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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:57 pm 
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Phallic Symbolism in Christianity

"The erect penis was commonly used in religions of early Mediterranean and West Asian civilisations to show the procreative and protective properties of various deities...there is concrete evidence showing the link between the cross and the phallus in classical pagan civilisations, a link which was to continue into Christian art and mythology in the image of various types of crosses. Even the adoration of phallic pagan deities disguised as ‘saints’ - associated with phallic rituals. Many of these ceremonies were carried out in churches under the auspices of the resident priest as recently as the early 19th century." Ian McNeil Cooke, Sun Disc to Crucifix: The Cross

Pagan cross found in Italy with four phalluses representing the cardinal points, with testicles in center surrounded by vulvas

Phallic crucifix as religious pendant

In the original edition of The Christ Conspiracy, I included a chapter on "The Bible, Sex and Drugs." This chapter is removed from the second edition, as it requires a treatment of its own. I note from searches that, while this subject has received some attention in the past, there seem to be few monographs by academic presses specifically about sexual symbolism within the Bible and Christian tradition. In this thread, we can post examples of such symbolism, including textual and artifactual evidence.

San Damiano Cross

Dating to around 1100 AD/CE, the cross or crucifix in the church at San Damiano, Italy, is the one in front of which St. Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226) purportedly received his mission, hearing Christ's voice. The crucifix has been the subject of controversy for centuries because of its phallic-looking distended abdominal muscles.


While some deny that the imagery depicts anything other than stomach attributes, it appears to the savvy that the artist has continued a long line of phallic symbolism, designed to be hidden from vulgar eyes. In this regard, this artifact is building on ancient traditions of phallus worship most blatantly demonstrated in the reverence of the Roman god Priapus or the Greek god Hermes, both of whom are represented in numerous depictions with erect phalli.

Priapus with erect phallus, Pompeii

Archaic "Herm" representing the god Hermes with an erect penis (c. 520 BCE), used frequently as boundary markers in Greece and elsewhere, having an apotropaic function

The characteristics and attributes from priapic religion found in Christianity are too numerous to outline here at the moment. As I say, this subject requires a monograph.

Another such crucifix comes from Bigallo, Italy, and dates to around 1225-65:


Another such phallic crucifix image can be found at Pisa, Italy, dating to around 1230:


These images cannot be attributed to the incompetence of the artists over the ages, as artists have been able to depict human abdominal muscles quite well for many centuries, as illustrated in this ancient Greek vase fragment portraying Herakles wrestling Antaios:


A much earlier possible example of this phallism in crucifixes may be the Gaza crucifix, about which I have written in my ebook A Pre-Christian 'God' on a Cross?

Early "Christian" crucifix scene, possibly dating to the 200s AD/CE

In the blog linked to the image above, the writer cites Allyson Everingham Scheckler and Mary Joan Winn Leith, "The Crucifixion Conundrum and the Santa Sabina Doors", Harvard Theological Review, 103:1 (2010), pp. 67–88: pp. 70-72:

The catalog entry concludes that the amulet could reflect the activity of a pagan magician who, like the family of Jewish exorcists in Acts 19: 13-17, included Jesus' name in his repertory of magical powers. The amulet might equally come from a Jewish or -- given the period's fluid religious boundaries -- Jewish-Christian occult practitioner... The point is that the image, like other apotropaic amulet figures, was frightening and dangerous, not that the image reflected the Christology of the early church writers.... Contrary to the observation of Harley and Spier [....] that Jesus' nudity affirms 'Jesus' spiritual power,' the legs of the frontal nude figure splay painfully over the vertical upright of the cross and call to mind emasculation by impalement; this "Jesus" has more of horror than triumph about him.... [this image] reflect[s] the contemporary attitude of revulsion associated with crucifixion.

The blog author "Ed-M" also remarks:

Let me add that this "Jesus" is also portrayed with an erection; as noted in the last post, phalli - that is, erect penises - were considered to be apotropaic in antiquity.

The word "apotropaic" means "to ward off evil," and phallic stelae, talismans, amulets and so on were used widely for this purpose. The impression of the erect phallus in this particular image may not be as striking and therefore debatable. However, knowing what we do about ancient phallism, it would not be surprising at all, especially if this is an apotropaic amulet.

Again, there is much more to this subject, including the extensive use of yonic or vulvic imagery as well. Please feel to post other examples of sexual symbolism in Christianity.

See also:

Apotropaic Phallic Symbols
History of Phallism
The Hebrews and Phallism

Why suffer from Egyptoparallelophobia, when you can read Christ in Egypt? Try it - you'll like it:


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