Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
Q is for…
- craft; subtlety; cunning.
- elegance; beauty.
This is another obsolete word I’m delighting in. I find myself especially curious about words that have multiple definitions that seem at odds with one another, and quaintise seems just that to me. Of course such questions have me falling down the etymology rabbit hole, and well then as you might guess, all is lost for me.
While I won’t subject you to all my journeying, let me begin by saying I have a clearer understanding of the word cunning now. While we (or at least I) have always considered it to mean some version of devious, sly, duplicitous, it has another side. But let’s start with quaint. This word derives from the Latin cognitus, meaning known. That transmuted into cointe, which is Old French for cunning, which meant ingenious. Medieval English then combined those into quaint (and its derivative quaintise) to mean subtlety, or craft. By 1340 Chaucer introduced the word, and at that time disguise was considered a principal art of quaintise.
Fascinating, no? But it still begs the question of how the word got tied into elegance and beauty. We can of course make our own leaps, which when it comes right down to it is actually the way we go about understanding the world isn’t it. I think about that often – how our realities are based on our beliefs and our beliefs are unique to us. Oops, I’d best stop before I slip down another rabbit hole.
But focusing on quaintise’s definition of beauty and elegance seems entirely appropriate for today. I love Fridays as they belong to Venus, and I am most definitely a devotee of her, in her guise as planet, goddess, and archetype.
Astrologically, Venus is often thought of as both your love nature and your artistic inclinations, with the chart sign that it’s in describing the type of love/artistic energy you carry and the house describing the areas most clearly expressing this energy. Toss in the fact that you may be a morning star Venus or an evening star (I am) and that adds another layer to consider.
Astrologer Dana Gerhardt says “The wiser you get, the more honest and joyful your Venus expression becomes.” I believe that’s true. We hone our sense of what we personally find beautiful and enriching. I think as we grow and settle into ourselves we understand how critically important honesty is. Honesty to and about ourselves. We are here to express ourselves fully and authentically. And trying to be or do things we aren’t, for whatever reasons, simply does not serve us. But I’m not sure it doesn’t take a while to understand that. We need to grow into and awaken to it.
Returning to looking at Venus as a goddess archetype, she’s all above love and beauty. We tend to think about these things in terms of physical appearance, and although that’s certainly an aspect, I’d caution the understanding that Venus is not all outward fluff. The real deep engagement is to see what you truly value, and celebrate that. When you’re true to who you authentically are and broadcasting that beautiful soul energy undiluted it’s a very powerful thing. And something to celebrate both in ourselves and others.
Today has me thinking about these words from Jaime Gil de Bieda which I love:
I believed that I wanted to be a
poet, but deep down I just
wanted to be a poem.
I think Venus would understand this.
The goddess of love and beauty always invites us to pay attention to the loveliness around us and invites us to put on our dancing shoes and participate in sprinkling bits of beauty with every spin and twirl. And isn’t it perfect that there’s an orchid named Venus slippers?
How do you define quaintise in your life? What beauty are you paying attention to today? What are you loving? How are you celebrating this day under the auspices of Venus? Do tell – you know I love to hear.