Why I Changed My Name to Fen

Hey Fen,

Why’d you change your name? And why “Fen”?


So Many People

Dear So Many People,

Short version, I’m a serpent (a wingèd one) shedding old skin. Or a butterfly emerging, if you prefer less reptilian analogies (I don’t, but whatever).

Long version, my old name, “Heather” has never fit. All my life ALL my life it never felt right. Every time I had to introduce myself, I would say the name and think, internally, “But that’s not right!” I’d want to call it back and offer something else instead.

I played with various options in my childhood. My old middle name, Lynne. The name “chara” (ALL LOWERCASE 😂). For a while I was “Tess” and my best friend was “Tass.”

That one was actually pretty close to right, especially at the time.

But then I grew up and it seemed like the grown-up thing was to play the cards I was dealt, including the name, and DEAL with it.

Then I discovered that I don’t actually HAVE to carry everything that was handed to me by my past.

Not even the name.

That I can put that shit DOWN.

So, I put down a ton of bullshit this past summer, and along with it the idea that I have to keep a name that doesn’t fit me.

I’ve been in conversation with Spirit and all my spirit guides, as well as a few very dear friends and my own high self, for most of a year. The name that kept coming to me was “Fen.”

It doesn’t have some deep meaning that I know of. It just FEELS right.

Now, in fact, it turns out (and I learned this AFTER I had more-or-less settled on the name) that “Fen” can be (and is) short for a longer name, which is “Fenume” (pronounced “Fen-uh-May), which is Tolkien’s elvish word for “dragon.” That felt like a meaningful… coincidence? … when I discovered it.

I am also aware of its associations with wet, boggy, peaty places that absorb the past, crunch it up and transform it into new things, new life. I lived a charmed part of my childhood in a place in England called The Fens, which the Romans drained while they were there and is now a flat, open expanse of farmland crisscrossed by canals, ostensibly tamed, but deeply wild, constantly breathing out the transformed bones and flesh of a distant past.

I met a tree there, the first one that I felt a close, deep affinity for. I spent a lot of time in the branches of that tree and when we moved away, I left a note for the next person to meet the tree, so they would know how special it was.

But those facts are only tangential, I think, to the name.

I don’t know why. It’s just the right name.

So, that’s that.

I thank you, dearly and deeply, for your warm welcome of my new name. Most especially those of you who have said, “It suits you.” It feels SO right to me, and it’s good to know it feels right to you, too.

Love you all.