row of vulvas deeply engraved into rock wall





natural vulva rock formation enhanced by human handsMurrieta, California





stone relief of dancing naked woman with leg raised, hoisting spear or staff
Huastec stela, eastern Mexico (courtesy Anne Key)




short stone sculpture with big head and vulva, and large hollow between breasts and waist
Toba Batak ancestor sculpture, Sumatra




rough sculpture of crouching woman with hands framing vulva
Cooletore, West Meath, Ireland




rounded earth mound painted in white vulva patternZambian women's ceremonial earth-mound
painted with white vulva



rough clay figurine of woman clasping breasts, with large dotted vulva
Clay figurine from Syria, early Bronze Age



old woman, hairless, bony, with hand to vulva, and a circle of hollows in the stone surrounding vulva and womb

The Seir Kieran sheila, one of the oldest in Ireland.
For centuries people were scraping out rock dust
from the area of her vulva. She's not a sex object,
but an aged ancestor of profound power.



reddish stone elbow-stone with female figure carved in with vulva
Taino zemi-stone, Dominican Republic



Sacra Vulva

On the bones of Earth, the signs of origin

Grooved into the rock by aboriginal hands

In remembrance of ancestors, painting

The place of emergence with the sign of blood

The blood that is life, the coursing vitality

The power of the Woman who stands at the Portals

Who has within her an opening into the vastness

The origin which is everywhere at the center.

Vulvas engraved on the bones of the Earth,

In an offering place near the sacred salt spring of the Chimanes, Bolivia.

The natural rock formations in the shape of woman’s portal to the depths

Appear in multitudes in the sanctuaries of the Kumeyaay, east of San Diego

Some carved by the ancients to enhance their resemblance to the vulva.

The holy place of origin that opens as she parts her legs

The unfathomable depths of the Dark Labyrinth within

The sign and crest of the Rock Spring sanctuary (Wyoming)

Of rocks where newly-made women raced at dawn

On one side of the stone, paleolithic ancestors grooved vulvas

And on the other carved the Animal Mother (France).

Ice Age people incised bone with vulvas and meanders

Of the vast, infinite Ocean of Being (Ukraine).

Ancestral Mothers with vulva glyphs in the womb tombs (Guernsey)

The caverns of Earth herself receive the solar rays into the depths (Portugal)

Ancestors and vulva stones of the archaic sanctuary of Lepenski Vir (Serbia)

Aegean island votive platters with the sacred triangle, and above,

The indescribable pulsation of Essence, swirling in eternal spirals  

Vulvas of the Canaanite city of Lachish, flanked by ibexes

In the manner of Asherah and her Tree of Life.

Triangles of numinous dots worn in amulets of beaten gold

And the dotted vulvas in icons of 11th dynasty Egypt.

From the Jomon culture, little clay vulvas, some with breasts above.

Ceramic yonis painted with cosmic maps, worn as vulva caps:

All the clothes women needed in tropical Brazil

Vulvas on figured clay vessels of Ma Jia Yao, and

In the classic Halaf culture of ancient Syria, 7000 years gone on.

The women of Cameroon, arms and legs joined around the motherpot

Amulets of mighty Hathor with her serpent

And the even older stone matrika of Sesklo, Greece

The jade sculptures of the classic Nicoya culture, Costa Rica

The disregarded masterpieces of the Manabí civilization, Ecuador,

Whose stone stelas revolve entirely around the vulva sign:

Women seated on curved thrones, in the throes of ecstasy,

In the deep states of sex or birth, plumbing the full measure of humanity

with hands changed into birds, with lizards and spiral-tailed monkeys

A stone pipe from Indiana, woman grasping her feet up to her belly

A megalithic ancestor in Sulawesi, hands to her vulva, signaling Origin

Hands to the yoni, in Sumatra too, and above it Blackness,

The open cauldron where consciousness comes into being

Signalling the place of Origin, the ancestor in stone.

India retains the aboriginal veneration of the yoni,

Through the millennia, into Tantra and Shakta tradition

In the temple carvings, enacted in Yantras and Yoni mudras

Blazing forth in the Mahanirvana Tantra, the coiled kundalini

The primal power awakened and released in realized sages

Truly the Sacra Vulva, the Tantric sacrament of menstrual blood

Venerated and used to anoint holy images.

The orthodox invent stories of shame around the displayed Yoni,

As Lajja Gauri, turns her face into a lotus when surprised during sex with Siva

The Taoists celebrated the elemental powers of sex, saying that

The cream of women’s arousal cures the one hundred diseases

This is holiness, Tai Ji, accessing the great Ultimate

She is cast onto the bronze drums of old Indonesia

She is the source of hunting power in ancient Algerian petroglyphs

A clay figurine from northern Nigeria hands placed at the vulva.

Bagirmi women, arms outstretched, vulvas show through their skirts

Legs outstretched, a proto-Mami Wata presides over a Nigerian drum

Splattered with sacred substances, she watches over a house

Legs parted to show the place of origin, the ancestral Mother protects

the matrilineal lodges in Belau: she is the source

In parts of Melanesia, maternal ancestors alternate with vulva shields

In New Hebrides, their third eyes blaze in resonance with clitori,

As they link arms (paired with lizards, like the women of Manabí).

The Maori carve their lintels with images of the female ancestor

On Rapa Nui, women use komari stones in womanhood initiations,

When girls learn to stretch and lengthen the organs of pleasure

These are holy things, things of power, never forget. This is healing.

Hand to the vulva, hand to the breast, red wood icons of Easter Island

Touch a place of power. Cast off the shame, release the violations.

This is a holy place, this core of womanness.

A place of pleasure, of streaming and of climax.

Look, I am aroused by showing you my petals: my bud rises, and juices flow.

In Australia, rockface panoramas of powerful vulvas,

Ancestors with arms raised in benediction

Mothers in the Dreaming, at the heart of aboriginality

Mohawk matrons of the Wolf Clan crowned with her combs.

(That word comb, Kteis, Greek slang for vulva.)

Tairona goddess with apotropaic vulva, and the lolling

Tongue of the Gorgons, of Rangda, of Kali

Cosmic maps on Shipibo effigy pots in the Peruvian rainforest

And mysterious shamanic masks on the belly and vulvas of Nazca pots

Other bowls given over entirely to celebrating the vulva,

With little soul birds and caterpillars circling around the Gateway.

Rough and ready stone women of south Italy, where too

a splayed Gorgon laughs, supported by lions and serpents

And a chased metal plate full of vulva-glowing Gorgons

Then come the Baubos, some engaged in the frankest self-pleasuring

Others throwing up their skirts in the classic gesture of the crone

Iambe, whose skirt-lifting made grieving Demeter laugh at last.

As the devotees of Bast raised their skirts to rival townswomen

As they cruised the Nile with music and dance

In rowdy musical festivals of Bast, cat goddess of love and pleasure

So Iambe placated Demeter’s wrath, so did “the ugly sky-female,”

Uzumue, dance on an upturned tub, skirts pulled up and blouse turned down,

with the celestial jewel-tree on her head, to lure Amaterasu from her cave.

Countless figurines of Isis Baubo in often acrobatic sexual display

And Besit, the dwarf goddess, sticking out her tongue

Isis Baubo holds libation cups and the sistrum of the Nubian dancers.

The vulva goes everywhere, and shows up in surprising places:

A silver sheathing around the sacred Black Stone in the Kaaba.

She even bubbles up on the walls of Christian churches

In Ireland and Britain, she is usually a crone, wrinkled, hairless and bony,

Aged ancestor, with that ever-pouring source of power at her core,

Where people rub for a blessing, or scrape out the rock dust

Hands to the vulva, the very definition of the shiela-na-gig

Some with the prominent clitoris, others with an opening to the Center

The infinite Deep, the cauldron of Cerridwen brewing countless lives

The place everyone wants to get back to, the ultimate Return.

The very flowering of female sexual power

The Shiela with animal, flanked by animal powers

Even the Sheila-abbess with her crook

The protector shiela looming over the doorway

The smiling shiela, the cackler shaking with laughter

Overlooking the valley from her castle wall where she dances

In perpetual delight, in touch with the source.

After ages of denial, shame and suppression,

She reappears in the visions of artists, poets and musicians 

Yoni means the Origin.

It's a Yoniverse.


© 2004 Max Dashu

See the Sacra Vulva poster


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