(it’s a little pop-anthropology)
When this campaign began I knew resolutely that I would use the word ‘Cunt’. It wasn’t so much a decision but a feeling like I had no choice. There simply wasn’t any other word that felt ‘right’. I’ve always liked the word ‘Cunt’ – coming from Ireland, we say it a lot more often that it’s said in the UK. When I moved here, I began to notice the shocked reaction that I got when I casually said ‘Cunt’ . It was mainly from women.
This intrigued me. Language is so interesting with it’s loaded history and resonance. Language is our thread to the past. It seems that the reasons why the word ‘Cunt’ is such a bad word are no longer in our consciousness. When I’ve questioned people about why they find it offensive they struggle to say why ‘IT JUST IS, RIGHT!” If everyone knew the wonderful and varied origins of the word ‘Cunt’ we would all be shouting it from the tree tops in celebration of the Cunt, the gateway to life itself. But these people don’t know the roots and for some unknown reason, the universe has plucked me, amongst others, to help them remember.
So first of all ‘Cunt’ is the only word in the English language that we can use for the whole of the female genitalia. The word ‘Vagina’ only refers to the inner entrance meaning ‘tunnel’ or ‘scabbard’, a sheath for a sword. As Inga Muscio says “I ain’t got no vagina”. Vulva refers to the clitoris, outer labia majora and minora but not the vagina. We need the word ‘Cunt’ if we want to talk about our incredible sexual orchestra in all its glory.
To do this in an liberated, empowered fashion we need to educate ourselves about the varied and diverse origins of the word from all around the world. Of all the origins the word‘cunctipotent’ stood out for me the most. It means “all powerful…having cunt-magic” according to Barbara Walker. Jane Caputi has researched this word in depth. Her link is at the bottom of the page. She suggests that instead of ‘listening to our gut’, as we are often told, we can move and speak from our cunt.‘Cuntspeak’ as she delightfully names it.
I’ve researched this through many avenues and talked to many people. Linguists have debated for a long time over the true roots and it is impossible to really know exactly where is originated. The prefix ‘cu’ has been deemed “quintessentially feminine” and pre-dates written language. Therefore it can be found in the forms of ‘cu’, ‘qu’, ‘ku’, ‘coo’, ‘qy’ or ‘cy’. There are many varied and wonderful lingustic paths I could take along the meandering path of what is the etyomology of this explosive word, so in order to keep it succinct I have only presented what I deem as the juiciest findings. From Goddesses and female figures in Africa, Sumeria, India, China, Japan, Korea and Egypt all the way to the River Cunti in Wiltshire and the stunning Sile Na Gigs in my home town in Kildare, Ireland.
‘Kunta’ means woman in several African languages. It has been found in ancient writings that there was a North African Goddess called ‘Kunda Saharan’ and her tribe are still around today. They are called ‘The Kundas’. It is said that they can trace their roots right back to “the cleft of the Goddess.” It is also recorded that ‘Kunda Saharan’ was worshipped in the Saharan region before the area was a desert. This time period is between 6,000 and 8,000 BC. The Kunda people are in Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Sumeria (Ancient Iraq)
Here the word ‘Kunta’ means literally ‘one who has female genitalia’. This is linked with the word ‘Cuneiform’ which literally means ’the sign of the cunta’ or ’queen who invented writing’. Cuneiform is one of the earliest known forms of writing in Sumeria dating at c.3100 BC. At around the same time there were priestesses named The Quadesha who were accountants at the Temple of Inanna. It is highly likely that Cuneiform was the form of writing the Quadesha used on clay tablets to record the temple’s financial accounts thus making it ‘the Sign of the Cunta’.
Ancient Cuneiform tablet
Inanna was the goddess of love, war, fertility and lust. She was associated with the celestial planet, Venus. She was known asQueen of Heaven and the word ‘Qu’ can also mean love, sensuality, sexuality, the divinity present in all females. She is also connected with extramarital sex and sensual affairs, prowling streets and taverns for sexual adventure. There are hymns from Sumerian sacred texts which glorify Inanna’s sexuality and sang praises to her beautiful and soft Cunt. Interestingly the Quadeshaare also cited in some texts as ‘Sacred Whores’.
Goddess Inanna, Sumeria (Ancient Iraq)
It is believed that the word ‘Cunt’ came from the Proto German word ‘Kunto’ which is said to have come from the Indo-European word ‘Kunti’ which is the name of a much respected and revered Hindu goddess who was also known as ‘Cunti-Devi’ and is said to be the ruler of ‘Kunta’ which we know as ‘Kundalini’ energy. The snake like feminine energy that travels up our spine. Legend stories say how she sang to the gods to call them to sleep with her. She eventually had a son with the Sun God, Surya and ‘The Teachings of Queen Kunti’ can still be read today. Many say that ‘Cunt’ derived from the Oriental Great Goddess Cunti, also known in ancient Hinduism as the ‘Yoni of the Universe’ (yoni means ‘sacred temple’ in Sanskrit and is used to describe the womb and cunt). Also Indian children who were born out of wedlock were know as ‘Kuntas’ and revered as gifts of the Goddess Kunti’. The word ‘Kunda’ is also used in India for a hole or pit in the ground (agni-kunda, fire-pit) for storing fire on alters in the Vedic religion.
Goddess Kunti, India
China, Japan and Korea
Remembering the ‘CU’, ‘QU’ and ‘KU’ connection, we can understand how ‘Cunt’ is believed to be linked with the popular Buddhist Goddess of Compassion and Mercy is ‘Kuan-yin’ or ‘Quan Yin’ or ‘Kunnon’. She carries the Goddess and Divine Mother aspect of Buddhism and is generally regarded by many as the protector of women and children and is also seen as a fertility goddess capable of granting children. Some say ‘Cunda’ was the name of the Buddha’s mother according to the Japanese but all I can find is that is was possibly the name of a female blacksmith who fed the Buddha his last meal of either mushrooms or pork. He fell violently ill and then became enlightened.
Kuan Yin, China
Ancient Canaan, Eygpt
Here, Qudshu or Qetesh is venerated as the fertility goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure and is depicted holding snakes in one hand and a lotus flower in the other as symbols of creation. She is called ‘Mistress of All the Gods’, ‘Lady of the Stars of Heaven’ and ’Great of magic, mistress of the stars’.
Qudshu, Caanite Goddess, Eygpt
All of this searching led me to thinking about links to Britain, where I live and Ireland, where I’m from and I was over the moon to find rich roots this side of the world too.
The River ‘Kennet’ in Wiltshire was known as ‘Cunnit’ until 1740 and many people believe this is related to our favourite word. It is a beautiful, vibrant river and a home to many species of plants, animals and fish. One of the Kennet’s sources is a chalk cave named Swallowhead Spring near Silbury Hill, a prehistoric artificial chalk mound which is part of the UNESCO Heritage site that includes Stonehenge and Avebury. At 40 metres it is the tallest human-made mound in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It is thought to be approximately 4750 years old. Many people believe that it was built as a representation of the pregnant belly of a Celtic Goddess called ‘Sil’ or ‘Sulis’ who was worshipped in that area of Celtic Britain and in north-western France. Her name tells us she was both a sun and an eye-goddess (eyes =wisdom and all-seeing, just like the sun). And local historian, Michael Dames believes that the quarry surrounding it was deliberately shaped to resemble the rest of her head, neck and body. He takes this one step further by suggesting that if Silbury Hill is the pregnant belly, then the cave from which the Swallowhead Spring begins is ‘The Cunt’ with the River Cunnit flowing from it.
River Cunnit with Silbury Hill Mound in the background.