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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Found Article: The Sacred Phallus

I'm a member of a Pagan Yahoo! list, and this was recently posted by the author. I am reproducing it here with his permission. Enjoy.


I offer these musings as a beginning, hopefully they will be discussed and enlarged upon by others in the days to come. My thoughts were guided to this subject by some curious coincidences in regard to this subject in letters from two friends on the difficulty of creating a truly meaningful men's mysteries ceremony and the skittishness of men when it came to discussing their sexuality during those men's mysteries. Then I was sent a particularly beautiful drawing of the Horned God image! My friends' perceptions and my observing of the Horned God image led to the thoughts I present for you consideration.

If men are leery about discussing their feelings about their sexuality and sex in general, that hides in turn the more delicate subject of their feelings about the phallus. These feelings are part of the core of our concepts of manhood. The phallus in particular divides the boy from the man.

It is not by accident that the first rite of passage into manhood, the first initiation, would come at the beginning of puberty. With it came new rules, new responsibilities and new privileges. Nor is it accidental that earliest images of the Horned God show him with a large erect phallus. His strength and potency were every bit as important as was the fertility of the Goddess. The phallus was a sacred symbol of the God, and sacred to manhood as well!

For ancient man, virility was a matter of survival, not merely ego and pride. Lack of animals to hunt or lack of descendants meant the end of existence, hence death. Having descendants formed the basis of family, clan, and tribe, still later of kingdom, nation and empire. The number of descendants gave one power within the tribe, as the size of tribe might give it power over small tribes. The number determined how much could be gathered, hunted, and raised, thereby creating the basis of wealth and prosperity. It also determined how much safety and comfort one enjoyed if one lived to old age. Having descendants gave one a form of immortality through kin and remembrance.

So the phallus, hence virility, became one measure of one's importance as a man. Regardless of how far we men think we have advanced beyond ancient man, the unmentioned phallus remains a core part of each man's feelings of pride, strength and pleasure.

But if the phallus is a powerful symbol of the God and manhood, there is its uncomfortable aspect as well for man. Its power is a wild power that can strip a man of his wisdom and intelligence, lay waste to his defenses and control, drain him of strength and energy and leave him vulnerable to hurt and pain. Any inability in making use of it is perceived as a weakness that can put his very manhood in question and leave him fearful of his failure and being found out.

It was this fear that was accented when priests of some of the patriarchal religions choose to emasculate the God and make the phallus and sex sinful. Suddenly the pleasure became shameful, something to be kept repressed and controlled. Every passion, any spontaneous emotion or action became evil and dangerous. The one that raised love and lust became a trap to resist, control and repress. Anything wild and free had to be repressed or destroyed, including women and nature. Everything had to be changed, or put into order by man, or made into a product before it could be deemed useful or valuable.

The basic purpose of male mysteries is to initiate and empower men. The rules of life and magic are much the same, both have tests and lessons to be learned. If men can face that which they fear and are embarrassed by then they can be empowered, gaining strength and pride. Rather than face each new stage of manhood isolated and alone, each man could initiate and advise younger men into the stage he is leaving. All men are a mixture of bravery and cowardness, strength and weakness, wisdom and foolishness. Learning this from each other, we can get a more realistic view of manhood and its endless variety. Thus we could establish our brotherhood and become each other's bedrock and support. Then manhood could become less stressful and more enjoyable. The phallus would become just one of the many core issues we men could explore. This is just a beginning.

Near the Summer
Solstice 1996
Christopher Blackwell