I wanted to share the story of the name Agada. Years ago, when I first created a blog as an online archive for my writing, this word came to me. As far as I knew consciously, I had never heard the name––I simply liked how it sounded. But when I looked it up, months later, I was moved by the meaning. In Sanskrit, Agada means “in good health” or “freedom from disease and oppression.” Broken down, gada means disease and agada means any agent which frees the body from disease. Agada also refers to one of the eight branches of ayurvedic medicine, specifically the branch dealing with toxicology––the different types of poisons and their antidotes.
I was excited by this definition because, at the time, I was a serious practitioner of yoga and much of the writing that went on the blog was about my own healing journey. Still, since I don’t have any ancestral connection to yogic tradition or Sanskrit, I don’t think it would have felt right naming my business based on this definition alone.
But I found another definition––Aggadah in Hebrew refers to “teaching stories,” a collection of rabbinic writings incorporating folklore, historical anecdotes, and moral and practical advice that augmented traditional Jewish texts. The aramic root has the dual meaning of expanding/drawing out and binding/drawing in. In that sense, these writings were seen as expanding ones understanding of Jewish teachings while deepening their spiritual connection.
The Hebrew cognate Haggadah means “telling” and is a Jewish text that tells the order and holds the structure for the traditional Passover Seder. The day that I finished my blog, I was supposed to attend a Passover Seder, but was struggling so much with my digestion and food that I had to cancel last minute. I felt horribly guilty and, despite still not having any understanding what Agada meant, found myself pouring my energy into working on my blog. I soon lost myself in the work, letting hours slip by and, before I knew it, it was well after dark––the Seder would have been over and the blog was done. The deep pain I felt in missing the Seder was mitigated by the transcendent feeling of birthing something new.
Since then, Agada has always been a space for me to create, tell stories, and to heal. There were great chunks of time when I was not doing any writing at all, but I never felt the need to take the blog down and, when it came time to name this new evolution of my work, Agada was the natural fit. It continues to be a space of creating, storytelling, and healing. It reflects both my Jewish roots and the way I have been influenced by deep study of eastern traditions. When people ask me about the meaning of Agada, they assume I named my business for this reason. I tell them the word came to me first, then later the meaning. This doesn’t always seem to make sense. But then again so many healing stories are beyond reason.