Early interior Africans were probably so deeply rooted in the identification of the sound, the vibration of that sound, and the meaning of the word associated with the sound of the object itself that the knowledge of the name of a human or a god or a thing had supernatural powers. Ancient Africans gave a name to everything that came into existence because it was deemed to be an essential quality of whatever enters the realm of time and space from the Amenta (the Cosmic realm of God). The Ancient Egyptian word "Ren" means "name"--a designation for an essential attribute to the personification of a being. In this sense to “Personify” served in African religion to elevate a living person in status.
For Ancient Africans, human names needed protecting from evil influences. And of their innumerable self-protective devices a most prominent one was the Ankh (pronounced "Aung")--a cross topped with a loop called a Shen (a symbol of eternity and of the imperishable vital force of life). Associated with the Shen is a Cartouche (which in hieroglyphics is the encircling of a name by a rope of sunlight or Life Force harnessed in it to the form of a circle). The Ankh (from Egyptian root meaning transfigured spirit; inner spiritual illumination) was thought by Ancient Africans to convey the spirit of God or “life force” present in all real things--“a kind of individualized fragment of the Supreme Being.” Therefore the “life force” present in humans formed the Highest or Divine Self -- the image of God -- the “Soul.” As a result, the Ankh has been deemed to be the most impregnable structure to protect ones name against attack. To this day, to give an Ankh to someone is to wish that person life and health which is contained in ones spiritually derived name.
In Ancient Egyptian spiritual science the person's name (the Ren part of the spirit) also played a key role in a person's realization of his/her destiny. Unlike the Greek approach (the Pythagorean System) purporting to discover a person's life path from that person's " after the fact" given name, the Ancient Egyptian approach worked to first establish the child's life path by one of several means. Examples of means included Prophets (those who summoned a spirit to their aid to discover what portents [indicating things before the fact of their arrival] and truths lay in the future); Seers (those claiming to have divine secrets inspired by the moon and from this foresight came the word “Visionary”); Divination practitioners (those who used artificial aids to predict the future); Oracles (shrines where a god speaks to humans through priests); and by other foreseers who read the stars or the entrails of sacrificial animals for discerning the decrees of the gods for the future. Often in conjunction with this the Metu Neter (God's Word) oracle system for consulting on the name contained a lexicon of Ancient Egyptian 'name parts' used in putting the name together. From these means Ancient African parents picked a name designed to promote the path that had been determined by higher powers. When the name was selected it was associated with a naming ceremony aimed at involving the community--both the living and the Ancestors--to participate in the welcoming of the person into the community.
Ref. Bailey, Word Stories Surrounding African American Slavery.
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