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Phallic Worship

The Phallus was a sculptured representation of the membrum uirile, or male organ of generation. The worship of it is said to have originated in Egypt, where, after the murder of Osiris by Typhon, which is symbolically to be explained as the destruction or deprivation of the sun's light by night, Isis, his wife, or the symbol of nature, in the search for his mutilated body, is said to have found all the parts except the organs of generation. This myth is simply symbolic of the fact that the sun having set, its fecundating and invigorating power had ceased. The Phallus, therefore, as the symbol of the male generative principle, was very universally venerated among the ancients, and that, too, as a religious rite, without the slightest reference to any impure or lascivious application. As a symbol of the generative principle of nature, the worship of the Phallus appears to have been very nearly universal. In the mysteries it was carried in solemn procession. The Jews, in their numerous deflections into idolatry, fell readily into that of this symbol. And they did this at a very early period of their history, for we are told that even in the time of the Judges (see Judges in, 7), they "served Baalim and the groves." Now the word translated, here and elsewhere, as groves, is in the original Asherah, and is by all modern interpreters supposed to mean a species of Phallus. Thus Movers (Die Phonizier, page 56) says that Asherah is a sort of Phallus erected to the telluric goddess Baaltes, and the learned Holloway (Originals i, page 18) had long before come to the same conclusion.

But the Phallus, or, as it was called among the Orientalists, the Lingam, the symbol under which, for example, the god Siva is worshiped in India, was a representation of the male principle only. To perfect the circle of generation, it is necessary to advance one step farther. Accordingly we find in the Cteis of the Greeks, and the Yoni of the Indians, a symbol of the female generative principle of coextensive prevalence with the Phallus. The Cteis was a circular and concave pedestal, or receptacle, on which the Phallus or column rested, and from the center of which it sprang.

The union of these two, as the generative and the producing principles of nature, in one compound figure, was the most usual mode of representation. Here we undoubtedly find the remote origin of the point within a circle, an ancient symbol which was first adopted by the old sun-worshipers, and then by the ancient astronomers, as a symbol of the sun surrounded by the earth or the universe--the sun as the generator and the earth as the producer--and afterward modified in its signification and incorporated as part of the symbolism of Freemasonry (see Point within a Circle).

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