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

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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 3 of 12)
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were the most celebrated, and are the better understood.
What we can learn concerning them may. therefore,
serve as a general type of all the others. Although
position, influence, and wealth, no doubt, had their in-
fluence in recommending a candidate, they were certam-


ly not all-sufficient ; for JN^ero could not, by persuasion
or threats, secure admission. Persons of all ages and
both sexes were admitted.

One must have had much to recommend him before
he was even thought of as a possible member. If
searching inquiry concerning him resulted satisfactorily
he was formally announced as a "candidate." If he
was chosen, he was, under the most solemn vows of
obedience, study, and secrecy inducted by a purifica-
tion — including much fasting — into the Lesser Mys-
teries. As a concluding part of the ceremony the
candidate was instructed, by the Hierophant, to look
within the chest or ark which contained the mystic ser-
pent, the phallus, the ego;, and grains saci-ed to
Demeter. The epopt then, as he was reverent or
otherwise, " knew himself " by the sentiments aroused.

The real seer beheld in these emblems the symbols of
divine and infinite generators — towai-ds Avhose nature
he aspired ; the sensual and unregenerate natural man
saw the representations of that which his lust hungered
for. Plato and Alcibiades were aroused by very different
-emotions. He thus became a IS'eophyte — new-born,
or mystic — a veiled one. He then passed a probation
of from one to five years in study and purification.
During this period he was subjected to various and fre-
quent severe trials of his obedience, fidelity, courage,
and discretion. When he had proven himself every
way worthy as to character, and his mind was properly
prepared for the reception of the higher truths, the
Neophyte was conducted into the inmost secret recesses


of the temple, and initiated into the Greater Mysteries,
becoming a " Seer " or " Initiate." Into some of the
interior mysteries, however, only a select few were ever

He was then instructed in the essential principles of
religion — " the knowledge of the God of nature — the
first, the supreme, the intellectual — by which men had
been reclaimed from rudeness and barbarism to elegance
and refinement, and been taught, not only to live in
more comfort, but to die with better hopes."

This shows that the Initiates were acquainted with
a hio'her and clearer view of the Creator, and of the
present and future life, than the masses could probably

These truths were taught, in part at least, and illus-
trated by " allegories — the exposition of old opinions
and fables" — and by symbols. The last offering made
by one initiated into the Greater Mysteries was a cock
to ^sculapius.

From among the initiates some were selected who
were "crowned" as an indication that they were au-
thorized to communicate to others the sacred rites in
which they had been instructed. That is, they were
made, as it were, priests or teachers for those initiated —
but who did not remember or understand all they had
seen or heard in the ceremonies.

The Hierophant who presided was bound to a life of
celibacy, and also required to devote his entire life to
his sacred office. To reveal any of the secrets of
the Mysteries was adjudged as the basest wickedness ;


and in Athens was punished l)y death. Uninitiated
persons found unlawfully witnessing the ceremonies
were also put to death.

" The intention of all mystic ceremonies is to conjoin
us with the world and with the gods." The grand con-
summation sought for in these initiations was,
^^ Friendship and interior communion to ith God ^ and
the enjoyment of that felicity which arises from intimate
converse with divine heings.''''

A most interesting study to one Avho can appreciate
without prejudice that two good and intelligent men
can honestly differ most radically on the meaning of a
sim])le mj^th, and the ceremonies illustrating that
myth, would he to carefully follow Alexander Wilder
and Thomas Taylor in their essays upon Eleusinian
and ^Bacchic Mysteries; and then turn to the de-
nunciation and hitter abuse of these same ideas and
proceedings by celebrated and honest Avriters, who find
in them only incarnated folly, ignorance, and worse
than beastly sexual abominations.

The Initiates in their public worship professed the
same creed, engaged in the same ceremonies, and used
the same symbols as the masses. It is, therefore,
almost certain that their private work was simply an
esoteric instruction or deeper interpretation of these
exteiMials of their religion. Very gradually the perma-
nently ^'ital })art of these secret teachings became the
reformed beliefs of the masses and were incorporated
into the pul)licly accepted dogmas. The consequence
of this was the gradual re- interpretation of some cere-


monies, and, little by little, the modification of such
others as were supposed by their dramatic action to
teach something radically inconsistent with the newer
and broader recognition of truth.

As symbols have no intrinsic religious meaning, but
depend entirely for their value upon the arbitrary sig-
nification bestowed upon them, they were naturally
retained in their established form, while their traditional
interpretations were so enlarged as to harmonize with
the broader teachings of the clearer truth. The student
of religious history and development finds that creeds
change very gradually under the influence of increas-
ing intelligence and varying circumstances, and he has
little trouble in tracing their relationship and growth ;
that ceremonies, while they are modified in form to
illustrate and impress the changed creed, are always a
compromise between the traditional custom and the
innovating dogma, generally retaining the familiar
dramatic elements as well as the time-honored times,
seasons, and "high days ;" and that the oi-iginal sym-
bols, which represent the fimdamentals in religion, re-
main nearly the same, the change being almost wholly
in interpretation — which is the greater unfolding of
the original teaching. The innovating ideas, the
changed mode of thought, the new and ever-shifting
conditions and circumstances of life, together with
man's natural love of novelty and variety in modes of
conception and expression, will evolve many new sym-
bols and numerous modifications of those already in


use; still the old and reverenced symbols remain, and in
nearly the same form.

Man has, from the earliest times, recognized that
every effect must have a cause. He has constantly seen
phenomena Avhich he could not, by himself, nor with the
assistance of his fellow-men, either reproduce or prevent.
The fact of unseen power or powers, superior to his
strength and beyond his understanding, was, therefore,
forced upon his attention. These unseen powers he
naturally thought of as attributes of unseen beings,
whose purposes were carried out with a will stronger —
and often contrary to his own ; whose plans Avere broader
and more intelligent than his mind could understand ;
and whose operations were always superior to his com-
paratively puny efforts. With the first crude conception
of this grand idea — which is the essential foundation of
all religion, philosophy, and science — man desired to
know more of these unseen and superior beings. They
were recognized as at times beneficent, sending warmth,
rain, food, peace, and other good gifts ; and, again, as
being malevolent, sending storms, pestilence, famine,
war, and other disasters. Man ardently desired to know
the character, purposes, plans, and powers of these
superior beings, so as to court their favor, cooperation,
and help, as well as to avoid their displeasure and con-
sequent opposition.

These unseen and superior beings were thought of as
personalities, who, like men, were of varying disposi-
tions, good and bad ; as of relative intelligence, some
much wiser than the others ; as of different i)ower.s ; and


as limited in locality, as well as in other respects. They
were, therefore, thought of as frequently having- differ-
ent, and often contrary, purposes, which brought them
into contention with each other. Like men, too, they
were of different rank, honor, and station. They were,
however, divided into two general classes — the good
and the bad, those who were friendly to mankind — de-
siring to show him favoi-; and those who strove to
injure, annoy, and destroy humanity.

One among them was generally considered far
superior to all the others in goodness, intelligence, and
power; and this supreme being was called the God, or
Great God, while the others were called, simply and
collectively, the gods. This supreme being, and a few
of his chief associates, were also given individual names.
This superior being was masculine, the creator of all
that is, the father, not only of men, but of the other
gods, whom he dominated. All these gods were con-
ceived of as masculine, like the principal one. They
had, however, goddesses for associates — the superioress
of whom was the consort of the ruling god. These gods
and goddesses were not only thought of as distinctly
masculine and feminine ; but they were considered as
remarkable for their virility as for their other super-
human attainments. Their amoui'S and creative en-
durance and activity foi-ms an important part of all
mythology. The bad gods, while inferior to the good
ones, were superior to man in wisdom, strength, and
virile activity ; and had, also, goddesses for consorts and
associates. The evil gods and goddesses, however, were


destructive rather than creative ; and the evil goddesses
play a veiy inferior role in all myths. The supreme
masculine creative powei", principle, or person, by what-
ever name known, and Avhatever his recognized attri-
butes, was the great object of worship and veneration ;
and whatever measure of reverence was shown the
others, was bestowed upon them as the associates and
assistants of the ^' Lord of Lords/'

The supi'eme feminine creative power, pi-inciple, or
person, by whatever name designated, or whatever her
recognized attributes, was considered the consort or
favorite associate of the masculine creator, and shared
the honors bestowed upon him. This honor was in a
few isolated cases, as to time and place, greater than
that bestowed upon the royal god. In a greater num-
ber of instances they received equal honor. Generally,
however, while they were nominally equal, the creative
god was considered the wise and powerful ruler who
was feared, and who, hence, received the greater share
of dogmatic ceremonial and recognition ; but the crea-
tress goddess was looked upon as the tender and loving
mother, and received the sincerer affection of the hum-
ble worshiper, who appealed to her as the more likely
to sympathize with and assist her needy and suffering-

Even in this day we see the same principle car-
ried out in the purest religions. The Buddhist de-
votee, the pious Catholic, and the penitent Protestant,
all laud the greatness, power, and wisdom of the mascu-
line Father; but look to the immaculate Devi, the


Holy Mary, or the transcendent womanly love of Jesus,
for special favors in times of unusual trial and deep

While the above is a general outline of the supposed
character and relative rank of the unseen gods, it must
be borne in mind that each civilization and sect of wor-
shipers attributed to each of the principal cleitics, mod-
ified quahties, purposes, and jiowers ; and sometimes
changed their rank, actually and relatively.

In India the divine fatherhood was the ineffable
Brahm, or great one. He manifested him-herself
(for he is androgynous) first as Brahma, the creator.
From the latter proceeded Vishnu, the preserver, and
Siva, the changer. The latter is the creator and de-
stroyer of mankind. His destruction, however, is not
annihilation, but'change, hence generally, improvement.
The divine motherhood — (also in Brahm) is manifested
in the mothers or Sactis — Saraswati, Lakshmi, Par-
vati, or Devi, who are the consoi'ts of the masculine
trinity. The latter, as the wife of Siva, is the mother
of mankind. This religious system is by all odds the
most extensive in myth and dogma, the most finished
and consistent in theology, the most elaborate and
dramatic in ceremony, and the richest and most poeti-
cal in symbolism of any cult in the world. It was
probably the earliest in origin, has certainly been the
most presistent in continuity, and is claimed by its ad-
herents to be — and thought by most scholars to be —
the origin of all other systems. It is as Bi*ahmanism
and Buddhism to the orient what Judaism and Chris-


tianity is to the Occident. There should certainly be no
quarrel between these two transcendent systems, for the
ethics — si)ii'itual, moral, and philanthroj^ic — of Siddar-
tha and Jesus — the Buddha and the Christ — have not
been improved upon. Whatever of uncleanness, dis-
honesty, or cruelty may be practiced by the professed
followers of either of these illuminated instructors is
certainly contrary to their transcendental precepts and
pui-e examples ; and whatever of punty, usefulness,
and brotherly love may be developed or exhibited by
reg-enerating men, will be only the realization of their
divine teachings and philanthropic lives. They each
taught a Supreme Being of infinite love, wisdom, and
power, revealed the beauty of holiness, brought life and
immortality to light, announced and enforced the eter-
nal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of
all men. They each set the example of woi'shiping the
Highest by giving their lives for mankind, teaching
that the purest praise — most acceptable to the Divine
Creator — was ]ieeded service rendered to his humblest
children — the sick, the hungry, the suffering, and the



WHY were these emblems chosen as the sym-
bols of religious ideas? What did they
originally represent? When were they first adopted?
Why are they in such general use? What do they mean
now? AVhen, how, and why were the meanings of
these symbols changed from their original value to their
present interpretations? Why have these forms been
so tenaciously retained, while their significations have
so frequently and so radically been modified?

An answer to these questions will be not only inter-
esting historically, but instructive in a more vitally im-
portant department of human knowledge — man's
spiritual development. Answering these questions,
even in the brief and general way which a work of this
size will permit, shows that the fundamental idea of all
religious is the worshiping of the Creator. Such an-
swers Avill also illustrate the many and persistent oppo-
sitions which eveiy innovation in dogma and ceremony
4 (49)


must meet, before even the fairly intelligent truth-
seeker will accept them as improvements on the old
creeds and forms of worship.

The early use of these symbols — dating beyond
history into the dimmest traditions — their general use,
among all peoples and in all times ; their persistent
continuance, through all the ages ; their general use in
our own day, when they are used by worshipers the
most diverse in creed, ceremony, and life, in all stages
of development — intellectual and moral — from the
savage Oceauican to the cultured metropolitan, is the
constant wonder of history.


was the child of Kature — the infant of the race. In
the early dawnings of his twilight intelligence his
thoughts were doubtless almost exclusively occupied
concerning his purely physical necessities of food, shel-
ter, and defense against his enemies — man and beast.
Being the child of Kature, from whom the race, with
all its improvements has developed, he, like all other
children, since and now, ate his food because hunger
prompted him to this pleasing satisfaction of his appe-
tites. He put on his mantle of skin or laid it off, and
walked out under the sky or sought his shelter, because
his bodily comfort suggested such procedure.

The child of to-day sees its father at work " making
things;" it sees its mother, or her assistants, cooking
or sewing, providing food and clothing ; so it can in its
limited way account for the supply of its bodily wants.


So the primitive man fa^^hioned his arrow or his gar-
ment, and hence knew how they were made. He bnilt
his hut, and captured game for his food or took it from
the flocks he had cared for ; so it was not a doubtful
question why he was fed, clothed, and sheltered.

As the morning redness of his mej-ely sensual
thoughts were lighted up to a clearer and broader hor-
izon by the rising sun of perception, he began to ask
speculative questions as to the why and how of what he
saw al)out him. Being a child, among the first won-
dering questions of a speculative nature difficult to
have satisfactorily answered was, of course, the same
questions which the child of to-day asks under similar

Some morning in its experience every child's eyes are
opened in wonder. There is a mystery it cannot under-
stand. A wee bit stranger is found in the family. This
baby draws its nourishment fi'om the mother's breast,
which was so recently the resting place of the now won-
dering and inquisitive child. The natural and anxious
questions of the mystified child, so perplexing for the
mother to answer with temporary satisfaction to its
limited understanding, are the same questions that the
primitive man asked of nature and of his neighbor —
receiving only a vague, shadowy, and temporary answer.
Tliey are, too, the same questions that the scientist, the
philosopher, and the theologian — even in our enlight-
ened day of boasted research, ratiocination and revela-
tion — ask from experience, perception, and prophecy —
and from each other, without receiving any answer sat-


isfactoiy to themselves, much less satisfactory to the
comprehension of the inquisitive child. These ques-
tions, which every one asks wonderingly, as a child, and
seriously, as a mature thinker, and which nearly every
one answers glibly, without thought, and hesitatingly,
as he is more intelligent, but which have never been
fully answered, are these : —

Who or what is this little stranger?

Where did this little stranger come from?

How did this little thing get here?

In a word : —

"Who made the baby?"

These universal and ever-present questions have uni-
versal and ever-prese-nt responses, which may be formu-
lated into universal and ever-present answers, viz. :
" This little stranger is a human being. It came from
God — or the gods. God — or the gods — sent it here. ' '
In short, " God — or the gods — made the baby."

CEdipus answered the riddle of the Sphinx by pro-
nouncing the word ' ' man ; ' ' but he failed to solve the
enis^ma behind the riddle, because he did not — and
could not — define man. And he could not define man
because he did not know himself — much less human-

So these formulated replies answer these questions,
but they do not solve the mysteries behind these ques-
tions. They do not answer the spirit of the questions,
because they do not define man or describe God. Who
is he who knows man, " fearfully and wonderfully
made? " and "who is he who can, by searching, find


out the deep things of God, or find out the Almig-hty
to perfection? "

All religions, past, present, and possible, must be
based upon the attempt to understand and define man
and God — and hence to understand and define man's
relations to God and to his fellow-man. It, therefore,
naturally follows that all syrabology in the statement,
unfoldment, and illustration, of any and every religion
must have reference — directly or remotely — to the
supposed character and attributes of the God — or
gods — which that cult recognizes.

Man, in every stage of his development, considers
himself superior to the other creatures he sees around
him ; he would, therefore, naturally consider his maker
or creator superior to the fashioner of those creatures.
Again, as man is observing before he is reflective, and
scientific before he is speculative, ho is prone to sup-
pose that the immediately preceding operation is the
cause of the immediately succeeding result. Primitive
man readily noticed that his eyes saw, his ears heard,
his tongue spoke, his hands fashioned his implements
of industry and war ; and he derived pleasure as well
as profit from the use of these organs. His sexual
organ voiced itself in his strongest passion, its appro-
priate activity was the source of his incompai*ably
greatest pleasure, and produced the most wonderful
and most prized result — a new human being like him-
self. He, therefore, naturally exalted this organ as the
creator of the little stranger, who would, in his turn,
become a man. Among all i)riniitive races woman was


simply a chattel, and he no more thought of giving any
credit to the feminine organs, in producing the child,
than he thought of considering the flint as his associate
in making an arrow head. Primitive man was not yet
so enlightened as to distinguish between the principle
and its mode of manifestation — between the unseen
force and the means of transmitting that force — be-
tween the intent that directed the instrument and the
instrument itself ; he, therefore, came to recognize the
phallus as the creator of man.

The erect phallus was, therefore, the first object of
man's adoration and worship.

Even among the earliest worshipers some of the more
speculative would very soon distinguish between the
phallus as a creator and the phallus as the instrument
of a power which created by its use. Such men would,
however, distinguish this unseen power as being mas-
culine, and hence worship the masculine principle as the
creator — still, however, using the phallus to symbolize
this unseen creator.

Large men of muscular development, and aggressive
natures, were the masters among their fellows. They
couid, and did, on this account, become possessed of
more women, and hence beget more children — thus
becoming of even greater renown ; so stature, strength,
courage, prowess, and domination became, in a measure
at least, identified with virility. It was, no doubt, soon
discovered that the man who had lost, or seriously in-
jured, his phallus, was generally lacking, also, in
strength, courage, and endurance. Above all, he


was totally unfitted for what was then considered the
great and distinctive duty and privilege of man — be-
gettmg sons and daughters. Such men were, there-
fore, despised and outcast. They were denied the rights
of citizenship, or even the privilege of engaging in any
public worship.

Phallic images, representing the organ itself, the
masculine principle, or the invisible masculine creator —
according to the different views and interpretations of
the woi-shipers — were, from the earliest traditional
times, made in every conceivable variation of form and
size. The object presented to the eye was, from a
modern stand-point of view, gross ; but the idea sym-
bolized was grand ; and reverence for the creator was
proved by pacing abundant honor to the sign — and
especially to the organ it represented. The commonest,
and probably the ceremonial, or official, form, was that,
however, of the erect phallus, in natural proportion,
but of all sizes, from the tiny amulet — worn by pious
matrons and innocent maidens as a charm, up to the
imposing shaft erected over the grave of the honored
hero — from which has descended the memorial columns
in our modern cemeteries — and even to the gigantic
phallic tower dedicated with solemn ceremonies — and
the presence of which indicated a holy place — Beth-
el -.-house of God.

This phallic tower, though of coui'se " conventional-
ized" in form, is still common as a church steeple, and
suggests the Father of us all ; while it designates a
holy place, which has been, by solemn religious cere-

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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 3 of 12)