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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Serpent-Worship and Other Essays » CHAPTER II. PHALLISM IN ANCIENT RELIGIONS.
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Dr. Faber, when treating of the ancient mysteries in opposition to Bishop Warburton’s views of their original purity, says:9 “Long before the time of Apuleius, whom he (Warburton) would describe as quitting the impure orgies of the Syrian Goddess for the blameless initiations of Isis, did the Phallic processions, if we may credit Herodotus and Diodorus, form a most conspicuous and essential part, not only of the mysteries in general, but of these identical Isiac or Osiric mysteries in particular. Nor is there any reason to doubt their accuracy on this point. The same detestable rites prevailed in Palestine among the votaries of Siton, or Adonis, or Baal-Peor, long before the exodus of Israel from Egypt. The same also, anterior at least to the days of Herodotus, in Babylonia, Cyprus, and Lydia. The same likewise from the most remote antiquity in the mountains of Armenia, among the worshippers of the great mother Anais; and the same, from the very first institution of their theological system, as we may fairly argue from the uniform general establishment of this peculiar superstition, among the Celtic Druids both of Britain and of Ireland. Nor do we find such orgies less prevalent in Hindostan. Every part of the theology of that country ... is inseparably blended with them, and replete with allusions to their fictitious origin.”4 It will not be necessary for me to give details of the rites by which the Phallic superstition is distinguished, as they may be found in the works of Dulaure,5 Richard Payne Knight,6 and many other writers. I shall refer to them, therefore, only so far as may be required for the due understanding of the subject to be considered, the influence of the Phallic idea in the religions of antiquity. The first step in the inquiry is to ascertain the origin of the superstition in question. Faber ingeniously referred to a primitive universal belief in a Great Father, the curious connection seen to exist between nearly all non-Christian mythologies, and he saw in Phallic worship a degradation of this belief. Such an explanation as this, however, is not satisfactory, since not only does it require the assumption of a primitive divine revelation, but proof is still wanting that all peoples have, or ever had, any such notion of a great parent of mankind as that supposed to have been revealed. And yet there is a valuable germ of truth in this hypothesis. The Phallic superstition is founded essentially in the family idea. Captain Richard Burton recognised this truth when he asserted that “amongst all barbarians whose primal want is progeny, we observe a greater or less development of the Phallic worship.”7 This view, however, is imperfect.10 There must have been something more than a mere desire for progeny to lead primitive man to view the generative process with the peculiar feelings embodied in this superstition. We are, in fact, here taken to the root of all religions—awe at the mysterious and unknown. That which the uncultured mind cannot understand is viewed with dread or veneration, as it may be, and the object presenting the mysterious phenomenon may itself be worshipped as a fetish or the residence of a presiding spirit. But there is nothing more mysterious than the phenomena of generation, and nothing more important than the final result of the generative act. Reflection on this result would naturally cause that which led to it to be invested with a certain degree of superstitious significance. The feeling generated would have a double object, as it had a double origin—wonder at the phenomenon itself and a perception of the value of its consequences. The former, which is the most simple, would lead to a veneration for the organs whose operation conduced to the phenomena, hence the superstitious practices connected with the phallus and the yoni among primitive peoples. In this, moreover, we have the explanation of numerous curious facts observed among Eastern nations. Such is the respect shown by women for the generative organ of dervishes and fakirs. Such also is the Semitic custom referred to in the Hebrew Scriptures as the putting of the hand under the thigh, which is explained by the Talmudists to be the touching of that part of the body which is sealed and made holy by circumcision; a custom which was, up to a recent date, still in use11 among the Arabs as the most solemn guarantee of truthfulness.8

The second phase of the Phallic superstition is that which arises from a perception of the value of the consequences of the act of generation. The distinction between this and the preceding phase is that, while the one has relation to the organs engaged, the other refers more particularly to the chief agent. Thus the father of the family is venerated as the generator, and his authority is founded altogether on the act and consequences of generation. We thus see the fundamental importance, as well as the Phallic origin, of the family idea. From this has sprung the social organisation of all primitive peoples. An instance in point may be derived from Mr. Hunter’s account of the Santals of Bengal. He says that the classification of this interesting people among themselves depends “not upon social rank or occupation, but upon the family basis.” This is shown by the character of the six great ceremonies in a Santal’s life, which are, “admission into the family; admission into the tribe; admission into the race; union of his own tribe with another by marriage; formal dismission from the living race by incremation; lastly, a reunion with the departed fathers.”9 We may judge from this of the character of certain customs which are widespread among primitive peoples, and the Phallic origin of which has long since been lost sight of. The value set on the results of the generative act would naturally make the arrival at the age of puberty12 an event of peculiar significance. Hence we find various ceremonies performed among primitive, and even among civilised peoples, at this period of life. Often when the youth arrives at manhood other rites are performed to mark the significance of the event. Marriage, too, derives an importance which it would not otherwise possess. Thus, among many peoples, it is attended with certain ceremonies denoting its object, or at least marking it as an event of peculiar significance in the life of the individual or even in the history of the tribe. The marriage ceremonial is especially fitted for the use of Phallic rites or symbolism, the former among semi-civilised peoples often being simply the act of consummation itself, which appears to be looked on as part of the ceremony. The symbolism we have ourselves retained to the present day in the wedding-ring, which had undoubtedly a Phallic origin, if, as appears probable, it originated in the Samothracian mysteries.10 Nor does the influence of the Phallic idea end with life. The veneration entertained for the father of the family, as the “generator,” led in time to peculiar care being taken of the bodies of the dead, and finally to the worship of ancestors, which, under one form or another, distinguished all the civilised nations of antiquity, as it does even now most of the peoples of the heathen world.

There is one Phallic rite which, from its wide range, is of peculiar importance. I refer to circumcision. The origin of this custom has not yet, so far as I am13 aware, been satisfactorily explained. The idea that, under certain climatic conditions, circumcision is necessary for cleanliness and comfort,11 does not appear to be well founded, as the custom is not universal, even within the tropics. Nor is the reason given by Captain Richard Burton, in his “Notes connected with the Dahoman,” for both circumcision and excision, perfectly satisfactory. The real origin of these customs has been forgotten by all peoples practising them, and therefore they have ceased to have their primitive significance. That circumcision at least had a superstitious origin may be inferred from the traditional history of the Jews. The old Hebrew writers, persistent in their idea that they were a peculiar people, chosen by God for a special purpose, asserted that this rite was instituted by Jehovah as a sign of the covenant between Him and Abraham. Although we cannot doubt that this rite was practised by the Egyptians and Ph?nicians12 long before the birth of Abraham, yet two points connected with the Hebrew tradition are noticeable. These are, the religious significance of the act of circumcision—it is the sign of a covenant between God and man—and its performance by the head of the family. These two things are indeed intimately connected; since, in the patriarchal age, the father was always the priest of the family, the officer of the sacrifices. We have it on the authority of the Veda that this was the case14 also among the primitive Aryan people.13 Abraham, therefore, as the father and priest of the family, performed the religious ceremony of circumcision on the males of his household.

Circumcision, in its inception, is a purely Phallic rite,14 having for its aim the marking of that which from its associations is viewed with peculiar veneration, and it connects the two phases of this superstition, which have for their objects respectively the instrument of generation and the agent. We are thus brought back to the consideration of the simplest form of Phallic worship, that which has for its object the generative organs, viewed as the mysterious instruments in the realisation of that keen desire for children which distinguishes all primitive peoples. This feeling is so nearly universal that it is a matter of surprise to find the act by which it is expressed stigmatised as sinful. Yet such is the case, although the incidents in which the fact is embodied are so veiled in figure that their true meaning has long been forgotten. Clemens Alexandrinus tells us that15 “the bacchanals hold their orgies in honour of the frenzied Bacchus, celebrating their sacred frenzy by the eating of raw flesh, and go through the distribution of the parts of butchered victims, crowned with snakes, shrieking out the name of that Eva by whom error came into the world.” He adds that “the symbol of the Bacchic orgies is a consecrated serpent,” and that, “according to the strict interpretation of the Hebrew term, the name Hevia, aspirated, signifies a female serpent.”15 We have here a reference to the supposed fall of man from pristine “innocence,” Eve and the serpent being very significantly introduced in close conjunction, and indeed becoming in some sense identified with each other. In fact, the Arabic word for serpent, hayyat, may be said also to mean “life,” and in this sense the legendary, first human mother is called Eve or Chevvah, in Arabic hawwa. In its relations, as an asserted fact, the question of the fall has an important bearing on the subject before us. Quite irrespective of the impossibility of accepting the Mosaic Cosmogony as a divinely-inspired account of the origin of the world and man—a cosmogony which, with those of all other Semitic peoples, has a purely “Phallic” basis16—the whole transaction said to have taken place in the Garden of Eden is fraught with difficulties on the received interpretation. The very idea on which it is founded—the placing by God in the way of Eve of a temptation which he knew she could not resist—is sufficient to throw discredit on the ordinary reading of the narrative. The effect, indeed, that was to follow the eating of the forbidden fruit appears to an ordinary mind to furnish the most praiseworthy motive16 for not obeying the commandment to abstain. That the “eating of the forbidden fruit” was simply a figurative mode of expressing the performance of the act necessary to the perpetuation of the human race—an act which in its origin was thought to be the source of all evil—is evident from the consequences which followed and from the curse entailed.17 As to the curse inflicted on Eve, it has always been a stumbling block in the way of commentators. For what connection is there between the eating of a fruit and sorrow in bringing forth children? The meaning is evident, however, when we know that conception and child-bearing were the direct consequences of the act forbidden. How far this meaning was intended by the compiler of the Mosaic books we shall see further on.

The central feature of the Mosaic legend of the “fall” is the reference to the tree of knowledge or wisdom. It is now generally supposed that the forbidden fruit was a kind of citrus,18 but certain facts connected with aborolatry clearly show this opinion to be erroneous. Among peoples in the most opposite regions of the world various species of the fig-tree are considered sacred. In almost every part of Africa the banyan is viewed with a special veneration. Livingstone noticed this among the tribes on the Zambesi and the Shire,19 and he says that the banyan is looked upon with veneration all the way from the17 Barotse to Loanda, and thought to be a preservative from evil.20 Du Chaillu states that in almost every Ishogo and Ashango village he visited in Western Equatorial Africa there was a large ficus “standing about the middle of the main street, and near the mbuiti or idol-house of the village.” The tree is sacred, and if it dies the village is at once abandoned.21 Captain Tuckey found the same thing on the Congo, where he says the ficus religiosa is considered sacred.22 Again, according to Caillié, at Mouriosso, in Western Central Africa, the market was held under a tree, which, from his description, must have been the banyan, and he noticed the same thing in other towns.23 It is evident from Dr. Barth’s “Travels in Central Africa,” that superstitious regard for certain trees is found throughout the whole of the region he traversed, and among some tribes the fig-tree occupies this position. Thus, he says, “the sacred grove of the village of Isge was formed by magnificent trees, mostly of the ficus tribe.”24 Nor is this superstition unknown among other dark races of the Southern Hemisphere. A species of the fig-tree is planted by the New Zealanders close to the temples of their gods. The superstition is traceable, according to Mr. Earle, even among the aborigines of Northern Australia, certain peculiar notions connected with the banyan tree being common to the inhabitants of the18 Coburg Peninsula and of the Indian Islands.25 Mr. Marsden met with this superstition among the Sumatrans, and we learn from Mr. Wallace that in one of the towns of Eastern Java the market is held under the branches of a tree allied to the sacred fig-tree.26 If we turn to India, we find that while the banyan is venerated by the Brahmans, it is the bo-tree which is held sacred by many of the followers of Gautama Buddha. This may be because, under the name of the Pilpel, it was the peculiar tree of the first recorded Buddha, of whom Gautama was supposed by his disciples to be an incarnation. Both of these trees belong to the genus ficus, and it is curious that, although probably in consequence of Semitic influence, the ficus sycamorus was the sacred tree in ancient Egypt, of which it was the symbol, its place appears ultimately to have been taken by the banyan (ficus indica),27 so highly venerated in other parts of Africa. Now, what is the explanation of the peculiar character ascribed to these trees by peoples who must, on any hypothesis, have been separated for thousands of years? The bo-tree of the Buddhists itself derived a more sacred character from its encircling the palm—the Palmyra Palm being the kalpa-tree, or “tree of life,” of the Hindu paradise.28 The Buddhists term this connection “the bo-tree united in marriage with the palm.” The Phallic significance of the palm is well known, and in its connection with the bo-tree we have the perfect idea of19 generative activity, the combining of the male and female organs, a combination intended by the Hebrew legend when it speaks of the tree of life, and also of “the knowledge of good and evil.”29 “The palm-tree,” says Dr. Inman, “is figured on ancient coins alone, or associated with some feminine emblem. It typified the male creator, who was represented as an upright stone, a pillar, a round tower, a tree stump, an oak-tree, a pine-tree, a maypole, a spire, an obelisk, a minaret, and the like.”30 As we have just seen, the Palmyra Palm is the kalpa-tree, or the “tree of life” of the Hindu paradise, and this was not the only kind of tree with which the idea of life was thus associated.

In the mythologies of more northern peoples the place of the palm is supplied by the more stately, if less upright, oak. The patriarch Jacob hid the idols of his household under the oak near Shechem,31 and his descendants afterwards made burnt offerings under every thick oak.32 Among the Greeks and Romans this tree was sacred to Zeus, or Jupiter, the Father of Gods and men. With the Russians, the Prussians, and the Germans, the oak was equally sacred. The sacred oak was the form under which the Druids worshipped the Supreme Being H?sus, or Mighty. According to Davies,33 it was symbolised by the20 letter D, which forms the consonantal sound of the word denoting God in many languages, as it does of the name of the mythical father Ad, of the Adamic stock of mankind. In Teutonic mythology the great oak forms the roof-tree of the Volsung’s hall, spreading its branches far and wide in the upper air, being the counterpart, says Mr. Cox, of the mighty Yggdrasil.34 This is the gigantic ash-tree, whose branches embrace the whole world, and which is thought to be only another form of the colossal Irminsul. Mr. Cox observes on this: “The tree and pillar are thus alike seen in the columns, whether of Herakles or of Roland; while the cosmogonic character of the myth is manifest in the legend of the primeval Askr, the offspring of the ash-tree, of which Virgil, from the characteristic which probably led to its selection, speaks as stretching its roots as far down into earth as its branches soar towards heaven.”35 The name of the Teutonic Askr is also that of the Iranian Meschia,36 and the ash, therefore, must be identified with the tree from which springs the primeval man of the Zarathustrian cosmogony.37 So Sigmund of the Volsung Tale is drawn from the trunk of a poplar tree,38 which thus occupies the same position as the ash and21 the oak as a “tree of life.” The poplar was, indeed, a sacred tree among many nations of antiquity. This may, doubtless, be explained by reference to its “habit,” which much resembles that of the sacred Indian fig-tree, with which the trembling movement, as well as the shape, of its leaves have caused it to be thus compared.

That the ideas symbolised by the various sacred trees of antiquity originated, however, with the fig-tree is extremely probable. No other tree has been so widely venerated as this. The sycamore (ficus sycamorus) was sacred to Netpe, the mother of Osiris, whose statue was generally made of its wood. In relation to that subject, Sir Gardner Wilkinson says:39 “The Athenians had a holy fig-tree, which grew on the ‘sacred road,’ where, during the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, the procession which went from Athens to Eleusis halted. This was on the sixth day of the ceremony, called Jacchus, in honour of the son of Jupiter and Ceres, who accompanied his mother in search of Proserpine; but the fig-tree of Athens does not appear to have been borrowed from the sycamore of Egypt, unless it were in consequence of its connection with the mother of Osiris and Isis, whom they supposed to correspond to Ceres and Bacchus.”40 According to Plutarch, a basket of figs formed one of the chief things carried in the processions in honour of Bacchus, and the sacred phallus, like the statue of Priapus, appears to have been generally made of the wood of the fig-tree.41 These22 facts well show the nature of the ideas which had come to be connected with that tree. To what has been already said may, however, be added the testimony of a French writer, who, after speaking of the lotus as one of the many symbols anciently used to represent the productive forces of nature, continues: “Il faut y joindre, pour le règne végétal, le figuier indien, ou l’arbre des Banians, le figuier sacré ou religieux (ficus indica, bengalensis, ficus religiosa, &c.), vata, aswatha, pipala, et bien d’autres, idéalisés de bonne heure, dans le mythologie des Hindous, sous la figure de l’arbre de vie, arbre immense, colonne de feu, énorme et orgueilleux phallus, l’abord unique, mais depuis devisé et dispersé, et qui n’est peut-être pas sans rapport, soit avec l’arbre de la connaissance du bien et du mal, soit avec d’autres symboles non moins fameux.”42

That the ficus was the symbolical tree “in the midst of the garden” of the Hebrew legend of the fall is extremely probable. That notion would seem, indeed, to be required by reference to the fig leaves43 as the covering used by Adam and Eve when, after eating the forbidden fruit, they found themselves to be naked. The fig-tree, moreover, meets the difficulty in distinguishing between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. These, according to the opinion above expressed, as to the meaning of the “fall,” would represent the male and female principles, as do the bo-tree and palm,23 “united in marriage,” of the Buddhists, the palm deriving more sacredness from being encircled by the ficus. Probably, however, the double symbol was of later introduction. The banyan of itself would be sufficient to represent the dual idea, when to the primitive one of “knowledge” was added that of “life.” The stately trunk would answer to the “tree of life,” while its fruit was the symbol of that which was more especially affected by the act of disobedience. This was the eating of the fruit, which, as conveying the forbidden wisdom, is evidently the essential feature of the legend, and the fig had anciently just that symbolical meaning which would be required for the purpose.44 Throughout the East, from the earliest historical period, the fruit of the fig-tree was the emblem of virginity. Dr. Inman says: “The fruit of the tree resembles in shape the virgin uterus; with its stem attached, it symbolises the sistrum of Isis. Its form led to the idea that it would promote fertility. To this day, in Oriental countries, the hidden meaning of the fig is almost as well known as its commercial value.”45

That we have in the Mosaic account of the “fall” a Phallic legend, is evident also from the introduction of the serpent on the scene, and the position it takes as the inciting cause of the sinful act. We are here reminded of the passage already quoted from Clemens Alexandrinus, who tells us that the serpent was the special symbol of the worship of Bacchus. Now this animal holds a very curious place in the religions24 of the civilised peoples of antiquity. Although, in consequence of the influence of later thought, it came to be treated as the personification of evil, and as such appears in the Hebrew legend of the fall, yet originally the serpent was the special symbol of wisdom and healing. In the latter capacity it appears even in connection with the Exodus from Egypt. It is, however, in its character as a symbol of wisdom that it more especially claims our attention, although these ideas are intimately connected—the power of healing being merely a phase of wisdom. From the earliest times of which we have any historical notice the serpent has been connected with the gods of wisdom. This animal was the especial symbol of Thoth or Taaut, a primeval deity of Syro-Egyptian mythology,46 and of all those gods, such as Hermes and Seth, who can be connected with him. This is true also of the 3rd member of the Chaldean triad, Héa or Hoa. According to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the most important titles of this deity refer “to his functions as the source of all knowledge and science.” Not only is he “the intelligent fish,” but his name may be read as signifying both “life” and a “serpent,” and he may be considered as “figured by the great serpent which occupies so conspicuous a place among the symbols of the gods on the black stones recording Babylonian benefactions.”47 The serpent was also the symbol of the Egyptian Kneph, who resembled the Sophia of the Gnostics, the divine wisdom. This animal, moreover, was the Agatho25-d?mon of the religions of antiquity—the giver of happiness and good fortune.48 It was in these capacities, rather than as having a Phallic significance, that the serpent was associated with the sun-gods, the Chaldean Bel, the Grecian Apollo, and the Semitic Seth.

But whence originated the idea of the wisdom of the serpent which led to its connection with the legend of the “fall?” This may, perhaps, be explained by other facts, which show also the nature of the wisdom here intended. Thus, in the annals of the Mexicans, the first woman, whose name was translated by the old Spanish writers, “the woman of our flesh,” is always represented as accompanied by a great male serpent. This serpent is the sun-god Tonacatle-coatl, the principal deity of the Mexican Pantheon, while the goddess-mother of primitive man is called Cihua-Cohuatl, which signifies “woman of the serpent.”49 According to this legend, which agrees with that of other American tribes, a serpent must have been the father of the human race. This notion can be explained only on the supposition that the serpent was thought to have had at one time a human form. In the Hebrew legend the tempter speaks, and “the old serpent having two feet,” of Persian mythology, is none other than the evil spirit Ahriman him26self.50 The fact is that the serpent was only a symbol, or at most an embodiment of the spirit which it represented, as we see from the belief of several African and American tribes, which probably preserves the primitive form of this superstition. Serpents are looked upon by these peoples as embodiments of their departed ancestors,51 and an analogous notion is entertained by various Hindoo tribes. No doubt the noiseless movement and the activity of the serpent, combined with its peculiar gaze and marvellous power of fascination, led to its being viewed as a spirit embodiment, and hence also as the possessor of wisdom.52 In the spirit character ascribed to the serpent, we have the explanation of the association of its worship with human sacrifice noted by Mr. Fergusson—this sacrifice being really connected with the worship of ancestors.

It is evident, moreover, that we find here the origin of the idea of evil sometimes associated with the Serpent-God. The Kafir and the Hindu, although he treats with respect any serpent which may visit his dwelling, yet entertains a suspicion of his visitant. It may perhaps be the embodiment of an evil spirit, or for some reason or other it may desire to injure him. Mr. Fergusson states that27 “the chief characteristic of the serpents throughout the East in all ages seems to have been their power over the wind and rain,” which they gave or withheld according to their good or ill-will towards man.53 This notion is curiously confirmed by the title given by the Egyptians to the Semitic God Seti or Seth—Typhon, which was the name of the Ph?nician Evil principle, and also of a destructive wind, thus having a curious analogy with the “Typhoon” of the Chinese Seas.54 When the notion of a duality in nature was developed, there would be no difficulty in applying it to the symbols or embodiments by which the idea of wisdom was represented in the animal world. Thus, there came to be not only good, but also bad serpents, both of which are referred to in the narrative of the Hebrew Exodus, but still more clearly in the struggle between the good and the bad serpents of Persian mythology, which symbolised Ormuzd or Mithra and the Evil spirit Ahriman.55 So far as I can make out the serpent symbol has not a direct Phallic reference, nor is its attribute of wisdom the most essential. The idea most intimately associated with this animal was that of life, not present merely but continued and probably everlasting.56 Thus28 the snake Bai was figured as Guardian of the doorways of those chambers of Egyptian Tombs which represented the mansions of heaven.57 A sacred serpent would seem to have been kept in all the Egyptian temples, and we are told that “many of the subjects, in the tombs of the kings at Thebes, in particular, show the importance it was thought to enjoy in a future state.”58 Crowns, formed of the asp, or sacred Thermuthis, were given to sovereigns and divinities, particularly to Isis,59 and these, no doubt, were intended to symbolise eternal life. Isis was a goddess of life and healing,60 and the serpent evidently belonged to her in that character, seeing that it was the symbol also of other deities with the like attributes. Thus, on papyri it encircles the figure of Harpocrates,61 who was identified with ?sculapius; while not only was a great serpent kept alive in the temple of Serapis, but on later monuments this god is represented by a great serpent with or without a human head.62 Mr. Fergusson, in accordance with his peculiar theory as to the origin of serpent-worship, thinks that this superstition characterised the old Turanian (or let us rather say Akkadian) empire of Chaldea, while tree-worship was more a characteristic of the later Assyrian Empire.63 This opinion is no29 doubt correct, and it means really that the older race had that form of faith with which the serpent was always indirectly connected—adoration of the male principle of generation, the principal phase of which was probably ancestor-worship; while the latter race adored the female principle, symbolised by the sacred tree, the Assyrian “grove.” The “tree of life,” however, undoubtedly had reference to the male element, and we may well imagine that originally the fruit alone was treated as symbolical of the opposite element.

There is still one important point connected with this legend which requires consideration as throwing light on another very widespread superstition. Baron Bunsen says that the nature of the Kerubim who were set to keep the way to the tree of life has not yet been satisfactorily explained. He seems to think they have a volcanic reference, although the usual supposition is that they were angels bearing “flaming swords.” The latter opinion, however, could only have arisen from the association, in other places, of kerubim with seraphim, who are also popularly supposed to be angelic spirits, but whom Bunsen thinks have reference to flame. All these explanations, however, appear to me to be erroneous. According to one opinion, kerub is compounded of two words, ke a particle of resemblance, and rab, signifying great, powerful. If this derivation be correct we may safely infer that the kerub was simply a representation of the strong deity himself, of whom the flaming sword was also an emblem. This notion is confirmed by the statement of the Jewish Targams that30 “the glory of God dwelt between the two cherubim at the gate of Eden, just as it rested upon the two cherubim in the Tabernacle.”64 It is curious that in the analogous Greek myth of the Garden of Hesperides, the golden apples were guarded by a serpent. We have a closer resemblance to the Hebrew Kerubim in Persian mythology. Delitzsch says “the kerubs appear here as guards of Paradise, just as in the Persian legend 99,999—i.e., innumerable attendants of the Holy One keep watch against the attempts of Ahriman over the tree H?m, which contains in itself the power of the resurrection. Much closer, however, lies the comparison of the winged lion-and-eagle-formed griffin,65 which watch the gold-caves of the Arimaspian metallic mountains, and of the sometimes more or less hawk-formed, sometimes only winged and otherwise man-formed-guardians, upon the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments. The resemblance of the symbols is surprisingly great; and the comparison of the King of Tyre,66 to a protecting kerub with outspread wings, who, stationed on the holy mountain, walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, justifies us in assuming such a connection.”67

The real nature and origin of the Hebrew kerub is apparent on reference to the language used by Ezekiel in describing his vision of winged creatures. Dr. Faber shows clearly that these were the same as the kerubim in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew temple,31 and he argues, moreover, with great justice, that the latter must have agreed with those who were said to have been stationed before the tree of life in Eden. In fact, the King of Tyre is styled by Ezekiel “the anointed covering kerub of Eden, the garden of God.”68 Now, a curious difference is made by Ezekiel in the two descriptions he gives of the creatures which appeared in his vision. In the one case he describes them as having each four faces—that of a man, that of a lion, that of an ox, and that of an eagle.69 Subsequently, however, they are described as having each the faces of a kerub, of a man, of an eagle, and of a lion.70 Judging from this discrepancy, the head of a kerub being substituted for that of an ox, it has been suggested that the kerub and the ox are synonymous. Dr. Faber very justly observes on this difficulty, that Ezekiel “would scarcely have called the head of the ox by way of eminence the head of a kerub, unless the form of the ox so greatly predominated in the compound form of the kerub as to warrant the entire kerub being familiarly styled an ox.”71 This conclusion is the more probable when we consider that in the first vision the creatures are represented with feet like those of a calf.72 In fact, we have in this vision, as in the kerubim of Genesis, animal representations of deity, such as the Persians and other Eastern peoples delighted in, the most prominent being that of the ox—or, rather bull, as it would be more properly rendered.


But what was the sacred bull of the religions of antiquity, or rather what its mythological value? Dr. Faber says expressly on this subject: “There is perhaps no part of the Gentile world in which the bull and the cow were not highly reverenced and considered in the light of holy and mysterious symbols.”73 He cites the traditional founder of the Chinese empire, Fohi, as having a son with a bull’s head, this personage being also venerated by the Japanese under the title of the “ox-headed prince of heaven.” According to Mr. Doolittle, a paper image of a domestic buffalo, as large as life, with smaller images in clay of this animal, are carried in procession at the Great Chinese Festival in honour of spring, while a live buffalo accompanies the procession for some distance.74 It is curious to find that at the other side of the Europo-Asiatic continent the bull was considered sacred by the Celtic Druids, it being reverenced by the ancient Britons as the symbol of their Great God Hu. Thus also the Kimbri “adored their principal God under the form of a brazen bull;” as the ancient Colchians worshipped brazen-footed bulls which were said to emit fire from their nostrils, which has reference to the sacrifices with which they were propitiated. Dr. Faber says as to the Great Ph?nician God, called by the Greek translator of Sanchoniatho Agruerus, from the circumstance of his being an agricultural God, that he “was worshipped by the Syrians and their neighbours the Canaanites, under the titles of Baal and Moloch; and, as his shrine was drawn by oxen, so he himself was represented by the figure of a man having the head of33 a bull, and sometimes probably by the simple figure of a bull alone”. The Persian Mithra is also represented as a bull-god, and it is highly suggestive that in one of the carved grottos near the Campus Marjorum he is figured under the symbol of the phallus surmounted by the head of a bull. Even among the Hebrews themselves the golden calf was, under the authority of Aaron, used as an object of worship, a form of idolatry which was re-established by Jeroboam, if it had ever been abandoned. Dr. Faber, indeed, thinks that the calves worshipped at Samaria were copies of the kerubim in the Temple at Jerusalem. If we turn to peoples kindred to the Hebrews, we find that the Ph?nician Adonis was sometimes represented as a horned deity, as were also Dionysos and Bacchus, who were, in fact, merely the names under which Adonis was worshipped in Thrace and Greece. Plutarch says that “the women of Elis were accustomed to invite Bacchus to his temple on the seashore, under the name of ‘the heifer-footed divinity,’ the illustrious bull, the bull worthy of the highest veneration.” Hence in the ceremonies, during the celebration of the mysteries of Bacchus and Dionysos, the bull always took a prominent place, as it did also during the festivals of the allied deity of Egypt—the bull Apis being worshipped as an incarnation of Osiris. In India the bull is still held sacred by the Brahmans, and in Hindu mythology it is connected with both Siva and Menu.75 A superstitious veneration for this animal is in fact entertained by all pastoral or agricultural peoples who possess it. To seek the explanation34 of this curious phenomenon in the traditional remembrance of the kerubic representations of deity which guarded the tree of life would be in the highest degree irrational. These representations were merely copies of symbolical figures, which, like the story of the fall, were borrowed from an Eastern source. The real explanation is found in the fact that the bull was an emblem of the productive force in nature. The Zend word gaya, which means “bull,” signifies also the “soul” or “life,” as the same Arabic word denotes both “life” and a “serpent.” A parallel case is that of the Zend word orouéré, which means a “tree” as well as “life” or “soul.”76 According to the cosmogany of the Zend-Avesta, Ormuzd, after he had created the heavens and the earth, formed the first being, called by Zoroaster “the primeval bull.” This bull was poisoned by Ahriman, but its seed was carried by the soul of the dying animal, represented as an ized, to the moon, “where it is continually purified and fecundated by the warmth and light of the sun, to become the germ of all creatures.” At the same time the material prototypes of all living things, except perhaps man himself, issued from the body of the bull.77 This is but a developed form of the ideas which anciently were almost universally associated with this animal, among those peoples who were addicted to sun-worship. There is no doubt, however, that the superstitious veneration for the bull existed, as it still exists, quite independent of the worship of the heavenly35 bodies.78 The bull, like the goat, must have been a sacred animal in Egypt before it was declared to be an embodiment of the sun-god Osiris. In some sense, indeed, the bull and the serpent, although both of them became associated with the solar deities, were antagonistic. The serpent was symbolical of the personal male element, or rather had especial reference to the man,79 while the bull had relation to nature as a whole, and was symbolical of the general idea of fecundity. This antagonism was brought to an issue in the struggle between Osiris and Seti (Seth), which ended in the triumph of the god of nature, although it was renewed even during the Exodus, when the golden calf of Osiris or Horus was set up in the Hebrew camp.

The reference made to the serpent, to the tree of wisdom, and to the bull, in the legend of the “fall,” sufficiently proves its Phallic character, which was, indeed, recognised in the early Christian church.80 Judging from the facts above referred to, however, we can hardly doubt that the legend was derived from a foreign source. That it could not be original to the Hebrews may, I think, be proved by several considerations. The position occupied in the legend by the serpent is quite inconsistent with the use of this animal symbol by Moses.81 Like Satan himself even,36 as the Rev. Dunbar Heath has shown,82 the serpent had not, indeed, a wholly evil character among the early Hebrews. In the second place, the condemnation of the act of generation was directly contrary to the central idea of patriarchal history. The promise to Abraham was that he should have seed “numerous as the stars of heaven for multitude,” and to support this notion the descent of Abraham is traced up to the first created man, who is commanded to increase and multiply.

The legend of the fall is not unknown to Hindu mythology, but here the subject of the temptation is the divine Brahma, who, however, is not only mankind collectively, but a man individually.83 In human shape he is Sivayambhuva, and to try this progenitor of mankind, Siva, as the Supreme Being, “drops from heaven a blossom of the sacred vata, or Indian fig—a tree which has been always venerated by the natives on account of its gigantic size and grateful shadows, and invested alike by Brahman and by Buddhist with mysterious significations, as the tree of knowledge or intelligence (bodhidruma).84 Captivated by the beauty of the blossom, the first man (Brahma) is determined to possess it. He imagines that it will entitle him to occupy the place of the Immortal, and hold converse with the Infinite; and on gathering up the blossom,8537 he at once becomes intoxicated by this fancy, and believes himself immortal and divine. But ere the flush of exultation has subsided, God Himself appears to him in terrible majesty; and the astonished culprit, stricken by the curse of heaven, is banished far from Brahmapattana, and consigned to an abyss of misery and degradation. From this, however, adds the story, an escape is rendered possible on the expiration of some weary term of suffering and of penance. And the parallelism which it presents to sacred history is well-nigh completed when the legend tells us further that woman, his own wife, whose being was derived from his, had instigated the ambitious hopes which led to their expulsion, and entailed so many ills on their posterity.”86 That parallelism cannot well be the result of mere coincidence, and the reference to the fig-tree in the Hindu legend not only renders it highly probable that this was the tree of knowledge87 of Hebrew legend, but confirms, by the symbolical ideas connected with it, the explanation of the nature of the “fall” given in the preceding pages. The real meaning of the legend was well understood by the Gnostics and Manicheans, and those Christian Fathers who were brought into contact with Eastern ideas through them.88

The Persians, who were indebted to the Chaldeans38 for many of their religious ideas, possessed the story of the fall in a form agreeing more closely with that which may have been the original of the Hebrew legend. According to the Boundehesch, one of the sacred books of the Parsees, a tree gave birth to the primeval man Meschia. The body of this androgynous being afterwards became divided, one part being male and the other female—Meschia and Meschiana,89 as the man and woman were called—were at first pure and holy, but seduced by Ahriman, who had metamorphosed himself into a serpent, they rendered to the Prince of Darkness the worship which was due only to Ormuzd, the God of Light. Meschia and Meschiana thus lost their primitive purity, which neither they nor their descendants could recover without the assistance of Mithra, the god who presided at the mysteries or at the initiations—that is to say, at the way of rehabilitation which is opened before those who seek earnestly the salvation of their souls.90 At the instigation of Ahriman, the man and woman had, for the first time, committed, in thought, word, and deed, the carnal sin, and thus tainted with original sin all their descendants.91 Lajard, referring to this legend, adds in a note:39 “Le triple caractère que presente ici le péché originel est très nettement indiqué dans le passage cité du Boundehesch. Il y est accompagné de détails que font de ce passage un des morceaux les plus curieux de ce traité. Quelques-uns de ces détails ... rattache à ce même mot (serpent) ou à sa racine la dénomination des parties sexuelles de la homme et de la femme.” The Persian account of the fall and its consequences agrees so closely with the Hebrew story when stripped of its figurative language that we cannot doubt that they refer to the same legend,92 and the use of figurative language in the latter may well lead us to believe that it was of later date than the former.93 In Ahriman, who was known to Persian teaching as “the old serpent having two feet,” we evidently have the origin of the speaking serpent of Genesis, while in “the seed of the woman who shall bruise the serpent’s head,” the follower of Zarathustra would have seen a reference to Mithra, just as the Christian finds there a prophecy of Christ. Even the antagonism between the Cherubim and the Serpent can be found in Persian teaching, for it was to the malignant action of the Serpent Az that the death, not only of the first man, but of the “primeval bull,” was due.94 The latter was formed by Ormuzd after the creation of the heavens and the earth, and that from which proceeded the material prototypes of all the beings “who live in the water, on the earth, and in the air.”95


It is very probable, however, that when the legend was appropriated by the compiler of the Hebrew Scriptures it had a moral significance as well as a merely figurative sense. The legend is divisible into two parts—the first of which is a mere statement of the imparting of wisdom by the serpent and by the eating of the fruit of a certain tree, these ideas being synonymous, or at least consistent, as appears by the attributes of the Chaldean Héa.96 The nature of this wisdom may be found in the rites of the Hindu Sacti Puja.97 The second part of the legend, which is probably of much later date, is the condemnation of the act referred to, as being in itself evil and as leading to misery, and even to death itself. The origin of this later notion must be sought in the esoteric doctrine taught in the mysteries of Mithra, the fundamental idea of which was the descent of the soul to earth and its re-ascent to the celestial abodes after it had overcome the temptations and debasing influences41 of the material life.98 Lajard shows that these mysteries were really taken from the secret worship of the Chaldean Mylitta, but the reference to “the seed of the woman who shall bruise the serpent’s head,” is too Mithraic for us to seek for an earlier origin for the special form of the Hebrew myth. The object of the myth evidently was to explain the origin of death,99 from which man was to be delivered by a coming Saviour, and the whole idea is strictly Mithraic, the Persian deity himself being a Saviour God.100 The importance attached to virginity by the early Christians sprang from the same source. The Avesta is full of reference to “purity” of life, and there is reason to believe that in the secret initiations the followers of Mithra were taught to regard marriage itself as impure.101

The religious ideas which found expression in the legend of the fall were undoubtedly of late development,102 although derived from still earlier phases of religious thought. The simple worship in symbol of the organs of generation, and of the ancestral head of the family, prompted by the desire for offspring and the veneration for him who produced it, was extended to the generative force in nature. The bull which, as we42 have seen, symbolised this force, was not restricted to earth, but was in course of time transferred to the heavens, and as one of the constellations was thought to have a peculiar relation to certain of the planetary bodies. This astral phase of the Phallic superstition was not unknown to the Mosaic religion. A still earlier form of this superstition was, however, known to the Hebrews, probably forming a link between the worship of the symbol of personal generative power and that of the heavenly phallus; as the worship of the bull connected the veneration for the human generator with that for the universal father. One of the primeval gods of antiquity was Hermes, the Syro-Egyptian Thoth, and the Roman Mercury. Kircher identifies him also with the god Terminus. This is doubtless true, as Hermes was a god of boundaries, and appears, as Dulaure has well shown, to have presided over the national frontiers. The meaning of the word “Thoth”—erecting—associates it with this fact. The peculiar primitive form of Mercury or Hermes was “a large stone, frequently square, and without either hands or feet. Sometimes the triangular shape was preferred, sometimes an upright pillar, and sometimes a heap of rude stones!”103 The pillars were called by the Greeks Herm?, and the heaps were known as Hermèan heaps—the latter being accumulated “by the custom of each passenger throwing a stone to the daily-increasing mass in honour of the god.” Sometimes the pillar was represented with the attributes of Priapus.104


The identification of Hermes or Mercury with Priapus is confirmed by the offices which the latter deity fulfilled. One of the most important was that of protector of gardens and orchards, and probably this was the original office performed by Hermes in his character of “a God of the country.”105 Figures set up as charms to protect the produce of the ground would, in course of time, be used not only for this purpose, but also to mark the boundaries of the land protected, and these two offices being divided, two deities would finally be formed out of one. The Greek Hermes was connected also with the Egyptian Khem, and no less, if we may judge from the symbols used in his worship, with the Hebrew Eloah. Thus, in the history of the Hebrew patriarchs, we are told that when Jacob entered into a covenant with his father-in-law, Laban, a pillar was set up and a heap of stones made, and Laban said to Jacob, “Behold this heap and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee; this heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shall not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me for harm.”106 We have here the Herm? and Hermèan heap, used by the Greeks as landmarks and placed by them on the public roads. In the linga of India we have another instance of the use of the pillar symbol. The form of this symbol is sufficiently expressive of the idea which it embodies, an idea which is more explicitly shown when the Linga and the Yoni are, as is usually the case44 among the worshippers of the Hindu Siva, combined to form the Lingam. The stone figure is not, however, itself a god, but only representative of a spirit,107 who is thought to be able to satisfy the yearning for children, so characteristic of many primitive peoples, this probably having been its original object and the source of its use as an amulet for the protection of children against the influence of the evil eye. In course of time, however, when other property came to be coveted equally with offspring, the power to give this property would naturally be referred to the primitive Phallic spirit, and hence he became, not merely the protector, as above seen, of the produce of the fields, and the guardian of boundaries, but also the God of wealth and traffic, and even the patron of thieves, as was the case with the Mercury of the Romans. The Hebrew patriarchs desired great flocks as well as numerous descendants, and hence the symbolic pillar was peculiarly fitted for their religious rites. It is related even of Abraham, the traditional founder of the Hebrew people, that he “planted a grove108 (eshel) in Beersheba, and called there on the name of Jehovah, the everlasting Elohim.”109 From the Phallic character of the “grove” (ashera),110 said to have been in the House of Jehovah, we must suppose that the eshel of Abraham also had45 a Phallic reference.111 Most probably the so-called “grove” of the earlier patriarch, though perhaps of wood, and the stone “bethel” of Jacob had the same form, and were simply the betylus,112 the primitive symbol of deity among all the Semitic and many Hamitic peoples.

The participation of the Hebrew patriarchs in the rites connected with the “pillar-worship” of the ancient world, renders it extremely probable that they were not strangers to the later planetary worship. Many of the old Phallic symbols were associated with the new superstition, and Abraham, being a Chaldean, it is natural to suppose that he was one of its adherents. Tradition, indeed, affirms that Abraham was a great astronomer, and at one time at least a worshipper of the heavenly bodies, and that he and the other patriarchs continued to be affected by this superstition is shown by various incidents related in the Pentateuch. Thus, in the description given of the sacrificial covenant between Abraham and Jehovah, it is said that, after Abraham had divided the sacrificial animals, a deep sleep fell upon him as the sun was going down, and Jehovah spoke with him. “Then when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp, that passed between those pieces.” The happening of this event at the moment of the sun’s setting reminds us of the Sab?an custom of praying to the setting sun, still46 practised, according to Palgrave, among the nomads of central Arabia. That some great religious movement, ascribed by tradition to Abraham, did take place among the Semites at an early date is undoubted. What the object of this covenant was it is difficult to decide. It should be remembered that the Chaldeans worshipped a plurality of gods, supposed to have been symbolised by the seven planets. Among these deities the sun-god held a comparatively inferior position—the moon-god Hurki coming before him in the second triad.113 It was at Ur, the special seat of the worship of the moon-god,114 that Abraham is said to have lived before he quitted it for Haran. This fact, considered in the light of the traditions relating to the great patriarch, may perhaps justify us in inferring that the reformation he endeavoured to introduce was the substitution of a simple sun-worship, for the planetary cultus of the Chaldeans, in which the worship of the moon must to him have appeared to occupy an important place. The new faith was, indeed, a return to the old Phallic idea of a god of personal generation, worshipped through the symbolical betylus, but associated also with the adoration of the sun as the especial representative of the deity. That Abraham had higher notions of the relation of man to the divine being than his forerunners is very pro47bable, but his sojourn in Haran proves that there was nothing fundamentally different between his religious faith and that of his Syrian neighbours. I am inclined, indeed, to believe that to the traditional Abraham must be ascribed the establishment of sun-worship throughout Ph?nicia and Lower Egypt in connection with the symbols of an earlier and more simple Phallic deity. Tradition, in fact, declares that he taught the Egyptians astronomy,115 and we shall see that the religion of the Ph?nicians, as, indeed, that of the Hebrews themselves, was the worship of Saturn, the erect, pillar-god who, under different names, appears to have been at the head of the pantheons of most of the peoples of antiquity. The reference in Hebrew history to the seraphim of Jacob’s family recalls the fact that Abraham’s father was Terah, a “maker of images.” The teraphim were doubtless the same as the seraphim, which were serpent images,116 and probably the household charms or idols of the Semitic worshippers of the sun-god, to whom the serpent was sacred.

Little is known of the religious habits of the Hebrews during their abode in Egypt. Probably they differed little from those of the Egyptians themselves, and even in the religion of Moses, so-called, which we may presume to have been a reformed faith, there are many points of contact with the earlier cultus. The use of the ark of Osiris and Isis shows the influence of Egyptian ideas, and the introduction of the new name for God, Jahve, is evidence of contact48 with later Ph?nician thought. The ark was doubtless used to symbolise nature, as distinguished from the serpent and pillar symbols, which had relation more particularly to man. The latter, however, were by far the most important, as they were most intimately connected with the worship of the national deity, who was the divine father, as Abraham was the human progenitor, of the Hebrew people. That this deity, notwithstanding his change of name, retained his character of a sun-god, is shown by the fact that he is repeatedly said to have appeared to Moses under the figure of a flame. The pillar of fire which guided the Hebrews by night in the wilderness, the appearance of the cloudy pillar at the door of the Tabernacle, and probably of a flame over the mercy seat to betoken the presence of Jehovah, and the perpetual fire on the altar, all point to the same conclusion. The notion entertained by Ewald that the idea connected with the Hebrew Jahve was that of a “Deliverer” or a “Healer” (Saviour)117 is quite consistent with the fact I have stated. The primeval Phenic deity El or Cronus was not only the preserver of the world, for the benefit of which he offered a mystical sacrifice,118 but “Saviour” was a common title of the sun-gods of antiquity.

There is one remarkable incident which is said to have happened during the wanderings of the Hebrews in the Sinaitic wilderness which appears to throw much light on the character of the Mosaic cultus and to connect it with other religions. I refer to the use49 of the brazen serpent as a symbol for the healing of the people. The worship of the golden calf may, perhaps, be said to be an idolatrous act in imitation of the rites of Egyptian Osiris worship, although probably suggested by the use of the ark. The other case, however, is far different, and it is worth while repeating the exact words in which the use of the serpent symbol is described. When the people were bitten by the “fiery” serpents,119 Moses prayed for them, and we read that, therefore, “Jehovah said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent (literally, a seraph), and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”120 It would seem from this account that the Hebrew seraph was, as before suggested, in the form of a serpent; but what was the especial significance of this healing figure? At an earlier stage of our inquiry reference was made to the fact of the serpent being indirectly, through its attribute of wisdom, a Phallic symbol, but also directly an emblem of “life,” and to the peculiar position it held in nearly all the religions of antiquity. In later Egyptian mythology the contest between Osiris and the Evil Being, and afterwards that between Horus and Typhon, occupy an important place. Typhon, the adversary of50 Horus, was figured under the symbol of a serpent, called Aph?phis or the Giant,121 and it cannot be doubted that, if not a form of, he was identified with the god Seth. Professor Reuvens refers to an invocation of Typhon-Seth,122 and Bunsen quotes the statement of Epiphanius that “the Egyptians celebrate the festivals of Typhon under the form of an ass, which they call Seth.”123 Whatever may be the explanation of the fact, it is undoubted that, notwithstanding the hatred with which he was afterwards regarded, this god Seth or Set was at one time highly venerated in Egypt. Bunsen says that up to the thirteenth century B.C. Set “was a great god universally adored throughout Egypt, who confers on the sovereigns of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties the symbols of life and power. The most glorious monarch of the latter dynasty, Sethos, derives his name from this deity.” He adds: “But subsequently, in the course of the twentieth dynasty, he is suddenly treated as an evil demon, inasmuch as his effigies and name are obliterated on all the monuments and inscriptions that could be reached.” Moreover, according to this distinguished writer, Seth “appears gradually among the Semites as the background of their religious consciousness;” and not merely was he “the primitive god of Northern Egypt and Palestine,” but his genealogy as “the Seth of Genesis, the father of Enoch (the man), must be considered as originally running parallel with that derived from the Elohim, Adam’s father.”124 That51 Seth had some special connection with the Hebrews is proved, among other things, by the peculiar position occupied in their religious system by the ass—the first-born of which alone of all animals was allowed to be redeemed125—and the red heifer, whose ashes were to be reserved as a “water of separation” for purification from sin.126 Both of these animals were in Egypt sacred to Seth (Typhon), the ass being his symbol, and red oxen being at one time sacrificed to him, although at a later date objects of a red colour were disliked, owing to their association with the dreaded Typhon.127 That we have a reference to this deity in the name of the Hebrew lawgiver is very probable. No satisfactory derivation of this name, Moses, M?sheh (Heb.), has yet been given. Its original form was probably Am-a-ses or Am-sesa,128 which might become to the Hebrews Om-ses or Mo-ses, meaning only the (god) Ses, i.e., Set or Seth.129 On this hypothesis we may have preserved, in the first book of Moses (so-called), some of the traditional history said to have been contained in the sacred books of the Egyptian Thoth, and of the records engraved on the pillars of Seth. It is somewhat remarkable that, according to52 a statement of Diodorus, when Antiochus Epiphanes entered the temple at Jerusalem, he found in the Holy of Holies a stone figure of Moses, represented as a man with a long beard, mounted on an ass, and having a book in his hand.130 The Egyptian Mythus of Typhon actually said that Set fled from Egypt riding on a grey ass.131 It is strange, to say the least, that Moses should not have been allowed to enter the promised land, and that he should be so seldom referred to by later writers until long after the reign of David,132 and above all that the name given to his successor was Joshua—i.e., Saviour. It is worthy of notice that “Nun,” the name of the father of Joshua, is the Semitic word for fish, the Phallic character of the fish in Chaldean mythology being undoubted. Nin, the planet Saturn, was the fish-god of Berosus, and, as may possibly be shown, he is really the same as the Assyrian national deity Asshur, whose name and office have a curious resemblance to those of the Hebrew leader, Joshua.

But what was the character of the primitive Semitic deity? Bunsen seems to think that Plutarch in one passage alludes to the identity of Typhon (Seth) and Osiris.133 This is a remarkable idea, and yet curiously enough Sir Gardner Wilkinson says that Typhon-Seth may have been derived from the pigmy Pthath-Sokari-Osiris,134 who was clearly only another form of Osiris himself. In the Egyptian Book of the53 Dead, Horus, the son of Osiris, is declared to be at the same time Set, “by the distinction made between them by Thoth.”135 However that may be, the Phallic origin of Seth can be shown from other data. Thus it appears that the word Set means, in Hebrew as in Egyptian, pillar, and, in a general sense, the erect, elevated, high.136 Moreover, in a passage of the Book of the Dead, Set, according to Bunsen, is called Tet, a fact which intimates that Thoth inherited many of the attributes of Set.137 They were, however, in some sense the same deities, it being through Thoth that Set was identified with Horus. We have here an explanation of the statement that Tet, the Ph?nician Taaut, was the snake-god, Esmun-Esculapius, the serpent being the symbol of Tet, as we have seen it to have been that of Seth also. In this we have a means of identifying the Semitic deity Seth with the Saturn of related deities of other peoples. Ewald says that “the common name for God, Eloah, among the Hebrews, as among all the Semites, goes back into the earliest times.”138 Bryant goes further, and declares that El was originally the name of the supreme deity among all the nations of the East.139 This idea is confirmed, so far as Chaldea is concerned, by later researches, which show that Il or El was at the head of the Babylonian Pantheon. With this deity must be identified the Il or Ilus of the Ph?nicians, who was born the same as Cronus, who, again, was none other than the primeval54 Saturn, whose worship appears to have been at one period almost universal among European and Asiatic peoples. Saturn and El were thus the same deity, the latter, like the Semitic Seth, being, as is well known, symbolised by the serpent.140 A direct point of contact between Seth and Saturn is found in the Hebrew idol Kiyun mentioned by Amos, the planet Saturn being still called Kevan by Eastern peoples. This idol was represented in the form of a pillar, the primeval symbol of deity, which was common undoubtedly to all the gods here mentioned.141 These symbolical pillars were called betyli or betulia. Sometimes also the column was called Abaddir, which, strangely enough, Bryant identifies with the serpent-god.142 There can be no doubt that both the pillar and the serpent were associated with many of the sun-gods of antiquity.

Notwithstanding what has been said it is undoubtedly true, however, that all these deities, including the Semitic Seth, became at an early date recognised as sun-gods, although in so doing they lost nothing of their primitive character. What this was is sufficiently shown by the significant names and titles they bore. Thus, as we have seen, Set (Seth) itself meant the erect, elevated, high, his name on the Egyptian monuments being nearly always accompanied by a stone.143 The name, Kiyun or55 Kevan, of this deity, said by Amos to have been worshipped in the wilderness, signifies “god of the pillar.” The idea expressed by the title is shown by the name Baal Tamar, which means “Baal as a pillar,” or “Phallus,” consequently “the fructifying god.” The title “erect,” when given to a deity, seems always to imply a Phallic idea, and hence we have the explanation of the S. mou used frequently in the “Book of the Dead” in relation to Thoth or to Set.144 There is doubtless a reference of the same kind in the Ph?nician myth, that “Melekh taught men the special art of creating solid walls and buildings;” although Bunsen finds in this myth “the symbolical mode of expressing the value of the use of fire in building houses.”145 That these myths embody a Phallic notion may be confirmed by reference to the Ph?nician Kabiri. According to Bunsen, “the Kabiri and the divinities identified with them are explained by the Greeks and Romans as ‘the strong,’ ‘the great;’” while in the book of Job, Kabb?r, the strong, is used as an epithet of God. Again, Sydyk, the father of the Kabiri, is “the Just,” or, in a more original sense, the Upright; and this deity, with his sons, correspond to Ptah, the father of the Ph?nician Pataikoi. Ptah, however, seems to be derived from a root which signifies in Hebrew “to open,” and Sydyk himself, therefore, may, says Bunsen, be described as “the Opener” of the Cosmic Egg.146 The Phallic meaning of this title is evident from its application to Esmun56-Esculapius, the son of Sydyk, who, as the snake-god, was identical with Tet, the Egyptian Thoth-Hermes.

The peculiar titles given to these deities, and their association with the sun, led to their original Phallic character being somewhat overlooked, and instead of being the Father-Gods of human-kind, they became Powerful Gods, Lords of Heaven. This was not the special attribute taken by other sun-gods. As was before stated, Hermes and his related deities were “gods of the country,” personifying the idea of general natural fecundity. Among the chief gods of this description were the Ph?nician Sabazius, the Greek Bacchus-Dionysos, the Roman Priapus, and the Egyptian Khem. All these deities agree also in being sun-gods, and as such they were symbolised by animals which were noted either for their fecundity or for their salaciousness. The chief animals thus chosen were the bull and the goat (with which the ram147 was afterwards confounded), doubtless because they were already sacred. The Sun appears to have been preceded by the Moon as an object of worship, but the moon-god was probably only representative of the primeval Saturn,148 who finally became the sun-god El or Il of the Syrian and Semites and the Ra of the Babylonians. The latter was the title also of the sun-god of Egypt, who was symbolised by the obelisk, and who, although his name was added to that of other Egyptian gods, is said to have been the tutelary57 deity of the stranger kings of the eighteenth dynasty,149 whom Pleyte, however, declares to have been Set (Sutech).150 We are reminded here of the opposition of Seth and Osiris, which has already been explained as arising from the fact that these deities originally represented two different ideas, human fecundity and the fruitfulness of nature. When, however, both of these principles became associated with the solar body, they were expressed by the same symbols, and the distinction between them was in great measure lost sight of. A certain difference was, nevertheless, still observable in the attributes of the deities, depending on the peculiar properties and associations of their solar representatives. Thus the powerful deity of Ph?nicia was naturally associated with the strong, scorching, summer sun, whose heat was the most prominent attribute. In countries such as Egypt, where the sun, acting on the moist soil left by inundations, caused the earth to spring into renewed life, the mild but energetic early sun was the chief deity.

When, considering the sacred bull of antiquity, the symbol of the fecundating force in nature, Osiris, the national sun-god of the Egyptians, was referred to as distinguished from the Semitic Seth (Set), who was identified with the detested shepherd race. The association of Osiris with Khem shows his Phallic character,151 and, in fact, Plutarch asserts that he was everywhere represented with the phallus exposed.15258 The Phallic idea enters, moreover, into the character of all the chief Egyptian deities. Bunsen says: “The mythological system obviously proceeded from ‘the concealed god’ Ammon to the creating god. The latter appears first of all as the generative power of nature in the Phallic god Khem, who is afterwards merged in Ammon-ra. Then sprung up the idea of the creative power in Kneph. He forms the divine limbs of Osiris (the primeval soul) in contradiction to Ptah, who as the strictly demiurgic principle, forms the visible world. Neith is the creative principle, as nature represented under a feminine form. Finally, her son Ra, Helios, appears as the last of the series, in the character of father and nourisher of terrestrial beings. It is he, whom an ancient monument represents as the demiurgic principle, creating the mundane egg.”153 The name of Ammon has led to the notion that he was an embodiment of the idea of wisdom. He certainly was distinguished by having the human form, but his hieroglyphical symbol of the obelisk, and his connection with Khem, show his true nature. He undoubtedly represented the primitive idea of a generative god, probably at a time when this notion of fecundity had not yet been extended to nature as distinguished from man, and thus he would form a point of contact between the later Egyptian sun-gods and the pillar gods of the Semites and Ph?nicians.154 To59 the Egyptians, as to these other peoples, the sun became the great source of deity. His fecundating warmth or his fiery destroying heat were, however, not the only attributes deified. These were the most important, but the Egyptians, especially, made gods out of many of the solar characters,155 although the association of the idea of “intellect” with Amun-re must have been of late date, if the original nature of Amun was what has been above suggested.

As man, however, began to read nature aright, and as his moral and intellectual faculties were developed, it was necessary that the solar deities themselves should become invested with co-relative attributes, or that other gods should be formed to embody them. The perception of light, as distinguished from heat, was a fertile source of such attributes. In the Chaldean mythology, Vul, the son of Anu, was the god of the air, but his power had relation to the purely atmospheric phenomena rather than to light.156 The only reference to light found in the titles of the early deities is in the character ascribed to Va-lua, the later Bur or Nin-ip, who is said to “irradiate the nations like the sun, the light of the gods.”157 But this deity was apparently the distant planet Saturn, if not originally the moon, and the perception of light as a divine attribute must be referred to the Aryan mind.158 Thus the Hindu Dyaus (the Greek Zeus) is the shining deity, the god of the bright sky. As such the sun60-gods now also become the gods of intellectual wisdom, an attribute which also appears to have originated with the Aryan peoples, among whom the Brahmans were possessors of the highest wisdom, as children of the sun, and whose Apollo and Athené were noble embodiments of this attribute. The Chaldean gods, Héa and Nebo, were undoubtedly symbolised by the wedge or arrow-head, which had especial reference to learning. In reality, however, this symbol merely shows that they were the patrons of letters or writing, and not of wisdom, in its purely intellectual aspect. If the form of the Assyrian alphabetical character was of Phallic origin,159 we may have here the source of the idea of a connection between physical and mental knowledge embodied in the legend of the “fall.” In the Persian Ahur?-mazdao (the wise spirit) we have the purest representation of intellectual wisdom. The book of Zoroaster, the Avesta, is literally the “word,” the word or wisdom which was revealed in creation and embodied in the divine Mithra, who was himself the luminous sun-god.

The similarity between the symbols of the sun-gods of antiquity and the natural objects introduced into the Mosaic myth of the fall has been already referred to, and it is necessary now to consider shortly what influence the Phallic principle there embodied had over other portions of Hebraic theology. The inquiries of Dr. Faber have thrown great light on this question,61 although the explanation given by him of the myth of Osiris and of the kindred myths of antiquity is by no means the correct one. Finding a universal prevalence of Phallic ideas and symbolism, Dr. Faber refers it to the degradation of a primitive revelation of the Great Father of the Universe. The truth thus taught was lost sight of, and was replaced by the dual notion of a Great Father and a Great Mother—“the transmigrating Noah and the mundane Ark” of the universal Deluge. Noah was, however, only a reappearance of Adam, and the ark floating on the waters of the Deluge was an analogue of the earth swimming in the ocean of space.160 There is undoubtedly a parallelism between the Adam and Noah of the Hebrew legends, as there is between the analogous personages of other phases of these legends, yet it is evident that, if the Deluge never happened, a totally different origin from the one supposed by Dr. Faber must be assigned to the great Phallic myth of antiquity. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, to any explanation (other than the Phallic one) of the origin of this myth, to establish the truth of the Noahic Deluge.161 Accordingly, an American writer has framed an elaborate system of “Arkite symbolism,” founded on the supposed influence of the great Deluge over the minds of the posterity of those who survived its horrors. Mr. Lesley sees in this catastrophe the explanation of62 “phallism,” which, “converting all the older Arkite symbols into illustrations of its own philosophical conceptions of the mystery of generation, gave to the various parts and members of the human body those names which constitute the special vocabulary of obscenity of the present day.”162

But the priority of these symbols or conceptions is the question at issue. Did the development of “Arkism” precede or follow the superstitions referred to by Mr. Lesley as Ophism, Mithraism, and Phallism, all of which have been shown to embody analogous ideas? If the question of priority is to be determined by reference to the written tradition which furnishes the real ground of belief in a great Deluge, it must clearly be given to the Phallic superstition; for it is shown conclusively, as I think, that almost the first event in the life of man there related is purely Phallic in its symbolism. Nor is the account of the fall the only portion of the Mosaic history of primitive man which belongs to this category. The Garden of Eden, with its tree of life and the river which divided into four streams, although it may have had a secondary reference to the traditional place of Semitic origin to which the Hebrews looked back with a regretful longing, has undoubtedly a recondite Phallic meaning. It must be so, if the explanation I have given of the myth of the fall be right, since the two are intimately connected, and the Garden163 is essential to the succeeding catas63trophe. That this opinion is correct can be proved moreover by reference to Hindu mythology. “The Hindu,” says Dr. Creuzer, “contemplates with love his mysterious Merou, a sacred mountain from whence the source of life spreads itself in the valleys and over the plains, which separates day from night, reunites heaven and earth, and finally on which the sun, the moon, and the stars each repose.”164 But what is this mysterious mountain, the sacred Merou? It is shown by Dr. Creuzer’s own explanation. He says: “It is on the Mount Merou, the central point of the earth (which elevates itself as an immense phallus from the centre of an immense yoni amongst the islands with which the sea is sown), that the grand popular deity who presides over the Lingam, Siva or Mahadeva, the father and master of nature, makes his cherished abode, spreading life to every part under a thousand diverse forms which he incessantly renews. Near him is Bhavani or Parvati, his sister and his wife, the Queen of the mountains, the goddess of the Yoni, who carries in her bosom the germ of all things, and brings forth the beings whom she has conceived by Mahadeva. We have here the two great principles of nature, the one male and the other female, generators and regenerators, creators and at the same time destroyers; but they destroy only to renew; they only change the forms; life and death succeed in a perfect circle, and the substance remains in the midst of all these changes.” The sacred mountain is wanting to the Mosaic legend, but Dr. Faber justly sees165 in64 the Mount Merou, where resides Siva and Bhavani, the Hebrew Paradise, and we find that the Hindu myth affirms that the sacred river not only sprang from the roots of Jambu, a tree of a most extravagant size, which is thought to convey knowledge and to effect the accomplishment of every human wish, but also that, after passing through “the circle of the moon,” it divides it into “four streams, flowing towards the four cardinal points.”

The priority of the Phallic superstition over “Arkism” is further proved by the undoubted fact that, even in the traditions of the race to whom we are indebted for the precise details of the incidents accompanying the Deluge, the Phallic deities of the Hamitico-Semites are genealogically placed long before the occurrence of this event. The Semitic deity Seth is, according to one fable, the semi-divine first ancestor of the Semites. Bunsen has shown clearly also that several of the antediluvian descendants of the Semitic Adam were among the Ph?nician deities. Thus, the Carthaginians had a god Yubal, Jubal, who would appear to have been the sun-god ?sculapius, called “the fairest of the gods and so, we read in a Ph?nician inscription Ju-Baal—i.e., beauty of Baal, which Movers ingeniously interprets ?sculapius—Asmun-Jubal.” Here, then, adds Bunsen, “is another old Semitic name attached to a descendant of Lamekh, together with Adah, Zillah, and Naamah.”166 Hadah, the wife of Lamekh, as well of Esau, the Ph?nician Usov, is identified with the goddess, worshipped at Babylon as Hera (Juno), and, notwithstanding Sir Gardner Wil65kinson’s dictum to the contrary, her names, Hera, Hadah, point to a connection with the Egyptian Her Her, or Hathor, who was the daughter of Seb and Netpe, as Hera was the daughter of Chronos and Rhea. The name of the god Kiyun, or Kevan, who was worshipped by the Hebrews, and who in Syria was said to devour children, seems, from its connection with the root kun, to erect, to point to the antediluvian Kain or Kevan. Kon, derived from the same root, was, according to Bunsen, a Ph?nician designation of Saturn.167 Even the great Carthaginian sun-god Melekh, who was also “held in universal honour throughout Ph?nicia,” seems, although Bunsen does not thus identify him, to be no other than Lamekh, the father of Noah, in one of the genealogies of Genesis. We may, perhaps, have in the sacrifices to the Ph?nician deities, when the first-born sons of the people were offered on his altars, an explanation168 of the passage in Genesis which has so much puzzled commentators, where Lamekh is made to declare that he has “slain a man for his wound, and a youth for his hurt,” for which, while Cain was avenged seven times, Lamekh should be avenged seventy times seven times.169 The Ph?nicians had a tradition that Kronos (Saturn) had sacrificed his own beloved son Yadid, and some ancient writers said that the human sacrifices to Moloch were in imitation of this act.170 This reason66 may not be the correct one for the use of human sacrifices, but the seventy times seven times in which Lamekh was avenged may well refer to the abundance of the victims offered on the altar of the Ph?nician deity.

The priority of the Phallic superstition over “Arkism,” or rather the existence of that superstition before the formation of the Deluge legend, is proved, moreover, by its agreement with the myth of Osiris and Isis. This agreement forms the central idea of the explanation of pagan idolatry given by Faber, and yet it conclusively proves that the Noachian Deluge was simply a myth, having, like that of Osiris, a Phallic basis. Bunsen says “the myth of Osiris and Typhon, heretofore considered as primeval, can now be authoritatively proved to be of modern date in Egypt—that is to say, about the thirteenth or fourteenth century B.C.”171 But it is this version of the Osirian myth which is said to be founded on the Noachian catastrophe, Typhon or The Evil Being, the persecutor of Osiris, being the Waters of the Deluge. The very foundation of the Hebrew legend is thus cut away, and from the fact, moreover, that the Egyptians had no tradition of a great flood, we must seek for another origin for the legend of which different phases were held by so many of the peoples of antiquity. The fact of Typhon (Seth) having been venerated in Egypt to so late a date as the thirteenth century B.C. is a proof that the myth, according to which he was the cruel persecutor of his brother Osiris, must have been of a later origin.67 The primitive form of the myth is easily recognised when it is known that both Osiris and Typhon (Seth) were sun-gods. Thus, according to Bunsen, “the myth of Osiris typifies the solar year, the power of Osiris is the sun of the lower hemisphere, the winter solstice. The birth of Horus typifies the vernal equinox—the victory of Horus, the summer equinox—the inundation of the Nile. Typhon is the autumnal equinox—Osiris is slain on the seventeenth of Athyr (November).... The rule of Typhon lasts from the autumnal equinox to the middle of December. He reigns twenty-eight years, or lives as long.”172 Thus the history of Osiris is “the history of the circle of the year,” and in his resurrection as Horus we see the sun resuscitating itself after its temporary eclipse during the winter solstice. Here Typhon is also a sun-god, his rule being at the autumnal equinox when the sun has its full power. This was the deity of the Semites and of the inhabitants of Lower Egypt, and his scorching force, doubtless, prepared the Egyptians, who venerated the milder Osiris, to look with abhorrence on Typhon-Seth, who had already, probably under the same influence, become a savage deity, delighting in burnt offerings and human sacrifices.173 No wonder, therefore, that when the worshippers of the Semitic god were driven out of Egypt, the god himself was treated as an enemy. Thus we are told that the enemies of Egypt and their gods contended with the gods of Egypt, who veiled themselves under the heads of animals in order to save themselves from Typhon.68 Moreover, when this Semitic god was thus degraded and transformed into an Evil Being, he would naturally come to be looked upon as the enemy of Osiris, seeing that he was already identified with the autumn sun, which during the autumnal equinox triumphs over the sun of Osiris; and we can easily understand how, if the myth of a Deluge, and the consequent destruction of all mankind but the father of the renewed human race, was introduced, Typhon would be the destroying enemy and Osiris the suffering and restored man-god.

If, as Dr. Faber supposes, the Egyptian myth was a form of that which relates to the Noachian Deluge, we can only suppose them to have had a similar basis, a basis which, from the very circumstances of the case, must be purely “Phallic.” This explanation is the only one which is consistent with a peculiarity in the Hebrew legend which is an insurmountable objection to its reception as the expression of a literal fact. We are told by the Mosaic narrative that Jehovah directed Noah to take with him into the ark “of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort.” Now, according to the ordinary acceptation of the legend, this passage expresses a simple absurdity, even on the hypothesis of a partial Deluge. If, however, we read the narrative in a Phallic sense, and by the ark understand the sacred Argha of Hindu mythology, the Yoni of Parvati, which, like the moon in Zoroastrian teaching, carries in itself the “germs of all things,” we see the full propriety of what otherwise is incomprehensible. The Elohim “created” the heavens and the earth, and on its destruction69 the seeds of all things were preserved in the ark to again cover the earth. Taken in this sense, we see the reason of the curious analogy which exists in various points between the Hebrew legends of the Creation and of the Deluge, this analogy being one of the grounds on which the hypothesis of the Great Father as the central idea of all mythologies has been based. Thus, the primeval ship, the navigation of which is ascribed to the mythological being, is not the ark of Noah or Osiris, or the vessel of the Ph?nician Kabiri. It was the moon, the ship of the sun, in which his seed is supposed to be hidden until it bursts forth in new life and power. The fact that the moon was, in early mythologies, a male deity, almost necessitates, however, that there should have been another origin for the sacred vessel of Osiris. This we have in the Hastoreth-karnaim, the cow-goddess, whose horns represent the lunar ark, and who, without doubt, was a more primitive deity than the moon-goddess herself.174 The most primitive type of all, however, is that of the Argha or Yoni of the Indian Iswara, which from its name was supposed to have been turned into a dove.175 Thus, in Noah and the ark, as in Osiris and the moon, we see simply the combination of the male and female elements as they are still represented in the Hindu lingam. The introduction of the dove into the myth is a curious70 confirmation of this view. For this bird, which, as “the emblem of love and fruitfulness,” was “consecrated to Venus, under all her different names, at Babylon, in Syria, Palestine, and Greece;176 which was the national banner-sign of the Assyrians, as of the earlier Sythic empire, whose founders, according to Hindu tradition, took the name of Jonim or Yoniyas, and which attended on Janus, a diluvian ‘god of opening and shutting;’ was simply a type of ‘the Yoni’ or Jonah, or Navicular feminine principle,” which was said to have assumed the form of a ship and a dove.177

In bringing this essay to a close, some mention should be made of what may be called the modern religions, Brahminism, Buddhism, and Christianity, seeing that these still exist as the faiths of great peoples. As to the first of these, it may be thought that its real character cannot be ascertained from the present condition of Hindu belief. It is said that the religion of the Vedas is very different from that of the Puranas, which have taken their place. It should be remembered, however, that these books profess to reproduce old doctrine, the word “Purana” itself meaning old, and that Puranas are referred to in one of the Upanishads, while the Tantras, which contain the principles of the Sacti Puja, and which are as yet almost unknown to Europeans, are considered by the Brahmins to be more ancient than the Puranas themselves.178 The71 origin of the ideas contained in these books is a difficult question. The germs of both Vishnu-worship and Siva-worship appear to be found in the Vedas,179 and the worship of the linga is undoubtedly referred to the Mahabharata.180 It is more probable, as thought by Mr. Fergusson and other late writers, that they are only indirectly sprung from the primitive Hinduism. The similarity between Siva-ism and the Santal-worship of the Great Mountain pointed out by Dr. Hunter is very remarkable, and this analogy is strengthened by intermixture in both cases with river-worship.181 There is no doubt that the Great Mountain is simply a name for the Phallic emblem, which is the chief form under which Siva is represented in the numerous temples at Benares dedicated to his honour. Considering the position occupied by the serpent as a symbol of life and indirectly of the male power, we should expect to find its worship connected to some extent with that of Siva. Mr. Fergusson, however, declares that it is not so, and, although this statement requires some qualification,182 yet it is certain that the serpent is also inti72mately associated with Vishnu. In explanation of this fact, Mr. Fergusson remarks: “The Vaishnava religion is derived from a group of faiths in which the serpent always played an important part. The eldest branch of the family was the Naga worship, pure and simple; out of that arose Buddhism, ... and on its decline two faiths—at first very similar to one another—rose from its ashes, the Jaina and the Vaishnava.” The serpent is almost always found in Jaina temples as an object of worship, while it appears everywhere in Vaishnava tradition.183 But elsewhere Mr. Fergusson tells us that, although Buddhism owed its establishment to Naga tribes, yet its supporters repressed the worship of the serpent, elevating tree-worship in its place.184 It is difficult to understand how the Vaishnavas, who are worshippers of the female power,185 and who hate the lingam, can yet so highly esteem the serpent which has indirectly, at least, reference to the male principle. Perhaps, however, we may find an explanation in Mr. Fergusson’s own remarks as to the character and development of Buddhism. According to him, Buddhism was chiefly influential among Naga tribes, and73 “was little more than a revival of the coarser superstitions of the aboriginal races,186 purified and refined by the application of Aryan morality, and elevated by doctrines borrowed from the intellectual superiority of the Aryan races.187” As to its development, the sculptures on the Sanchi Tope show that at about the beginning of the Christian era, although the dagoba, the chakra or wheel, the tree, and other emblems, were worshipped, the serpent hardly appears; while at Amravati, three centuries later, this animal had become equal to Buddha himself.188 Moreover, there can be no doubt that the lingam was an emblem of Buddha, as was also the lotus, which represents the same idea—the conjunction of the male and female elements, although in a higher sense perfect wisdom.189 The association of the same ideas is seen in the noted prayer Om mani padmi hum (“Oh, the Jewel in the Lotus”), which refers to the birth of Padmipani from the sacred lotus flower,190 but also, there can be little doubt, to the phallus and the yoni. We may suppose, therefore, that whatever the moral doctrine taught by Gautama, he used the old Phallic symbols, although it may be with a peculiar application. If the opinion expressed by Mr. Fergusson as to the introduction into India of the Vaishnava faith by an early immigrant race be correct, it must have existed in the time of Gautama, and indeed the Ion74-ism of Western Asia is traditionally connected with India itself at a very early date,191 although probably the early centre of Ion-ism, the worship of the Dove or Yoni, was, as Bryant supposes, in Chaldea.192 We see no trace, however, in Buddhism proper of Sacti Puja, and I would suggest that, instead of abolishing either, Gautama substituted for the separate symbols of the linga and the yoni, the association of the two in the lingam. If this were so, we can well understand how, on the fall of Buddhism, Siva-worship193 may have retained this compound symbol, with many of the old Naga ideas, although with little actual reference to the serpent itself, other than as a symbol of life and power; while, on the other hand, the Vaishnavas may have reverted to the primitive worship of the female principle, retaining a remembrance of the early serpent associations in the use of the Sesha, the heavenly naga with seven heads194 figured on the Amravati sculptures. It is possible, however, that there may be another ground of opposition between the followers of Vishnu and Siva. Mr. Fergusson points out that, notwithstanding the peculiarly Phallic symbolism of the latter deity, “the worship of Siva is too severe, too stern for the softer emotions of love, and all his temples are quite free from any allusion to it.” It75 is far different with the Vaishnavas, whose temples “are full of sexual feelings generally expressed in the grossest terms.”195 Siva, in fact, is specially a god of intellect, typified by his being three-eyed, and although terrible as the resistless destroyer, yet the recreator of all things in perfect wisdom;196 while Vishnu has relation rather to the lower type of wisdom which was distinctive of the Assyrians, among ancient peoples, and which has so curious a connection with the female principle. Hence the shell or conch is peculiar to Vishnu, while the linga belongs to Siva.197 Gautama combined the simpler feminine phase of religion with the more masculine intellectual type, symbolising this union by the lingam and other analogous emblems. The followers of Siva have, however, adopted the combined symbol in the place of the linga alone, thus approaching more nearly than the Vaishnavas to the idea of the founder of modern Buddhism. Gautama himself, nevertheless, was most probably only the restorer of an older faith, according to which perfect wisdom was to be found only in the typical combination of the male and female principles in nature. The real explanation of the connection between Buddhism and Siva-ism has perhaps, however, yet to76 be given198. The worship of the serpent-god is not unknown, even at the present day, in the very stronghold of Siva-ism,199 reminding us of the early spread of Buddhism among Naga tribes. In the “crescent surmounted by a pinnacle similar to the pointed end of a spear,” which decorates the roofs of the Tibetan monasteries,200 we undoubtedly have a reproduction of the so-called trident of Siva. This instrument is given also to Sani, the Hindu Saturn, who is represented as encompassed by two serpents,201 and hence the pillar symbol of this primeval deity we may well suppose to be reproduced in the linga of the Indian Phallic god.202 But the pillar symbol is not wanting to Buddhism itself. The columns said to have been raised by Asoka have a reference to the pillars of Seth. The remains of an ancient pillar supposed to be a Buddhist Lat is still to be seen at Benares,203 the word Lat being merely another form of the name Tet, Set, or Sat, given to the Ph?nician Semitic or deity. In the central pillar of the so-called Druidical circles we have doubtless a reference to the same primitive superstition, the idea intended to be represented being the combination of the male and female principles.204


In conclusion, it must be said that Christianity itself is certainly not without the Phallic element. Reference may be made to the important place taken in Christian dogma by the “fall,” which has been shown to have had a purely Phallic foundation, and to the peculiar position assigned to Mary, as the Virgin Mother of God.205 It must not be forgotten, however, that, whatever may have been the primitive idea on which these dogmas are based, it had received a totally fresh aspect at the hands of those from whom the founders of Christianity received it.206 As to symbols, too, these were employed by the Christians in the later signification given to them by the followers of the ancient faiths. Thus the fish and the cross symbols originally embodied the idea of generation, but afterwards that of life, and it was in this sense that they were applied to Christ.207 The most evidently Phallic representation used by the Christian Iconographers is undoubtedly the aureole, or vesica piscis, which is elliptical in form and contained the figure of Christ—Mary herself, however, being sometimes represented in the aureole, glorified as Jesus Christ.208 Probably78 the nimbus also is of Phallic significance, for, although generally circular, it was sometimes triangular, square, &c.209 The name of Jehovah is inscribed within a radiating triangle.210 Didron gives an illustration of St. John the Evangelist with a circular nimbus, surmounted by two sun-flowers, emblems of the sun, an idea which, says Didron, “reminds us of the Egyptian figures, from the heads of which two lotus-flowers rise in a similar manner.”211 There is also a curious representation in the same work of the Divine hand with the thumb and two forefingers outstretched, resting on a cruciform nimbus.212 In Egypt the hand having the fingers thus placed was a symbol of Isis, and, from its accompaniments, there can be no doubt, notwithstanding the mesmeric character ascribed to it by Ennemoser,213 that it had an essentially Phallic origin, although it may ultimately have been used to signify life. There can be no question, however, that, whatever may be thought as to the nature of its symbols,214 the basis of Christianity is more emotional than that of any other religion now existing. Reference has been made to the presence in Hebraic theology of an idea of God—that of a Father—antagonistic to the Ph?nician notion of the “Lord of Heaven.” We have the same idea repeated in79 Christ’s teaching, its distinctive characteristic being the recognition of God as the Universal Father—the Great Parent of mankind, who had sent His son into the world that he might reconcile it unto Himself. It is in the character of a forgiving parent that Christians are taught to view God, when He is not lost sight of in the presence of Christ, of whom the church is declared to be the bride. In Christianity we see the final expression of the primitive worship of the father as the head of the family—the generator—as the result of an instinctive reasoning process leading up from the particular to the universal—with which, however, the dogma of the “fall” and its consequences—deduced so strangely from a Phallic legend—have been incorporated.215 As a religion of the emotions, the position of Christianity is perfectly unassailable. As a system of rational faith, however, it is otherwise; and the tendency of the present age is just the reverse of that which took place among the Hebrews—the substitution of a Heavenly King for a Divine Father. In fact, modern science is doing its best to effect for primitive fetishism, or demon-worship, what Christianity has done for Phallic-worship—generalise the powers of nature and make of God a Great Unknowable Being, who, like the Elohim, of the Mosaic Cosmogony, in some mysterious manner, causes80 all things to appear at a word. This cannot, however, be the real religion of the future. If God is to be worshipped at all, the Heavenly King and the Divine Father must be combined as a single term, and He must be viewed, not as the unknowable cause of being, but as the great source of all being, who may be known in nature—the expression of his life and energy, and in man who was “created” in his own image.

Note.—M. Fran?ois Lenormant, in the seventh edition of his “Histoire ancienne de l’Orient” (T. i., p. 91), after considering the traditions of a great deluge preserved by various peoples, concludes that “the biblical deluge, far from being a myth, has been a real and historical fact, which has struck the ancestors of at least the Aryan or Indo-European, the Semitic or Syro-Arab, and the Hamitic or Kouschite races—that is, the three great civilised races of the ancient world, before the ancestors of these races were separated, and in the Asiatic country which they inhabited together.” The authority of M. Lenormant is great, but preference must be given on this point to the arguments of M. Dupuis, who, in his “Origine de tous des Cultes” (T. iii., p. 176, et seq.), has almost certainly proved the astronomical character of what he terms the “fiction sacerdotale,” which, however, may have originated with the common ancestors of the three races referred to by M. Lenormant.


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