Edith Cataria is a pseudonym. I don’t hide behind it. Most folks I know in real life know of this name, friends and family alike. If someone from my life came upon any of my online presence, here or otherwise, I would be recognizable.
For me, pseudonyms (and I’ve had a few in my life) are important in identification. You may have seen me mention how an obsession with Kurt Cobain once saved my life. For years my pseudonym was Aqua Seafoam, which you may recognize as coming from the lyrics of Nirvana’s “All Apologies”.
At another time my pseudonym was Voyant Cat. This was to honor the memory of a cat I had named Voyant. Voyant and I had a very transcendent bond. He was a woods cat at my mamaw’s house at first, showing up shortly before I went off to college. We connected instantly and I named him Voyant, as in clairvoyant.
Our bond stayed as strong even when I’d be away at college for months. I’d come home and arrive at mamaw’s and let out a long whistle, shouting “Voy boy!” Maybe 3-5 minutes later he would come barreling up out of the woods and crash into my legs. Mamaw was fond of saying, “There goes missy woodsman and her Voyant cat!”
When I graduated college, after getting through the aftermath of my night in the hospital and getting a room in a house, I took Voyant to live with me. He wandered off, presumably to die, in 2009. I dreamt of him many times thereafter.
Now for Edith Cataria, and I think this one will probably stick a long time if not for life. A dear friend (with whom I’d say I have the same kind of transcendent bond I had with Voyant) once told me the story of how his last name came from his great grandma Edith. He told me Edith was not her birth name, but a name she assumed after escaping an abusive situation. The name struck me. I didn’t begin using it right away, not until a couple years later.
One day, I think in 2014, around when I had begun to fully claim at least to myself that I am autistic I set about to create a Live Journal and Voyant Cat didn’t feel right anymore. Edith Cataria came formed in my head at once. Cataria is simply part of the scientific name for catnip (nepeta cataria). I do espouse the medicinal benefits of catnip, but I can talk of that another time.
My real name is one I honor and love, and it is me. But each pseudonym is also me and they are loved by me as well. Edith Cataria, however, feels like home.
I believe that it is okay, and even makes quite a bit of sense, to have many names over the course of a lifetime. After all we are not stagnant beings, spiritually or otherwise.