Feb 21, 2011


Summary: It's a flower! It's a cesspool!? What is a cloaca—and just which of its adjective forms do you use and when?

Last week, during a fantastically relaxing reiki session from energy medicine practitioner Rose Mattax, I learned a new word: cloacal. The moment she said it, I was hooked. It sounded so floral and lovely, especially as it rolled off her tongue there in her office full of flower essences and colorful portraits of the Virgin Mary.

"How do you spell it?" I asked. Then: "What does it mean?" Finally, I said to Rose, "You know this is going to be my next WOW Word of the Week, right?" She merrily obliged with permission.

Not that Rose owns the word, mind you—nor even that her industry of energy medicine owns it. In fact, imagine my rather unpleasant surprise to learn in researching this blog post that the noun form, cloaca, actually means sewer or cesspool! Here's the poop:

Cloaca (KLOW - AY - ka) - (n.) cesspool, sewer OR the biological chamber that receives both intestinal and urogenital discharges in many living species. A Latin word derived from the Greek klyzein, meaning to rinse out, it was first used prior to 1600 in America. Its common adjective version is cloacinal.

On the other hand cloacal (KLOW - AY - kihl or KLOW - AH - kihl) is a word that's been coined in the medical community as the adjective of cloaca, and has taken on a new life in the realm of energy medicine, specifically. Read this blurb by Donna Eden from her book Energy Medicine: Balancing Your Body's Energies for Optimal Health, Joy and Vitality. It explains the type of "transportation system" approach of meridians like the cloacals in accordance with the beliefs of energy practitioners like Donna, Rose and others. To learn about the cloacals themselves, see Donna's post at her website titled "Grid vs. Cloacal Energies."

In my research about the cloaca, I gradually began to realize that this is a word that I heard bandied about in childhood during many trips to hospitals and doctors' offices where my younger sister was treated for, among other things, a cloacal deformity from birth. Maybe the flowering association I made had something subconscious to do with that: My sister just celebrated her 36th birthday with the help of her three healthy and brilliant children. Imagine my pride.

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2011

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