The Goma Fire Ritual

Japanese name for the ancient Vedic fire ritual still practiced in contemporary Shingon, one of Japans largest schools of Esoteric (Tantric) Buddhism.

From the very beginnings of human history, once fire was discovered and/or harnessed, it has been carefully guarded - and its use or creation has been surrounded by very fixed rituals that were hardly ever allowed to be altered ... fire was simply all too important to be played with.

In the absence of scriptural evidence, we cannot really know who invented what exactly and when, but in the case of the Shingon fire ritual known as goma, we can see how a tradition can be kept alive for at least 3.600 years (age of the Vedas) - and probably longer.

In his well researched book The Tantric Ritual of Japan, Richard K. Payne reports that his education/initiation to become a Shingon priest included a fire ritual during which the practitioner visualizes himself as sitting between the spread thighs of the goddess, looking at her yoni while he starts the sacrificial fire.

In itself, this is no real surprise - given Shingon’s roots in Indian Tantra and considering the sexual nature of the teachings found in some of Shingon’s sub-divisions - but Payne also provides us with a variety of ancient Indian quotes that show clearly that Vedic priests (certainly no Tantrics) have done the very same for centuries. The first quote recounts what the Vedic creator god Prajapati did upon creating the first woman:

Having created her, he worshipped her sexual organ;
Therefore a woman’s yoni should be worshipped.
He stretched forth from himself a stone for pressing the nectar
[i.e. his erection causies her fluids to flow]
And impregnated her with that.

Brihad Aranyika Upanishad, VI

Her lower part is the sacrificial altar,
her hair the sacrificial grass,
her skin the soma-press.
The lips of her yoni are the fire in the middle.
Many mortals go forth from this world without merit,
namely those who practice sexual union without knowing this.

Brihad Aranyika Upanishad, VI

The priest performs the rites, himself seated to the west of the Yoni and his head turned to the east.
Agni Purana

In other words, invisible and unknown to outsiders and bystanders, the goddess and her yoni is the central focus of the proceedings when male priests kindle the sacrificial fire.

Even though many Indians - outside the Brahmin caste (priesthood) - may not know about this practice of yoni visualization, the intrinsic connection between yoni and fire IS known to many. When a married woman has made love to another man, the husband may accuse the other lover with the words You have sacrificed in my fire!