Thursday, February 7, 2008
Sunwise or antisunwise, that is the question.
Deiseil or Widdershins? With the sun or against it? I have a great love for archaic and older words, because they tend to be more descriptive than the tripe we see most of the time. I had read the word widdershins in a murder mystery some time in the past, and found that it meant dancing in an anti-sunwise direction. I thought to myself, “There has to be another old word to describe the opposite. Hmmm.” I looked in my old dictionary from my parents’ house; you know the type, about 8 by 10 by about a foot thick? My mom purchased it because it was the first on she had found with the word “antidisestablishmentarianism.” My three siblings and I had to learn to spell this word because some girl had won a spelling bee on television with it at some point. In this monster of a dictionary it said under widdershins, see also deiseil. These words are of meaning to me because at our war dance celebration in July, and all other pow-wows, we (Salish, Kootenai, Pend d’Oreille people) dance deiseil. Our neighbors across the mountains, the Blackfeet, dance widdershins. As you may have been able to deduce, sunwise and anti-sunwise also mean clockwise and counterclockwise. Other terms might include sinistra and destra. More familiar than that might be dextrous, or ambidextrous, meaning right-handed or either handed, but both with the root right handed, and sinister, meaning left handed and also evil. Do we really think anymore that left-handed people are sinister, and evil, or is it just an arbitrary trait we have specifically bred for?