2. CULTS AND RITUALS OF FERTILITY AND SEXUALITY
Estimated year of creation: 28,000 BC
Main authors: Unknown.
Main deities: Unknown.
Headquarters / Capital in the world: Currently, Stromboli Island in Italy is suggested.
Number of faithful around the world: Unknown.
The cult of fertility and sexuality can be considered as something to be hidden, condemned or denied, however, it is the oldest cult on record, and therefore, the reader is invited to venture into this field, that for some it is prohibited, but for others it is considered as the first archaeological record of veneration of the creative energy of life, and therefore, the antecedent of all existing religions and worldviews.
Brief description of the cult of sexuality:
To begin with, the evidence that fertility and sexuality cults and rituals prevailed in various ancient cultures such as those of the ancient world of Egypt, India, Tibet, Syria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Italy, Spain cannot be ignored. , Germany, Scandinavia, Mexico, Peru and Haiti. To give an idea of the temporality of these cults, take, for example, Hohle's phallus, made of siltstone, which is estimated to have been created during 28,000 BC. This object was discovered in the cave of Hohle Fels, by archaeologist Jonathan Amos , and assembled for the first time in 2005. This object is made of stone, 20 cm long by 3 cm wide, it was probably buried together with its owner and it is assumed that the importance given to it was considerable, and is classified as one of the oldest phallic representations ever discovered. However, phallic, vaginal and sexual symbols have been found by archaeological expeditions around the world, and are interpreted as an expression of the human desire for regeneration and its power to achieve it. It is on this line of thought that it is argued that the phallic worship or cult of sexuality consists of the worship of the reproductive powers of nature symbolized by the generative organs, mainly the male ones, as well as by graphic descriptions of all the sexual organs. and sexual acts as such. Although religious activities involving sexuality or the symbolism of male or female sexual organs are sometimes referred to as phallic cults or religions dating back to the Ice Age, it was not until the 20th century that evidence was found that certain cults were solely phallic or sexual. With certain discoveries of prehistoric objects, and due to the ideological openness of scientists on issues concerning fertility and sexuality in past civilizations, it has been concluded that purely sexual worship in various cultures of the world in the Ice Age, and later, in the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, as well as in the Roman Empire and in the Renaissance, it was recurrent.
FROM ANCIENT EGYPT TO GREECE.
In most sexuality cults it is women who are presented as the most active participants, the penis and vagina were represented with various objects considered sacred, and sexual acts were performed as rituals to make offerings or empower the participants. The earliest known "spring public sex rituals" took place in ancient Egypt. Early Egyptian mythology includes a tale similar to the story of Noah. The sun god, Ra, recoiled from the wickedness of mankind and killed almost everyone along the Nile. He then relented and rewarded the few survivors by flooding the fields with beer. They got drunk and begged Ra for bountiful crops. They also participated in public and orgiastic sex that repopulated Egypt. In commemoration, each spring when the Nile flooded, Egyptians held fertility festivals that included public drunkenness, dancing, and group sex. It is not clear what proportion of the population participated, but according to ancient historians, many did.
The Egyptian fertility festival influenced the Greek and Babylonian cultures, where "an exalted cultural vision of sex was held as an inducer of an altered state of wonder, a maximum expression of the path to awakening consciousness.
Sexuality in ancient Greece centered on Priapus (the son of Aphrodite) and on the Orphic and Dionysian cults. As in Mesopotamia, in Greece religious festivals and ceremonies were also held, usually ending in orgies, banquets and parties that lasted several days. Dionysus was the god of wine, pleasure, fertility and religious ecstasy, there is art where he rides a chariot followed by dancers composed of beautiful naked women and men with athletic physiques and huge erections. The god's acolytes were not particularly numerous, but they celebrated it during festivals called "orgies" (orgies), for which participants had to abstain from sexual intercourse for nine days beforehand. In the Temple of Aphrodite the rituals and functions of the primitive temple included: promoting the fertility of the land, animals and families, training in sexual arts and rituals of coming of age.
Another example of the antiquity of these practices can be found in the terracotta plates of Mesopotamia that reproduce numerous sexual positions between heterosexual and homosexual couples. One of the most popular plates is the one that describes coitus a tergo, or in contemporary language: anal sex. Mesopotamian erotic art does not detail a specific means of entry, but anal sex was considered a popular contraceptive method by heterosexual couples. Other plates show couples performing intercourse side by side, standing, performing the old missionary, or women with their legs spread or squatting on a comically large phallus. However, although among the artifacts of the time there are some that exhibit graphic sexuality in great detail, there is now an academic debate about the purpose of erotic art, while some argue that the objects were reasons for the veneration of Ishtar, the goddess of love; or others argue that they were apotropaic, like other terracotta amulets of the time, intended to ward off evil spirits, or that they “represented prostitution, sexual relations carried out in a tavern or sexual relations between husband and wife without a particular context ”; What is definitive is that erotic art was common among all ancient civilizations and since these objects are found in almost all cultures in the world, it is considered one of the oldest of all. Some of the objects discovered describe all kinds of sexual acts and were sometimes buried together with their owners, so it is highly unlikely that it was a very early version of a purely playful and pornographic culture, but rather a common practice of adoration and pleasure. This is why the interpretation of sexuality as the generating source of everything that exists (the psychologist Edmund Freud will come, to shed light on this with scientific methods, some 10,000 years later), can be considered as the antecedent of all the rituals that follow.
When Greco-Roman culture took over much of these regions, the Mesopotamian and Greek gods were relegated to the stories and superstition of children. And when Christianity was co-opted by Rome, the element of sacred sexuality from the Greeks was removed, but the temples and many of their rituals survived.
In India, the deity Shiva was often represented and worshiped as a phallic symbol called lingam, among the Egyptians it is represented with the cult of Osiris, the Japanese incorporated it into Shintoism, among the Native Americans they had a phallic dance of the buffalo; and the Mayans, in Mexico, represented the phallus in numerous sculptures and myths.
And with the rise of Islam and its conquest of India, Tantra was also suppressed, surviving only in partial and esoteric forms (including the mystical wing of Islam: Sufism).
In Rome, the most important form of cult of sexuality was the cult of Cybele and Attis. Prominent during the empire, this cult was known for its festive excesses, riotous rituals, orgies, and its annual Blood Day: frenzied participants wound themselves with knives and performed self-inflicted castration (a prerequisite for admission to the priestly caste of this phallic cult).
In early Rome the god of fertility was Liber, and spring parades in his honor featured huge carved wooden phalluses that were carried around the city and across the fields. Liber's spring festivals culminated in a sacred ritual involving a married noblewoman and a priest performing the act in public with the community watching. Agustín de Hipona, pointed out about the Roman pagan rites: “The sexual member of the man is consecrated in the temple of Liber, that of the woman in the sanctuaries of Libera, the same goddess that Venus, and these two divinities are called father and mother because they preside over the act of generation ”(De Civitaie Dei, vi., 9).
Around 150 BC, the Romans adopted the Greek god, Dionysus, renaming him Bacchus. The Roman historian Livy reported that the first celebrations in honor of the god, the bacchanalia, were held three times a year and were restricted to women who abstained from sexual intercourse for 10 days prior. But ultimately, the bacchanalia included men, and for years they were held monthly with public drunkenness and communal lust. In the end, the bacchanalia turned into massive rapes of men and women, with murmurs of sedition. The Roman Senate had no objections to public intoxication or sex, but could not bear the insurrection. In 186 a. C. when Rome had almost a million inhabitants, Livio reported the arrest of 7,000 bacchanalia, about one percent of the population, most of whom were executed. Despite this slaughter, throughout the Roman Mediterranean, spring fertility rituals continued.
MARDIS GRAS AND CARNIVAL.
As Christianity replaced paganism, its solemn spring holiday, Easter, followed the 40 days of Lent, a time of quiet reflection that begins on Ash Wednesday. But, the day before Ash Wednesday, everyone was celebrating Fat Tuesday: in French, Mardi Gras, in Spanish, Carnival. Since then, Mardi Gras and Carnival have been celebrated with plenty of alcohol and the relaxation of sexual limitations. Various Renaissance popes celebrated Carnival throughout the year. In 1501, the Italian nobleman and Catholic cardinal Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentinois, organized a party in the Papal Palace with the Pope, high-ranking clergymen and 50 courtesans, who dined together, got drunk, stripped naked and created a monumental orgy in the name of their God.
The Italian nobility of the Renaissance also enjoyed masked balls - masquerades. Many of the masks featured exaggerated noses that looked like erections, and the women wore tight-fitting dresses to enhance their busts (which ended outside the dress when the festivities began). With the faces and identities of the participants obscured, the masquerades often included sex between strangers and in a group.
MAY DAY OR FIRST OF MAY.
In medieval England the spring fertility ritual, Beltane, is performed at the end of April, but, it was established on May 1st (May Day). Celebrants danced around a huge phallic symbol, the May Pole, and then headed to the fields, where they drank and had sex in pairs or groups. In 1644, the Puritans outlawed May Day jokes. But, on the other hand, in seventeenth-century England and Europe, brothels were commonplace and stratified by social class. Upper-class men united in fraternal organizations or gentlemen's clubs, and many clubs regularly hired madams to send dozens of sex workers to rural estates to rampage as a group. This tradition continued until the 20th century, when, in 1961, certain British aristocrats and a group of young women attended a pool party on an English estate. Secretary of War John Profumo played with alleged sex worker Christine Keeler, who was also involved with a Russian naval attaché and suspected spy. The scandal that followed nearly toppled the government.
American settlers were surprised that several Native American tribes had no qualms about non-monogamy, which clouded parenthood. The Indians replied: “You love only your own children. We love all of our children. "From the American Revolution to the Civil War, a small minority of Americans joined border utopian communities, each with their own rules of relationship. The Shakers insisted on celibacy. Mormons embraced polygamy. And in 1848 in Oneida, New York, John Humphrey Noyes established a "communist" community. All property was in the hands of the group, and traditional marriage was abolished in favor of "complex marriage." Any member can invite any member to the party. Bed. Women could accept or reject it, but the community opposed exclusivity and encouraged multiple partners. Most Oneidans had multiple simultaneous sexual relationships. At its peak, the Oneida commune numbered 300. It lasted 31 years , until 1879.
With the struggle for human rights and against racism that has resurfaced today, new cults have also emerged based on the cult of the phallus and sexuality. These new sexual doctrines involve rites similar to those of ancient Greece and Mesopotamia, but they have not been able to adapt to contemporary times, while most of them have been denounced as suicide cults or rings of prostitution, pedophilia and trafficking in women.
See CG Berger, Our Phallic Heritage (1966); T. Vanggaard, Phallos (1972).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
Amrhein Laura M. (2003): An Iconographic and Historic Analysis of Terminal Classic Maya Phallic Imagery, FAMSI; famsi.org
Ardren, Traci & Hixson, David R. (2006): The Unusual Sculptures of Telantunich, Yucatán: Phalli and the Concept of Masculinity among the Ancient Maya, Cambridge Archaeological Journal; academia.edu
Sigal, Pete: Sexuality in Maya and Nahuatl Sources; citeseerx.ist.psu.edu
Sigal, Pete (2000): From Moon Goddesses to Virgins: The Colonization of Yucatecan Maya Sexual Desire; books.google.es
Westropp, Hodder M. (1870): Phallic Worship, originally read before the Anthropological Society of London; sacred-texts.com