Exploring Gender Through Ancient Symbols: The Yoni and the Phallus

The yoni and the phallus have long been respected symbols, spanning many centuries, and embodying the fundamental essence of life, fertility, and creation. These symbols have formed the basis of several ancient civilizations and continue to captivate and motivate modern discussions due to the profound meanings they hold.

The yoni and lingam embody energies that exist within all humans, irrespective of their assigned sex at birth or gender identity. By reflecting on these energies, one can cultivate inner unity and/or strengthen connection to a specific gender.

These symbols have historically been represented in various forms in art, architecture, and religious practices. Their universal presence testifies to their global significance. The yoni and the phallus extend beyond their physical representations, symbolizing a profound spiritual truth about the fundamental nature of life and creation.

In the context of modern discussions on gender identification, the yoni and phallus, with their deep-seated representation of balance and unity, offer vital lessons. They remind us of the interconnectedness of all beings, the necessity for balance, and the cyclical nature of existence.

The Feminine Divine: The Yoni

Originating from Hindu traditions, the yoni symbolizes the sacred feminine or “Shakti”. It serves as a representation of the goddess in her maternal role as the originator of all beings in the universe. This symbol transcends physical fertility, encompassing life, love, and a divine energy that infuses the universe.

The Masculine Divine: The Phallus

In contrast, the phallus symbolizes the masculine divine or “Shiva,” representing the fatherly energy of the universe. It was esteemed in ancient societies such as India, Rome, and Greece as a symbol of procreative potency and strength. The essence of the phallus symbolizes vitality, bravery, and the cosmic spark of creation.

Harmony of Existence

When examined together, the yoni and the phallus represent the cosmic balance of creation and unity. They stand as constant reminders of the perfect equilibrium between the masculine and feminine, the active and passive, the celestial and terrestrial. This balance transcends the physical union, illustrating the spiritual and metaphysical harmony that underpins existence.

Delving into Tantric Philosophy: The Yoni and the Lingam

In Tantric philosophy, the yoni, a Sanskrit term signifying womb and vagina, is an emblem of the origin or source. This symbol carries extensive symbolism and significance in spiritual and mythological contexts.

The Yoni: Source of Creation

The Yoni Tantra articulates, “Hari, Hara, and Brahma—the gods of creation, maintenance, and destruction—all originate in the yoni.” The generative and creative power of the mother goddess, Shakti or Devi, manifests through the yoni. Its union with the lingam illustrates the harmony and interplay between the feminine and masculine energies.

The Yoni and the Mother Archetype

Carl Jung, in his exploration of archetypes, connects the yoni to the mother archetype. The association of the yoni with the mother extends beyond the physical representation of the vagina or womb. Hollow objects resembling the yoni, like ovens and cooking vessels, signify the nurturing and life-giving aspects of the mother archetype.

Lingam: Emblem of Pure Consciousness

The lingam, often associated with Shiva, signifies pure consciousness and divine energy. Let’s explore its deep meaning and significance.

The Lingam: Sign of Pure Consciousness

“Lingam” refers to a “mark, sign, emblem, or characteristic.” In Indian spirituality, the lingam directs towards the formless, boundless nature of consciousness, signifying the eternal essence that surpasses physicality.

The Lingam and the Universe’s Origin

Hindu mythology closely associates the lingam with the universe’s origin. The Linga Purana narrates the story of Shiva appearing from within a lingam, declaring it as the source of creation. The lingam, depicted as the cosmic pillar of fire, symbolizes the unity of the earthly and the divine.

Conclusion: Embracing Compassion and Unity in Modern Gender Identification

As you navigate your day, bring the essence of the yoni and lingam with you. Remember these symbols and the compassion they signify. Recognize the interconnectedness of all beings and let compassion guide your thoughts, words, and deeds. By awakening compassion within yourself, you contribute to humanity’s collective awakening, nurturing a world grounded in love, understanding, and unity.

Your perspectives and thoughts on awakening compassion are valuable and contribute to our collective understanding. Although I can’t respond to every comment individually, know that your insights shape our conversation and cultivate meaningful dialogue. Let’s awaken to compassion together!


Carl Jung, CW 5, “Symbols of Transformation”

Linga Purana (Bharatadesam.com) Image: Mural depicting the Shiva lingam in base from the Mehrangarh Fort Palace in Jodhpur. Creative Commons via Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.

The Mother Archetype and the Awakening of Compassion: A Journey of Self-Realization

The mother archetype, as conceptualized by Carl Jung, holds a pivotal role in the human psyche, representing the universal image of the nurturing and caring mother figure. With its multifaceted nature, this archetype embodies qualities such as maternal solicitude, wisdom transcending reason, and the capacity to foster growth and sustenance. Through an exploration of Jungian insights and the integration of compassion, we embark on a transformative journey of self-realization, connecting with the profound wisdom of the mother archetype and awakening the innate compassion within ourselves.

Continue reading “The Mother Archetype and the Awakening of Compassion: A Journey of Self-Realization”

Compassionate Awakening: Discovering the Kingdom Within

In the quest for spiritual awakening, compassion emerges as a guiding force, leading us to the profound realization of our divine essence. This blog post explores the symbolic motifs of the kingdom of God and self-realization, shedding light on their significance in the context of compassion and spiritual awakening.

Continue reading “Compassionate Awakening: Discovering the Kingdom Within”

Unlocking the Wisdom of Dreams: Toward Spiritual Growth and Self-Compassion

Dreams serve as profound guides for those on the spiritual path, offering inner wisdom and intuitive insights that connect us to the depths of our being. By working with dream symbols, we tap into a powerful tool for healing, growth, and compassion.

According to Carl Jung, dreams play a compensatory role in balancing the psyche. Dream symbols act as a counterbalance to our waking thoughts, addressing the one-sidedness of our conscious awareness. By delving into the symbolic language of dreams, we embark on a transformative journey towards psycho-spiritual wholeness.

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The Divine Child Archetype: A Journey Towards Self-Realization Through Mythology

Introduction: Embracing the Divine Child Archetype

The divine child archetype symbolizes the spiritual awakening of self-consciousness, a profound realization that illuminates our innate divinity and transcends the constraints of our ego-driven selves. Carl Jung believed that the emergence of the divine child reflected this dawning of self-consciousness, marking an epiphany of self-realization.

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Compassionate Engagement with Our Shadows: Insights from Carl Jung

Carl Jung, a pioneer of depth psychology, famously quoted, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” (CW 12, p. 99). This metaphor of “darkness” signifies the unexplored parts of our personality, those traits we have cast aside due to their uncomfortable or unpalatable nature – the ‘shadow’ within us.

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Mandala Symbol and Meaning

14th century Tibetan thangka painting of the Mandala of Vajravarahi c.14th century. US Public Domain

A mandala is an image used in meditation. The word mandala comes from Sanskrit word manas, meaning mind. In Buddhism and Hinduism, the image represents the nature of the mind or the nature of consciousness.

Carl Jung used the term to describe a larger archetypal pattern that related to what he called the archetype of the Self. Jung says that the mandala is “the psychological expression of the totality of the self” (CW 9, para 542).

The mandala guides movement toward self-realization. Mandala and quaternity symbols emerge into dreams and visions as we begin to encounter the deeper aspects of the mind and the inner Self. The archetype of the Self guides the path toward wholeness, integration, and enlightenment.

Jung believes that the mandala’s “basic motif is the premonition of a center of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy.” (CW 9i, para 634) This is certainly in enlightenment with the enlightenment teachings (see below, for example).

In the enlightenment teachings, the mandala represents this paradoxical relationship between the individual self and what is sometimes called the supreme Self or the unbound, eternal, infinite nature of the Self (as consciousness or mind).

The mandala motifs are varied across cultures, but all take on a similar pattern. Carl Jung says the mandala represented the “totality of the individual in his inner or outer experience.” Jung say,

“Individual mandalas make use of a well-nigh unlimited wealth of motifs and symbolic allusions, from which it can easily be seen that they are endeavoring to express either the totality of the individual in his inner or outer experience of the world, or its essential point of reference.” (ibid)

For Jung, the mandala is an image of the Self, and the totality of the Self, which is both conscious and unconscious.
“Their object is the self in contradistinction to the ego which is only the point of reference for consciousness, whereas the self comprises the totality of the psyche altogether, i.e., conscious and unconscious.” (ibid)

This is where it gets a bit confusing to compare Jung’s view with the perspective of enlightenment. The word unconscious is not typically used in the enlightenment teachings. In the enlightenment teachings, the aim of the mandala meditation is to make contact with the eternal, infinite, unbound, unmodified dimensions of the mind, sometimes called pure awareness, or the One mind, or Budda Nature.

I believe that Jung understood this to some degree. But that he was coming from a more materialist perspective. Jung does speak of the collective unconscious as “indefinitely large”. He says,

“This totality comprises consciousness first of all, then the personal unconscious, and finally an indefinitely large segment of the collective unconscious whose archetypes are common to all mankind” (ibid).

Jung also calls the unconscious the “field of experience of unlimited extent”. These ideas indicate Jung sees the unconscious as infinite and unlimited. Here is another such passage from Jung:

“The deeper “layers” of the psyche lose their individual uniqueness as they retreat farther and farther into darkness. “Lower down,” that is to say as they approach the autonomous functional systems, they become increasingly collective until they are universalized and extinguished in the body’s materiality… Hence “at bottom” the psyche is simply “world.”… in the symbol the world itself speaking. (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para 291)

I am not sure if Jung understood or encountered “pure consciousness” in its absolute form. In the passage just referenced, Jung says that the psyche loses its individuality in the “body’s materiality.” From the perspective of Enlightenment, pure consciousness transcends the body’s materiality and material existence. Pure consciousness is superordinate to all material existence.

Jung was more focused on the process of individuation than he was on enlightenment (as the realization of pure consciousness). For Jung, the aim of individuation was to “become a self.” (Cw 12, para 105). This is certainly important for our lived experience. In this regard one says, Jung says:

“The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances”(ibid).

Jung is speaking of an instinct to reach our potential, to Self-actualize. His use of the term Self is psychologically oriented. Everything happens in psychic life, making up the “total personality.” Jung continues:

“Although the centre is represented by an innermost point. It is surrounded by a periphery containing everything that belongs to the self-the paired opposites that make up the total personality” (ibid).

Self-realization is a process of integrating the aspect of the mind that is unlimited and infinite. The mandala motif represents this integration.

Jung says that the unconscious has at its disposal “all the subliminal psychic contents, all those things which have been forgotten and overlooked, as well as all the experience of uncounted centuries laid down in its archetypal organs” ((CW 7, p.196). Jung want to bring the eternal into the temporal thought the contact with the archetypes.

Jung’s form of enlightenment is well suited to the Western mind. The process is a deeping into the depths of the Self, integrating the various layers of psychic contents and archetypal dimensions of the mind. This opens the ego slowly to the unlimited and indefinite aspects of consciousness. This may be the most healthy way to approach enlightenment for the western ego, especially if we fear ego decompensation.

In terms of enlightenment, the realization of pure consciousness is always integrated into our lived experience. This is true because we are alive. In the modern Enlightenment teachings, it is said that the ego dissolves. In my experience, it is more that a new center emerges, and this center is the Self.

Vajravarahi Mandala

I would like to explore the mandala of Vajravarahi as a means to understand the perspective of enlightenment. Vajravarahi is a goddess invoked in Tantric meditation. Her name means ‘Diamond-like Sow’. According to the Met musem: “The goddess represents the triumph over ignorance (symbolized by the sow).”

Notice the six-pointed star in the middle of the mandala. “The Sadhanamala describes the six-pointed star as the union of male (the upward-pointing triangle) and female (the downward-pointing triangle) energies”

I believe that Jung would say that the two triangles represent the integration of the conscious and the unconscious.

From the perspective of enlightenment, the triangles represent the interplay of the temporal and eternal dimensions of consciousness, or said another way the modified and unmodified dimensions of consciousness.

Integration of the eternal and temporal dimension gives rise to the enlightened state. In meditation, Vajravarahi is visualized as emerging from the heart. The heart is an archetypal space and place for the integration of the eternal and temporal dimensions of Being.

The eternal, infinite, unmodified unbound nature of consciousness is beyond body, beyond the material world, and yet is ground or essence of the material world. It gives rise to our lived experience and yet extends beyond lived experience.

“Early Tibetan translations of Sanskrit texts, such as the Sadhanamala (Garland of Means for [Spiritual] Attainment), the Nishpannayogavali (Garland of Perfection Yogas), and the Hevajra Tantra, describe Vajravarahi’s mandala as unfolding within the heart of a practitioner” (ibid).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/svision/i20.html


Jung might also see the Vajravarahi as a syzygy image. The syzygy “always takes the form of the paired opposites, where the One is never separated from the Other, its antithesis”. Jung realized the syzygy to be an image of the “experience of individuation, the attainment of the Self”. Jung sasy, “It is a psychological fact that as soon as we touch on these identifications we enter the realm of the syzygies, the paired opposites, where the One is never separated from the Other, its antithesis. It is a field of personal experience which leads directly to the experience of individuation, the attainment of the self. A vast number of symbols for this process could be mustered from the medieval literature of the West and even more from the storehouses of Oriental wisdom, but in this matter words and ideas count for little. Indeed, they may become dangerous bypaths and false trails. In this still very obscure field of psychological experience, where we are in direct contact, so to speak, with the archetype, its psychic power is felt in full force. This realm is so entirely one of immediate experience that it cannot be captured by any formula, but can only be hinted at to one who already knows.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 194


Jung, C. G., (1934–1954). The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. (1981 2nd ed. Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1), Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen. 0-691-01833-2
The Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/svision/i20.html
Carl Jung, 9 Part 1 – The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious– 1934–1954