How We Stigmatize Female Genitalia: a Brief History of Vagina Worship

Written by on January 4, 2016 in Conscious Living, Relationships & Sex with 4 Comments
Flickr: Jason Devaun Pink Rose Close-Up 2

Flickr: Jason Devaun
Pink Rose Close-Up 2

By Carrie Weisman | AlterNet

Despite the prevalence of sexually suggestive imagery in our culture, we're still a bit squeamish when it comes to vaginas. But that wasn't always the case.

Related Article: 4 Things You Should Never Do to Your Vagina


Before Western religion introduced the pesky concept of shame, female genitalia were venerated in ancient mythology,” writes Catherine Blackledge, author of The Story of V: A Natural History of Female Sexuality. Blackledge details how skirt lifting, or “ana suromai,” was once thought to help ward off evil and increase crop yields. She points out that 17th-century drinking mugs used to sport depictions of Satan cowering at the sight of an exposed vagina. Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks paraded around cakes shaped like vulvas during the three-day, women-only Syracusan Thesmophoria festival.

There was a time where church walls were lined with images of naked women. The Sheela Na Gigs, found scattered throughout Europe, are erotic carvings of the female figure typically consisting of women squatting and pulling apart their exaggerated vulvas. They were believed to ward off death and evil.

Related Article: 5 Surprising Ways Sleeping Naked Can Benefit You

Hindu mythology, too, often positions the vagina as a symbol of worship. Take the story of Shiva and his wife, Shakti. According to the traditional texts, Shiva, god of change and destruction, went into a wild rage upon learning that Shakti had committed suicide. He placed her dead body on his shoulders and began performing the dance of destruction. To calm him, the lord Vishnu cut her body into 51 pieces, which fell throughout the Indian subcontinent. These locations became known as the Shakti Peetha; places of worship consecrated to the goddess. The Kamakhya Temple was constructed around the area where Shakti’s vagina and womb are believed to have fallen.

The temple hosts an annual fertility festival called Ambuwasi Puja to celebrate the goddess's yearly menstrual cycle. The river Brahmaputra is believed to turn red during this time.

In Hindu philosophy, according to Tantra, the yoni, or “vagina,” is the origin of life. India’s famous sexual texts, like the Kama Sutra, refer to the yoni as a “sacred area,” “a pad of pleasure,” “an occult religion worthy of reverence,” and “a symbol of the cosmic mysteries.”

Related Article: Fun & Pleasure Go Together: Try These 7 Tantric Sex Games


Further east is the story of Kapo, the Hawaiian goddess of fertility and her detachable, rape-preventing vagina. According to the myth, Kapo’s sister Pele was being pursued by Kamapua’a, a figure who is visualized as half man, half pig. While Pele showed no interest in his advances, Kamapua’a persisted, and eventually tried to force himself on her. Sensing Pele was in danger, Kapo sought to distract Kamapua’a in the only way she knew how: by detaching her vagina from her body and sending it his way. The plan worked. Distracted by the sight and smell, Kamapua’a left Pele and followed the flying vagina all the way to the southeastern tip of O’ahu.

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4 Reader Comments

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  1. 1010642695666176@facebook.com' Chris Thomas Wakefield says:

    For Chr**s sake, focus on your own life and quit this S**t.

  2. 1679206795691010@facebook.com' Stephen O Brien says:

    “Godess era” where every woman no matter how fat, ugly or obnoxious is a primrose

  3. 1484128381892891@facebook.com' Sharon Wood says:

    How ugly & fat many men can be in there judgement of women.

  4. 430343887169063@facebook.com' Lisa Kosanke says:

    No comment

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