This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
FROM the investigations and researches of the learned, there appears to be no doubt but that the most ancient of all superstitions was that in which Nature was contemplated chiefly under the attribute or property of fecundity; the symbols of the reproductive power being those under which its prolific potencies were exhibited. It is not because modern fastidiousness affects to consider those symbols as indecent, and even obscene, that we should therefore suppose them to have been so regarded by the ancients: on the contrary, the view of them awakened no impure ideas in the minds of the latter, being regarded by them as the most sacred objects of worship. The ancients, indeed, did not look upon the pleasures of love with the same eye as the moderns do: the tender union of the sexes excited their veneration, because religion appeared to consecrate it, inasmuch as their mythology presented to them all Olympus as more occupied with amatory delights than with the government of the universe.
The reflecting men of those times, more simple, but, it must be confessed, more profound, than those of our own day, could not see any moral turpitude in actions regarded by them as the design of nature, and as the acme of felicity. For this reason it is that we find not only ancient writers expressing themselves freely upon subjects regarded by us as indecent, but even sculptors and painters equally unrestrained in this particular.
The statesman took advantage of these religious impressions: whatever tended to increase population being held in honour. Those images and Priapi so frequently found in the temples of the ancients, and even in their houses, and which we consider as objects of indecent lewdness, were, in their eyes, but so many sacred motives exciting them to propagate their species.
In order to represent by a physical object the reproductive power of the sun in spring-time, as well as the action of that power on all sentient beings, the ancients adopted that symbol of the male gender which the Greeks, who derive it from the Egyptians, called - Phallus.* This worship was so general as to have spread itself over a large portion of the habitable globe, for it flourished for many ages in Egypt and Syria, Persia, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy: it was, and still is, in vigour in India and many parts of Africa, and was even found in America on its discovery by the Spaniards. Thus Garcilaso de la Vega informs us † that, in the public squares of Panuco (a Mexican town), basreliefs were found which, like those of India, represented, in various ways the sexual union; while at Tlascala, another town of that country, the reproductive act was worshipped under the joint symbol of the generative organs, male and female.
Plate I. HIC. HABITAT
FELICITAS. EGYPTIAN PHALLI.
Pompdan House - sign.
* For a representation of the Egyptian "Phallus" see Plate I., figures 1,2, and 3. These are taken from the "Recueii d'Antiquites Egyptiennes" by the Comte De Caylus, who, speaking of the first of them, observes: "Cette figure represente le plus terrible Phallus qu'on ait vo, proportion gardee, sur aucun ouvrage. On n'ignore point la veneration que les Egyptiens avaient pour cet embleme, il est vrai; mais je doute que cette nation sage et peu outree dans sa conduite eut consacre dans les premiers siecles, cest a dire, avant le regne des Ptolemees, une pareille figure." † Historia de los Incas. Cap. VI.
A more surprising fact is, that this worship has, as will be shewn hereafter, been perpetuated to a very late date, among the Christians of Europe.
In its origin, the Phallus or emblem of the generative and pro-creative powers of nature appears to have been of a very simple and inoffensive character - although it was afterwards made subservient to the grossest and most superstitious purposes.
In India this worship is everywhere to be found accompanying the triune God, called by the Hindoos, Trimourti or Trinity, and the significant form of the single obelisk or pillar called the Lingo, or Lingham;* and It should be observed, in justice to the Hindoos that it is some comparative and negative praise to them, that this emblem, under which they express the elements and operations of nature is not externally indecorous. Unlike the abominable realities of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, we see this Indian phallic emblem in the Hindoo religious exhibitions, without offence, nor know, until information be extorted, that we are contemplating a symbol whose prototype is obscene.†
* In the church of St. Peter's at Rome, is kept, en secre/, a large stone emblem of the creative power, of a very peculiar shape, on which are engraved Zevs åwthr . Only persons who have great interest can get a sight of it. Is it from this stone having some peculiar virtue that those preux chevaliers, the cardinals, keep it so closely? Perhaps they choose to monopolize the use of it ? I never saw it, but I know that it was at St. Peter's. - Higgins.
Fig. 1. LINGHAM.
Fig. 2. PANS HEAD.
† See Plate II., figure I. This figure of the Lingham presents a kind of Trinity, the vase represents Vishnu, from the middle of which rises a column rounded at the top representing Siva, and the whole rests upon a pedestal typifying Brahma. From the Voyage aux Indes Orientales et a la Chine, par M. Sonnerat, depuis 1774 jusqu'en 1781. Tom. I., p. 179.
Besides the Lingham, the equally significant Yoni or Cteis is to be seen, being the female organ of generation. It is sometimes single, often in conjunction, for the Indians, believing that the emblem of fecundity might be rendered more energetic by combining the organs of both sexes, did so unite them, giving to this double symbol the name of Pulleiar, confounded by some writers with the Lingham itself. This pulleiar is highly venerated by the sectarian worshippers of Siva (the third god of the Tri-mourti), who hang it round their neck, as a charm or amulet, or enclosing it in a small box, fasten it upon their arm. The Indians have also a little jewel called taly, worn, in like manner, by females round their necks as a charm. It is presented to them on their wedding day by their husbands, who receive it from the hands of the Brahmins. Upon these jewels is engraved the representation, either of the Lingham or of the Pulleiar. The follow-ing anecdote connected with this custom is given by M.Sonnerat.*