Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the Word "Cunt"

Note: I'm very scrupulous about avoiding "bad language" on my blogs. You won't find very many instances of anything more profane than "shucks" or "snap." That said, I need to "get clinical" today about a famous C word that John McCain may or may not have used (he did) referring to his wife.

Looking into one of the most fascinating books I have, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker, there are all sorts of articles on things like this word, and other words relating to mythology, religion, and folklore, and women. It's over 1100 pages, so there's a lot to cover! It's well worth checking out if you want to read some real obscurities that pertain to language, the feminine side, deities, myths, and so on. And I'm real sure it's still in print, since I saw one at Barnes & Noble a couple years ago.

OK, on the word cunt, with this information coming from Walker, p. 197f. When we say someone is "kin," that's related (no pun intended). When we say someone is "cunning," that's also related. The C word is derivative of the Oriental Great Goddess as Cunti, or Kunda, the Yoni of the Uni-verse. (Walker has universe hyphenated like that.) The footnote for that last sentence is George Ryley Scott, Phallic Worship, p. 188. (Have you ever heard the weird truism, known in those circles, that anyone who explores phallic worship eventually goes insane? Look it up.)

Next, as I alluded to above, from the same root came these words: country, kin, and kind (Old English cyn, Gothic kuni). So, when Cindy McCain says, "All I know is that I have always been proud of my country," maybe she's telling us more than she thinks! Be that as it may, related forms were Latin cunnus, Middle English cunte, Old Norse and Frisian kunta, and Basque cuna. Walker says other cognates are "cunabula," a cradle, or earliest abode; "Cunia," a Roman Goddess who protected children in the cradle; "cunctipotent," all-powerful (i.e., having cunt-magic); "cunicle," a hole or passage; "cuniculate," penetrated by a passage; also cunning, kenning, and ken: knowledge, learning, insight, remembrance, wisdom. Walker cites Michael Dames' The Silbury Treasure to point out that cunt is "not slang, dialect or any marginal form, but a true language word, and of the oldest stock." (pp. 110-14 in Dames.)

I've already mentioned the word "kin," which Walker says meant not only matrilineal blood relations, but also a cleft or crevice, the Goddess's genital opening. And Walker's article goes on like that...

But here is a surprising statement, a statement that may get John McCain off the hook, assuming that his advanced age stretches back to ancient times: "In ancient writings, the word for 'cunt' was synonymous with 'woman,' though not in the insulting modern sense." An Egyptologist, finding it among the sayings of Ptah-Hotep, found it quite indelicate, but it was only indelicate in the eye of the modern scholar! (Walker's source, Adolph Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 61.)

Medieval clergymen, ever on the lookout for pagans doing their own thing, perceived obscenity in female-genital shrines, holy caves, wells, and groves. These places they called cunnus diaboli, "devilish cunt."

In the Victorian era, sacred places identified with the world-cunt were an embarrassment. Walker says A.H. Glough became a laughing-stock among Gaelic-speaking students when he published a poem, the title of which literally meant "bearded well," which happened to be a Gaelic place-name for a cunt-shrine.

What I'm wondering after all that is the etymology of the word "McCain." It's not much of a stretch to see there could be some relation in McCun, McKin, McKen. Whatever the truth is, we know one thing, that we don't want him to be McCunctipotent, all-powerful...

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