yOni shields

by leslie Olin


Denied speaks of a barrier from things unknown, unknowable, fear resulting in self imposed isolation. There are times when distance is necessary.


The yOni shield series tells a very personal story which began when I lived in France in 1993. A solitary point in my life when I read a good deal, especially at night. During visits to Paris I purchased the books I could find in English, which I carried back to the south. One of them was 'Possessing the Secret of Joy' by Alice Walker.

This book changed me, my female voice forever. The story carved a sliver into my soul and nestled there darkly until a light ignited a spark. At that time the spark brought tears, anger and rage. It is a story of a woman who travels a painful journey, who was a witness, a willing victim and a murderer.


Once, to prove her worthiness, she embraced a sacrifice so great it cost her, her soul. The sacrifice was the removal of her womanhood. The ritual initiation performed on girls of the Olinka tribe in Africa. There is no gentle or safe way to explain. The clitoris is excised; often the entire external area of the vulva is cut away. The area is then stitched closed almost entirely until the time when her husband opens her on their wedding night. It is not done in a hospital or other sanitary condition; therefore, infection and sometimes death ensue.


When I returned to Boston I started work on a series of paper castings. They began by exploring aspects of an inner journey. They examined dimensions of womanhood, the cycles of fertility and expressions of sexuality. A dialogue spoken with light, texture, density and emotion.


The personal associations and ancient spiritual powers drew my curiosity to explore shields, their function and ritual mysticism. Flight of the Seventh Moon - The Teaching of the Shields, by Lynn V. Andrew, tells a story of the Native American Women of the Seneca Nation, and how the women from this tribe are saving the making of shields from extinction. I took from this reading that indeed the Yoni Shields spoke of a power that accompanies my journey.




Hindu: The Sanskrit term Jagad-Yoni was often translated as "womb of the world". The yoni symbol was seen as the seat of female sexual power and the source of all creative action. It was often described as a "gateway".

The Yantra of the Yoni represents the pelvic area of a woman's body and many philosophical concepts centering on this reality; creation, birth, love, motherhood, sexual attraction, fulfillment, cyclic time, kundalini force, the mystery of conception, and the Goddess within.

Pagan: Feminine creative force. The Mother spirit that gave birth to the world of the gods.

Asiatic: Lotus - The primary symbol of the cosmic yoni from which all life arose.

Irish: Shiela Na Gig - Female figures displaying a yoni were common ornaments of Irish churches built prior to the 16th century. These ornaments were a sign of protection.


Leslie Olin




Exposed was created from the sternum of a deer which symbolizes the center of the soul. A place that feels deeply the ache of loneliness, the madness and passion of love, the sound of silence, of peace.



Earth is a simpler form using more organic matter such as moss and lichen. It is a crevasse, a secret dark place smelling of the earth and itís secrets. It represents a path back towards the simplicity of nature and its forms.


Germination uses the vertebra of the deer, which symbolizes a woman's pelvis. Above an area representing a womb contains a material which represents vestiges of blood or tissue. Not yet a recognizable form. An idea, feeling, desire and physiological need.



Voice inside my head, inside my heart, moving my hands to explore and see. Hear and create. An ancient entity emerges, speaking through the skull of a turtle. Small sacred items, easily overlooked by the bustle of masses, they find places in my work. Shelter, a purpose.


Out of the Fire

Out of the Fire is the yoni form taking leave of the confines of the mold. It is a free form design, which survived, and was enhanced through the destruction of fire. It incorporates matter from earth, the lichen and cactus skeleton.




Potential and Hope show a subtle flirtation with the future. Fertility and opportunity whispered to me, the world was my oyster. Fulfilling a dream, which is often simply found in the shade of a tree, a nest or seed. Elusive elements that are born of fragility.


All work is copy written by the artist. No image or text may be reproduced without express permission of the artist.


Commission your own yOni sheild

Leslie will create Individual yOni shields on commission.
Similar themes to those shown above can be used or the imagery customized
to embrace your particular requirements.

Prices range from US$100 (using simple materials) to US$150
(using more exotic and harder to find materials)

To order - see the yOni goodies catalogue or email us directly



Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker

Flight of the Seventh Moon, The Teachings of the Shields, Lynn V. Andrew

The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, Barbara .G. Walker



video seminar on female arousal
the yOni bookshelf Goddess Gifts

yOni now blogging at cliterallyspeaking.blogspot.com


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