The Unashamed Vulva

Drawing of fish, as womb of Goddess on Early Archaic Vase 700-675 BC (the swastika or whirls is an ancient symbol found in many cultures around the world. Although now mostly known as a symbol of the Nazi’s, in this context it is a symbol of the “triumph of life”)

“I’d love to hand these out at the Women’s March on Washington next January” Nancy, my chiropractor,  said to me when I showed her a picture of my Flying Vulva.

She was as excited about it as I was.  I left her office  feeling better, and not just because my back was pain-free.   When I got back to my car,  I saw the message from Jon.  “Call me” it said, he too was excited about something.

Someone had suggested to him the idea that the Jesus Fish, the symbol of Christianity, was originally a Goddess symbol of fertility, the Vagina.

Jesus Fish

Of course, I thought, picturing the fish I’ve seen mostly on the backs of cars.  Standing on its tail, that fish is the shape of a vagina.

I read the article “Vagina Power and the History of Christian Symbols” that Jon sent me.  (He was so excited about it, he wrote about it too, you can read that here). It reaffirmed what I had read  and heard many times before,  the first time in my Art History Classes.

The early Christians took the symbols of the pagan cultures that came before them and gave them new meaning to fit their needs and beliefs.  It makes sense.  They were trying to convert people who had worshiped the Goddess and her religion of fertility and rebirth,   into believing that a male God was the creator of life.

That’s not an easy thing to do when all evidence proves otherwise.

People still had the Virgin Mary to worship, but she had been stripped of her life creating powers as a woman, as her name implies.

So I was thinking about the Goddess and the fish, and an image from my Language of the Goddess book by Marija Gimbutas, the well know archeologist and historian,  came to mind.  I leafed though the book by there she was.

A reproduction of The Goddess with the fish as womb depicted on an ancient vase.

Water was one of the first images drawn on pottery and figures.  It represents birth and life.  The zig-zag was a symbol of this, but so were  fish and waterbirds.  Some of these images go back 30,000 years.

Minoan sarcophagi with “fish/uterus motif”.  c. 1100 BC

Once I thought about it, the fish symbol, like the spiral, was all over ancient art.

Gimbutas refers to it as the fish/uterus symbol.  In earlier times there is actually a Fish Goddess, but over the centuries the fish became interchangeable with the uterus and life-giving fluids.

Then along come the Christians who flip the “fish” on its side, taking away its visual connection to the vagina.  It’s still recognizable enough at first,  but over time its true meaning of the Goddess and her life-giving force is lost.

So the woman’s body, which was once seen as sacred and was worshiped, becomes something base, something to be ashamed of in the Christian religion.  Women lose their power to a God who creates man in his own image and women become an evil temptation.

This, all of this, is why my Flying Vulva is such an important symbol to me.

It’s part of reclaiming that Goddess power, for all women,  that’s been lost for so long.  Personally,  it’s about me finding my voice in images and words and speaking my truth.

It’s about taking back the fish.

Standing her back on her tail and giving her wings to spread her new message of women’s freedom, strength and power.

My Flying Vulva





10 thoughts on “The Unashamed Vulva

  1. Dear Maria,
    I can’t fully express how much this whole process and series of
    posts mean to me. Healing and uplifting are words that come
    close. The Vagina Monologues has a similar effect on me. You
    are continuing that healing work. It’s all been a surprising and
    delightful gift. Thank you, thank you.

  2. Oh Maria, this is marvellous to learn! Your instinct was right. I’m laughing though because this makes me want to go out and turn all those fish on the back of cars on their ends where they belong! LOL

  3. I am enthralled! I wonder if you would also consider having your flying vulva design made into embroidered patches that can be sewn onto backpacks, jackets, etc.? (A Girl Scout badge we’ve all earned!)

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