Monthly Archives: May 2021

Vaccinations and the Divine Cow

So, as we all remember from our high school science classes, the guy who invented vaccinations was Edward Jenner. He did it in 1796. He was a country doctor living in Berkeley. No, not that Berkeley. Not the California Berkeley. That didn’t exist until 1878.

This Berkeley is first mentioned, historically, in 824 of the Common Era, so it has first dibs on the name.

The whole thing gets better, then nastier, then heavenly, and, ultimately, sillier.

It is said that Jenner, finding a milkmaid with a cowpox pustule, scraped some puss from it. He then grabbed a local young lad, about 8 years old, scratched the kid’s skin, and rubbed the puss in it. Cowpox is pretty mild in humans. The kid recovered in a few days.

Jenner then grabbed some puss from a local with full blown smallpox and nailed the kid with it, using the same procedure. The kid didn’t even get a little sick. Neither did his next of kin. This fully established that Jenner’s invention actually worked. As well as that Jenner was a full blown sociopath.

The words vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae, smallpox of the cow, the term devised by Edward Jenner (who both developed the concept of vaccines and created the first vaccine) to denote cowpox. At least Wikipedia says so.

So, how does Jenner come up the name ‘vaccinae’? It had already become scientifically vogue to give everything Latin names. Well, Latinish-ish names, really.

The Latin word for cow is ‘vacca’. Hence Jenner’s invention of vaccination. Vacca is also the Sanskrit word for cow, usually shortened to Vak. Vak is also the proper name for the divine cow, who is one of the many forms the goddess Saraswati takes. She is the goddess of divine wisdom, the provider of creative thoughts. She gives form to the formless sea of creativity.

Vak, the divine cow, provides milk to all who need nourishment. Vak is also the Sanskrit word for voice and speech. The word ‘voice’ comes into English from the Latin word ‘voce’. Both words are derived from Vak. She also apparently, incidentally, provides vaccinations.

Now, here comes the silly part.

Jenner said he sometimes used pus from horses with horse pox. It worked as well as cowpox pus. He could have called his invention equination instead, from the Latin for horse, equus. But then he would have just been horsing around.

First declaimed on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:–Mn7m_GbY