Tag Archives: infanticide

Naming ceremony

As Knauft (2010) described, before seven months old, “a human spirit is not thought to be completely rooted in their bodies, and they aren’t even given a name” (p.39). This naming ceremony practice reminds me of the ausa vatni of the Old Norse cultures when infants were only named after inspection and acceptance of the father, giving the child the rights and inheritances of the family (Ward, n.d.). Through the ausa vatni, the child was protected under the law of murder; otherwise, the child could be abandoned and left to die without recourse. The differences between the Gebusi and the Norse, though, are obvious. In my culture, infanticide is surely taboo. In fact, my family cherishes the entire process of bearing a child and bringing a new life into the world. In stark contrast to both the Gebusi and the Norse, we tend to name our children very early, even before birth. Some of our children have even gained nicknames prior to birth.

It is difficult to objectively experience the beliefs and rituals of other cultures when they are by design emotively raw. The taboo of our society is important for us to understand for our acceptance and longevity within our own culture. As we learn to vilify practices that are not condoned within our society, we develop a visceral response when these practices are witnessed. It is understandable, but it is not helpful to juxtapose one culture with our own, subjectively, when we are attempting to understand more about it. The visceral reaction will certainly prove detrimental to our experience in creating a judgment versus creating an understanding. Perhaps this is the same reason that human cultures have abhorred other cultures throughout human existence.


Knauft, B. (2010). The Gebusi: Lives transformed in a rainforest world (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Ward, C. (n.d.). Old Norse names. The Viking Answer Lady. Retrieved from http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ONNames.shtml