Wednesday, 11 April 2007

The Goddess of the Comb

According to the anthropologist, folklorist, and philosopher of religion Sir James Frazer, author of The Golden Bough, women of the indigenous Sarawak tribes were well-versed in sympathetic magic designed to elicit a bumper return for their husbands' camphor harvest. (A crystal which grows between the fibres of trees.) This simple observance consisted in abstaining from the use- or even the touch- of a comb; 'for, if they did so, the interstices between the fibres of the tree, instead of being filled with the precious crystals, would be empty like the spaces between the teeth...'

And then we have West Wy-combe, a favourite subject of ours. We have already examined why- with its hexagonal mausoleum- it should be so closely associated with Melissa, the Queen Bee, symbol of the Goddess. (For more, see here.) Whilst researching a new article on Battling the Behemoth, however, entitled M is for...?, I landed upon the following piece of information from a admirably detailed piece devoted to the etymology of the C word.

'In addition to the clumsily Anglicised 'quim', 'cwm' was also adopted into English with the more accurate phonetic spelling 'coombe', from the Old English 'cumb'. 'Coombe' and its variants 'combe', 'comb', and 'coomb' remain common components of surnames and placenames. Indeed, so common is the word in English placenames that Morecambe Bay is often mis-spelt Morecombe... In England, there are nineteen places called Coombe (one each in Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kingston-upon-Thames, and Kent; two each in Somerset and Wiltshire; three in Devon; six in Cornwall) and eight called Combe (one each in East Sussex, Herefordshire, West Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Somerset; three in Devon).'

Like Kent, Kennet and other places we have flagged up in the course of our research, West Wycombe is yet another 'Holy Wood': the sacred grove, the San Graal. (A place sacred to the Goddess.) Which makes the fact that it is also the site of an ancient hill fort- boasting a long-destroyed stone circle which may once have rivalled Stonehenge- and a honeycomb-shaped mausoleum structure, designed by an eighteenth-century Druid, even more apt.

Related to this is the fact that the traditional jester's hat- the three points with the bell- is historically known as a cockscomb. This is highly significant, as we have already discovered that the etymology of -comb pertains to the Celtic 'cwm' (meaning 'valley' in Welsh: a vaginal metaphor.) Thus, the jester bears upon his head- his crowning glory- both the cock and quim; he is the one in whom the opposites have been transcended: the divine androgyne.


martin said...

Amazing, thanks. Also appreciated your Avebury/Kennet link.

BTB said...

Thank you for your comment, Martin. Glad you enjoyed the article.

There is plenty more material in a similar vein secreted away in the vaults, as it were... Please feel free to have a good look around.

Enjoy the rest of the picture,


martin said...

Ben, thank you for taking the time and trouble to reply to my comment.

I do check in every day to see if you've written a new article. Thanks for your suggestion that I dig around in the archives. I certainly will.

Up until a few years ago, I hadn't even heard of the Ridgeway, let alone Avebury and its environs, or even the Uffington White Horse. A cycling trip along the Ridgeway made me curious about the places I saw and I now return to the area fairly regularly, hence my gratitude for your insights.

Many thanks.

BTB said...

Hi Martin,

Thanks for your comment (#2.) You're the kind of reader I particularly like, because you've experienced the beauty of our beloved Albion. Conspiracy theory, esoterica and Britney Spears is all fine and dandy; but if what you want is transformation then there is no substitute for getting out there on your bike (Norman Tebbit would be proud) and experiencing the energy of our magical isle. The Ridgeway (the entire length of it) is one of the most significant tracks on the planet. Keep up the cycling... The leys need you!