As our friend LaciGreen highlights, inspired by the work of Barbara G. Walker, the word is derived from the name for one of the Great Oriental Goddesses: Cunti or Kunda, the “Yoni of the Universe.” It was a word that represented beauty, power and the amazing ability of the female body to bring new life into the world.
Yoni (Sanskrit: योनि yoni) means “source or origin of life.” The ancient Vedas contain the word yoni in various contexts. The meaning of the word expanded, and got a secondary meaning “Divine Passage.” A child was considered to be born from a “yoni of stars” – constellations that prevailed during the child birth.
Yet, as with many other aspects of ancient culture, the word “cunt” was and still is strongly demonized by the culture of Christianity (and monotheism in general, it seems) – which has a well-documented history of making the aspects of the old culture into the demons of its own.
Understanding our past is vitally important. To me, it makes me continually remember how truly human we have been for a long time. The Ancients were far from barbaric buffoons; all too often it seems they were more respectful (especially to women!) than our culture is today.