E. (Elizabeth) Prentiss.

The Masculine cross, or, A history of ancient and modern crosses, and their connection with the mysteries of sex worship : also an account of the kindred phases of phallic faiths and practices online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryE. (Elizabeth) PrentissThe Masculine cross, or, A history of ancient and modern crosses, and their connection with the mysteries of sex worship : also an account of the kindred phases of phallic faiths and practices → online text (page 1 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




* NOV '>B190? ^


Division SL ^04^
Section .L ^ I

Masculine Cross

Ood IndraJSfcLiled to aOrvss.

Buddhist Cross

Cross Common onAnaerit
AssyrianMon u merds .

jiRcieni Heobtheriy
Alex I coin Cross.


Masculine Cross



^xxcxcnt axxit ^obcvxx ©^009^0


Mysteries of Sex Worship


An Account of the Kindred Phases


3?ballic Baitbs anb Bvacticea




The Cross i


The Cross (Continued) 23


The Doctrine of a Sacred Triad 42


The Doctrine of a Sacred Triad (Continued) 63


The Golden Calf of Aaron 79

Circumcision 91


Androgynous Deities, Sex Worship, &c 1 00


T N the following pages certain things supposed to be of compara-
tively modern "origin have been traced back to the remotest
historic ages of the world ; as a consequetice, it follows that the
moderfi symbolical meaning given to such things is sometimes only
one acquired in subseqimit times, and not that exactly which was
originally i?itended, — // mtist 7iot be supposed, therefore, that the in-
terpretation belonging to the epoch in ivhich we are first enabled
to trace a definite meaiiing is to be coJiclusively regarded as that
which gave birth to the form of the symbol. The original may have
been — probably was — very differe7it to what came after ; the starting
point may have beefi simplicity a?td purity, luhilst the developments
of after years ivere degrading atid vicious. Particularly so luas this
the case in the Lingam worship of the vast empire of India ; origi-
nally the adoration of aft Almighty Creator of all things, it became,
in time, the ivorship of the rege?ierative powers of material nature,
and then the mere indulgence in the debased pa ssions of an abandoned
and voluptuous nature.

With regard to the symbol of the Cross, it may be repugnant to
the feelings of so?ne to be told that their recognition of its purely
Chris tiafi origin is a mistake, and that it was as co7Jimo7i in Fagaii
as ifi niore advanced times ; they may find consolation, however, in
the fact that its real beginning was further back still in the world's
history, a?id that with Paganism it was, as it had been with Chris-
tiajiity, simply an adopted favourite.

Our story is taken up in the middle epoch of the history, a?id
shews the relationship of the things ive deal with to prevailing
phallic faiths and practices.



Universal prevalence of the Cross — Mistakes — The Cross not of
Christian Origin — Christian Veneration of the Cross — The
Roman Ritual — The Cross equally honoured by the Gentile
and Christian Worlds — Druidical Crosses — The Copt Oak of
Charnwood Forest — Assyrian Crosses in British Museum —
Rector al Crosses — Egyptian Crosses — Greek Cross — St.
Andrew's Cross — Planetary Signs and Crosses — Monogram
of Christ at Scrapis — Cross in India — Pagodas in form of
Crosses — ■ Mariette Bey's Discovery — Buddhist and Roman
Crosses — Chinese Crosses — KampscJiatkan Crosses — American
Crosses — Cross among the Red Indians — The Royal Commen-
taries of Peru — Mexican Ideas relative to the Cross — TJie
Spaniards in America — Sign of the Cross — • Cross as an
Amulet — Hot-cross Buns — Tertullian on the Use of the Cross.

^ I ^HE universal prevalence of the cross as an ornament and
"^ symbol during the last eighteen centuries in the Christian
church has led to some great, if not grave, mistakes. It has been
supposed, and for various obvious reasons very naturally so, to be
of exclusively Christian origin, and to represent materially no
more than the instrument by which the founder of that religion
was put to death ; and, spiritually or symbolically, faith in the
sacrificial atoning work he then completed. There are not a
few people about who, having become imbued with this idea,
rush to the hasty conclusion that wherever the cross is found,
and upon whatever monuments, it indicates a connection with
Christianity, and is therefore of comparatively modern origin.
History, in consequence, becomes a strange and unfathomable
mystery, especially when it belongs to kingdoms of well-known
great antiquity, amongst whose symbols or ornaments the cross

Masculine Cross.

is i^lentiful, and the mind finds itself involved in a confusion
from which it cannot readily extricate itself. Never was there
a greater blunder perpetrated, or a more ignorant one, than the
notion of the figure of the cross owing its origin to the instrument
of Christ's death, and the Christian who finds comfort in pressing
it to his lips in the hour of devotion or of trouble must be re-
minded that the ancient Egyptian did a similar thing.

The fact is, there is great similarity between the cross worship,
or veneration if you please, of ancient and modern times. Chris-
tians, we know, are apt to repudiate the charge of rendering
worship to this symbol, but it is clear from what is printed in
some of their books of devotion that some sort of worship is
actually rendered, though disguised under other names. As to
the veneration thus offered being right or wrong, we here say
nothing ; the fact only concerns us so far as it relates to the
subject we have in hand.

If we open the Tablet (Roman Catholic newspaper) for the
26th of November, 1853, we read : — '' Those of our readers who
have visited Rome will, doubtless, have remarked, at the foot of
the stairs which descend from the square of the Capitol to the
square of the Campo Vaccino, under the flight of steps in front
of the Church of St. Joseph, and over the door of the Mamertine
l^rison, a very ancient wooden crucifix, before which lamps and
wax tapers are constantly burning, and surrounded on all sides
with exvotos and testimonies of public thanksgiving. No image
of the crucified Saviour is invested with greater veneration. . . .
The worship yielded to the holy crucifix of Campo Vaccino is
universal at Rome, and is transmitted from generation to genera-
tion. The fathers teach it to the children, and in all the misfor-
tunes and all the trials of life the first idea is almost always to
have recourse to the holy crucifix, the object of such general
veneration, and the source of so many favours. It is, above all.

Masculine Cross. 3

in sickness that the succour of the holy image is invoked with
more confidence and more eagerness . . . There are few families
in Rome who have not^ to thank the holy crucifix for some
favour and some benefit ... In the interval of the sermons and
other public exercises of devotion the holy crucifix, exposed on
the high altar in the midst of floods of light, saw incessantly
prostrated before it a crowd of adorers and suppliants . . .
As soon as the holy image of the Saviour had appeared on the
Forum, the Holy Father advanced on the exterior flight of steps
of the church to receive it, and when the shrine had arrived at
the base of the stairs of the Church of San Luca, at some paces
from the flight of steps on which the Holy Father stood, in rochet,
stole, and pallium of red velvet, he bowed before the holy cruci-
fix and venerated it devoutly."

In harmony with this, the Missal supplies us with prayers and
hymns in the service for Good Friday, addressed directly to the

" We adore Thy cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify Thy
holy resurrection ; for by the wood of the cross the whole world
is filled with joy."

"O faithful cross, O noblest tree,
In all our woods there is none like thee.
No earthly s^roves, no shady bowers
Produce such leaves, such fruit, such flowers.
Sweet are the nails and sweet the wood,
Which bore a weight so sweet and good."

"O lovely tree, whose branches bore
The royal purple of His gore.
How glorious does thy body shine.
Supporting members so divine.
Hail, cross ! our hope, on thee we call
Who keep this paschal festival ;
Grant to the just increase of grace,
And every sinner's guilt efface."

4 Masculine Cross.

There is something unusually remarkable about the popu-
larity of the cross ; we can hardly point to a time when, or to a
part of the world where, it has not been in favour. It has
entered into the constitution of religions of the most opposite
character, has been transmitted from one to another, and though
originally belonging to the rudest form of pagan idolatry, is now
esteemed highly by those who profess to have adopted the loftiest
ideal of civilised worship. After mentioning the fact of its
popularity in the pagan world, Mr. Maurice remarks : " Let not
the piety of the Catholic Christian be offended at the preceding
assertion, that the cross was one of the most usual symbols
among the hieroglyphics of Egypt and India. Equally honoured
in the Gentile and the Christian world, this emblem of universal
nature — of that world to whose four quarters its diverging radii
pointed — decorated the hands of most of the sculptured images
in the former country, and in the latter stamped its form upon
the most majestic shrines of their deities."

Here we may profitably glance at a few different parts of the
world and at some of the past ages, in tracing out the possible
origin and meaning of this symbol. In Britain there have been
found monuments so ancient and with such surroundings that but
for certain peculiar marks they would unhesitatingly have been
put down as Druidical. They are marked with the cross, and in
the estimation of some, as we have already pointed out, that is
regarded as conclusive proof of Christian origin. The inference,
hcwever, is a false one, the monuments are too old for Chris-
tianity, and the cruciform etchings upon them belong to another
religious system altogether. It is known that the Druids con-
secrated the sacred oak by cutting it into the shape of a cross,
and so necessary was it regarded to have it in this form, that if the
lateral branches were not large enough to construct the figure
properly, two others were fixed as arms on either side of the

Masculine Cross. 5

trunk. The cross having been thus constructed, the Arch-Druid
ascended and wrote the name of the Deity upon the trunk at
the place of intersection, and on the extremities of the arms.

The pecuhar interest attached to this idol lies in the fact
that it is described by the best authorities as the Gallic or Celtic
Tau. '' The Tau," says Davies in his Celtic Researches^ " was the
symbol of the Druidical Jupiter. It consisted of a huge grand
oak deprived of all its branches, except only two large ones
which, though cut off and separated, w^ere suspended from the
top of its trunk-like suspended arms." The idol, say others, was
in reality a cross, the same in form as the linga.

A few years ago, near the hill of Bardon, in the middle of
Charnwood forest, in the county of Leicester, there grew and
perhaps still grows, a very old tree called the Copt Oak. This
tree, there is reason to believe, was more than tw^o thousand years
old, and once formed a Celtic Tau. Forty years ago, a writer
who knew the tree well, said that its condition then suggested
very distinctly the possibility of the truthfulness of the story. It
was described as a vast tree, then reduced to a mere shell be-
tween two and three inches only in thickness, perforated by
several openings, and alive only in about one-fourth of the shell ;
bearing small branches, but such as could not have grown when
the tree was entire ; then it must have had branches of a size not
less than an oak of ordinary dimensions. This was evident from
one of the openings in the upper part of the shell of the trunk,
exactly such as a decayed branch would produce. The tree was
evidently of gigantic size in its earlier days, as shown by its
measurement at the date we are speaking of. The remains of
the trunk were twenty feet high, the height proper for the Tau,
and the circumference at the ground was twenty-four feet ; at
the height of ten feet the girth was twenty, giving a diameter of
nearly seven feet. This tree, we have said, was called the Copt

6 Masculine Cross.

Oak; the epithet copt, or copped, may be derived from the
Celtic cop — a head, and evidently indicates that the tree had
been headed and reduced to the state of a bare trunk. The idol,
as already described, was formed by cutting away the l)ranches of
the tree, which was always a large one, and affixing a beam,
forming a cross with the bare trunk. ^

From time immemorial the Copt Oak has borne a celebrity
that l)ears out the tradition of its ancient sacredness. Potter,
the historian of the forest of Charnwood, writes that it was one
of the three places at which Swanimotes were held, always in the
open air, for the regulation of rights and claims on the forest;
and persons have been known even in late times to have attended
such motes. " At this spot," he says, " it may be under this tree,
Edric the Forester is said to have harangued his forces against
the Norman invasion ; and here too, in the Parliamentary
troubles of 1642, the Earl of Stamford assembled the trained
bands of the district." " These facts," says Dudley, " mark the
Copt Oak extraordinary, and show, that notwithstanding the
lapse of two thousand years, the trunk was at that distant period
a sacred structure, a Celtic idol ; and that it is illustrative of
antiquarian records."

Still further back in history than the foregoing are we able to
trace this singular figure. If we visit the Assyrian galleries of the
British iSluseum we shall observe life-size effigies in stone of the
kings Samsi-Rammanu, B.C. 825, and Assur-Xazir-Pal, B.C. 880;
suspended from the necks of these monarchs and resting upon
their breasts are prominently sculptured Maltese crosses about
three inches in length and width ; they are in a good state of
preservation, and will amply repay anyone for the trouble of an
inspection, should they be desirous of pursuing this enquiry. In
the Roman Catholic dictionaries we find these ornaments de-
* See Dudley's Xaology.

Masculine Cross. 7

scribed as pectoral crosses — crosses of precious metal worn at the
breast by bishops and abbots as a mark of their office, and some-
times also by canons, etc., who have obtained the privilege from
Rome. It is stated these pectorals were not generally used by
the Roman ecclesiastics till the middle of the sixteenth century ;
however that may be, it is a fact, as proved by the Assyrian
sculptures, that they are nearly, if not more than, three thousand
years old, and not the least interesting feature distinguishing
them is their perfect similarity of design. It is strange that we
moderns — the disciples of Christ — should have had supplied to
us at that remote period the pattern of an ornament or symbol
which we are accustomed to regard as emblematic of essential
features of our religion, but it is true.

Look across now to Egypt and we find monuments and tombs
literally bedizened with the cross, and that too in a variety of
shapes. Long, long before Christ, the Ibis was represented with
human hands and feet, holding the staff of Isis in one hand, and
a globe and cross in the other. Here w'e are in one of the most
ancient kingdoms of the world — a kingdom so ancient that its
years are lost in obscurity — yet still the cross is found. Whatever
it may have represented in other countries, and whatever may be
its meaning here, from the positions in which it is found and from
its constant association with ecclesiastical personages and offices,
it was evidently one of the most sacred of their symbols. Two
forms, among others, are common, one a simple cross of four
limbs of equal length, the other that shaped like the letter X ;
the first is generally known as the Greek cross, the second as that
of St. Andrew, both however being of the same form and owing
their different appearance only to the position in which they are

It is well known, probably, to most of our readers that the
astronomical signs of certain of the planets consist of crosses,

8 Masculine Cross.

crescents, circles, and in ancient Egypt these were precisely the
same as those now used. Saturn was represented by a cross sur-
mounting a ram's horn, Jupiter by a cross beneath a horn, Venus
by a cross beneath a circle, the Earth by a cross within a circle,
Mercury by a cross surmounted by a circle and crescent, and Mars
by a cross above a circle. These may still be seen in almanacs,
and on the large coloured bottles in the windows of the druggist.
In the hands of Isis, Osiris, and Hermes, corresponding with the
Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury of the Greeks, are also found the
above signs.

When the temple of Serapis, at Alexandria, was destroyed by
one of the Christian emperors, it is related by several historians,
Socrates and Sozomen, for instance, that beneath the foundation
was discovered the monogram of Christ ; and that considerable
disputing arose in consequence thereof, the Gentiles endeavouring
to use it for their own purposes, and the Christians insisting that
the cross, being uneasy beneath the weight or dominion of the
temple, overthrew it.

If we turn to India we find the cross almost as common as in
Egypt and Europe, and not the least interesting feature of the
matter is the curious fact that a number of the pagodas are
actually cruciform in structure. Jagannath is the name of one
of the mouths of the Ganges, upon which was built the great
pagoda where the Great Brahmin or High Priest resided. We
were told years ago, by travellers, that the form of the choir or
interior was similar in proportion to all the others, which were
built upon the same model, in the form of a cross. The pagoda
at Benares, also, was in the figure of a cross, having its arms
equal. After the above, in importance, was the pagoda at
Muttra ; this likewise was cruciform. One of these temples, that
at Chillambrum on the Coromandel coast, is said to be four
miles in circumference. Here there are seven lofty walls one

Masculine Cross. 9

within the other round the central quadrangle, and as many
pyramidal gateways in the middle of each side which form the
limbs of a vast cross, consisting altogether of twenty-eight
pyramids. There are, therefore, fourteen in a row, which extend
more than a mile in one continuous line.

What has been called, and perhaps justly so, the oldest
religious monument in the world was discovered a few years ago
by Mariette Bey, near the Great Pyramid. For ages it had lain
there, buried in the sand — how many we cannot tell, but very
many we know ; enough to carry us back to a very remote past.
And this, too, like the Indian temples, was in the shape of a cross.
Renan visited it in 1865, and though he found it in many par-
ticulars different from those known elsewhere, he described the
interior, which much recalled the chamber of the Great Pyramid,
as in the form of T, the principle aisle being divided in three
rows, the tranverse aisle in two.

Mr. Fergusson, the architect, also saw it, and, while admiring
its simple and chaste grandeur of style, with some astonishment
described the form of the principal chamber as that of a cross.
And this was the plan of both tomb and temple in the earliest
ages, testifying to the great veneration paid to this symbol.

There is a remarkable resemblance between the Buddhist
crosses of India and those used by the Christian Roman Church.
The cross of the Buddhist is represented with leaves and flowers
springing from it, and placed upon a Calvary as by the Roman
Catholics. It is represented in various ways, but the shaft with
the cross-bar and the Calvary remain the same. The tree of life
and knowledge, or the jamba tree, in their maps of the world, is
always represented in the shape of a cross, eighty-four yoganas,
or 423 or 432 miles high, including the three steps of the Calvary.

From India we naturally turn to China, and, though its use
there is involved in a deal of mystery, the cross is found among

lo Masculine Cross.

their hieroglyphics, on the walls of their pagodas and on the
lamps which they used to illuminate their temples.

In Kamschatka, Baron Humboldt found the cross and remains
of hieroglyphics similar to those of Egypt.

Passing into America, we find that what could only be des-
cribed as perfect idolatry prevailed with respect to the veneration
paid to the cross. Throughout Mexico and some parts of South
America the emblem is constantly found, and in many instances
is evidently of great antiquity. Some travellers have explained
their presence by attributing them to the Spaniards, but those
people found them there when thev arrived, and were greatly
astonished at the spectacle, not knowing how to account for it.
A lieutenant of Cortez i)assed over from the island of Cosumel
to the continent, and coasted the peninsula of Yucatan as far as
Campeachy. f^ very where he was struck with the evidences of
a higher civilisation, and was astonished at the sight of numerous
large stone crosses, evidently objects of worship, which he met
with in various places.

At Cozuma an ancient cross is still standing. Here there is
a temple of considerable size, with pyramidal towers rising several
stories above the rest of the building, facing the cardinal points.
In the centre of the quadrangular area within stands a high cross,
constructed of stone and lime like the rest of the temple, and ten
palms in height. The natives regard is as the emblem of the god
of rain.

The discovery of the cross amongst the Red Indians as an
object of worship, by the Spanish missionaries, in the fifteenth
century, completely mystified them, and they hardly knew whether
to attril)ute it to a good or an evil origin — -whether it was the
work of St. Thomas or of the Devil. The symbol was not an
occasional spectacle in odd places, as though there by accident,
it met them on all sides : it was literallv evervwhere. and in

Masculine Cross. ii

every variety of form. It mattered not, whether the building was
old or new, inhabited or ruined and deserted, whether it was a
temple or a palace, there was the cross in all shapes and of all
materials — of marble, gypsum, wood, emerald, and jasper. What
was, perhaps, still more remarkable was the fact that it was
associated with certain other things common on the Babylonian
monuments, such as the bleeding deity, the serpent and the
sacred eagle, and that it bore the very same names by which it
was known in Roman Catholic countries, ^' the tree of sul)-
sistence," " the wood of health," " the emblem of life." In this
latter appellation there was a parallel to the name by which it
was known in Egypt, and by which the holy Tau of the Buddhists
has always been known ; thus placing, as has been said, any
supposition of accidental coincidence beyond all reasonable

In the Royal Commentaries of Peru, we have some interesting
allusions to the cross and to the general sanctity with which it
was surrounded. In the city of Cozco, the Incas had one of
white marble, which they called a crystalline jasper, but how
long they had had it was unknown. The Inca, Garcillasso de la
Vega, said he left in the year 1560, in the cathedral church of
that city ; it was then hanging upon a nail by a list of black
velvet ; formerly, when in the hands of the Indians, it had been
suspended by a chain of gold and silver. The form is Greek,
that is, square ; being as broad as it w^as long, and about three
fingers wide. It was previously kept in one of the royal apart-
ments, called Huaca, which signified a consecrated place. The
record says that though the Indians did not adore it, yet they
held it in great veneration, either for the beauty of it, or for
some other reason which they knew not to assign ; and so was
observed amongst them, until the Marquess Don Francisco
Pizarro entered the valley of Tumpiz, when by reason of some

12 Masculine Cross.

accidents which befel Pedro de Candia they conceived a greater
esteem and veneration for it. The historian complains that the
Spaniards, after they had taken the imperial city, hung up this
cross in the vestry of a church they built, whereas, he says, they
ought to have placed a relic of that kind upon the high altar,
adorning it with gold and precious stones ; by which respect to
a thing the Indians esteemed sacred, and by assimilating the
ordinances of the Christian religion as near as was possible with

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryE. (Elizabeth) PrentissThe Masculine cross, or, A history of ancient and modern crosses, and their connection with the mysteries of sex worship : also an account of the kindred phases of phallic faiths and practices → online text (page 1 of 11)