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Morgan le Fay by Frederik Sandys

Morgana is one of those names a good majority of people have heard of, yet rarely, if ever, see on a real person. It might really be the perfect “beautiful-dark” name, as it conjures the same imagery of sorcery, a dark haired maiden, and ancient magic in almost everyone’s mind, seeing how the most well known namesake was the legendary Morgan le Fay of Arthurian tales. She’s seen many variants over time, including Morganna, Morgen, Morgaine, Argante, Feimurgen, and her sister is similar-sounding Morgause. Morgana, half-sister of King Arthur, is a sorceress who shows signs of being both good and evil (here’s a nod to feminine duality in literature) and she undeniably has healing abilities along with several other magical abilities. In early versions of Arthurian legend, Morgana was called Queen of Avalon.

Morgana is an Old Welsh name meaning “sea-born,” the earliest form being Morgen. The male version is Morien in Old Welsh. The name Morgen is cognate with the Old Irish name Muirgen, and perhaps not coincidentally, Muirgen was an ancient goddess who could shape shift (like a sorceress might be able to do) and was associated with the sea. Morgana is likely connected to the goddess Modron, which is the welsh form of Matrona, the Celtic Mother goddess. Mordron and Morgana May also be connected to the Morrison, the Triple Goddess. As a very important note, the modern welsh boy’s name Morgan comes from Morcant, meaning “sea circle.” Most information sites and books either use this definition for the girl’s name Morgana or confuse the two. An earlier form was Morgant, which supports that meaning, and it’s possible Morganta is a lost feminine form of that name. So, Morgana does not equal Morganta.

Morgana is a very rare name, used only 16 times in 2017. It can be tracked back to 1962 in the U.S.  Morgen was used 12 times in 2017, while Morgan is ever the popular choice, given to 1911 girls in 2017. Morgan’s high was in 1995 when it was given to 10,875 girls. Morgaine was last seen in 2009 on 8 girls. Morganna last made an appearance in 2015 on 5 girls.

The movie Excalibur came out in 1987, a Lifetime Television movie called Guinevere in 1994, First Knight in 1995, the animated Quest for Camelot in 1998,  Merlin came out in 1998, any of which could have played a part in the name’s popularity. Here is a list of literary and media works based on Arthurian legend which are likely to feature Morgan le Fay. She remains a constant source of artistic inspiration.


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