Name-change: Rebecca to Adalina ... and back again
How attached are you to your name? Have you given it much thought? When I was younger, the idea of changing my name was totally alien. In June of 1987 I was born in Queensland, Australia. My parents John & Judy were, at the time, quite traditional and conservative Christians; and they chose the name Rebecca Cheree Wells for me. I was raised on Bible stories as a little girl and I was always proud of my Celtic ancestry and the traditionality of my name, with its symbolic association to water. In the Old Testament the name means ‘water-bearer’ because, in the biblical narrative, Rebecca was spotted by Abraham’s scout whilst she was sitting beside a well. In addition, I was also born with a significant number of planetary placements in the astrological water-sign of Cancer, which perhaps amplified my strong sense of identification with the Rebecca Cheree Wells moniker in my early years. I never would have considered changing it! It was such a perfect fit for me … until things started to shift.
© 'The Water Bearer' is a painting by fine artist Saffron Marriott.
Throughout my twenties I underwent a series of profound spiritual awakenings and activations. These awakenings not only lessened my attachment to my complex nuclear family, but they also lessened my grip on my own sense of self and identity. In 2016 I was at a real crossroads in my life and still reeling from the loss of two very significant relationships (one with a brother and one with a professional colleague). It was during this ‘ground zero’ chapter of my life that the teachings of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, began to pour into my life. I developed a real interest in the poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi and the ‘whirling dervish’ dance ceremonies that were often taking place in my local community. The heart of Sufism kept drawing my attention in the most subtle and serendipitous ways: through chance encounters or recommendations from people, snippets of conversation that I heard in passing, and intuitive nudges to look at certain books or online resources.
In a stunningly synchronistic series of events, I ended up having a profound encounter with Sheikh Muhammad Mehmet Adil, the Sufi sheikh and spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi tariqa (order). I had the privilege of being invited to attend one of Sheikh Mehmet’s annual visits to the UK which was being held at a Muslim mosque in London. I arrived at the event thoroughly unprepared, with only a bright purple scarf to wear as a head-covering! I stuck out like a sore thumb, being the only blonde, Caucasian, non-Muslim female amidst hundreds of devout Naqshbandi pilgrims; all of whom were hoping to get an up-close glimpse of Sheikh Mehmet. After a beautiful ceremony of Sufi teachings and zikr (prayerful chanting), the Sheikh proceeded to walk amongst the teeming crowd … straight towards me. The women nearby began to get extremely excited and pushed me towards the Sheikh for an introduction, talking rapidly to each other in Arabic and gesticulating wildly, trying to translate across the English-Arabic language barrier. But when Sheikh Mehmet and I locked eyes, there were no words needed, no translators required. The gaze that was exchanged between the two of us was one of such pure joy and acceptance. We both smiled at each other in a shared moment of magic and telepathic recognition. I was invited to take the Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) with Sheikh Mehmet, in front of the entire crowd. Not only was this an immense honour in and of itself, but it was also a truly humbling invitation to receive, given that I was so new to the teachings of Sufism and I had had no religious training or real-world experience in the ways of devotional Sufi practice. After the deed was done and the blessing was granted, he gifted me with a Sufi name: Rabi’a. I later learned that the name hails from the famous Muslim saint and Sufi mystic Rabi’a of Basra (or Rabi’a Basri).
Needless to say, that moment changed me forever. After the Sheikh had moved on to the rest of the crowd, a horde of people, men and women combined, surged towards me with arms outstretched: “Salam, sister! As-salamu alaykum! Peace be upon you!” One mother even stepped forward, a baby cradled on her hip, and asked me to please include their family in my prayers. It was the most overwhelming and moving experience - and one that subsequently led me to a further series of spiritual awakenings and activations around the theme of identity and name.
A year later in 2017 the work of The Society of Kabalarians caught my eye. The society is a non-profit organisation based in Canada and their philosophy is: “… the culmination of thousands of years of intellectual thought that offers a broad perspective of life through a harmony of Eastern philosophy and Western science and practicality. It takes the universal concept of mathematics to develop a complete understanding of mind, health and cycles of time.” I was impressed by their synthesis of mathematics (numerology) with language, and their rather bold assertion that the single most important factor in a person’s life is their name. This intrigued me immensely and I devoured their teachings on the topic of ‘balanced names’. Balanced names are designed to be mathematically and harmonically compatible with the signature digits of your birth date; and the Kabalarians assert that when these names are embodied i.e. applied in your daily life, they have the power to enhance and accelerate the energetics of your lived experience and manifest reality. I had always had a strong interest in numerology, so I jumped at the opportunity to get a personalised ‘balanced name’ report from the society … and the rest is history. In the list of names that the Kabalarians suggested for me, three jumped out immediately: Adalina. Keeley. Bonn. When I played with the feeling of these names in my mouth, and the shapes that they made on paper, it did not take long for my new identity to settle upon my shoulders, like a new cloak. Noble. Fiery. Good. A potent trinity of images, essences and sounds that awakened something utterly foreign, yet utterly familiar, within me. On my 30th birthday I filed the official paperwork with the UK Deed Poll Office and Adalina Keeley Bonn was born.
Within a few short months, now Adalina, I was intuitively prompted to take my spoken word to the stage and start a YouTube channel called MANNA (you can read an in-depth account of this journey in my Running With The Wolves blog post). The channel catapulted me in front of a worldwide audience of 160,000 subscribers and initiated me into the ancient and archetypal process often referred to as the ‘Dark Night’ of the hero’s journey. Between 2017 – 2020 life kept escalating with one thing after the next: I ‘came out’ to friends & family about the legal name-change and launched onto YouTube in 2017; then I was hospitalised and subsequently diagnosed with a ‘permanent’ case of Lupus in 2018; then I became the target of high-level monitoring and malicious harassment in 2019 (still ongoing); then I reached the point of breakdown and collapsed into a hiatus in 2020. Put simply, my decision to alter reality with a ‘balanced name’ had instigated a treadmill of changes that would not stop accelerating. The potent interplay between spirit and matter, mathematics and music, letters and form, cannot be overstated or underestimated. I learned, perhaps the hard way, that something as simple as a name-change should not be taken lightly. The energetic re-calibration of my entire life was potent, extreme and very, very real! Granted, not everybody will experience such a dramatic re-set after opting for a ‘balanced name’. However, my life prior to becoming Adalina was so out of kilter with my true essence that, once the new name was applied to my daily life, the course-correction and realignment of my lifepath was a violent one. Would I reverse the roller-coaster ride of transformation? After much contemplation, the answer is no. The name-change activated an entire host of energetic ‘sleeping giants’ that not only erupted from within me, but also manifested externally in the form of extremely challenging experiences and relationships. The whole process re-introduced me to my powers, both the ‘light’ ones and the ‘dark’ ones; and initiated me into the very real existence of good and evil. That, I guess, is true balance.
Coming full circle to the present day, I recently experienced a profound revelation which came to me through a lucid dream; a dream that essentially ‘revealed and sealed’ within me a sacred marriage of sorts, and a high-profile betrothal. The dream also served to facilitate the renewal of my spiritual vows, or spiritual commitments, which were originally made aeons ago, prior to my physical birthing. It was a supernatural reminder of why I came into this life; who I came for; and who I might become. I experienced an overwhelming, all-consuming torrent of unconditional love and a sense of divine homecoming. When I fully awoke, my face wet from the tears that I had shed whilst sleeping, I felt for the first time since my name-change in 2017 that I was back to Rebecca again. To fall in love with an old identity, your true name, and to see that old persona with fresh eyes and gratitude, is a feeling that I cannot put into words. The dream happened to fall on the eve of the First Day of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) in May 2020, which was extremely close to my 33rd birthday and marked the three-year anniversary of me becoming Adalina Keeley Bonn by deed poll. The dream was a profoundly abrupt and unexpected completion of my name-change journey, and I was surprised to feel such a strong sense of peace and relief at returning ‘home’ to Rebecca Cheree Wells upon waking.
Today, as I gently release Adalina back into the cosmic void and publish my new website with my true name, my sense of trust in the path ahead is ever deepening. I have no clear answers to the many questions that I have asked since 2017. Why did I get diagnosed with ‘lifelong’ Lupus? Why did I become the target of high-level monitoring and malicious harassment? Why has it been so hard!? So much of the journey remains a mystery to me but I know this much is true: it was all right, it is still all right, and it will be all right! Today is the 3rd of August 2020 and it happens to fall on a Full Moon in Aquarius. The astrological sign of Aquarius is typically portrayed by the symbol of a water-bearer. The symbol of the name Rebecca. I couldn’t have asked for a more auspicious omen on publication day.