The penis has been worthy of worship since the beginning of time. Throughout history, cultures (ancient and contemporary) have not only worshiped the penis, they have based entire societies around the phallus. Talk about dedication.
The penis is believed to bring luck and fortune to all, which is why phallic symbols are prevalent throughout the world. They were carved into the pillars of Pompeii and etched into the relief sculptures of the Mayans.
As much as queer men would love to believe they started the phallus obsession, penises have been trending way before Twitter. To fully understand penis worship, you should look to ancient Egyptian and Hindu mythology. Although, in actuality, we needn’t travel further than The Golden City (America’s queer mecca, San Francisco).
1. San Francisco, CA
The pagan temple began in San Francisco and has since opened in other cities — the most recent in Montreal, Canada.
The religion pays tribute to Priapus, the Greek god of fertility. It is a legit church and its members defend their beliefs, stating they are a “Brotherhood devoted to the worship of the Holy Cock.” Only men belong to it (though women are allowed). They hold services on the first Monday of every month and have orgies, worshipping each other’s penises.
“There is no creation but that which is created by Phallus. On your knees and worship Cock.” – Temple Priapus
2. Tawarayama, Japan
In Tawarayama, Japan, there is a shrine called The Mara Kannon, which, according to legend, started because of a feud between two politicians named Mr. Oji and Mr. Sue more than 450 years ago.
Apparently, things got so intense that Mr. Oji disguised his son as a girl to hide him in the shrine until the feud was over. Unfortunately, Mr. Sue found out and cut off the boy’s penis. As a response, locals made wood and ceramic phalluses to replace the boy’s amputated penis. Every year, thousands of visitors come to the shrine and today the forest is filled with tall and small statues of phalluses.
3. Ancient Egypt
In Egyptian mythology, Min was the god of fertility and agriculture. He was central in coronations of new pharaohs, and in modern depictions, he has a ginormous ithyphallic (also known as a huge boner). Before Min, however, there was Osiris.
Osiris was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead — more so the god of transition and regeneration. When Osiris died, the god Set supposedly cut his body into 14 pieces and scattered them all over Egypt.
This did not go well with Osiris’ wife, Isis, who aimed to retrieve his body parts so the gods could resurrect him. She managed to find all of them, except his penis, which was eaten by a fish. Isis instead created a wooden replacement: The phallus.
4. Ancient India
Shiva is the most widely worshiped deity in Ancient India, and a third of the Hindu Trinity is commonly seen in the form of a phallus. The “lingam” (or penis) is his famous symbol. When Shiva was killed, the goddess Kali apparently squatted over his body, ripped out and ate his organs and mounted his erect penis.
In Hindu culture, penis worship is prehistoric, and several “lingams” are found in old temples. Most lingams have been found in Indus Civilization sites, varying in size. Many are made of steatite, sandstone or burnt clay. To worship it correctly, you must first wet the statue with milk or water, then meditate.
5. Ancient Greece
The most popular god considered to be a phallic deity is Hermes, the god of boundaries and exchange. Priapus, who was believed to protect male genitalia, is also a fertility god and is often depicted with an exaggerated phallus.
The city of Tyrnavos in Greece holds an annual Phallus Festival on the first day of Lent, where they, in fact, worship the importance of the penis.
6. Roman Empire
Phallic charms were hugely prevalent in ancient Rome. In the ruins of Pompeii, phalluses were used in wind chimes to keep away evil spirits and carved within the stone streets, often pointing in the direction of the city’s brothel.
Statutes of gods with giant penises stood as guards in front of their homes, and Roman boys wore amulets with phallic charms until they came of age. It was said to promote marital sex, which all played a part in the philosophy of Rome and the security of its state. In other words, the penis protected everyone and everything.
7. Kawasaki, Japan
Kanamara Matsuri, or “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” is an annual fertility festival held in Kawasaki. It is centered around a local penis-shrine once popular among prostitutes who wish to pray for protection against STDs. The festival has people wearing penises on hats, on candy, clothes, and everywhere else. People often visit to pray for easy childbirth and marriage.
According to legend, a demon once hid in the vagina of a young bride — on her wedding night, the demon bit off her husband’s penis. She then hired a blacksmith, who made a phallus made of iron, which broke the demon’s teeth. This is why the festival often has iron phalluses surrounding the location. Currently, organizers use the festivities as a way to raise awareness for AIDS, as well as philanthropic ventures.