Symbols - What does heaven look like
Lingum and yoni
The Lingam ( liṅgaṃ, also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, or symbol ) is an abstract representation of the cosmic egg in Shaivistic mysticism.
The repressed western traveller aching for titillation and having heard about Tantric sex, is often told it is a phallus and vulva. And indeed at the very basic level the union of masculine and feminine, conscious and subconscious is indeed part of the symbolism, but the lingam is not a phallus and the cup shaped depression in which its stands - called the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally "origin" or "source" or "womb") is not the vulva.
The symbolism is the same as that found in stupas and in Southern Indian temples. It is also that found in cup and ring marks, although the Egg has long since disappeared from these.
The easiest way to understand the symbolism is to see how a mandala is created, so please follow the link to the section on the mandala.