Thomas Love Peacock.

Phallism: a description of the worship of lingam-yoni in various parts of the world, and in different ages: online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryThomas Love PeacockPhallism: a description of the worship of lingam-yoni in various parts of the world, and in different ages: → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

BL460 ,P536

Phallism: a description of the worship of
lingam-yoni in various parts of the world, i
different ages:





Ancient & Modern Crosses


Crux Ansata


Sex Worship





'J^'HE subject described and illustrated in the
following pages, though spri?iging from a com-
mon source, has naturally many branches, and assumes
a number of somewhat complicated forms ; in order,
however, to keep the volume within its intended limits,
care has been taken not to digress from the main topic,
or stray in any way from the matter indicated by
the title.

It may perhaps occur to a casual observer, that
Phallism is a topic wanting in sufficient interest to
make it worthy of any amount of consideration or
study, it is hoped that the extraordinary facts here
narrated, the extensive and tenacious hold this wor-
ship had and still has upon multitudes in various
parts of the world, and the mysterious objects supposed
to be connected with it, meeting us in all directions,
will speedily dissipate such an idea. A subject whicli
reaches from the earliest dawn of history through
long and eventful ages, down to the most modern
times, and touches almost every kingdom of the past
and present, in the four quarters of the earth, and
which is so closely interwoven with the moral, social,
and religious life of the vast British dominions in
the East, must have an interest peculiarly its own.


Still further, the discovery of the sites of ancient
kingdoms, mid the unearthing of long buried statues,
monuments, and mystifying inscriptions, has suggested
and provoked new lines of study amongst symbolical
remains, and the key to so much that for long was
unreadable, has been found in the singular revelations
of this peculiar worship.

It is not pretended that such a treatise is of a
nature which -would iwider it suitable for the iiispec-
tion of all ages and classes, there are numberless
things constantly occurring about us which are wisely
concealed from the young and inexperienced, but which
it is necessaiy men of mature judgments should be
acquainted with, but it zvill for the most part, be
found after all, not so 7iecessai'ily indelicate as some
suppose, if properly viewed in connection with its own
times and circumstances. That licentiousness and
grossness have been intimately associated with it at
certain times and in certain places, is undeniable, but
there are facts in history which the faitliful chronicler
is bound to exhibit and narrate as far as possible in
a manner consistent with the more refined and polished
manners of the age. In such style we have endeavoured
to tell our story and in commending its strange revela-
tions to our readers, we can only remind them of
the old and familiar motto, "Evil be to him that
evil thinks."



Chapter I. — Nature and Origin of the subject 1

Peculiarity of the subject.

Definition of Phallic Worship.

The Phallaphoroi.

Antiquity of Phallic Worship.

The Primitive Oath.

Pegasus and the Statues of Bacchus.

Sheevah and Prakreety, a Legend.

Feast of the Funeral Pile.

Lueian and the Syrian Goddess.

Common Origin of Pagan Beliefs.

Pagan Rites involved in obscurity.

Phallic Objects in Dahome.

Development of Phallism.

Innocent Origins.

Extravagances connected with Phallic Worship.

Superstitious Usages in England.

Cleft Trees and Physical Infirmities.

Chapter II. — Phallism in Various Lands 19

Variations of Detail.

The Egyptian Khem.

Growing Coarseness of the Egyptian Idea.

Swearing by the Phallus.

Welsh Customs.

The Hermaphroditic Element.

Expressive Character of the Phallus.

Phallic Emblems in Modern Times.

Herodotus and the Bacchic Orgies.

Priapus in Rome and Greece.

Maachah, a Worshipper of Priapus.


Horace's Satire on Priapus.

Excesses during the Worship of Priapus.
Roman Priapus derived from the Egyptians.
Catullus on the Worship of Priapus.
Various Priapian Forms.
Phallism in Various Countries.
St. Augustine.
St. Foutin and Priapus.
French Phallism.
Neapolitan Festivals.
Maypoles in India and England.

Chapter III. — India 34

Phallic Worshippers of the East.

Linga Described.

Caves of Elephanta.

Lucian and the Temple at Hierapolis.

Small Linga.

Ceremony of Linga-puja.

Woman at Worship described.

Hindu Desire for Children.

The Temple of Nuptials.

Reproach attached to Barren Women.

Story of Shravana and Dasaratha.

The Twelve Lingas.

Distinction between Linga and Yoni.


Veneration for Stones.

Story of Polluted Brahmans.

Brachmans and Fire Production.

Feuds between the Linga and Yoni Worshippers.

Legend of Sarti and Parvati.

Chapter IV. — India, continued 54

Legend concerning Mahadeva.

Diodorns Siculus on Osiris.

Ptolemy Philadelphia.

The Vaislmavas.

Hindu Sects.

Worship of Female Generative Principle.



The Fakirs and the Hindu Women.
Hold of Phallism on the Hindu Mind.
Origin of Phallic Worship in India.
Hindu Prayer.

Chapter V. — India, continued 67

Indian and Egyptian Worship compared.

Hindu Soldiers in Egypt.

Bruhm Atma, the Breathing Soul.

Growth of Hindu Religion.

Worship of Siva.


The Lingayets.

Characters of Hindu Emblems and Ornaments.

Favourable View of Hindu Emblems.

Charge of Indecency against Hinduism.

Chapter VI. — Crosses and the Crux-Ansata.

Erroneous Notions about the Cross.

Pagan Origin of the Cross.

History from Monuments and Tombs.

Unchanging Character of the Cross.

Real Origin of the Cross.

The Cross in Ancient America.

The City of the Moon.

The Maltese Cross in Pre-Christian Times.

Danish and Indian Crosses.

Ancient British Crosses.

A Fallacy by Higgins.

True Origin of the Christian Cross

The Crux-Ansata described.

Antiquity of the same.

Suggested Meaning of the Crux-Ansata.

The Key of the Nile.

Supposed Phallic Origin.

Nile-Key Theory examined.

The Cross in Ancient Scriptural Times.

The Crux-Ansata the Symbol of Symbols.

The Crux-Ansata a Religious Symbol.



Chapter VII.— The Hebrews and Phallism 95

Solomon and the Heathen Gods.

Old Testament Characters.

Worship of Groves.

Consecrated Pillars.

Jacob's Pillar at Bethel.

Worship of the Phallus.

Asherah and the Grove.


Jewish Lingham.

Iniquity of Solomon.

Worship of Baal.

St. Jerome on Baal-peor.

Jewish Opinion of Baal-peor.

Maachah's Idol.



Nature and origin of the subject — Peculiarity of the subject —
Definition of Phallic Worship — Phallaphoroi — Antiquity of
Phallic Worship — The Primitive Oath — Pegasus and the
Statues of Bacchus — Sheevah and Prakreety, a Legend — Feast
of the Funeral Pile — Lucian and the Syrian Goddess —
Common Origin of Pagan beliefs — Pagan Rites involved in
obscurity — Phallic Objects in Dahome — Development of
Phallism — Innocent Origins — Extravagances connected with
Phallism — Superstitious usages in England — Cleft Trees and
Physical Infirmities.

THE subject before us is of so remarkable a character, and so
surrounded with the mystical and the unlikely, that, but
for an abundance of incontrovertible facts supported by the
investigations of accurate observers, and an almost unlimited
number of ancient monuments and emblems, we should be dis-
posed to put it aside as too mythical and uncertain to be worth
our serious attention. Whatever we may think of it, however,
whatever may be the mystery surrounding its origin, and what-
ever the extravagances of the views of development theorists,
who have professed to discern in it the germs of even the highest
forms cf modern worship, it is a fact beyond contradiction that
it has prevailed and still prevails to a very large extent in certain
parts of the world, and must be regarded as the most ancient
form of natural religion known.

By phallic worship we mean the adoration of the generative
organs as symbols of the creative powers of nature. The word
is a Greek one (Phallos), and is interpreted as representing the


membrum virile, especially a figure thereof which was carried in
procession in the Bacchic orgies, as an emblem of the generative
power in nature. Other and kindred words found in the same
language refer variously to a similar thing, thus : — Phallcphoria,
a festival of Bacchus in which a phallus was carried in proces-
sion ; Phallikos, belonging to the phallic festivals ; Phallobates,
a phallic priest ; and Ithyphalloi, men disguised as women, who
followed immediately behind the phallus in the Greek processions
of the Dionysia. Then we get Phallaphoroi, a name given at
Sicyon to 1 certain mimes whoi ran about the streets smutted with
black and clothed in sheepskins, bearing baskets full of various
herbs — as violet, ivy, &c. — and bearing the phallus made of red
leather. The word is from P hallos, a pole at the end of which
was fastened the figure of a human penis, and Phero, I bear.

Two things chiefly impress themselves upon our attention in
this study : the great antiquity of phallic worship, and the
extensive degree in which it has for ages prevailed in certain
parts of the world, especially in India.

With regard to its antiquity, it is impossible to assign any date
with certainty respecting its origin and rise. Some do not
hesitate to describe it as the most ancient form of faith that we
know of ; and as a system of natural religion, probably, as we
have already said, that is true. Richard Gough, in his Com-
parative View of the Ancient Monuments of India (London,
1785), said : — " Those who have penetrated into the abstruseness
of Indian Mythology find that in these temples was practised a
worship similar to that practised by all the several nations of the
world, in their earliest as well as their most enlightened periods.
It was paid to the phallus by the Asiatics; to Priapus by the
Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans ; to Baal-Peor by the Canaanites
and idolatrous Jews. The figure is seen on the fascia which
runs round the circus of Nismes, and over the portal of the


cathedral of Toulouse and several churches of Bordeaux. M.
d'Ancarville has written two> large quarto volumes to prove
phallic worship to be the most ancient idea of the deity. This
latter writer, indeed, along with others who have dealt with the
subject, affirmed that the death and deification of Brama, called
the " Gracious One," or " Prince of Peace," " Siva," or " Maha-
deva," took place 3553 B.C. Forlong, in his Rivers of Life,
endeavours again and again to< show that phallic worship is far
more ancient than any other religion known ; and he says in one
place (Vol. 2, page 38): — "The earliest instance I know of
phallic worship or reverence, or at all events of phallic drawings,
is that mentioned in the Moniteur of January, 1865. There it
is related that in the province of Venetia, Italy, in a bone cave
beneath ten feet of stalagmite, and amidst post-tertiary remains,
beside a bone needle, was found a rude drawing of a phallus,
scratched on a plate of an argillaceous compound, surely a very
primeval idea of the Linga-in-Argha."

In harmony with the difficulty of fixing upon dates is the
further difficulty of tracing the origin of this kind of worship.
Dr. Ginsburg, in the article " Oath " in Kitto's Cyclopedia, finds
reverence for the phallus, if not worship, in primitive customs as
old as the time of Abraham. He says: — "'Another primitive
•custom which obtained in the patriarchal age was that the one
who took the oath ' put his hand under the thigh ' of the adjurer
(Gen. 24, 2, 47, 29). This practice evidently arose from the fact
that the genital member, which is meant by the euphemic expres-
sion, ' thigh,' was regarded as the most sacred part of the body,
being the symbol of union in the tenderest relation of matri-
monial life, and the seat whence all issue proceeds, and the
perpetuity so> much coveted by the ancients (comp. Gen. 46, 26 ;
Exod. 1, 5 ; Judges, 8, 30). Hence this creative organ became
the symbol of the Creator, and the object of worship among all


nations of antiquity ; and it is for this reason that God claimed
it as the sign of the covenant between Himself and His chosen
people in the rite of circumcision. Nothing, therefore, could
render the oath more solemn in those days than touching the
symbol of creation, the sign of the covenant, and the source of
that issue who may, at any future period, avenge the breaking of
a compact made with their progenitor."

One account of the origin of the phallica, or feasts and sacri-
fices celebrated at Athens in honour of Bacchus (gathered chiefly
from Aristophanes) is to the effect that one Pegasus, a native of
Cleutheris, in Bceotia, having brought to Athens some statues of
Bacchus, was treated by the Athenians with the utmost contempt
and ridicule. The deity, indignant at the insult, in revenge sent
among them an epidemic disease, which attacked them in their
private organs. On consulting the oracle upon the best method
of preventing the further extension of so grievous a malady, they
were recommended publicly to receive Bacchus into their city irt
all the pomp of his worship. The oracle was obeyed, and amidst
other splendid trophies, to appease the incensed divinity, were
displayed thyrsi, with the figures of the parts affected bound to
the end of them. M. Boehart, and Bishop Patrick in his com-
mentary on I. Samuel, 5 and 6, curtly pronounce this story to> be
a forgery from a passage in the latter book, Avhere the Philistines,,
having taken and violated the Ark of the God of Israel, are
smitten with emerods, a distemper concerning the exact nature
of which the commentators are not fully agreed, but which has
been supposed to- be of the same nature with that before
mentioned. On inquiry of the priests with what trespass-offering;
the God of Israel might be appeased, they were directed, among
other things, to prepare five golden emerods, according to the
number of the principal cities of Philistia, and dedicate them to
the God of Israel ; which mandate when they had obeyed, the-


distemper ceased to make further ravages among them. There
is great similarity in these two accounts, it is true, but that by-
no means implies that there has been a forgery, as it is well
known that the ancient heathen consecrated to their gods such
memorials of their deliverance as best represented the evils from
which they were liberated, and it is a custom to this day for the
pilgrim, when he goes to a pagoda for the cure of any disease, to
bring the figure of the member affected, made either of gold,
silver, or copper, according to his rank and ability, as an offering
to the god.*

There is a Hindoo legend which explains the matter as follows,
and which some regard as similar to the above : — Certain devo-
tees in a remote time had acquired great renown and respect, but
the purity of the heart was wanting ; nor did their motives and
secret thoughts correspond with their professions and exterior
conduct. They affected poverty, but were attached to the things
of this world; and the princes and nobles were constantly
sending them offerings. They seemed to sequester themselves
from the world, they lived retired from the towns, but their
dwellings were commodious and their women numerous and
handsome. But nothing can be hid from the gods, and Sheevah
resolved to expose them to shame. He desired Prakreety
(Nature) to accompany him, and assumed the appearance of a
Pandaram of a graceful form. Prakreety appeared as a damsel
of matchless beauty. She went where the devotees were assem-
bled with their disciples, waiting the rising sun to perform their
ablutions and religious ceremonies. As she advanced, the
refreshing breeze, moving her flowing robe, showed the exquisite
shape which it seemed intended to conceal. With eyes cast
down, though sometimes opening with a timid but a tender look,
she approached them, and with a low enchanting voice desired to

* Tavern ier. — Voyage aux Indes.


be admitted to the sacrifice. The devotees gazed on her with
astonishment. The sun appeared, but the purifications were
forgotten ; the things for the Pooja lay neglected ; nor was any
worship thought of but that to her. Quitting the gravity of
their manners, they gathered round her as the flies round the
lamp at night, attracted by its splendour but consumed by its
flame. They asked from, whence she came, whither she was
going. " Be not offended with us for approaching thee, forgive
us for our importunities. But thou art incapable of anger, thou
who art made to convey bliss ; to thee, who mayest kill by
indifference, indignation and resentment are unknown. But
whoever thou mayest be, whatever motive or accident may have
brought thee amongst us, admit us into the number of thy
slaves, let us at least have the comfort to behold thee."

Here the words faltered on the lip, the soul seemed ready to
take its flight; the vow was forgotten, and the policy of years
was destroyed.

Whilst the devotees were lost in their passions and absent
from their homes, Sheevah entered their village with a musical
instrument in his hand, playing and singing like some of those
who solicit charity. At the sound of his voice the women
immediately quitted their occupations, they ran to> see from
whence it came. He was beautiful as Krishen (the Apollo of
the Hindoos) on the plains of Matra. Some dropped their jewels
without turning to look for them ; others let fall their garments,
without perceiving that they discovered those abodes of pleasure
which jealousy, as well as decency, has ordered to- be concealed.
All pressed forward with their offerings, all wished to> speak, all
wished to be taken notice of, and bringing flowers and scattering
them before him, said : — " Askest thou alms, thou who art made
to govern hearts? Thou whose countenance is fresh as the
morning, whose voice is the voice of pleasure, and thy breath


like that of Vassant (Spring) in the opening rose ! Stay with us
and we will serve thee, nor will we trouble thy repose, but only
be jealous how to please thee ! "

The Pandaram continued to play, and sung the loves of Kama,
of Krishen, and the Gopia; and smiling the gentle smiles of fond
desire he led them to a neighbouring grove that was consecrated
to pleasure and retirement. Soav (the sun) began to gild the
western mountains, nor were they offended at the retiring day.

But the desire of repose succeeds the waste of pleasure. Sleep
closed the eyes, and lulled the senses. In the morning the
Pandaram was gone. When they awoke they looked round with
astonishment, and again cast their eyes upon the ground. Some
directed their looks to> those who had been formerly remarked for
their scrupulous manners, but their faces were covered with their
veils. After sitting awhile in silence they arose, and went back
to their houses with slow and troubled steps. The devotees
returned about the same time from their wanderings after
Prakreety. The days that followed were days of embarrassment
and shame. If the women had failed in their modesty the devo-
tees had broken their vows. They were vexed at their weakness,
they were sorry for what they had done; yet the tender sigh
sometimes broke forth, and the eye often turned to where the
men first saw the maid, the women the Pandaram.

But the people began to perceive that what the devotees fore-
told came not to pass. Their disciples, in consequence, neglected
to attend them, and the offerings from the princes and the nobles
became less frequent than before. They then performed various
penances ; they sought for secret places among the woods, unfre-
quented by man ; and having at last shut their eyes from the
things of this world, and retired within themselves in deep medi-
tation, they discovered that Sheevah was the author of their
misfortunes. Their understanding being imperfect, instead of


bowing the head with humility they were inflamed with anger ;
instead of contrition for their hypocrisy they sought for ven-
geance. They performed new sacrifices and incantations, which
were only allowed to have effect in the end to show the extreme
folly of man in not submitting to the will of heaven. Their
incantations produced a tiger, whose mouth was like a cavern,
and his voice like thunder among the mountains. They sent
him against Sheevah, who, with Prakreety, was amusing himself
in the vale. He smiled at their weakness, and killing the tiger
at one blow with his club, he covered himself with his skin.
Seeing themselves frustrated in this attempt the devotees had
recourse to another, and sent serpents against them of the most
deadly kind. But on approaching him they became harmless,
and he twisted them round his neck. They then sent their
curses and imprecations against him, but they all recoiled upon
themselves. Not yet disheartened by all these disappointments,
they collected all their prayers, their penances, their charities,
and other good works, the most acceptable of all sacrifices, and
demanding in return only vengeance against Sheevah, they sent
a consuming fire to destroy his genital parts. Sheevah, incensed
at this attempt, turned the fire with indignation against the
human race, and mankind would soon have been destroyed, had
not Vishnu, alarmed at the danger, implored him to suspend his
wrath. At his entreaties Sheevah relented. But it was ordained
that in his temples those parts should be worshipped which the
false devotees had impiously attempted to destroy.

The author of Indian Antiquities observes: — "Possibly in
Syria is to be found the genuine origin both of the Indian and
Egyptian phallic worship."

Lucian's tract on the Syrian Goddess is regarded by scholars
as of particular value in matters belonging to the religions of the
ancients, as it contains an accurate detail of the superstitious
rites celebrated in the most remote periods and in the most


renowned pagan temples in the world. In the course of it he
informs us that the grandest and most solemn feast observed by
the ancient Syrians was known as " The Funeral Pile," or " The
Torch " (some translate it " The Feast of Fire.") It was cele-
brated at Hierapolis at the commencement of the vernal season,
and the sacrifices were of the most extravagant description.
Everything was on a scale of the greatest magnitude and
splendour, multitudes flocking from all parts of the adjacent
countries, bringing their gods with them, to heighten the grandeur
of the festival. The most remarkable feature of the proceedings,
however, was that after the priests had been flogging and
slashing each other with knives, some of them sacrificed to> their
protectress not the symbolical but the real phallus. A young
man would be seized with a sudden fury, would tear the clothes
from his back, leap amongst the assembled Galli, snatch up a
short sword that had probably been long kept there for the
purpose, castrate himself, run with what he had cut off round
the city, go into whatever house the fancy took him to throw it,
from which house he was provided with a complete suit of
woman's apparel, and all the ornaments becoming a lady.

This practice can only be accounted for either by that ancient
maxim of superstition that whatsoever is most sacredly precious
to' mankind should be consecrated to the gods, and that we please
them best when we make the most costly sacrifice ; by supposing
that, in the perpetration of an act so abhorrent to nature, they
intended to give public proof of a vow of perpetual virginity, or
on account of a particular mythological reason.

Those mythologists who consider the Syrian goddess to be a
personification of the earth, as Cybele in Greece doubtless was,
rather than of nature, insist that eunuch-priests allude to the
barren state of that earth wtihout cultivation. When considered
in this point of view, they represent the noise of her beaten
cymbals, which denote the globe, as allusive to the uproar which


the warring winds, waters, and subterraneous fires confined in its
cavities, occasion, and which, convulsing its internal regions,

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryThomas Love PeacockPhallism: a description of the worship of lingam-yoni in various parts of the world, and in different ages: → online text (page 1 of 9)