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

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There is no deficiency of evidence respecting the worship of
the ox in Egypt. Strabo says one was kept at Memphis, which
was regarded as a divinity. Pliny repeats the story and says that
the Egyptians called this ox Apis, and that it had two kinds of
temples, the entrance to one being most pleasant, to the other
frightful. Herodotus says of this idol: — "Apis or Epatus, is a
calf from a cow which never produced but one, and this could
only have been by a clap of thunder. The calf denominated
Apis, has certain marks by which it may be known. It is all
over black, excepting one square mark ; on its back is the figure
of an eagle, and on its tongue that of a beetle."

It certainly seems tolerably clear that the worship of the calf
came out of Egypt, but so much difficulty surrounds the question
of whether the Egyptian worship preceded or followed that of
Aaron's calf, that we are inclined to endorse the opinion of a
modern writer, and say we suspend our judgment respecting the
precise motive which determined Aaron to set up a calf as the
object of Israelitish worship, and conclude that had he offered
any other object of worship, whether some other animal, or any
plant, or a star, or any other production of nature, the learned
would have asked, " Why this rather than some other ? " Many
would have been the divisions of opinion on the question ; each
one would have found in antiquity, and in the nature of the case,
probabilities to support his own sentiment, and perhaps have
exalted them into demonstrations.*

The mention of a cone in connection with the matter now
under consideration, and as the form of Aaron's idol, suggests
other examples of the same figure which are said to have had a
phallic form. The Pajohian Venus, for instance, was represented

* Dr. F. A. Cox.

Masculine Cross. 89-

by a conical stone: of which Tacitus thus speaks: — "The
statue of the goddess bears no resemblance to the human form.
It is round throughout, broad at one end, and gradually taper-
ing to a narrow span at the other, like a goat ; the reason of this
is not ascertained. The cause is stated by Philostratus to be

Lajard (RecJierches siir la Cult de Vmus) says: — "In all
Cyrian coins, from Augustus to Macrinus, may be seen in the
place where we should anticipate to find a statue of the goddess,
the form of a conical stone. The same is placed between two
cypresses under the portico of the temple of Astarte, in a medal
of ^lia Capitolina ; but in this instance the cone is crowned.
In another medal, struck by the elder Philip, Venus is repre-
sented between two Genii, each of whom stands upon a cone or
pillar with a rounded top. There is reason to believe that at
Paphos images of the conical stone were made and sold as
largely as were effigies of Diana of the Ephesians.

" Medals and engraved stones demonstrate that the hieratic
prescriptions required that all those hills which were consecrated
to Jupiter should be represented in a conical form. At Sicony,
Jupiter was adored under the form of a pyramid."


Delight of Bacchus, Guardian of the groves,

The kind restorer of decaying loves ;

Lesbos and verdant Thasos thee implore,

Whose maids thy pow'r in wanton rites adore:

Joy of the Dryads, with propitious care.

Attend my wishes, and indulge my pray'r.

My guiltless hands with blood I never stain'd,

Or sacrilegiously the god's prophan'd :

Thus low I bow, restoring blessings send,

I did not thee with my whole self offend.

\Vho sins through weakness, is less guilty thought;

Indulge my crime, and spare a venial fault.

On me when fate shall smiling gifts bestow,

I'll (not ungrateful) to your god-head bow;

90 Masculine Cross.

A sucking pig I'll offer to thy shrine,

And sacred bowls brimful of generous wine ;

A destin'd goat shall on thy altar lie,

And the horn'd parent of my flock shall die ;

Then thrice thy frantic vot'ries shall around

Thy temple dance, with smiling garlands crown'd,

And most devoutly drunk, thy orgies sound. — Peironius.



Bacchus and Nymphs delight O mighty God !

Whom Cynthia gave to rule the blooming wood.

Lesbos and verdant Thasos thee adore.

And Lydians in loose flowing dress implore.

And raise devoted temples to thy pow'r.

Thou Dryad's Joy, and Bacchus' Guardian, hear

My conscious prayer with attentive ear.

My hands with guiltless blood I never stain'd,

Nor yet the temples of the gods prophan'd.

Restore my strength, and lusty vigour send,

My trembling nerves like pliant oziers bend.

Who sins through weakness, is not guilty thought,

No equal power can punish such a fault.

A wanton goat shall on your altars die,

And spicy smoke in curls ascend the sky.

A pig thy floors with sacred blood shall stain.

And round the awful fire and holy flame.

Thrice shall thy priests, with youth and garlands crown'd,

In pious drunkenness thy orgies sound. — Pktronius.


The Complaint of Priapus for being Veiled.

The Almighty's Image, of his shape afraid, 1

And hide the nolilest part e'er nature made, r

Which God alone succeeds in his creating trade. J

The Fall this fig-leav'd modesty began,

To punish woman, by obscuring man ;

Before, where'er his stately Cedar moved

She saw, ador'd and kiss'd the thing she loved.

Why do the gods their several signs disclose.

Almighty Jove his Thunder-bolt expose,

Neptune his Trident, Mars his Buckler shew,

Pallas her spear to each beholder's view.

And poor Priapus be alone contin'd

T'obscure the women's god, and parent of mankind?

Since free-born brutes their liberty obtain,

Long hast thou journey-worked for souls in vain,

Storm the Pantheon, and demand thy right.

For on this weapon 'tis depends the fight. — Petromus.


Circumcision, male and female, in various countries and ages.

CIRCUMCISION is one of the most ancient religious rites
with which we are acquainted, and, as practised in some
countries, there seems reason to suppose that it was of a phallic
character. " It can scarcely be doubted," says one writer, '' that
it was a sacrifice to the awful power upon whom the fruit of the
womb depended, and having once fixed itself in the minds of the
people, neither priest nor prophet could eradicate it. All that
these could do was to spiritualise it into a symbol of devotion to
a high religious ideal." Bonwick says : '' Though associated
with sun worship by some, circumcision may be accepted as a
rite of sex worship." Ptolemy's Tcirabiblos, speaking of the
neighbouring nations as far as India, says : " Many of them prac-
tise divination, and devote their genitals to their divinities."

It is not possible, perhaps, to speak with any degree of cer-
tainty about the origin of this rite ; the enquiry carries the student
so far back in history, that the mind gets lost in the mists of the
past. It is regarded by some as a custom essentially Jewish, but
this is altogether wrong ; it was extensively practised in Egypt,
also bv the tribes inhabiting the more southern parts of Africa ;
in Asia, the Afghans and the Tamils had it, and it has been
found in various parts of America, and amongst the Fijians and
Australians. It has been argued, and with considerable plausi-
bility, that it existed long before writing was known, and from
the fact of its having been employed by the New Hollanders, its
great antiquity may be inferred with certainty.

It has been noticed by historians that sometimes a nation will
pledge itself to a corporal offering of such a kind, that every
member shall constantly bear about its mark on himself, and so

92 Masculine Cross.

make his personal appearance or condition a perpetual witness
for the special religion whose vows he has undertaken. Thus
several Arabian tribes living not far from the Holy Land, adopted
the custom, as a sign of their special religion (or, as Herodotus
says, " after the example of their God "), of shaving the hair of
their heads in an extraordinary fashion, viz., either on the crown
of the head or towards the temples, or else of disfiguring a portion
of the beard. Others branded or tattooed the symbol of a par-
ticular god on the skin, on the forehead, the arm, the hand. Israel,
too, adopted from early times a custom which attained the highest
sanctity in its midst, where no jest, however trifling, could be
uttered on the subject, but which was essentially of a similar
nature to those we have just mentioned. This was circumcision.*
It was this special character which no doubt gave rise to the idea
so common amongst the uninformed that it was a Jewish rite.

Herodotus and Philo Judaeus have related that it prevailed
to a great extent among the Egyptians and Ethiopians. The for-
mer historian says it was so ancient among each people that
there was no determining which of them borrowed it from the
other. Among the Egyptians he says it was instituted from the
beginning. Shuckford says that by this he could not mean from
the first rise or original of that nation, but that it was so early
among them that the heathen writers had no account of its origin.
When anything appeared to them to be thus ancient, they pro-
nounced it to be from the beginning. Herodotus clearly meant
this, because we find him questioning whether the Egyptians
learnt circumcision from the Ethiopians, or the Ethiopians from
the Egyptians, and he leaves the question undecided, merely
concluding that it was a very ancient rite. If by the expression
" from the beginning," he had meant that it was originated by the
Egyptians, there would not have been this indecision ; and it is

* Ewald, Antiq. Israel.

Masculine Cross. 93

known that among heathen writers to say a thing was " from the
beginning," was equivalent to the other saying that it was very
anciently practised.

Herodotus, in another place, relates that the inhabitants of
Colchis also used circumcision, and concludes therefrom that
they were originally Egyptians. He adds that the Phoenicians
and Syrians, who lived in Palestine, were likewise circumcised,
but that they borrowed the practice from the Egyptians ; and
further, that little before the time when he wrote, circumcision
had passed from Colchis to the people inhabiting the countries
near Termodon and Parthenius.

Diodorus Siculus thought the Colchians and the Jews to be
derived from the Egyptians, because they used circumcision. In
another place, speaking of other nations, he says that they were
circumcised, after the manner of the Egyptians. Sir J. Marsham
is of opinion that the Hebrews borrowed circumcision from the
Egyptians, and that God was not the first author thereof ; citing
Diodorus and Herodotus as evidences on his side.

Circumcision, though it is not so much as once mentioned in
the Koran, is yet held by the Mahomedans to be an ancient divine
institution, confirmed by the religion of Islam, and though not so
absolutely necessary but that it may be dispensed with in some
cases, yet highly proper and expedient. The Arabs used this rite
for many ages before Mahomet, having probably learned it from
Ismael, though not only his descendants, but the Hamyarites and
other tribes practised the same. The Ismaelites we are told, used
to circumcise their children, not on the eighth day, according to
the custom of the Jews, but when about twelve or thirteen years
old, at which age their father underwent that operation ; and the
Mahomedans imitate them so far as not to circumcise children
before they are able at least distinctly to pronounce that pro-
fession of their faith, " there is no God, but God, Mahomet is

94 Masculine Cross.

the apostle of God ; " but they fix on what age they please for the
purpose between six and sixteen. The Moslem doctors are
generally of opinion that this precept was given originally to
Abraham, yet some have said that Adam was taught it by the
angel Gabriel, to satisfy an oath he had made to cut off that
flesh, which, after his fall, had rebelled against his spirit ; whence
an argument has been drawn for the universal obligation of

The Mahomedans have a tradition that their prophet declared
circumcision to be a necessary rite for men, and for women
honourable. This tradition makes the prophet declare it to be
" Sonna," which Pocock renders a necessary rite, though Sonna,
according to the explanation of Reland, does not comprehend
things absolutely necessary, but such as, though the observance
of them be meritorious, the neglect is not liable to punishment.

In Egypt circumcision has never been peculiar to the men,
but the women also have had to undergo a practice of a similar
nature. This has been called by Bruce and Strabo " excision."
All the Egyptians, the Arabians, and natives to the south of
Africa, the Abyssinians, the Gallas, the Agones, the Gasats, and
Gonzas, made their children undergo this operation, — at no fixed
time, but always before they were marriageable. Belon says the
practice prevailed among the Copts ; and P. Jovius and Munster
say the same of the subjects of Prester John. Sonnini says it was
well known that the Egyptian women were accustomed to the
practice, but people were not agreed as to the motives which
induced them to submit to the operation. Most of those who
have written on the subject of female circumcision have con-
sidered it as the retrenchment of a portion of the nymphse, which
are said to grow, in the countries where the joractice obtains, to
an extraordinary- size. Others have imagined that it was nothing
less than the amputation of the clitoris, the elongation of which

Masculine Cross.


is said to be a disgusting deformity, and to be attended with
other inconveniences which rendered the operation necessary.

Before he had an opportunity of ascertaining the nature of
the circumcision of the Egyptian women, Sonnini also supposed
it consisted of the amputation of the excrescence of the nymphse
or cUtoris, according to circumstances, and according as the parts
were more or less elongated. He says it is very probable that
these operations have been performed, not only in Egypt, but in
several other countries in the East, where the heat of the climate
and other causes may produce too luxuriant a growth of those
parts, and this, he adds, he had the more reason to think, since,
on consulting several Turks who had settled at Rosetta, respect-
ing the circumcision of their wives, he could obtain from them no
other idea but that of these painful mutilations. They likewise
explained to him the motives. Curious admirers as they w^ere
of smooth and polished surfaces, every inequality, every pro-
tuberance, was in their eyes a disgusting fault. They asserted
too that one of these operations abated the ardour of the con-
stitutions of their wives, and diminished their facility of procur-
ing illicit enjoyments.

Niebuhr relates that Forskal and another of his fellow-
travellers, having expressed to a great man at Cairo, at w'hose
country seat they were, the great desire they had to examine a
girl who had been circumcised, their obliging host immediately
ordered a country girl eighteen years of age to be sent for, and
allowed them to examine her at their ease. Their painter made
a drawing of the parts after the life, in presence of several
Turkish domestics ; but he drew with a trembling hand, as they
were apprehensive of the consequences it might bring upon them
from the Mahometans. A plate from this drawing was given by
Professor Blumenbach, in his work De Generis Jmmani Varietate
nativa, from which it is evident that the traveller saw nothing but

96 Masculine Cross.

the amputation of the nymphae and chtoris, the enlargement of
which is so much dishked by husbands in these countries.

Sonnini suspected that there must be something more in it
than an excess of these parts, an inconvenience, which, being far
from general among the women, could not have given rise to an
ancient and universal practice. Determining to remove his
doubts on the subject, he took the resolution, which every one
to whom the inhabitants of Egypt are known, he says, will deem
sufficiently bold, not to procure a drawing of a circumcised
female, but to have the operation performed under his own eyes.
Mr. Fornetti, whose complaisance and intelligence were so fre-
quently of service to him, readily undertook to assist him in the
business ; and a Turk, who acted as Ijroker to the French mer-
chants, brought to him at Rosetta a woman, whose trade it was
to perform the operation, with two young girls, one of whom
was going to be circumcised, the other having been operated on
two years before.

In the first place he examined the little girl that was to be
circumcised. She was about eight years old, and of the Egyptian
race. He was much surprised at observing a thick, flabby, fleshy
excrescence, covered with skin, taking its rise from the labia, and
hanging down it half-an-inch.

The woman who was to perform the operation sat down on
the floor, made the little girl seat herself before her, and without
any preparation, cut off the excrescence just described with an
old razor. The girl did not give any signs of feeling much pain.
A few ashes taken up between the finger and thumb were the
only topical application employed, though a considerable quan-
tity of blood was discharged from the wound.

The Egyptian girls are generally freed from this inconvenient
superfluity at the age of seven or eight. The women who are in
the habit of performing this operation, which is attended with

Masculine Cross. 97

little difficulty, come from Said. They travel through the towns
and villages, crying in the streets, " Who wants a good circum-
ciser ? " A superstitious tradition has marked the commence-
ment of the rise of the Nile as the period at which it ought to be
l)erformed ; and accordingly, besides the other difficulties he had
to surmount, Sonnini had that of finding parents who would
consent to the circumcision of their daughter at a season so
distant from that which is considered as the most favourable,
this being done in the winter; money, however, overcame this
obstacle as it did the rest.

From Dalzel's History we learn that in Dahome a similar
custom prevails with regard to the women as that in Egypt. A
certain operation is performed upon the woman, which is thus
described in a foot-note : — " Prolongatio, videlicit, artificialis
labiorum pudendi, capellae mamillis simillima." The part in
question, locally called " Tu," must, from the earliest years, be
manipulated by professional old women, as is the bosom among
the embryo prostitutes of China. If this be neglected, her lady
friends will deride and denigrate the mother, declaring that she
has neglected her child's education ; and the juniors will laugh
at the daughter as a coward who would not prepare herself for

" Circumcision was a federal rite, annexed by God as a seal
to the covenant which he made with Abraham and his posterity,
and was accordingly renewed and taken into the body of the
Mosaical constitutions. It was not a mere mark, only to dis-
tinguish the Hebrews as the seed of Abraham from other nations ;
but by this they were made the children of the covenant, and
entitled to the blessings of it ; though if there had been no more

* Mems. Anthrop. Soe. 1.
\ Lewis. Origines Heh.

98 Masculine Cross.

in it than this, that they who were of the same faith should have
a certain character whereby they should be known, it would have
been a wise appointment. The mark seems to be fitly chosen for
the purpose ; because it was a sign that no man would have
made upon himself and upon his children, unless it were for the
sake of faith and religion. It was not a brand upon the arm,
or an incision in the thigh, but a difficult operation in a most
tender part, peculiarly called flesh in many places of scripture.
That member which is the instrument of generation was made
choice of, that they might be an holy seed, consecrated unto
God from the beginning ; and circumcision was properly a token
of the divine covenant made with Abraham and his posterity
that God would multiply their seed, and make them as the stars
of heaven." *

Ludolf, in his History of Ethiopa, after comparing the cir-
cumcision of the Jews with that of the Abyssinians, says : " This
puts us in mind of the circumcision of females, of which Gregory
was somewhat ashamed to discourse, and we should have more
willingly omitted it had not Tzagazabus, in his rude Confession
of Faith, spoken of it as a most remarkable custom introduced
by the command of Queen Magneda ; or had not Paulus Jovius
himself, Bishop of Como, insisted in the same manner upon this
unseemly custom. This same ceremony was not only used by
the Habisenes, but was also familiar among other people of
Africa, the Egyptians, and the Arabians themselves. For they
cut away from the female infants something which they think to
be an indecency and superfluity of nature. Jovius calls it
Carunniculam, or a little piece of flesh ; Golius, an oblong
excrescence. The Arabians, by a particular word, called it
Bedhron, or Bedhara, besides which they have many other words
to the same purpose. Among their women it is as great a piece

Masculine Cross. 99

of reproach to revile a woman by saying to her, O Bandaron :
that is, O Uncircumcised, as to call a man Arel, or Uncircum-
cised, among the Jews. The Jewish women in Germany, being
acquainted by their reading with this custom, laugh at it, as ad-
miring what it should be that should require such an amputation."


Androgynous Deities — Theories respecting the Dual Sex of the
Deity — Sacredncss of the Phallus — Sex Worship — The Eastern
Desire for Children — Sacred Prostitution — Hindu Law of
Adoption and Inheritance — Hindu Need of Off springy and
especially of a Son — Obsequies of the Departed.

^ I ^HE phallic idea alluded to again and again in the preceding
pages as entering into the heathen conception of a trinity,
the practice of circumcision, and the use of the cross as a symbol,
branches out in a great variety of directions ; at some of these
we must cast a brief glance in order that we may form a correct
estimate of the subject.

Reference has been made to the androgynous nature ascribed
to the Deity by different nations, and here at once is opened up
the whole subject of sex worship. It is impossible to say how far
back we should have to retrace our footsteps in seeking for men's
first ideas upon this matter ; many ages, it is certain. Forlong,
speaking of a remote age and our forefathers, says :" They began
to see in life and all nature a God, a Force, a Spirit ; or, I should
rather say, some nameless thing which no language of those
early days, if indeed of present, can describe. They gave to the
outward creative organs those devotional thoughts, time, and
praise which belonged to the Creator ; they figured the living
spirit in the cold bodily forms of stone and tree, and so worshipped
it. As we read in early Jewish writings, their tribes, like all
other early races, bowed before Ashar and Ashe'ra, as others had
long before that period worshipped Belus and Uranus, Orus and
Isis, Mahadeva, Siva, Sakti, and Parvati. Jupiter and Yuno, or
Juno, or rather the first ideas of these, must have arisen in days

Masculine Cross. ioi

long subsequent to this. All such steps in civihsation are very
slow indeed, and here they had to penetrate the hearts of millions
who could neither read nor write, nor yet follow the reader or the
preacher ; so centuries would fleet past over such rude infantile
populations, acting no more on the inert pulpy mass than years,
or even months, now do ; and if this were so after they began
to realise the ideas of a Bel and Ouranos, how much slower be-
fore that far-back stage was won. Their first symbolisation
seems clearly to have been the simple line, pillar, or a stroke, as
their male god ; and a cup or circle as their female ; and lo ! the
dual and mystic 10 which early became a trinity, and has stood
before the world from that unknown time to this. In this
mystic male and female we have the first great androgynous god."

Alluding to this subject, an anonymous writer, believed to be
a Roman Catholic priest, some sixteen years ago, said: — "The
primitive doctrine that God created man in his own image, male
and female, and consequently that the divine nature comprised
the two sexes within itself, fulfils all the conditions requisite to
constitute a catholic theological dogma, inasmuch as it may truly

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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 8 of 11)