Robert Allen Campbell.

Phallic worship : an outline of the worship of the generative organs, as being, or as representing, the Divine Creator, with suggestions as to the influence of the phallic idea on religious creeds, ce online

. (page 11 of 12)
Online LibraryRobert Allen CampbellPhallic worship : an outline of the worship of the generative organs, as being, or as representing, the Divine Creator, with suggestions as to the influence of the phallic idea on religious creeds, ce → online text (page 11 of 12)
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teries, one said : —

" I saw in the egg the emblem of inert nature which
contains all that is, and all that is possible to be ; in the
serpent I beheld the suggestion of that divine impulse
to create which causes all pi'oductive action ; the phallus
glowed with supernal glory as I recognized in it the
exalted symbol of the creative gods, in generative
activity, producing the universe and all creatures that
are or will be."

It will be well to bear in mind these sublime ideas
and interpretations, and to remember the avowed in-
tent of the mysteries and rites, while reading of the
gross procedures by v/hich they sought to secure en-
lightenment and the favor of their recognized divinities ;
for surely the aspiring men of that day — like the same
class now — would often be led to feel — even if they
did not, like our later and more fortunate poet, sing or
say: —

" But what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
A.n infant crying for a light:
And with no language but a cry."

The Romans borrowed their religion largely from
the Greeks. That is, they borrowed the forms and
ceremonies. They, however, could not borrow the
poetry, sentiment, and enthusiasm. These are attain-
ments which must be earned by generations of honest.


enthusiastic, and persistent study and practice. Such
attainments are incompatible with a civilization — and
impossible to the individnal — like the Roman, in which
the gi*eat ambition was military success, material ag-
grandizement and political preferment.

To give even an outlhie of Grecian and Koman
mythology Avould require a volume, and, hence, only
those classical dogmas and deities will be referred to
which have a direct connection with the phallic cere-
monies of their worshipers. Zeus is described as im-
mortal and indestructible, male and female — androg-
ynous. His head and face is the resplendent heaven,
round Avhich his golden locks of glittering stars are
beautifully exalted in the air; on each side are two
golden taurine horns — the risings and the settings —
the tracks of the celestial gods ; his eyes are the sun
and the reflecting moon ; his infallible mind is the royal
and incorruptible ether.

Aphrodite, as the Celestial Virgin, and personifi-
cation of procreative power, is represented — both in
description and statuary — as a beautiful woman wear-
ing a beard, and having at the same time a woman's
breast — and sometimes locally double sexed. As the
personification of amorous love or desire she is gener-
ally described and represented as a fully matured, young,
and beautiful naked woman, of voluptuous form — and
often, in posture and expression, or by holding a sjnn-
bol, suggesting her passionate nature.

An image of Astarte was brought from Carthage to
Home, and there solemnly married to the emblem of


the Sun-god. As these idols could not consummate
the nuptials, the devotees, amidst rejoicing- and revelry,
acted as their proxies hy engaging in a general and
promiscuous orgy of feasting, drinking, and licentious
indulgences. This, however, was only the European
cojDy of the usual yearly Hindu celebration in honor of
the mystic imion of their male and female divdnities.

In the temple 'of Venus, at Cyprus, that goddess was
represented, in realistic detail, as androgynous ; and
her worship was there under the direction of castrated
priests. JSTor was this exception to excessive sexual
indulgence an isolated case, for the priests of Dodona,
the most ancient of the Grreek oracles, were likewise
eunuchs. The priests of the Orphic w^orshipers at
Thrace were ascetics and devotees, and in many in-
stances devoted virgins were required in the most sacred
of their ceremonies and rites.

Jupiter, or Zeus, was represented crowned with olive,
oak, or fir ; his sacred color was white, and was wor-
shiped in ceremony, partaking comparatively little of the
phallic broadness which was bestowed upon his person-
alized representatives.

Bacchus — or Dionysus — represented the whole
generative power. He was called " the father of the
gods and of men," and " the begotten love." He was
sometimes represented as androgynous, but usually as
a male. He was called Choiropsale at Sicyon, Priapus
at LampsacTis. Liber was the personalization of
Bacchus as a mode of action — as Libera was of Yenus.
The goat was a special symbol of Bacchus; while


satyrs and fauns were his attendants or ministers.
Geese — and, hence, more poetically swans — were
sacred to Bacchus.

Priapus was represented as a man w ith an enormous
phallus; sometimes with a cock's comb and wattles.
He was also shown as Pan or a faun — with the goat's
horns and ears. When he had arms — which was not
always the case — the right hand held a scythe, and his
left often grasped his "• divine symbol " — which was
always colossal, generally aroused and painted red.

Some of these Priapic figures, however, were not so
realistic and coarse. They Avere usually — if wood —
made from the fig tree, and often bore bells. Priapic
figures of the phallus or masculine triad, and these, in
association with the yoni, were common as amulets or
charms, and were worn either as jewelry in personal
adornment or in the bosom as charms to secure the
favor of the gods.

Greek and Latin authors make mention of the sacri-
fice of yii-ginity to Priapus by means of a Priapic stone
or metallic phallus attached to an idol. And in some
places, at 'different times, brides, led there by their
parents, and in the presence of their newly married or
expectant husbands — take their first lessons in practical
Priapic worship, by means of the iron or stone symbol
of the sacred image, before being delivered to the hus-
band's embrace.

There was found in Pompeii a bas-relief, in which
two eldei'ly women — probably the mother and pros-
pective mother-in-law — were leading a young and nude


maiden to the " Hermes," by the phalhis of which she
would give the gods the honor of her first experience
in coition. Generally, however, this ceremony was
simply the touching of the symbol with the mo7is ven-
eris — or even pressing against it without I'aising the
skirts ; the actual initiation being in the orgies. Later,
however, the husband was supposed to be the real
initiator. This peculiar ceremony, like all the others,
was not a mere indecent procedure, but had a very
commendable object. The bride was thus brought to
the Priapic statue immediately before or after the mar-
riage ceremony, and before its consummation, that she
might be rendered fruitful by this contact with the
divine generator, and be capable of faithfully and well
fulfillinof all the new duties of her unti-ied station as a
wife. An offering of flowers or a hbation — generally
of wine — was often offered and special requests made
of the deity. It is reported that a lady — Lalage —
presented to the statue the pictures of Elephantis,
asking that she might be allowed to enjoy the passionate
pleasures over which he presided in all the positions
shown and described in that celebrated treatise ; and
the narrator remarks that, like a true devotee, she
probably strove to assist the god in securing a favorable
response to her prayers.

Married women also performed this ceremony in
order to destroy the spell that rendered them stei-ile ;
but — more experienced and less fearful — they carried
their devotions and the symbol farther — to actual in-
troduction of the symbol into the vulva. Husbands


frequently accompanied their wives and saw that the
ceremony was fully performed. A group in the gallery
at Florence gives a representation of this ceremony.
A woman, wearing a kind of cap, stands with her
hands holding her uplifted garments. An enormous
phallus rears itself from the ground and is shown in
connection with her sexual organs — which are also ex-
posed, and of unusually large pi-oportions.

In relation to these Bacchic groups, as well as to
Priapic statues, phalhc amulets, and including the
seemingly lascivious scenes upon vases, lamps, and other
articles, it is clear that they were generally — almost
without exception — religious objects, and hence not
obscene in the sense of being designedly impure in their
conception or use. They were used — as they have
been found — nearly always in or about the temples —
in or in connection with the tombs — or in the homes of
the intelligent and the pious. Now, no people inten-
tionally desecrate their tombs, nor of purpose afore-
thought defile their temples, much less would any people
introduce recognized impurities among their chil-
dren ; and what is sacred in the sanctuary cannot be
unclean or disgraceful in private life. In a word,
these are religious emblems, and worshipful scenes.
They were as common and as sacred among the
Greeks and Romans as the cross and as scenes in the
lives of the saints and martyrs are among Christians.
The Priapic and yonic emblems were, as we know, sym-
bols of divine creators and creation, and every composi-
tion into which they entered was interpreted from this key.


For instance, the phallus, hridled and ridden by a
woman — her sexual organs also abnormally large, and
exposed to view — is interpreted to symbolize Minerva
bi'idling Pegassus, that is intuition — divine wisdom —
the feminine side of intelligence, as guiding and con-
trolling the creative energies and activities of the mas-
culine generating powers and processes. Innumerable
such instances might be cited, for the classics are full
of them ; and the reflective mind will easily find, what
the poet and the mystic sees at once, the esoteric signifi-
cance of every such symbol or group. Remembering
this, and reading with this idea as an interpreting key,
and the meaning of the group described in a former
paragraph — in the light of the belief that such a cere-
mony would produce the desired result and secure a
longed-for child — is readily understood. In the ex-
pression of that belief, and to secure that blessing, the
ceremony is not only allowable, but commendable —
sacred ; and, hence, its representation is as pure as any
other picture of a worshipful ceremony.

Considering the general state of reserve and restraint
in which the Grecian women lived, it is to us of this
day astonishing to what an excess of extravagance
their religious enthusiasm was carried on certain occa-
sions 5 especially on the celebration of the Bacchana-
lian orgies. The grav^est matrons and the proudest
princesses seemingly laid entirely aside their dignity
and decency to vie with each other in revelry ; they ran
screaming through the woods and over the mountains,
fantastically dressed or half naked, their disheveled


hair interwoven with ivy or vine leaves and sometimes
with living serpents. They frequently became so
frantic as to eat raw flesh, and even to tear living* ani-
mals to pieces, like beasts, with their teeth, and devoar
them while yet warm and palpitating. The religious
rites of the Greeks, however, were generally calculated
to arouse a joyous and festive enthusiasm. Their de-
votions were always accompanied with music and wine,
as these tended to an exhilaration which assimilated the
devotees to a like mind Avith the deity. They imitated the
gods in feasting and drinking, in gladness and rejoicing,
in cultivating and appreciating the elegant and useful
arts, thereby aiming to impart and receive happiness.

The Greek women, singly or in groups, went to the
temple or sacred places — that is, places made holy by
the presence of a representation of a deity — and there
made offerings to the divine emblem. This they did
by wreathing the ])hallus with flowers, or anointing it
with a specially prepared wine, or other compound, for
the libation.

The mysteries of Bacchus were celebrated at Rome
in the temple of that god, and in the sacred woods
near the Tiber, styled Simila. At the outset women
alone were admitted to those ceremonies — which were
performed in the day time. Pacculla Miuia, when
made priestess, changed the nature and form of this
worship by initiating her two sons and decreeing that
the mysteries should be celebrated at night. Other
men were introduced, and with them most licentious
practices. The youths admitted were never more than


twenty years of age. Wine, flowing- in abnndance,
stimulated excesses, which the shades of night further

The priests introduced the young initiates into subter-
ranean vaults. Frightful yells and the din of drums
and cymbals drowned the outcries which the brutalities
inflicted upon the victims might call forth. Age, sex,
and relationship were confounded. All shame was cast
aside. Every species of luxury and sensual indulgence —
even pederasty and Lesbianism — sullied the temple of
the divinity.

If any of the young initiates resisted the importuni-
ties of the libertine priests and priestesses, or acquitted
themselves negligently in the peculiar and often
unnatural duties required of them, they were attached
to machines which plunged them into lower caverns —
where they met their death. Their disappearance was
ascribed to the action of the angry deity whom they
had offended by disobedience. Shouting and dancing,
by men and women, supposed to be moved by divine
influence, formed a leading characteristic of these
ceremonies. Women with disordered hair plunged
chemically prepared lighted torches into the waters of
the Tiber without extinguishing them. At these mid-
night revels poisons were brewed, wills forged, perjuries
planned, and murders arranged for. The initiates were
of all classes — even the highest and most intelligent.
Their numbers so increased that they were considered
dangerous to the State, and the Senate abolished such


General Furlong, in his " Rivers of Life," deals at
great length upon the phallic basis of the religion of
Rome. He says the Palatine Hill was from the
earliest time dedicated to the male energy, while the
Capitoline was especially sacred to the female cult —
to which the Romans were, as a rule, the more favor-
able. The phallic emblems were afterwards modified
or interpreted, so as to be adapted to the recognition
and worship of Fire and Solar deities. Then, as now,
women were the more enthusiastic and more active
participants in religious devotions and ceremonies. St.
Augustine (A. D. 400) tells us that the sexual member
of man is consecrated in the temple of Liber, and that
of woman in the sanctuaries of Libera — the same
goddess as Venus — and that these two divinities are
called the father and the mother, because they preside
over generation.

Liber was a title of Bacchus, in Avhose honor the
festival of the Liberales Avas held in March, six days
after the Greeks celebrated their Dionysia, in honor of
the same divinity. The phallus played a prominent
]Kirt in these celebrations. It was, in some parts of
Italy, placed upon a chariot, and with solemnity and great
honor draAvn about the fields, along the highways, and
through the towns. At Lavinium the festival Liber
lasted a month. During this time all gave themselves
up to pleasure, licentiousness, and debauchery. Lascivi-
ous ditties and the freest speech were accompanied by
like actions. A magnificent car, bearing an enormous
phallus, was slowly drawn to the center of the forum,


and there came to a halt. The most respectable matron
of the town — as being worthy of this post of honor —
advanced and crowned this symbol of the deity with a
wreath. The more voluptuous part of the ceremony
took place in the night — for it was considered unchaste
to engage in this part of the rites in the day time. The
worshipers gathered at the temple, where they lay
promiscuously together, and honored their deity by a
liberal display of the organs which represented him and
his generative consort, as well as by their ardent and
oft-repeated nse in displaying the energetic and endur-
ing powers which he conferred and blessed.

The next day, or at least soon after, each lady who
had served as a sacrifice to the Priapic god by initiation
into these experiences, expressed her gratitude for the
benefits and pleasures she had received by offering
small images of his characteristic emblem — equal in
number to the men who had served her as priests in
her sacrificial devotions. The number offered — as
shown in some still extant medals, illustrative of this
peculiar scene — indicates that the initiates were not
neglected in this part of their devotions.

Some days later was celebrated the festival of Yen us,
also associated at Rome with the same emblem of
virifity. During this festival the Roman ladies pro-
ceeded in state to the Quirinal, where stood the temple
of the phallus. They took possession of this sacred
object and escorted it in procession to the temple of
Venus Erycina, where they presented it to the goddess.

A Cornelian gem, with a representation of this cere-


mony upon it, was reproduced in the Culte Secret des
Dames Romains. A triumphal chariot bears an altar
upon which rests a colossal phallus. A genius hovers
above this symbol holding a crown of flowers sus-
pended over it. The chariot and genius are under a
square canopy, supported at the tour corners by speai'S,
each in the hands of a semi-nude woman. The chariot
is drawn by bulls and goats, ridden by winged children,
and is preceded by a band of women blowing trumpets.
Further on — at the destination of the chariot and its
escort — is a S3'mbolic youi, corresponding in size with
the honored phallus. This female symbol is upheld
by two genii, who are poiuting out to the approach-
ing phallus the place it is to occupy.

When this ceremony was accomplished by the union
of these two emblems, the Roman ladies devoutly es-
corted the phallus back to its temple.

At the close of the festival of Yeiuis came the Flor-
alia, which excelled all the others in license.

The prostitutes of the city mixed with the multitude
in perfect nakedness, exciting the passious by obscene
songs, jokes, stories, and gestures, until the festival
ended in a scene of mad revelry without tlie least re-
straint. Cato, the younger, who was noted for his
gravity, was present at one of these orgies, and there
was a hesitancy on the part of the participants about
giving reins to their inclinations ; so out of respect to
the wishes of the representative citizens and matrons
he withdrew — so his presence need not interfere with
their worship or lessen their enjoyment.


A thousand sacred prostitutes were attached to the
temple of Yenus at Corinth, and a similar number to
the temple of the same goddess at Eryx. Other tem-
ples in Greece were likewise furnished. St. Paul's de-
scription of the licentious practices at ("orinth was, in
a degree at least, true of most temples of Venus at that
and some former times. Juvenal tells as that every
temple in Rome was properly designated as a licensed

The Bona Dea seems to have been a more select
society — a club, as it were, of the elite of Rome —
organized aud controlled by the hon ton of the Roman
matrons. These Roman ladies were remarkable for
their gravity, dignity, and virtue, in their ordinary
life and associations. The stories told of them, how-
ever, relating their exploits of skill and endurance in
the rites of Yenus, show them to have been fully a
match for the well instructed graduates of the sem-
inaries of Corinth and Eryx; for they were experts
in all the modes and attitudes which the luxuriant
imaginations of experienced votaries have invented for
the performance of the practical religious rites of their
tutelar goddess. The ceremonies of the Bona Dea
were a combination of all the rites of the other fes-
tivals. They were, however, as already suggested,
participated in by the intelligent and prominent only,
and hence were more elegant ; and, while more refined
in their procedures, were quite as free, hcentious, and
promiscuous — with all the revolting and unnatural
practices of the more general orgies.


"No very clear attempt has been made to unravel f nlly
the Greek and Konian worship of Lares and Penates.
They are in origin, however, strictly phallic. In India,
at the present day, tliey are found in the niches of the
domicile — elongated when they are Penates — in mem-
ory of male ancestors ; and ovate when they are Lares —
to commemorate the female dead of the family. The
penates and lares — the phallus and the yoni conven-
tionalized — commemorate the past vital fire and energy
of the tribe or family.


The ancient Persians — under the teachings of Zoro-
aster — worshiped the good deity under the name of
Ormazd. He was defined as goodness, intelligence,
and hght ; and represented by the sun and the sacred
fire. Almman — the embodiment of all evil, dark-
ness and ignorance — was represented as night and
winter. The feminine creator was, represented by the
moon, earth and water. The wind they recognized
as the acti\aties of these divine beings ; good or bad —
as it wns beneficial or destructive, bringing pure air,
comfort and health, or raging in storms and bringing
destructive results.

In Zoroasterism Ave find the religion of the greatest
purity of thought and ceremony among all the ancient

In later times, probably 1000 or 1500 B. C, some
of the Persians learned, and to some extent adopted.


the Assyrian religion, and worshiped Mylitta under the
name of Mithra — or the mediator — but never with
gross licentiousness.

The followers of Zoroaster, the modern representa-
tives being the Parsees of India, have never in their
worship been gross or unclean in doctrine or ceremonial ;
and have never used any images of the Divine.

The serpent is spoken of as an evil princijde, or as
representing a servant of Ahriman, but never figured
as a religious emblem by the followers of Zoroaster.

In short, the followers of Zoroaster were in no sense
idolators. They were, from the beginning, as they are
now, worshipers of one God. They held fire as sacred —
not to reverence it for its own sake, but as the primal
representative of the living and true, but invisible,
God — creator of all that is.

Firdosi Toosi, the celebrated Mohammedan poet, who
wrote Shah Nama — the history of the Persian Kings —
placed on the title page the following verse as a motto :

" Ma Pindar ke atush purustan boodund —

Piirustunduya Pack yezdan boodund."
"Don't think they were fire worshipers;

But worshipers of one God only." *

The Persian version of the fall of man is nearly like
the Hebrew, but much more explicit: The first man,
Meschia, and the first woman, Meschiane, were be-
guiled by the evil one, Ahriman, who appeared to them

* The author is indebted to Mr. Sorabjee Elciiidana, a learned Parsee,
a native of Bombay, and now a resident of Los Angieles, California, for this
translation, and for most that is here said concerning the religion of the
followers of Zoroaster.


in the form of a serpent. Under his influence they
committed the sin of carnal intercourse — in thought,
word, and deed — and thus transmitted to all their
descendants the taint of that sin. This myth, like one
popular interpretation of the Hebrew legend, seems to
many minds terribly inconsistent ; for man Avas created
male and female and directed to populate the earth —
even to fill it — and was furnished with no means of
doing so except the universal one of sexual congress.
Yet these two interpretations make this union — the
first obedience, to the first god, of the fii'st command,
to the first human beings — to be the first sin of tliose


Gnostics. — Much has been said and written con-
cerning the Gnostics. Some laud them as the w^isest
and purest — while' others denounce and describe them
as the most professedly and actually vile — among
men. The simple fact is, that both these statements
are comparatively true ; because two entirely different
schools assumed this name. One class were devoted

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Online LibraryRobert Allen CampbellPhallic worship : an outline of the worship of the generative organs, as being, or as representing, the Divine Creator, with suggestions as to the influence of the phallic idea on religious creeds, ce → online text (page 11 of 12)