Wednesday 27 June 2012

Radiance - Behind the scenes 4

We've passed the halfway point of Radiance! Tiferet/adornment is the 5th sefirah counting up from the bottom, so 5 more sefirot to go. I hope that you're enjoying the ride. I've found that having to post every week has been quite motivating but nevertheless I've fallen quite behind schedule, and as of right now I haven't written anything that isn't online. Eep!

Anyway, now we've passed the halfway mark I thought I might reflect some more on the names of the characters. Just for the record, I already discussed Asher here.

I wanted to emphasise Emma and Eliav's relationship to Asher as well as to each other, so I tried to choose names that play on their role as parents and similarities to one another, while also showcasing their differences. Emma sounded like the Hebrew word 'Ima' meaning mother, while Eliav means 'my god is father'. Both relate to parenthood but with rather different connotations. Similarly, I wanted Emma's name to sound quite proper and British, while Eliav is more classical Hebrew/Israeli.

Meanwhile Grunfeld, meaning (fairly obviously) 'green field' was supposed to hint at their East European roots, while reflecting the sefirot. According to wikipedia, green is associated with Binah/Understanding, the highest feminine principle known as the upper mother. In my experience, colours in kabbalah are applied to different sefirot depending on where you look, so I try not to take it too seriously. Nevertheless, I liked the idea of Greenfield, calling to mind open grass land, which to me suggests Malchut/Kingship, the lower feminine principle.

We're about to see quite a lot more of Li, the embodiment of Gevurah/Strength (one important piece of feedback I've received is that I should develop the other members of the seven more fully - watch out for that in the 2nd draft!). Her name came about because I didn't want the Seven to be a group of Jewish Anglos. Virgo is of African descent (and I don't think her story will be fully revealed in Radiance) but Li is Chinese-American. I liked the idea that her name sounds Asian while meaning "to me" or "mine" in Hebrew. Gevurah/Strength has in it the root of selfishness as it is about strict judgement and harsh distinctions between oneself and the world.

Another non-Anglo name, I wanted the embodiment of Chessed/Lovingkindness to have a somewhat exotic sounding name. Somehow I came across Rahko, a Finnish deity/spirit associated with time and the moon. While the moon is classically associated more with Malchut than with Chessed, this name and background seemed to fit the water/ice powers I had in mind for the character of Chessed. Still, I'm not entirely satisfied with this one and if you have a better idea I'd love to hear it.

I saved Virgo for last in this behind the scenes, because I don't remember how I came to it. I was looking up interesting connections with Tiferet/Adornment in other systems and somehow came to Virgo, though now doing the searches on the internet I can't for the life of me figure out how. Still, I like the name and I think it works well for the character to have an astrological name given her interest and involvement in fate and destiny.

That's all for now - look out for a 'story so far' update before the end of the week, and let me know if there's anything you would like me to address in the next 'Behind the Scenes'.


  1. Interesting, as usual (I'm interested in names, real and fictional). I worked out that Li was probably Oriental, but wasn't sure - I thought perhaps the Seven were all Jewish, but there's no reason they should be or OTOH no reason why someone with a Chinese, Finnish or African name/ancestry shouldn't be Jewish. I missed Virgo being of African descent though.

    'Emma' is also the nickname for Emmanuel College, Cambridge (where they filmed Shada!), which of course means 'God is with us', but that's probably reading too much into it!

    1. I rather like Emma as a reference to Emmanuel. Certainly in Christian terms this has rather messianic overtones which suit me well.

      All of the Seven are Jewish, though from many different places around the world. I believe that Li (and possibly Rahko) is a convert, but this won't really come up in the story.