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The word yoni is the Sanskrit word for the 'female reproductive organ'. Translated directly into English, it could mean vulva or vagina. It also has a wider meaning in religious and spiritual contexts, where its meaning is 'creativity'. The yoni is also considered to be symbolic of Shakti or other goddesses of a similar nature.

Yoni is perhaps the most misused and misunderstood word from the ancient Indo-Aryanic language, Sanskrit. The word yoni was originally used more often in a spiritual sense rather than as a term to describe female genitalia.

Historical perspective

The ancient Aryans were a community that, through centuries of development, realized advances in a wide range of fields ranging from astrology to agriculture. The accumulated wisdom of this people, as well as their guidelines for living, was set down in an ancient set of records known as the Vedas. These Vedas bore names such as the Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, and many others.

These ancient Vedas contain the word yoni in various contexts. The original meaning of yoni was "Divine Passage". A child was considered to be born from a yoni of stars - constellations that prevailed during the child birth. The Aryans had identified some 50,000 astrological yonis that favour a child's birth.

The term yoni was also used in agricultural references by the Aryans. A fertile yoni meant a good harvest of crops.

The Veda know as the Ayurveda, or Science of Life, was the record of the ancient medicinal art of the Aryans. The Ayurveda was the only Veda that described yoni as a part of the female anatomy. Here the term was meant as a designation of respect for women who gave birth, thus contributing to the continuation of the community.

The Aryans interacted and inter-mingled with the Dravidians, and other communities, to form ancient India. This lead to a proliferation, and modification, of their sciences. The word yoni began to be more often used to refer to female genitalia by ancient physicians.

Yoni worship

After the Aryan race intermingled with the indigenous communities of ancient India, a form of idolatory, or idol worship, developed. While the Aryans originally practiced a form of worship that did not use idols, the Dravidian form of worship made prolific use of idols. The new race that was born of their merger tended towards the Dravidian style of worship. In time, certain commonly accepted forms were adopted for the idols of each of the gods. A woman with 10 hands and bearing weapons signified Kali, or power, a woman with heavy ornaments signified Lakshmi, or wealth, and so on.

People of that time tended to supplicate their deities in the hope of gaining temporal boons. One example of this practice was the veneration of the yoni for the purpose of attempting to ensure the fertility of the land. This form of yoni worship was actually a reverence of the concept of the Divine Passage, rather than the female genitalia. However, in physical form, the yoni idols were statues of women depicted as having enlarged yonis or were simply images of the yoni itself. Foreign invaders tended to express amusement concerning this kind of a worship. The foreigners believed the worship of the yoni was performed with a goal that was somehow related to human sexuality. However, as previously stated, the goal of yoni worship was to increase agricultural yields.

Over the centuries, couples that experienced difficulties in producing children began to engage in yoni worship with the goal of increasing their chances of conception.

The usage of the term yoni was spread to other lands by foreigners that had encountered the concept in India. However, their limited understanding of the nuances of the yoni caused these people to represent the usage of the word as solely a reference to female genitalia.

Yoni massage

The history of yoni massage is not fully known. However, studies of carvings at places such as Khajuraho in India, and texts such as the Kama Sutra, reveal it developed as a form of foreplay for women in the harems of the ancient Indian kings and emperors. These rulers had dozens of wives and hence, were unable to satisfy the carnal desires of all of them. In fact, some members of the harem never had sexual relations with the king more than once or twice.

The ancient rulers were aware that denying the women of their harem satisfaction of their sexual desires could produce unwanted consequences. The women might fall prey to temptation, possibly attempting to satisfy their desires with a guard, soldier, or other servants. The servant and the wife would, undoubtedly, be executed. However, the event would still bring shame to the king himself.

To avoid the possibility of such disgrace, the ancient rulers employed the services of eunuchs to guard their harem. Eunuchs were usually procured by castrating young men captured from enemy kingdoms or young boys purchased domestically. These eunuchs were trained in the art of yoni massage. The official practice of the art of yoni massage was eventually abolished in all of the kingdoms of India.

In modern times, the term has been applied to commercial massages that do not conform to the standards of the historical practice.

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