The Phallus, or Lingam, which stood for the image of the male organ, or emblem of creation, has been worshipped from time immemorial. Payne Knight describes it as of the greatest antiquity, and as having prevailed in Egypt and all over Asia.

The women of the former country carried in their religious processions, a movable Phallus of disproportionate magnitude, which Deodorus Siculus informs us signified the generative attribute. It has also been observed among the idols of the native Americans and ancient Scandinavians, while the Greeks represented the Phallus alone, and changed the personified attribute into a distinct deity, called Priapus.

Phallus, or privy member (membrum virile), signifies, “he breaks through, or passes into.” This word survives in German pfahl, and pole in English. Phallus is supposed {11} to be of Phœnician origin, the Greek word pallo, or phallo, “to brandish preparatory to throwing a missile,” is so near in assonance and meaning to Phallus, that one is quite likely to be parent of the other. In Sanskrit it can be traced to phal, “to burst,” “to produce,” “to be fruitful”; then, again, phal is “a ploughshare,” and is also the name of Siva and Mahadeva, who are Hindu deities. Phallus, then, was the ancient emblem of creation: a divinity who was companion to Bacchus.

The Indian designation of this idol was Lingam, and those who dedicated themselves to its service were to observe inviolable chastity. “If it were discovered,” says Crawford, “that they had in any way departed from them, the punishment is death. They go naked, and being considered as sanctified persons, the women approach without scruple, nor is it thought that their modesty should be offended by it.”

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