The phallus most often refers to the physical male genitalia, although in some cases it can refer to the clitoris, or the labia majora and labia minora of a female during fetal development, or to the male and female genitalia conjoined, or to the organ before sexual differentiation is evident. In its symbolic sense, it is an expression of the active generative power which is inherent in both men and women. It is often represented as an erect penis, although other possible symbols are the cross, the winged globe, the Sun, and the wand.
|Table of contents|
Symbolism in Thelema
Mighty and erect is this Will of mine, this Pyramid
of fire whose summit is lost in Heaven. Upon it
have I burned the corpse of my desires.
Mighty and erect is this Phallus of my Will. The
seed thereof is That which I have borne within me
from Eternity; and it is lost within the Body of
Our Lady of the Stars.
I am not I; I am but an hollow tube to bring down
Fire from Heaven.
Mighty and marvellous is this Weakness, this
Heaven which draweth me into Her Womb, this
Dome which hideth, which absorbeth, Me.
This is The Night wherein I am lost, the Love
through which I am no longer I.
Crowley also identified the phallus with the dying god, such as Osiris, Dionysus, or Jesus. This is based on the nature of the physical male penis, which becomes flaccid (or "dies") after it has reached ejaculation. On the symbolic level, this can be interpreted as a god giving life followed by his own death. As Crowley wrote in The Vision and the Voice, "[The Pyramid] is also the phallus, which dies itself to communicate life to others."
He states this poetically in "The Sabbath of the Goat," the first chapter from The Book of Lies:
O! the heart of N.O.X. the Night of Pan.
PAN: Duality: Energy: Death.
Death: Begetting: the supporters of O!
To beget is to die; to die is to beget.
Cast the Seed into the Field of Night.
Life and Death are two names of A.
Neither of these alone is enough.
And Crowley explains:
- The shape of the figure I suggests the Phallus; this chapter is therefore called the Sabbath of the Goat, the Witches' Sabbath, in which the Phallus is adored.
- The first and greatest of these [attributes of the primordial deity], the creative or generative attribute, seems to have been originally represented by the union of the male and female organs of generation, which, under the title of the Lingam, still occupies the central and most interior recesses of [the Hindus'] temples or pagodas; and is also worn, attached to bracelets, round their necks and arms. In a little portable temple brought from the Rohilla country during the late war, and now in the British Museum, this composition appears mounted on a pedestal, in the midst of a square area, sunk in a block of white alabaster. Round the pedestal is a serpent, the emblem of life, with his head rested upon his tail, to denote eternity, or the constant return of time upon itself, whilst it flows through perpetual duration, in regular revolutions and stated periods. From under the body of the serpent springs the lotus or water lily, the Nelumbo of Linnæus, which overspreads the whole of the area not occupied by the figures at the corners. ... We accordingly find [the lotus] employed in every part of the northern hemisphere, where the symbolical religion, improperly called idolatry, does or ever did prevail. The sacred images of the Tartars, Japonese [sic], and Indians, are almost all placed upon it ... The upper part of the base of the Lingam also consists of this flower, blended and composed with the female organ of generation which it supports: and the ancient author of the Bagvat Geeta speaks of the creator Brahma as sitting upon his lotus throne. The figures of Isis, upon the Isiac Table, hold the stem of this plant, surmounted by the seed-vessel in one hand, and the cross, representing the male organs of generation, in the other; thus signifying the universal power, both active and passive, attributed to that goddess. On the same Isiac Table is also the representation of an Egyptian temple, the columns of which are exactly like the plant which Isis holds in her hand ...
Quotes from Crowley
Some instances when Crowley used the word:
- "The Holy Guardian Angel is the Unconscious Creature Self—the Spiritual Phallus." ("Liber Samekh," Pt.II, Sec.A)
- "And Teth means a Serpent, the symbol of the magical Life of the Soul, lord of "the double wand" of life and death. The serpent is royal, hooded, wise, silent save for an hiss when need is to disclose his Will; he devours his tail—the glyph of Eternity, of Nothingness and of Space; he moves wavelike, one immaterial essence travelling through crest and trough, as a man's soul through lives and deaths. He straightens out; he is the Rod that strikes, the Light-radiance of the Sun or the Life radiance of the Phallus." (The Equinox of the Gods, Ch.7)
- "The caduceus contains a complete symbol of the Gnosis; the winged sun or phallus represents the joy of life on all planes from the lowest to the highest." (Confessions, Ch.74)
- "...the only rational God is the Sun, who is in the Macrocosm what the Phallus is in the Microcosm." ("The Gospel According to Saint Bernard Shaw")
- "[The Sun's] vice-regent and representative in the animal kingdom is His cognate symbol the Phallus, representing Love and Liberty." (The Law is for All, p. 163)
- Wikipedia. (2004). Phallus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phallus). Retrieved on January 20, 2005.
- Helena and Tau Apiryon. (1998). The Creed of the Gnostic Catholic Church: an Examination (http://www.hermetic.com/sabazius/creed_egc.htm).
- Crowley, Aleister. (1997). Magick: Book 4. "The Formula of I.A.O." 2nd ed. York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.
- Crowley, Aleister. (1996). The Law is for All. Tempe, AZ: New Falcon.
- Payne-Knight, Richard (2005). A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus (http://www.sacred-texts.com/sex/dwp). Retrieved on March 4, 2005.