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letters to yOni

We often receive letters seeking information or support on a variety of matters relating to the feminine. As the both the questions and answers may be of value we offer them here.

My dear 12 year old niece who is very special to me just began menstruating two days ago. We are very close and I want to celebrate her rite of passage. Do you have any suggestions. I want to make this an event of joy, want her to love her body, perhaps give her a piece of jewelry to remember this transformation time. Any books, symbolic jewelry or any suggestions would be great. Her own mother is unable to be there for her and as my mother was unable to be there for me it is extremely important to me to do all that I can to make my neice's life a glorious and celebratory experience. Please help. Thanks

Far out.. I love it. Everytime a young one is received into her woman with such holding and honouring, my heart sings for the possibilities we are opening up for the future.

Essentially, the intention to mark this passage, the passage from child to woman, is It. It is a major life transition,the first Blood Mystery, the first of the changing woman times, and, as I'm sure you know was held as most sacred in time past. In some cultures the young girls are prepared for months in advance.Elsewhere they are given a trial of inner strength as in "Daughters of Copper woman" where the new maidens are taken out in the bay and then swim to shore. It marks the connecting with womb energy (which includes fertility) and the tides of the moon . Some speak of menarche as "when the moon opened (their) womb". The presence and support of older women at this time and throughout the next years is core to the whole proceeding. Either to support, to instruct in the ways of adult women, to teach them the responsibilities of sexuality, (and,later, child rearing)or just to be there for them whenever they ask.

In Circle of Stones (by Judith Duerck) she writes; " How might your life have ben different if there had been a place for you to go.. a place of women, to help you learn the ways of women, .. a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as you sought to become yourself. A place of women to help you find and trust the ancient flow already there within yourself. . waiting to be released. . How might your life be different?" Even as I read these words again I am moved to deep feeling .

In those l gatherings I have been part of we sat in circle and honoured the coming to bud of the maiden. We gave her something,often very small and we told stories of our first or early menstruating ( often unbelievably anxiety ridden, with hindsight ) and how we wished it could have been held as a wonder in our this now can be. Some women hold it really important that the new maiden be party to the design and content of the celebration. I also agree that the young one should feel really willing and able to Be there for it, which means for the adults to respect her feelings and to let her choose how she would have it be. Sacred safe and special, is a good mixture To mark the occasion sacred; Find a smudge stick,or incense sticks will do at a pinch (hold sevral at once to make a good wreath of smoke) Designate your area , clear it physically and energetically beforehand (with the smudge). Set it up with flowers/candles/an altar with special things(bones/teddybear/photo of self as baby/photo of mother/you choose,) whatever is meaningful TO YOU Decide what you are doing (together)/Set your intention for the occasion

To start,in the centre of your area, light your ceremony smudge. Call in the directions.( I call in the four, plus above and below, as witness and support and blessing on the proceeding.) You dont have to speak anything , just walk to the quarters and offer the burning smoke, plus, in the centre,offer it right up and then to the ground for above and below. You will then have marked yourselves in sacred time and space. If there are other women/people present maybe each gets smudged( offered the smoke one at a time round the circle to cleanse themselves and come really present to the moment).If just two of you, smudge each other. Then whatever you choose to do is held within sacred intention.

At the end of whatever you do do, thank the energies you have called in in witness and support and blow out the candles.

Other suggestions as to content are to acknowledge and name all her female line who have passed through this doorway before. She may want to be crowned with a wreath of flowers to mark herself and her deep connection with the Earth, and her new blossoming. If there are other women there you can enact a rebirth or passing through a doorway to a new self and to being welcomed as one of the tribe of women. Candles and flowers can be symbolically coloured (red and white)

Essentially if it is marked with love and honuring and a gift the occasion will be beautiful. And if there is any way in which her new status is acknowledged by others in her tribe(her father e g) that would strengthen the ritual but it is often still too soon to ask this of the men. As for books, ask me more specifically what you would like to find as I have a huge number of refs .

"Daughters of Copper Woman" is a great possibility By Anne Cameron.1992 Womens Press. Thin, inexpensive, eminently readable, a beautiful retelling of the special womens stories from the native island people in Canada. Hope this helps.

All good wishes to your neice and ho! to the sacred blood power of woman.

I'm looking for information (i.e. examples of, history of ) croning ceremonies, but the sites I've unearthed so far aren't yielding much.  I'd appreciate any suggestions you have of where to look.  Thanks.

..hmmm croning ceremonies... can't help you on the web but in print here are some suggestions.

There are many books out there which revamp lots of "old" rituals and make up new ones and they on the whole are books that I d/wont buy ...snob!!

History of croning... I suspect that whichever cultures honoured the later years of a womans life as wisdom years will have had some ritual/tribal recognition of the passage out of menarche, into elderhood. The Native Americans spring to mind. Grandmother Lodges when women have ceased bleeding. At this time a woman was expected to provide a responsible voice in the tribe and to be part of the tribal decision making process. Of course in many places the reclaimimg of this rite of passage and honouring the eldership it passes into, is very much up to all of us. The old ways have been lost to sight and we have the freedom to choose how we would have it be that works for us in this time.

I think Z. Budapest has something(HOLY BOOK OF WOMENS MYSTERIES; Wingbow Press Calif.1989) and probably Starhawk (Dreaming the Dark 1982 ; Spiral Dance 1979)

There is also a book which has a mass of info re the Crone but I dont remember much about croning ceremony per se. (THE CRONE by Barbara G Walker - Harper & Row[San Francisco]1985.

She has also written WOMENS RITUALS -Harper & Row S.F. 1990.

However in THE WOMANS WHEEL OF LIFE by ELIZABETH DAVIS AND CAROL LEONARD Hodder &Stoughton pb 1996 there is info and examples of where and how (pp191-194) of some croning ceremonies, and it is a generally inspiring book.

Hope that helps. If you do plan to buy any of the books listed you will probably find them at which is the biggest on-line bookstore. If you use the links above then you will be supporting yOni as we get a small commission.

with love

Hi, my name happens to be Yoni. It's short for Yonathan. I was born in 1976, and my parents named me after Yonathan Netanyahu. He was the leader of the commando raid in Entebbe, in 1975, who got killed. He's a war hero. They had no idea about all this other stuff. Then, when I'm 15, my friend calls me up (I'm male, by the way) and tells me my name is in the Joy of Sex. Well, that was a shocker, finding out that my name happens to be a vaginal muscle. Then I get the internet and search under Yoni, and find a pile of weird stuff. I kinda feel self-conscious, and leery around people of east indian descent. Anyway, can you give me a basic summary of where this Yoni stuff comes from? Where does it originate? What culture gave rise to Yoni? I happen to find this an ironic bit of sickness that whatever passes as God threw my way to fuck me up. How many people are named after vaginal muscles? I wasn't, but it looks that way, don't it?

Sincerely, Yoni.

Dear Yoni

First in case you didn't realise, in most cases Yoni ("Vag muscle") has a different pronounciation from what I guess your name has as it has a long o (yohni). So shouting your name across large open spaces wont immediatelly make surrounding strangers think of female genitalia

Second, despite whatever you may feel in yourself it is a very ancient and venerable term, more sacred than medical, used to denote the power of the Feminine as source of all and gateway of birth and death. If you have seen the book you mention, you will know that there are huge numbers of sacred representations of the yoni ranging from the extremely ancient (rock carvings in Altamira . . . . ) to the contemporary.( As far as I remember it has a certain amount of historical info too, as well as a bibliography) . Also, the image of the yoni shows up all the way through Christian imagery as a mandorla (eg surrounding Christ/Mary etc) though the Fathers of the church would hate it named as such Through the ascendancy if the masculine way in the last 4000 years a lot of the ancient images of power were appropriated and recycled. It can appear as a downward pointed triangle or a vesica piscis(mandorla or overlap of two equal circles as at Chalice well Glastonbury) or an inverted horseshoe(the upsidedown version )or a cleft, or passageway. Some hold that it comes from the same word root as UNI as found in Universe, Union, which links it to ONE. For many the Feminine is recognised as source/ground of being/the void out of which came all,( represented in many places by the circle) In India the downward pointing triangle is worshipped as the Yoniyantra or Primordial Image, synbol for the Great Mother source of all life. Hence the One out of which came All.

In India (and some other ancient cultures they have not completely lost their connection with the old ways like we in the west have. But if you look you will find many yoni images all over the world. A favourite western example is the SHEELA-na-GIG, a gargoyle like figure found on old churches holdng open "her" yoni with her hands. It was believed by local folk to have power to avert misfortune The National Gallery in Dublin has a whole collection which have long been closeted in the basement, away from public gaze, but I believe they have recently and reluctantly been persuaded to put them on show to the public.. In sum the essence of yoni is the source of female power, and indeed of all power that does not come from domination. True union of male and fmale can only come about from the honouring of female sexual energy and the unpicking of the huge cultural fear of the yoni and all the attendant fears of the dark and demonised.

While I see it might not always be comfortable in a "mans" world, you have a name that directly links you with the reaffirmation of the feminine which is THE project of this time on the planet: by which I mean without it we will likely go down the tube, annihilated and barren from celebrating only one half of ourselves.

So ho to you,YONI, and good luck!

I'd like quickly to tell you, I have 2 lovely daughters, they are now all grown up, one is 25 and the other 22. The youngest I am finding difficult to let her go, each time I see her, it makes it even more difficult. She has been to university, and now has finished, and lives away from us, which is right. I still feel she is a part of me, and wonder if this will ever go away, she and I have the same star signs, aries, we are very much alike, and perhaps that is the problem. I cried for 2 hrs last time I saw her, and she went, as I realized this is the end of the child in her, and she has grown into an intelligent young woman. Still I find it hard, when I see her, to want to cuddle her, and soothe her, by saying that everything will be alright. But a mother, has to know when to step back! but it still hurts, its like a bereavement, the baby and child and young adolescant I knew has gone, in its place there stands an intelligent young lady, with her life ahead of her. A life without mom! Yet I am a SENSITIVE, and know this is the time, for the real break, I must not phone her, I must leave her to phone me, she always does, when she wants something! I am happy now for her to be all grown up, its just me, I'm reverting to childhood, and reclaiming my lost youth, and childhood dreams, i through my impending croneship, menopause, am having a last ditch attempt, of finding myself. i have been researching the pre-christian religions these last 2 yrs, and now find myself very much a feminist, and honour the goddess mother, but nowhere find sites for her. Most of the pagan sites, are full of lohng lists of names, to me she is MOTHER, and that is all I need. My mother died when I was 3 yrs old, so I never knew her, so GODDESS MOTHER is important to me. It would be nice to be able to chat monthly to you all, I suffer from extreme pre-menstrual tension, called now PMT or PMS. Here in the UK , I have refused to take any drugs, I've had this now since the birth of my daughters, and just feel aI HAVE to LIVE WITH IT. Now menopause and hot flushes is upon me, I am really looking forward for the menstration to stop, but at 51, i'm still regular... when will it finish?  Oh for that day!! I like to hear words of wisdom from the elderly ancestors, from all over the world, so I will keep your page ear marked. J

Dear J

How well I understand what you describe! I have a 20 year old daughter with whom I am very connected who lives away from me on the other side of the world. It feels very important to grieve the passing of an era just as much as any other bereavement. I have done this as part of the letting go process. I even did a little ritual with her before she left Australia 2 years ago to mark the moment ,to honour the leaving and to give her back to herself.

My sense is with daughters that, despite received wisdom that leaving is final (they have to go, its the end of a way of relating) that they do not leave the mother in the same way as sons do. My friends who have daughters older than mine tell me that they always come back they are not 'gone' for ever. They will still want to come home for cuddles and to crawl into bed. . even when they are mothers themselves. .. . and depending on the degree of communication between you, will share their hopes fears and sorrows..not for us to make it better but as women who needto speak truly of these things. This has certainly been true for us. I totally adore my daughter want for her all the joys of life, want it to be ok want that she doent make the booboos I made in my 20s. And I have to trust she is connected to her self in a way that will help her make clear choices from her own knowing without constant reference to me or any other outside agent. And that she will tell me if she's stuck, hurting or in need. This, I hope is what was able to give her; a sense of her own worth , the validation of the choices she makes. and the trust that she can call in support whenever she wants. As for phoning her, I do it every 3/4 weeks. . just to check in (and because I miss her) and she likes it that I do. Also she knows I need to hear her voice once in a while and she is happy to give me that.

As for menopause.. it comes when it comes. I have not bled for a year now but still feel I am new to the shift in me. It has brought a whole reassessment of myself as woman, MOTHER even, as I have passed out of the catchment of fertility and the capacity to birth. I feel more and more like a mother to the tribe, to all the younger women, not just my own child, and very much feel that we are all in a time on this planet of bringing back in the power of the elders, for they(we) have an important job which they(we) have largely been severed from by inherited cultural attitudes. It used to be held that the later stages of life are almost more important than the earlier. Our society continues to ignore the learning and experience of older people, and many older people have taken on those opinions of worthlessness. This is for us to change in ourselves. and to find that which inspires and informs our lives now our children no longer "need" us.

If you have not come across the following book yet I offer the details in case it may be of value. PASSAGE TO POWER Leslie Kenton.(1995 pb. Ebury Press,London) May well include some herbal suggestion for PMT; certainly covers hot flushes and a whole bunch of info that your doctor probably wouldn't have, including the info on progesterone cream.

Also if you have not read the end of Women who Run with the Wolves I append a passage here.(p 448 my copy)

42-49 age of early crone/finding the far encampment/giving courage to others

49-56 age of the underworld/learning the words and the rites

56-63 age of choice/choosing ones world and the work yet to be done

63-70 age of becoming watchwoman/recasting all one has learnt

......... it continues to 100+ so plenty to go on with! Love.

Hi. Thanks for your web site. I'm hoping you can help me out. My moon cycle is fairly regular. Every 27-30 days, usually every 28... I don't experience cramping, although I've come to relish in the day before my flow starts and I'm at the peak of emotions. Query: My flow lasts for 7-9 days - starts light for a day and turns to heavy for 2-3 days and typically drags on with a medium to light flow to spotting for typically 5 more days. I've taken chaste tree faithfully, red raspberry, tried licorice but my blood pressure went up. My flow seems to drag on and I grow weary.

Is there any way that I can shorten the length of my flow time?

Thanks. K

Dear K

Bleeding patterns are slightly out of my arena but I have consulted with my cauldron sisters and we all basically have agreement on the following.

9 days bleeding is within normal for menstruation patterns, especially if there is no flooding and it is regularly as it is. AND to check/treat the body pattern we would go to a homeopath or acupuncturist as they are excellent ways of balancing the hormones and indeed the whole body.

Please to note that this is our opinion and we are not medical experts, but that we as women have used the skills of homeopaths, acupuncturists and herbalists though our lives as a preferred method of bodysystem checking and balancing.

Good luck and love

I am very confused about what is going on inside me. I am a 48 year old African-American woman, married, with one adult child living with me (in college).

I am experiencing mood swings all the time and tears are falling down my cheeks for no reason. I have gained weight but this is mostly due to my diet. Some of my depression is due to the reality that I have not made some good life decisions about many things. I am in the process of evaluating my marriage, career choices, among other things.

I know that I am approaching this stage in my life and I have a healthy attitude about nearing 50 years of age. I feel that I will be entering the most exciting years of my life. The first years were of learning and testing. These next years will be application of this knowledge that God has granted me. I want to be here to enjoy this passage of my life.

Please let me hear from you. Your response will be most graciously appreciated.


Pre- or peri-menopause is likely to be coming on for many/most women in their late forties, although I have read that the average age is around 53. It can take a few years for the body to make its change-over and may show up differently for each one of us. It sounds very much as though the unravelling of identity that often accompanies the approach to and passage through this doorway is rattling around in your life. Tears may be linked to insight and regret at previous life choices, AND, they are a classic "symptom" of hormone swings,which at 48 is pretty likely to be menopausal.

For me my late forties were a deep learning time about how my diet and attitude supported (or didnt) my physical and emotional body. I found out about herbal teas and started to listen to what my body wanted in order to stay strong. As I learned to support my physical body, so my emotional body was better able to pass things through without exhaustion. I started to take extra vitamins and minerals, particularly Vit C and zinc, and when I could afford it, spirulina , which I find supports my energy levels.

The other learning was to connect with other women and share stories. This has been of inestimable support to me during this time, and continues to help me value myself and my process both in my body and my life. Whatever your preference may be I honour your journey as you approach one of the great life transitions. Together women are reclaiming its import at this time on the planet, and reaffirming the tribal eldership of women who have passed through it.

If you are interested in books that carry information about woman herbs/supplements, or other aspects of the menopausal blood mystery, I can offer some; Or depending on where you live (the US has great bookshops, Australia less so ) you could peruse the shelves in your local bookshop/library. There has in the last years been a huge explosion of inspirational material written by women for women on all aspects of themselves, and more recently, loads of stuff on menopause and its revisioning. I hope this may help.

Love Trinda .. for yOni.

I was given a Wilendorf Goddess amulet 3 years ago by my mother... I have been trying to search the web for more detailed information about her history and significance - to no avail. If you would have any info on a web sight or a good book I could order that has specifics on all of the goddess' of this sort, I would appreciate it if you could pass that along to me. (I live in a very rural, backwards area that doesn't find much use in stocking such items on their shelves!)  Thank you very much for your time and energies!    BB

Dear BB

The Venus of Willendorf (so-called by archeologists who presumed that any worship centred on the female form could only be a cult of sex and fertility) is quite possibly the oldest piece of sculpture extant in the world. Made in limestone, stained with red ochre, she is about 4 in high, just a size to fit snugly into two hands , and dates from c 33,000 BCE (some say 25,000 BCE) The original is housed in Vienna, in the Naturhistorisches Museum, and there is an exact replica in the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge UK. Although she is the oldest piece outstanding, she is sister to other so-called venuses.. The Venus of Lespugue, (made of mammoth ivory) the venuses of Gadarino and Menton (made of stone) and of Dolni (clay). These are all of about the same date, which is pretty daft when you look closely as we're talking of a span of 10,000 years. Point is, these are the ONLY pieces from that time in pre-history. The only things remaining are goddess figurines with abundant bodies and rudimentary heads. All the evidence points to her being central to the lives and minds of all stone age peoples, at a time when religion and life were not held as separate, but totally interwoven, making all of life sacred. The Venus of Willendorf is not a portrait of a person, but a representation of a universal being, who we are calling the Great Goddess. She is the mother of all things. Mother to the stars, the sun, the winds, the trees and all beings on the planet. All things come from her body,( she was originally worshipped in caves deep in the earth like Altamira and the other paleolithic caves full of wondrous paintings) and return to her after they die. Everything emerges from her body and returns to it. She is the origin of all life. This world view was current for a long long while, longer than we can imagine.

We are talking about a period of time that went on for some 22,000 years (plus) Everything we know(learn) as history, has actually only happened within a span of some 5000 years. From the beginning of Ancient Egypt to now; all the inventions of history, agriculture, cities, writing, the wheel, all these have come about within the last 5000 years. Some of these years were still dedicated to the worship of the goddess, in later forms eg Isis, Astarte, Inanna, as she became associated with other aspects of life. And then really recently, the warring Aryans took over and imposed their worship of a dominating ruler god, pushing out worship of the feminine and making women chattels. The Old Testament prophets date from about 1,900BCE (even more recent!)

Related to Venus of Willendorf in size but of a much later date c(3,500 BCE) are the figurines from Malta called The Sleeping Lady and big goddess figures still referred to as Fat Ladies(!) Again the ample proportions are intrinsic to the energy of abundance and fruitfulness, the energy and shape of the earth mother who nurtures and supports us all, whispers in our ears, gives us dreamings. Her shrines too were often under the ground; her temples in Gozo(Malta) are constructed of huge huge stones (like stonehenge) which once were likely covered with turf and closed in. To enter would be akin to re-entering her body. She is featured in the third of the books I mention below.

If you are interested I recommend the following. I can always suggest more if you would like, but to start with...

MERLIN STONE When God was a Woman 1979 Harcourt Brace

LANIER GRAHAM Goddesses. 1997 Abbeville Press. This last comes in two sizes; I have the little one A TINY FOLIO and there is also a hardcover version

Also ELEANOR P GADON Once and Future Goddess 1989 Harper San Fran

These books can be mail ordered on-line through yOni has an arrangement with whereby we gain a small commission for books that we recommend. It would be great if you use the links above to check out the books if you are interested in buying them as that will support us too. Also check out the other books we recommend at

Also there is an Internet history of the goddess at

This may give you more than you wanted but will put your amulet in a wider context

Love Trinda .. for yOni


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