the yoni egg...?
Lets talk about yoni eggs - this isn’t the usual conversation I would typically have about them but something I have been thinking about lately. As I have read and researched I have discovered somethings that perhaps I did not want to know about yoni eggs. I’m on a journey of self-discovery, and as I settle into this next phase of Love & Luna it was important for me to get to know the products a little more. I also want to have more uncomfortable conversations (i.e crystal mining, the role of colonisation in pleasure, the fetishising of black and brown bodies), and I have reflected that may not the best business model under a capitalist society and that’s a good thing because we are decolonizing and indigenising (aroha mai tīpuna for taking so long to get here).
I have never felt an innate connection to the yoni egg, I have used them frequently and often consistently, but they are not what lead me to this path, mostly they are part and parcel of the crystal pleasure business. Early into this journey I researched yoni eggs, it wasn’t broad and expansive research it was the type of research you do that fills an information gap. At the time of starting Love & Luna in 2016 yoni eggs were well embedded as part of a fad wellness culture.
In recent weeks my curiosity has peaked, why is it called a yoni egg? Is this origin story I know really true? And if it is, how can I properly honour that story?
What is widely known is that yoni is a Sanskrit word with various meanings. Sanskrit is a language that originates in India but is now used by less than 1% of the population and predominantly in a religious context, Hinduism. The word yoni is associated to the Hindu Goddess Shakti, Shakti, according to chopra.com is “a divine cosmic energy that represents feminine energy and the dynamic forces that move through the universe. Shakti, who is responsible for creation and can also be an agent of change, is often manifested to destroy demonic forces and restore balance.” Yoni is the symbol of Shakti and symbolises all that Shakti represents. Shakti is also the “consort of Shiva”. In Shaivism the branch of Hinduism dedicated to worshipping the God Shiva the yoni is often shown with the lingam. According to britannica.com the lingam is represented by an object which is often placed inside the yoni. In its most literal translation we can make the association of lingam to penis, and yoni to vagina. The two symbols together represent the process of creation and regeneration, the union of male and female, masculine and feminine and at its largest narration it represents the totality of all existence. And so we find this rich and deep history and story around the word yoni, it’s connection primarily in context to Hinduism, and yet it is now part of our colloquial language… hmmmm
How did the word yoni end up in western culture? A European man. Are we surprised? In the 1800s when Richard Burton went to translate the kamasutra from Sanskrit to English, he made the decision not to use Vagina/Penis instead replacing them with the more palatable words of yoni and lingam respectively, these were also not the words used in the kamasutra itself. Richard Burton “wanted to anthropologize sex, distance it, make it safe for English readers by assuring them, or pretending to assure them, that the text was not about real sexual organs, their sexual organs, but merely about the appendages of weird, dark people far away.” (Doniger, W. 2011) Big sigh. I wasn’t surprised to learn this, it makes sense to me in the scheme of things, but it is a shame.
Which brings me here, the main dialogue that we hear around yoni eggs specifically is of ancient Chinese origin. Are we surprised to hear this is not correct? A study of more than 5000 objects by Dr. Jennifer Gunter (MD) and Dr. Sarah Parcak archeologist found that none of the jade eggs they secured were used for the purposes that they have been so heavily associated too. There is also no anecdotal evidence to suggest this is true either, no stories that have been passed down from generations, no secrets or ritualistic items with this specific use. As one of most ancient and also highly recorded cultures you would think somewhere someone with this particular cultural heritage would have it recorded somehow. And when I reflect to my own people, Māori and Indian they both have a rich history of pūrākau that is now highly recorded and documented. I’m disappointed. Both in myself and the world. This was not what I was expecting to find in all honesty, I naively thought, and perhaps even more naively want to believe there is still some merit to the story I once found on google. But, it looks as though this is it. The yoni egg story is just that, a story, an urban legend, and more likely has been invented as part of a marketing ploy. I think what I was hoping to find is that the story was true and I was fully prepared to talk about colonisation and cultural appropriation. And even though this isn’t that deep dive, I can still acknowledge that my naivety has meant that whilst the story is not true, over the past 5 years I have operated as if it was, without consciously continually acknowledging the cultural roots I believed it had.
So what does this mean for the future of yoni eggs and Love & Luna, I’ve already removed the kōrero from the website about yoni eggs, and done a little updating (more to come). I’ve made peace with the fact that yoni is part of our colloquial language and has been for 200+ years, and even though it made its way into our vocab through colonisation I feel more informed than ever to continue using the word. However, going forward I want to continue to acknowledge the origins of the word yoni by paying homage to the Goddess Shakti, and as I continue to learn more about Shakti I understand more about myself and the universe. I’m going to keep the name yoni egg as the internet likes it, but you will see me refer to yoni eggs as The Shakti Stone and more importantly I want to reflect that the connection to the Goddess Shakti feels more aligned to the values of Love & Luna than the appropriation of an “ancient Chinese tradition” however false it is.
As I write this ending I find myself feeling deeply connected to The Shakti Stone, for me the name pays homage to a story I feel connected to, even though we were not practising Hindus when I was growing up there are certainly threads of it throughout my child and now adulthood. This name change represents a change for myself, as I honour the Goddess Shakti I honour the Goddess that resides in all of us, and I put to bed a misused and overrepresented story.
If you would like to further kōrero on this please send me an email or reach out on instagram, I would love to know your thoughts!
A disclaimer: there is no western evidence based research to suggest yoni eggs are more beneficial than kegel exercises, and some western experts practitioners have been scathing of yoni egg use. In my current readings I have found no evidence based research that suggest yoni eggs cause harm when used correctly. Please seek the advise of a qualified pelvic floor specialist if you are wanting to purchase a yoni egg to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.