Yoni Puja

November 17, 2014

Charlotte pays a visit to a revered artist whose work she would like to display at her gallery. Welcoming her warmly to his secluded studio, the artist gently removes the cover revealing his latest work. ‘The canvases you are about to see … are the apotheosis of every great idea I ever had. It is the closest I ever come to the pure universal god force. The yoni!’ [1]

Some years ago 49 women came together on the beautiful island of Koh phangan to go into the depths of femininity for five full days. We started our journey with the eye-opening perspective Agama provides based on chakras and the level of consciousness of each chakra producing our understanding and experience of femininity. Afterwards Maha went deeper explaining how emotions work, starting from natural instincts of self-preservation turning into moods defining our patterns of behavior. Emotions are very precious, they are the flavor of life, and they shouldn’t be repressed; rather expressed. The trick of the game is about the choice of what to do with that emotion; key word being ‘choice’. Do I have the will and freedom to choose where my emotions lead me to? Can I face my emotion, observe it and decide what to do with it? Instead of looking for justifications for jealousy, anger, victimhood, can I choose how I react to these emotions in my life? The mind that generates emotions also hosts the power of discrimination; the will to choose the beneficial, the harmonious. It is a matter of cohabitation made possible by awareness. I can make a choice only if I am aware of what is going on without identifying myself with the mixed messages of strong emotions. That was another eye-opening perspective. I remember a very tough moment in my life. Many years ago I was in a very difficult situation of being attacked personally and as a team with my fellows by a group of young political animals in front of around thousand students from all over Europe. The events building up to that tension for months combined with the intensity these political games played during our general assembly simply broke me; I lost sight of what is going on inside and out. I remember crying non-stop. My lovely shiva at that time avoided any pampering during the whole day while all that craziness was happening and in the evening he just told me ‘intelligent people can control their emotions’. Of course I was very pissed off about this remark, how dare he insult my intelligence?! Well, it takes some emotional maturity to understand the value of this guidance.

Besides all these little light bulbs switching on in my head, these five days caused a shift in my whole understanding of femininity. In fact, I realized I was trying to live my entire life as a man under the mask of ‘strong woman’. I confronted my de-masculating acts towards men around me and how these acts harmed my own femininity. Maha used an unforgettable analogy for feminine power; a samurai sword in a velvet cover. I took this analogy into my arms and put it under my pillow that night.

ak2During these days we were asked which part of our body we like the most. Among all the generic answers like eyes, legs, boobs one of the women came out with ‘my yoni’. What? How can a woman consider her ‘yoni’ as the most beautiful part of her body? I’d understand loving your yoni, feeling the power of your yoni but seeing it as your most beautiful bit?! The next day we were asked to wear an outfit making us feel feminine. That same woman came with her yoni totally out in display. After the initial shock, suggesting myself to be open and all, I looked at her yoni. Well yes, she is kind of beautiful. Another shift in my mind; it is not only about hers, yoni is beautiful. Then a secondary shock wave; I also got one of those! So I went home and looked at myself (down there obviously), but not in a new-agey ‘we need to love and accept our body’ kind of way. I looked at her for a long time intently. I started to say nice words to her, first following the instructions of our teachers, then improvising with my own words. Yes, it is possible to actually make peace with her; she really is a lotus flower; to be loved and cherished. I announced my peace accord with my yoni at the end of the workshop and thanked the woman who inspired me to do so.

And from that moment on everything changed.

There are two important symbols in Tantric yoga; yoni and lingam. If we go beyond the reductionist Freudian symbolism it is easy to observe the polarity of the feminine and masculine symbols manifested in all phenomena. The relationship of yoni and lingam appears between mountain and valley, fire and water, electricity and magnetism, sun and the moon. Yoni literally means the source; and her higher meaning is the source of creation; just like a woman’s yoni being her source of creative energy. Feeling this power is indeed the closest one may ever come to the pure universal god force. Having said that, mere words don’t suffice to address this topic. One needs to experience her power and Anish Kapoor made me relive all these experiences through another channel of creation; through arts. Visiting his exhibition, getting goosebumbs by looking at his amazing work is a genuine, powerful yoni puja[2]. It is not my place to comment on such a high level of art but I can just recommend if you ever get the chance to see his work, just fix your gaze upon one of his yoni statues for some minutes and see what happens.

[1] Actually he uses another word, but I prefer to use the Sanskrit word for vagina; yoni. And please try to ignore your scepticsm towards Sex and the City; these series may have used and abused sex, alcoholism, fashion, relationships and many other things but they did put lots of critical issues concerning femininity on the table.

[2] Puja: ritual

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