This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
"A Capuchin missionary had a serious dispute with the Jesuits residing at Pondicherry, which was referred for decision to the judicial courts. The disciples of Loyola, who can be toleration itself when toleration furthers their crafty and ambitious views, had declined all interference with the above custom. M. Tour-non, the Pope's legate apostolic, who regarded the matter as one not to be trifled with, and with whom, moreover, the jesuits were no favourites, strictly prohibited the taly, enjoining all female converts to substitute in its place either a cross or a medal of the Virgin. The Indian women, strongly attached to their ancient customs, refused obedience. The missionaries, apprehensive of losing the fruits of their zealous labours, and seeing the number of their neophytes daily diminishing, entered into a compromise by adopting a mezzo-termine with the females in question, and it was agreed that a Cross should be engraved upon the taly, an arrangement by which the symbol of Christian salvation was coupled with that of the male and female pudenda".
* Voyage aux Indus el a la Chine., par Sonnerat, depuis 1774 jusqu'en 1781; Tom. i. liv. 2.
The deep and enthusiastic veneration felt by the Hindoos for this worship is naturally explained by their intense anxiety and desire for having children who might perform those ceremonies to their manes which they firmly and piously believe will have the effect of mitigating their punishment in the world to come. They worship the Lingham, therefore, for the sake of having progeny, and husbands, whose wives are barren, send them to adore that symbol, and, if report be true, the ladies take especial care not to disappoint the wish of their dear spouses.
It is probable that the introduction of this worship is due to the Indians who founded the sect of Siva, imagining, as they no doubt did, that the most effectual means of propagating it would be by presenting their diety under the form of that organ by which the reproduction of the human race is effected.
Nothing can be a greater proof of the high antiquity of the Indians than this worship, it being certain that the Egyptians did not establish it, as well as the dogma of the Metempsychosis, among themselves, until after they had travelled in India.
Phalli, usually in lead, have been even found in the river Rh6ne. These were most likely the signs and tokens belonging to some secret society probably of a licentious character. Similar ones are in the Forgeais collection, and were engraved in the Plombs Histories of that antiquarian.*
According to an ingenious writer, † who is of opinion that the Indians sent, at a very remote period, colonists to Ireland, the round towers, so numerous in that island, are no other than ancient Phallic temples erected in honour of the fructifying power of nature emanating, as it was supposed to do, from the sun, under the name of Sol, Phoebus, Apollo, Abad, or Budh.*
• See plate III., figures 1, 2, 3, and 4..
† Henry O'Brien, Round Towers of Ireland. London, 1834. Chapter viii.
Plate III. PHALLIC EMBLEM. Found in the Rhone. From the Forgeais Collection.
Alluding to these towers, Mr. O'Brien observes, "The eastern votaries, suiting the action to the idea, and that their vivid imaginations might be still more enlivened by the very form of the temple, actually constructed its architecture after the model of the membrum virile, which, obscenity apart, is the divinity-formed and indispensable medium selected by God himself for human propagation and sexual prolificacy." There is every reason to believe that our May-pole is a relic of the ancient Phallic worship.
The manners of the ancient Hebrews seem to have differed little, if at all, in this respect, from those of the nations surrounding them: thus, David, dancing with all his might before the ark, lifted up his ephod and exhibited his nakedness to "the eyes of the handmaids of his servants." No blame is attached to the king for such gross indecency during a public and religious ceremony; while Michal, his wife was punished with barrenness, for expressing her disapprobation of his conduct.†
† Samuel II., chap. vi., v. 20, 21, 22, 23.