What’s in a name? Quite a lot, according to the Koryak people of Siberia. From ancient times their traditional beliefs have included reincarnation. When a child is born, the Koryak supreme deity dispatches a deceased soul into the body of the infant.
Understandably, the pressing question for the happy parents is, which one? Who exactly has been recycled? Has dear old Grandma returned to her loved ones, or is that horrible Auntie Agatha squealing in the crib?
Luckily, the father can consult the ANAPEL — the ‘Little Grandmother’. The name refers to a simple stone which dad dangles on a piece of string while speaking aloud the names of dead relatives. When the stone begins to spin, he knows he has uttered the name of the returned soul. And then — hopefully — it’s congratulations all round.
Many books erroneously claim that ANAPEL is a Goddess of Childbirth. This appears to be an error due to over-simplification. We have consulted what appears to be the original research by Waldemar Jochelson (and also Maria Czaplicka). No goddess involved. Just a stone on a piece of string. (However, to avoid rocking the New Age boat too much, we have listed ANAPEL as a spirit on our database.)
We think the ANAPEL system is a charming — if slightly nerve-wracking — way for parents to choose a suitable moniker for their children. You are welcome to try it — let us know how you get on.