natalie is the name I am somewhat recognized by as a writer. The lines cross and blur, and with them, my sense of who I am as both people, as both sides of myself.
If I am solidly Natalie, who is a writer and photographer who happens to be Pagan, but also solidly Amara, who is a Pagan who happens to also be a writer and photographer, and neither of them is more me than the other…where does that leave me?
To complicate matters all the more, nearly two years ago now I was faced with a situation online that caused me to relinquish Amara as my online moniker (though most online friends still call me that in real life). I adopted something Paganesque that suited my dedication to Morrigan and my love of words and wordplay. Ravensword is that name.
It was a difficult change for me. And yet, this name too feels like a part of me, though a different, more intimate part of me I think. It isn’t as widely known.
So as I’ve contemplated this book I want to write and my identity and how I want to present myself in this endeavor, I’m torn between wanting to keep my Pagan identity for the recognition value (though I recognize that that value is very local) and start to build an online following for that identity, as Amara Ravensword…or do I continue to let Amara merge into Natalie and focus on continuing to build that brand?
I’m not really all that good at marketing myself. Mostly I tend to like to let my work speak for me…but I know that in order to be publishable, one needs to market. I hope all the decisions moving forward aren’t this hard.