Becoming Mikayal

I never thought I would change my name. Where I come from, it’s just not something you “do.” Sure, in California, where I live now, lots of people change their names to things like, Tree or Mountain or Moonflower Sunbeam! But in the suburbs of Boston, where I grew up, changing your name is definitely not an option! Even after living in California for more than 20 years I never imagined I would change my name. 

So it came as a bit of a shock a few years ago when I started getting little nudges to change my name. At first I ignored them, hoping they would go away. They didn’t. They kept getting louder until I finally could no longer ignore them and stood face to face with a serious identity crisis. (I’ll refrain from calling it a mid-life crisis for the moment!) 

A name is a powerful thing. It’s charged with energy, loaded with history and packed with identity. A name is a home, and a shelter. It’s familiar and comfortable. A place where you know yourself. And the space within which others know you. 

But a name is also a box. Everything you think about yourself is experienced from within the confines of that box. It provides safety and shelter and comfort, yes. But the box also ties you to that which you have been… even if that is no longer who you are… or who you might become. You see yourself and the world through the filter of that name. And others see you through their experience of that name. 

So getting the nudges to change my name felt a bit like being asked to walk around naked and exposed without the protection of that box of identity.

When I took the first tentative steps in the direction of changing my name, though, I realized that Edward had never felt “right.” Whenever I introduced myself, whether as Edward or Ed (never Eddie!) it didn’t ring true for me. And the combination of Edward Mills felt especially awkward. There was something about the ending D of Edward moving into the M of Mills. I couldn’t get it to feel smooth and natural. And I started noticing the awkwardness more when I introduced myself, almost as if I was introducing someone else. 

During this time of exploration I was focused more on why Edward didn’t feel right than on what name would feel right. Another delaying tactic I’m sure! 

But it did give me a few ideas. There was the “it doesn’t roll easily off the tongue” idea. Then there was the “it just doesn’t feel right” idea. But in the end it felt like at the root it came back to – as most of my major transformational experiences have – my adoption. 

You see, my biological mother gave me a name before she gave me up for adoption. Years ago, when I met her for the first time, she told me that she had given me a name. Unfortunately she couldn’t remember what the name was!  

Obviously, as a newborn being, I couldn’t have “known” the name, or even that she had named me. But the fact remains that I was given a name in the first moments of my life. And it’s likely that she had been holding that name for some time while I was still inside her womb. That means the energetic signature of the name was imprinted in my system. Which is a pretty strong reason why the name my adoptive parents gave me would not ever feel right to me. 

The act of “naming” a child has power. That’s why almost every culture and religion has a formal naming ceremony. One naming process I particularly love comes from the West African Dagara people (I spent years studying their ritual technologies with both Malidoma and Sobonfu Some). They hold rituals throughout the child-bearing process, from conception to birth and beyond. The elders and mystics of the tribe “Divine” the name of the child. They tune into the child’s spirit to discover its purpose. Why is it choosing to be born at this time? Then a name is chosen based on that purpose. It’s a name that will constantly remind the child (and the adult) of that purpose. Can you imagine how incredible it would be to be reminded of your purpose every time someone calls your name? Powerful… and intense!

That’s what I wanted. If I was going to change my name I wanted it to be something that would constantly remind of why I’m here, what I’m meant to do and who I’m meant to become. The truth is, I’m not sure if my hesitation was more because of the fear of what others would think… or because of the fear of being confronted with my purpose every time I spoke or heard my name. That felt like a lot of responsibility.

So it took a full two years before I was ready to act on those mysterious name-change urges. Finally, last year, on my birthday, I set the intention to receive my “true name” during a night of deep meditation and ceremony. After several hours of meditating and sitting in the silence of the night, Archangel Michael came and stood in front of me. Clear as day. Like, crazy, scary, potent, clear!

In that clarity I knew he was offering me his name.

It sounds batshit, egotistical crazy!

Believe me. I know! Definitely NOT what I was expecting. And you’ve got to understand that I don’t have a particularly strong connection with Angels in general or Archangel Michael in particular. (Although one of my favorite songs on the Walk In Beauty album is This One’s For the Angels… and I’m still not sure where that came from!)

While I certainly respect and love the Angels and their support, they’re not typically the Beings I’ve turned to for guidance. So having Archangel Michael show up was unexpected! Also, Angel or not, Michael is not a name I would have chosen.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the name Michael. There are a LOT of Michael’s in my life… Many of whom I deeply respect and dearly love. But I never would have consciously chosen the name for myself. In this case, though, I wasn’t choosing. I had set an intention to be shown my true name. And here it was. 

At the end of  the meditation, I tentatively tried on the name with the small group I was with. The difference was palpable. When I said the name Edward  it just kind of rolled away, almost as if it couldn’t find a place to land in my body. When I said the name Michael, it definitely landed! I could feel the vibrancy and vitality and presence rippling through my system and waking me up. 

But, of course, by the next day, the intensity and clarity of that experience was already starting to fade. I definitely needed some time to process the experience and let the name come home before “coming out.” Over the next few months, as I let the name settle into my system it morphed a bit into its present form, Mikayal, which landed even more fully in my system. 

Now here’s the extra crazy thing. Way before I shared the name publicly, I was talking with my birth mother on the phone. I didn’t tell her I was thinking of changing my name. But I asked her, again, if she had remembered the name she gave me.

She said, “I still can’t remember, but, back then, probably the only name I would have considered is Michael.” 

What?!? Where did that come from? 

Coincidence? I don’t know. Maybe Michael was the name she was holding in her awareness while she was carrying me. Or maybe not. She doesn’t remember. But clearly, the name Michael was in our collective field. And if that was the energetic naming signature that got imprinted in my system, maybe, just maybe I did “know” it on some level. 

Part II of this story (about the catalyst that got me ready to share the new name with the world) will follow soon. 

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Big Love


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