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Though he himself was cursed to be a wanderer, Cain founded a city, which he named after his son, Enoch or Hanoch. The early Mormons apparently had this city in mind when they used Cainhannoch as a code name for New York.

In the original Hebrew, the name Cain is written with three letters: קין, usually romanized as QYN (or, with the unwritten vowels added, Qayin). The q represents not the “kw” sound of English, but a uvular stop, something like a “k” sound articulated farther back in the throat, and is sometimes transliterated as k or c. So the Hebrew spelling of Cain could be romanized as CYN (a Greek root which, like the Latin canis, means “dog”) — or, since Hebrew is written right-to-left:

NYC is New York City — a.k.a. Cainhannoch, the city of Cain. The “Big Apple” nickname also connects it with Abel, which sounds like apple.

The Cain/dog connection is also relevant to New York. Canine is sometimes written as K-9, and K is the 11th letter of the alphabet — giving us 11-9, or the 11th of September.

Shortly after 9/11, a prophecy falsely attributed to Nostradamus was circulated on the Internet:

In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos,
while the fortress endures,
the great leader will succumb,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning

Nostradamus didn’t really write it, but all of it except the fifth line was in fact written before 9/11 (in a 1997 research paper by Neil Marshall) and is fair game for interpretation as a prophecy, or at least as a significant coincidence. Much of the interpretation is obvious — the “two brothers” are the Twin Towers, the “fortress” is the Pentagon, etc. — but it’s less clear why New York should be called the “City of God.” The NYC/CYN connection clears things up, though: CYN means “dog,”  so God (dog spelled backwards) maps to NYC. New York as the city of Cain and Abel also adds another level of meaning to the “two brothers torn apart.”


Starting with the names Cain and Abel — two brothers — we find that they are remarkably similar to the English words can and able, which are synonyms. Abel is both an anagram and a homophone of able, while Cain is a near-homophone of can and an anagram of “I can.”

Abel’s name in the original Hebrew is Hebhel, but the initial ‘h’ has been lost in English. The English word able comes, by way of French, from the Latin habilis, the initial ‘h’ also having been lost.

The Latin for “I can” or “I am able” is possum. Obama used the first-person plural version of the same verb on his 2008 campaign logo, a version of the presidential seal with “Vero Possumus” in the place of “E Pluribus Unum.” This was meant to be a Latin translation of “Yes, we can” — though one might be forgiven for misreading it as “really a possum.” The presence of letter “o” right before “possumus,” and the big O-for-Obama at the center of the seal, makes the possum/opossum connection even more natural.

Opossum, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is derived from an Algonquian word literally meaning “white dog.” Translating back into Latin, that gives us canis albus — remarkably similar to Cain/Abel and can/able. (In fact, abel, an Old French word for the white poplar, is derived from albus.)

Dogs figure prominently in Jewish legends about Cain and Abel. Abel’s body lay unburied for some time (since no one had any experience of death or knew how to deal with it), and his faithful dog stood guard and protected it from wild animals. God also gave Cain a canine companion to protect him from any wild animals who might try to avenge Abel. (It’s not clear if this was a different dog, or if Cain inherited his brother’s pet.) No mention is made of the color of the dog. However, legend has it that to mark Cain as a sinner God afflicted him with leprosy, which would have made his skin unnaturally white (as in Ex. 4:6, “leprous as snow”), so the dog + white pattern is still there.

The white dog also appears on Fool card in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot.

The fool himself is portrayed here as a wanderer with a knapsack, which fits with Cain’s fate as a “fugitive and a vagabond.” The fact that the fool is about to walk off a cliff, and seems quite unconcerned about it, also fits with the legends associated with Cain: that he was cursed to wander forever, that he often sought death but it was denied him. (The theme of not-really-dying brings us back to the possum, which is where this white dog stuff came from in the first place.) Traditional interpretations have the Fool card standing for beginnings, potential, possibilities — can and able.