We Have Always Had Needs

Recently, I stumbled across an article entitled “12th-Century Poem About A Virgin Arguing With Her Vulva Uncovered in Austrian Monastery”. I ask you, how could one not be intrigued? I had to read more.

It seems that this is the oldest known copy of this satire, but it is not the only one that has been found. In it, a woman is debating with her vulva about what attracts men more, it, or the woman’s general physical appearance. (I don’t think that question has been answered definitively, even all these centuries later.)

What fascinates me most about this poem is that there was obviously a frank discussion about sexuality even back in the 12th Century. We seem to hold two contradicting notions in our head: Ancient peoples were devoid of morals and self-control, whereas we are more sophisticated (read: prudish) now. But at the same time, we look back at past history, at least in the European, Christian sense, and tend to believe that humans have become more open, less conservative, over time. Clearly neither theory tells the whole story.

I also remember reading an article (which I can no longer find) about a wooden dildo that was found hidden up inside a fireplace niche in Colonial Williamsburg. Well, the “hidden” aspect of it implies there was a source of shame there, but its existence confirms that people have always had needs, and were willing to get creative to fulfill them.

If you look at art through the centuries, you’ll see that there has always been a fascination with genitalia. Most historians nervously attribute these things to fertility, the need to procreate, and take the sexuality out of it.

Hmph.

According to this article, sex toys have been found that date back 28,000 years. So who’s to say that fertility statues weren’t also used for pleasure and visual titillation? I mean, come on. Most of us appreciate a little stimulation now and again. Do we really think pornography originated in the 1900’s? Do we think the more artistic depictions of all things taboo began with Georgia O’Keefe?

We also seem to want to quash the fact that once upon a time, women were considered powerful by more than just those of us who are woke. (Women can create men inside their own bodies. The reverse cannot ever be claimed. That’s magical.)

This article discusses a variety of artistic depictions of female genitalia, including sculptures of the sacred yoni in Hindu art, Venus figurines that are at least 35,000 years old, and Sheela-na-gig carvings of women with exaggerated vulvas that are found throughout Europe.

Further, Baubo figurines were popular in ancient Greece. They were often depicted as a naked headless body with a female face emerging from the torso, and a vulva on the chin. Hmmm.

In the Palauan archipelago, one could often find Dilukai, or carvings of women with their legs splayed open, above the doors of the houses of the chiefs. These were said to be sacred carvings to ward off evil, and symbolize fertility and spiritual rebirth. But missionaries tried to claim they were there to shame immoral women. (I suspect that what went on in the chief’s house had little to do with lessons in morality.)

It is even said that the Vesica Piscis, an almond-shaped symbol that appears all over the place throughout history, including in the ancient Christian fish symbol, is actually a depiction of the female vaginal source of creation.

Personally, I see no reason to cast shame upon those who believe in the sacred female, nor should we feel shame about the body parts that have allowed all of us to walk upon this earth, nor in the urges that have caused us to make use of said body parts. More power to us all.

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A 12th-century Sheela Na Gig on a Church in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England

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11 thoughts on “We Have Always Had Needs

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    When I see the vesica symbol, I always think 1] cat’s eye, 2] football, 3] willow leaf, 4] Eye of Sauron, 5] interference pattern, 6] vibrating string, 7] Venn diagram. To me it’s the mind’s creative powers that are sacred, if anything is; any animal can breed, but not so many can consciously create.
    No one should be ashamed, of course, of anything they did not choose to be born with or without. But I’ve been so sick of the Fraudian contingent, finding that sort of symbolism in all sorts of unlikely places, ever since I ran onto it as a teen. O’ Keefe’s work is splendid but not sexual to me.
    Must go, Bellingham errands await.

  2. LYN

    Totally agree with Angiportus about O’Keeffe’s flowers which she denied were sexual in nature. That idea was created by her husband whose opinion, being a famous male photographer, was credited over the actual female artists’ spoken truth. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/mar/01/georgia-okeeffe-show-at-tate-modern-to-challenge-outdated-views-of-artist
    It’s also time that Freud’s outdated theories, skewed by his personal perspective, are dropped.

    Vesica symbol for me= almonds, a really versatile tasty food. 🙂

      1. LYN

        When I did a science fair project on floral reproduction I never related it to human sexual reproduction because I didn’t see a pleasure factor for flowers. Consider that while a floral scents function is to attract the right pollinators to complete fertilization, it also attracts humans who pick them for perfumes, decoration and stamens (saffron), which shortens their lives and kills the reproductive process. All that and the poor flowers don’t even get an orgasm. If we equate the human and floral sexual reproductive processes, wouldn’t the pollinators (bees, butterflies, humans etc…) be a third party in a threesome? And would botanists pollinating multiple plants at once be hosting an orgy? 🙂 Sorry Barb, recovering from a bout of vertigo and it’s tweaked my sass.
        Seriously, did you know they think humans can pollinate more efficiently and cheaper then bees? Can’t we leave anything up to nature anymore?

  3. LYN

    Can only imagine the kinds of ad’s/offers your search history, on this subject, generated. Will you be enlightening us on artistic depictions of male genitalia and their meanings as well?
    I’m suddenly hungry for an almond/banana/coconut sundae topped with whip cream and a cherry. 🙂

  4. Angiportus Librarysaver

    Lyn, thanks for confirming what I had suspected about O’Keefe. There’s a fellow name of Frederick Crews who I believe did a very nice job of blowing the Fraudian mythos out of the water. This was after I had made couch-stuffing out of a college counselor who tried that sort of interpretation on a story I wrote. At least he managed to keep quiet about bridges that lift. That might be because they can do this several times in an hour, and they never get soft. And there’s a nice big gap there too…
    Agree on the almonds, though I have gotten some pistachios and cashews from the Grocery Outlet–quick protein that needs no cooking for these hot days.
    Methinks I read that the father’s sperm determines the sex of the baby. If that’s so, men have potential girls inside them.
    The mystification of what used to be called private parts could use a lot more examination. Its modern forms are as pernicious as the ancient or primitive taboos could get at times–the former including mutilation of the young of both sexes, treatment of women as more unclean or spooky than sacred, to the extent you wonder any fellow ever got it up–nowadays, women are told they smell worse than men and this has to be constantly addressed with stuff you have to buy; and while big penises are praised, big vaginas are despised–I think the latter came about simply because men got jealous that women could contract or expand the interior at will while men could not do much about their own size. But some others will have to take this on. I must say that Barb provides us stuff to think about.

    1. LYN

      Your welcome Angiportus. O’Keeffe is a favorite for more than her flowers.
      Read Passions of the Mind when it first came out, as I was interested in psychology. That book had me questioning the stability of Freud’s theories. Glad Crews exposed the flaws and main stream psychology moved on from them but some lay people still subscribe unfortunately.
      Cashews and pistachios…you can’t go wrong.
      Hey Barb, Angiportus threw in some bridge porn for you… 🙂

  5. Angiportus Librarysaver

    Another possible riposte being, “The horn blows, does the driver?” BTW, the vesica symbol also evokes a boat.

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