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Yoni as source

The root of �yoni� is the Sanskrit word (and Hindi?) �yuj� meaning �to unite�. The yoni is the crucible where things are combined (male and female, mother and fetus)�where creation and re-creation takes place.

The yoni is also the place where each menstruating woman may experience the cosmic cycles of creation-sustaining-destruction of potential human life�the egg cell.

Yoni signifies both vagina and womb. In the traditional cosmo-vision it is where the spirit world (or the unborn, the ancestors) meet the flesh-and-blood reality of the material world.

Nepali children at a streetside shrine to Dharti Ma (Earth Mother). The fertility of the earth and that of woman are everyday occurrences and also sacred. As Pyar Kaur said in our MATRIKA Punjab workshop �To have a child is important even for a millionaire. This work is precious because that part of the body, which is covered all the time is unveiled to bring in life to this world.�
Worship of the Female Body and Yoni as Creative Principle was common throughout India. Note the sindur, haldi, flowers placed in reverence.
The Devi, Ma, the cosmic mother, is the cause of the materialization of the entire material world. As such she dispenses blessings (and curses), so is invoked to protect and to bestow boons.
�The teaching of contraception, even when not undertaken by a member of the wrong sex and a stranger, involves a demystification of the body which is in itself insulting. An aristocratic lady tells a story against herself as a family-planning worker which goes like this: for teaching purposes she used a model of the female reproductive system, an ugly thing made of plastic with movable parts on which the flies would sit and which had become rather travel-stained. One evening, after she had done her stuff and been patiently and courteously heard by a group of village women with their veils drawn half across their faces, they quietly rose to thank her and take their leave. �Highness,� said one of the elder women kindly, �You may be made like that, but we are not.� Germaine Greer, Sex and Destiny
This imagery was particularly effective because women used pots in their household work.

These images called Lajja Gauri or Adithi Uttanpad are from c 100 AD and are found in many different areas throughout India. This power is not personalized�thus the sculptures have no faces.

Dais and traditional folk use pot and well metaphors for the yoni in birth and postpartum rites.

Pushpa: �During labor, earthen pots with large openings are tied on top of the house. This helps in the opening of the body.�(MATRIKA workshop, Delhi)

Mohini Devi: �If the pot in which they store rice is covered with hay then the hay is removed, leaving the mouth of the pot open. She opens all other kinds of knots in the house. This hastens birth.� (MATRIKA workshop Bihar)
Dhapo �After forty-five days, the new mother goes for kuan puja. The house is cleaned, old earthen pots are thrown away and new ones are bought and used by all the close relatives.� (MATRIKA workshop Delhi)

In high sculptural traditions even the decorations on the pots mirror those in sculptures of women.
Lal Ded was a Kashmiri mystic of the 14th Century honoured by Hindus and Muslims alike. She is said to have shown her guru, who was performing a lunar fast, how the penance should really be practiced. She placed an earthen pot on her head and another under her feet; and with the waning of the moon, her body waned till, on the fifteenth night of the dark fortnight (Amavasya), nothing was left of her except a little quantity of trembling quicksilver. Then, with the waxing moon her body waxed and, on the full moon night, she was herself again. This is an obvious allusion to her observing nature, the lunar cycles, as they moved through her body.
At this birth� let the woman rightly engender, be relaxed; let her joints go apart in order to give birth. Four are the directions of sky, four also of the earth; the gods sent together the fetus; let them unclose her in order to give birth. Let Pusan unclose her; we make the Yoni go apart; do thou Susana loosen�apart the Yoni, apart the two groins, apart both the mother and the child, apart the boy from the afterbirth; let the afterbirth descend. As the wind, as the mind, as fly the birds, so do thou O ten months� child, fly along with the afterbirth; let the afterbirth descend.
                                                                  Atharvaveda
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