In Praise of Big, Hard... Phalluses
Soft penises are delightful in many ways, and they have their uses even for those of us who nearly always experience them firsthand in their firmer state. But the fact of the matter is that, through all the many, many centuries of phallus worship, we humans have not appreciated a soft penis. We have not built statues of them, worn amulets of them, prayed to them, or created saints of them. All of which we've done for hard dicks, especially for very big, very hard dicks.
There are road markers, signs, and bas-reliefs all over the world of erect penises, some on animals, some on humans, some freely independent of any biological attachment. Many that are attached to creatures are larger proportionately than nature endows, often fully as large as their host. Their happy bearers can be seen hugging them, caressing them, flaunting them, fucking with them, or just ignoring them. One sublimely entertaining statue I've seen has the proud penis-wielder being showered upon by cum from his own dick which towers over his head. As you might expect, he has a huge grin on his face.
Most of these characters are deities, according to scholars. These learned folk tell us that all these erect phalli offer divine patronage of such things as virility, fertility, power, and protection. And more intriguing yet, there are traces of phallus worship in most of today's religions. Yes, including Christianity. But we'll talk more about that in a minute.
Though your teacher may not have shared the most interesting ones with you, cave paintings often included erect penises among the drawings of hunters and animals. The penises were usually attached to a human or god figure. Hinduism has a practice of phallus worship at least four millennia old. Hindu art depicts phalluses, with and without deities holding them. Lingam and yoni statues can be quite lovely, but are not always recognizable to Westerners as representative of an erect phallus and a vulva. The Egyptian god Min was an ithyphallic character, which means that he always sported a hard-on (pictured right). His form is obvious in Egyptian art.
An Egyptian phallus story involves Isis, whose husband (and brother) Osiris had been killed and dismembered by his brother Seth. The body parts were thrown into the Nile or the Underworld. Isis retrieved the pieces, curiously finding all of them but the penis. She built him a new one out of wood, which worked so well they conceived a child named Horus. (Is this where the expression “getting wood” comes from?) In the 5th century BCE, women were still celebrating rites for Osiris, parading from town to town with string puppets that had moving penises almost as big as the rest of the puppets' bodies.
Penis parades were not rare. The Feast of Liber, a Roman god of fertility, was celebrated on March 17 with parades of huge phalluses. This was the day Roman boys became men, in spite of the daunting challenge presented to them in the form of a penis larger than a man and which had been wreathed with flowers by a respectable matron. The Middle Ages in Europe witnessed many such parades and activities, often dedicated to the Greek fertility god Priapus (son of Aphrodite), some with Catholic priests presiding over the festivities. His name, modified to priapism, is used by the medical field to indicate a persistent erection, which to patients and their doctors is not the cause for delight it was to the Greek pantheon and their devotees.
There have been statues of gods and penises used to guarantee procreation, whether by sleeping with the idol all night, by offering gifts or sacrifices, or by direct application–yes, that means the mother-to-be would fuck the saint's statue, or the appropriate part of it. One of the lucky saints was St. Guignolé, an abbot in France in the 6th century CE. His name was confused with the verb meaning to engender or to beget, thereby leading the local inhabitants to associate him with their old friend Priapus. His statues reflected this association in their overall shape, or in the size and shape of St Guignolé's blessed endowment. It can only be hoped that the Catholic heaven allows him to have a sense of humor about his legacy.
Another example of French pagans thinking about sex when faced with Catholic clergy was an early bishop of Lyon. His name was supposedly conflated with another's to become Fountin, close enough to the Old French foutre to earn him the name St. Fountin, which translates as 'Saint Fuck.' A statue of his large, hard phallus was treated to regular showers of red wine, which was later imbibed by women who wanted to get pregnant and men who wanted to get hard.
However, the most compelling bit of Christian phallus worship involves soft tissue after all—the Holy Prepuce. For those of us who aren't fluent in Latin, prepuce means foreskin. Jesus was Jewish, and as a good Jewish boy, his parents took him to get circumcised when he was eight days old. The piece of skin removed is purported to have been saved in a container of spikenard on the day of Jesus' circumcision.
Since Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, it is the only part of his body that would have remained on earth. Theological discussions have raged over whether it somehow would have ascended also. A 17th-century theologian, Leo Allatius, theorized that upon Jesus' ascension, the Holy Prepuce became the rings of Saturn, which had just become viewable to humans through telescopes.
There have been hundreds of cases of the Holy Prepuce reported in Europe. Many churches claimed ownership of, and miraculous conceptions due to, the Holy Prepuce in their custody. Each had a history describing the route their holy bit of flesh had taken to arrive in their care. Famous personages - kings, conquerors, generals - made gifts of the Holy Foreskin to other famous ones. Squabbles about this particular holy relic went on for centuries, with some bought and sold, and some stolen. It's hard to believe that there was that much foreskin to go around (so to speak). But all the other gods had big dicks, and Jesus had, after all, produced a similar miracle with fishes and loaves.
The most recent sighting of a declared Holy Prepuce (or at least its reliquary) was on January 1, 1983 (The Feast of the Circumcision), when the town of Calcata, Italy, paraded it through the streets, making it possibly the only non-hard divine genitalia to be paraded in the streets. Soft or hard, this makes Jesus another god whose phallus—or at least part of it—has been worshipped for centuries.
[Editor's Note: The slide image is of the god Mercury from a first-century fresco in Pompeii.]