As I’ve mentioned, I am writing a memoir. As I write and revise, pieces move in and out of the draft. I wrote this segment on the evolution of my name a few months ago. While many of the aspects of it will be in the memoir, they won’t be strung together in an essay like this. Many people ask where the name “Emilah” came from so I thought I’d share how I came to be Emilah Dawn DeToro and what I know about its meaning.
My given/birth name is Dawn Elizabeth DeToro. I asked my mom about my naming and she said her favorite name was Elizabeth, but she didn’t want to upset anyone by naming me that; it’s my paternal grandmother’s name and it was quite likely her mother would have taken it personally.
She liked the name Dawn as it reminded her of the beginning of a new day, so she chose that as my first name. However, the Catholic church didn’t consider it a “Christian” name. To appease the church, Elizabeth became my middle name and my mom got her favorite in the mix after all.
I enjoyed and resonated with Dawn Elizabeth DeToro for many years. I took a sojourn into Dawn Elizabeth VanArnam when I was married the first time, but changed it back during the divorce, vowing never to change it again. Honestly, I never gave it a thought until I started on the yogic spiritual path.
After years of studying and practicing Anusra Yoga, I spent the summer of 2004 at Ananda Ashram and received shaktipat, “the grace of the guru”, from Swami Sivananda Saraswati. It was an interesting situation in that the shaktipat had come through Swami Sivananda, who left his body in 1963, while I was meditating in the Cosmic Temple, not the guru of the ashram, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.), who left his body in 1993. Shri Sarasvati had facilitated me being there, but I was not truly his disciple.
After the shaktipat experience, I was called to receive a spiritual name in the Vedic/Hindu tradition, but it was unclear from whom I would receive this name. Eventually, I discovered that Joan Suval, a founding member of Ananda Ashram and a senior disciple of Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati was given his blessing to name people.
I nervously approached Joan towards the end of my stay about receiving a name. She explained the process – I was to write a letter asking her to meditate on a name for me and when she received the name, she would write back.
Several months later the letter, and name, arrived. I was to be called Shivaprya. Śivapriya (शिवप्रिय) refers to a “favorite of Śiva”, and is used to describe Goddess Umā, according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.3.3., a scripture from the Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) lineage. Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. The root of this tradition can be traced back to the ancient Vedas and includes the Tantras.
I was so honored and touched by this name.
Shiva is known as “The Destroyer” within the Hindu trinity which also includes Brahma and Vishnu. In the Shaivite tradition, Shiva protects and transforms the universe. By this time in my life, I had seen the power, and often necessity, of destruction as a way to transform my beliefs and subsequently my life.
I also resonated with the teachings of non-dual Shaiva Tantra, a specific aspect of Vedanta. I first came across non-dual Shaiva Tantra during Anusara Yoga teacher training; it was this yoga lineage’s underlying philosophy. And yet, I was not willing to use the name publicly. It seemed too, I don’t know, too much?!?
In fact, I have rarely told people about this name until recently when I read Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Wallis. It triggered such a remembrance of my devotion to the non-dual Shaiva Tantra lineage and the shaktipat I received, the resonance of Shivaprya came rushing back in a way it hadn’t in decades. While I still won’t use it as my common name, it is delightful to be reconnected to Shivaprya and its vibrational frequency of transformation.
The following summer, shortly after I returned to Tucson from my second visit to Ananda Ashram and after the car accident that opened up the psychic and intuitive gifts, I went to visit my friend and mentor Deborra in Bisbee, AZ.
During our visit, I met a black feral kitten Deborra had recently found near their home. I was very fond of her and had I not been moving to Albuquerque, I might have adopted her. Deborra was still landing on a name, but Emi seemed to be the strongest contender – we both heard it come through loud and clear.
When I returned to Tucson after the visit, I met with Lynnie, the energy healer/chiropractor I had been working with. She looked me up and down and said the clearing process was complete. And then she asked me if my name was still Dawn.
Much to my surprise, I blurted out “No!”
Then she asked, “OK, so what’s your name?” I had no idea. But then I flashed on the communication I had with Emi, the kitten. I wondered if Emi – or something close to it – was my new name? We spent some time in the session teasing it out. She listened for guidance, I listened for guidance, and over time it became more clear. She downloaded the spelling of my new name E-m-i-l-a-h.
And then we wondered, how do you pronounce it??? We had never seen this name before! We landed on em-eh-la, pronounced to a cadence similar to Pamela, and it felt resonant immediately. We had no idea what it meant nor where it came from, but it was mine.
When I moved to Albuquerque, I started using it, introducing myself at the Ayurvedic Institute as Emilah and learning to respond to it, not such an easy thing after 39 years of being Dawn!
The more I used it, the more I wanted to legally change my name. I was thinking of changing it from Dawn Elizabeth DeToro to Emilah Dawn DeToro, but I was hesitant. I didn’t really understand the impulse, but I wanted to trust it.
I had scheduled a vedic astrology reading with Betheyla, one of the teachers at the Ayurvedic Institute. When I discovered she was skilled in numerology, I asked her what the numerology of my current and proposed names suggested.
Thankfully she recorded the session on a cassette tape (which I had digitized several years ago). The first thing she asked when we met was “Where did you get that name????” referring to Emilah Dawn DeToro. She seemed rather agitated by it, but when I explained that it had been channeled, I didn’t know anything about numerology and I was considering legally changing it, she settled down.
Apparently the numerology (33/44=77), was epic and she wanted to be sure I was not intentionally crafting a name to hit that vibration. In short, she said, I was taking on a lot by changing it! She pulled out a huge white book on master numbers and read some excerpts to me. The following is a transcript of the digitized recording of Betheyla reading from the unidentified book.
- The number 33/6 is indicative of a master healer connected to the energy of healing the heart on the planet; the energy of Christ.
- The number 44/8: suggests one is a master of bringing spiritual energies into material manifestation.
- The number 77/5 represents a master of spiritual energy.
From the book:
“This is the master vibration that will penetrate the depths and delve into the spiritual and universal truths for answers to life. This will bring an awareness to share with fellow men. As this planet takes a quantum leap into a more enlightened age, you will master the depths of spiritual understanding. This is the energy of the mystic.
There will be much you will keep within your own being. You can understand the transformation necessary from the old concepts to the new order that will bring changes and new ways of doing things. This change and transformation will allow healing for all as you tune into the spiritual energies.
You may feel that you live in two separate worlds, the spiritual and material and you will need to learn to bring these into balance. In your own experience and in the lives of all humanity, flexibility and versatility are the keys to help you bring about the changes necessary for the coming transformations.
You are a master teacher. You have the insight to understand others and draw people to you. You have chosen to come back to uplift the race to a higher consciousness. You will be of service to bring about higher knowledge and answers to humanity.”
Betheyla added that master number 77 vibrates as a karmic number that indicates that you won’t be able to hold much personally, sacrificing your own personal ego and life. In terms of attachment, you’ll have to let go, but all your needs will be met.
Bethyla also reviewed my birth name, Dawn Elizabeth DeToro, is a master number 11/2 which represents the heart’s desire, a teacher who has come to uplift humanity. But it has a seven vibration that doesn’t exist in Emilah Dawn DeToro. My birth name also contains a lot of Saturn energy along with a high spiritual vibration that is quite grounded. Yet it’s not as expansive as Emilah Dawn DeToro. Betheyla saw the process of me learning to live into the vibration of Emilah Dawn DeToro as my life’s work. This time, even though the meaning of this channeled name was also a bit much, I decided to go for it. In 2007, I legally changed my name to Emilah Dawn DeToro.
But the question still remained – what does Emilah mean?
The root of the name Emilah is connected to the Emilian plains of northern Italy, which is also the root of Emil, a more common masculine name. Ironically, my maternal grandmother is from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy which includes the Tuscan Emilian Apennines, a mountain range in northern Italy, and the Emilian plains to the north. Emil, meaning highest man, ties in with the roots of “eminent” and is similar to “the one who is living on the higher planes”.
A few years after the vedic astrology and numerology reading with Betheyla, I was a part of a woman’s yoga retreat that she co-lead. At one point, each woman, in her own time, sat at the center of the circle and we chanted her name to her for several minutes.
When my turn came, I enjoyed being bathed in the sound of Emilah. Afterwards, Betheyla had a beautiful “download” about the meaning of the name Emilah. I remember resonating so fully with that meaning, and yet I never wrote down what she said, preferring at the time to simply sit in the vibration.
Several years later, I was working with SanRa Alworth, a lovely woman who channeled Sanat Kumar. During one of our sessions, May 19, 2011, she asked, on my behalf, “What is the meaning of the name Emilah or information about it?” The channeled response was:
“This name carries all of the vibrational energy that she is needing to accomplish what she has chosen to do upon completing her life on the planet.
It does not hold the actual jewels that are upon her planet, but it holds the essence of these that she will “plant” into the earth.
The sound waves that are present as she or anyone speaks her name, will move forth into the etheric substance of the Earth to awaken other energies that have been planted within the Earth’s etheric bodies.
This information is not to be shared unless specifically instructed.”
A few years ago I spent some time with my aunt Kay, my father’s older sister. I was curious about the DeToro side of the family as I had spent little time with them since my parents divorced during my seventh grade year.
Kay and I share several health issues – an allergy to shellfish, hypermobile joints, and a tendency towards autoimmune disorders to name a few. I wondered if there were other things I didn’t know that could help me understand and navigate some health issues I was currently facing.
During that conversation, I asked what my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth, who went by Betty, was like as she had died when I was rather young. Kay mentioned, almost in passing, that Betty was known for her psychic abilities.
My aunt described plates falling off the wall and books falling off shelves to get her mother’s attention. It was taken for granted that she knew things in advance of them happening. When my paternal grandfather (Arthur) was a U.S. service member stationed in Europe during World War two, he saw combat while stationed in France. At one point, his knees were so badly injured that he could not walk and was expected to die.
The story still told in our family is that a German soldier tended to his wounds until he was found by the U.S. troops – maybe even helping him get to his regiment. My aunt casually mentioned that my grandmother knew he was injured and coming home before receiving the telegram.
While our conversation didn’t shed light on the name Emilah, it did offer me a connection with and fondness for my paternal grandmother and the name my mother loved. Finally, I had some sense of where my natural empathic and psychic abilities originated. The clue had been there all along in my middle name.