A study of ancient religions shows that worship of the sex organs (both male and female) played a key role. All kinds of sexual acts were permitted out at one point or the other, and in some cases said to be one of the routes to union with the divine.
Today, as ancient paganism is being revived, there is a growing erosion of sexual mores and the lines are becoming blurred. Free sex and nudity have become selling points, whether in the field of entertainment or religion. But these trends are not new; we are only committing ancient sins in modern ways.
In Hinduism, one of the oldest pagan religions, Shiva’s phallus has a special place. The Hindu mythology says that when Shiva is killed, his wife, goddess Kali squats over his body, rips out and eats his organs, and then mounts his still erect phallus to complete the cycle of creation. In many Hindu temples, images of Shiva’s phallus (“lingam”) are depicted without the rest of Shiva and worshipped by devotees.
The vagina (called “yoni”) is also worshipped. Various objects are shown depicting both lingam and yoni in full penetration. Most devotees would visit these temples, pour milk or water over the lingam and meditate. Smaller, pocket-sized lingams are also purchased and rubbed with the hands.
There are also Hindu temples with intensely erotic carvings depicting obscene and perverted sexual acts. Let’s not forget too, that the sex treatise called Kamasutra, emerged from Indian sexology.
In ancient Babylonian and Sumerian rituals, temple high priestesses engaged in intercourse with high priests or the king of the city. They also observed Myletta rites in which every female was required to sit in the temple of Ishtar and accept coitus from the first male who threw a silver coin on her lap. They believed such acts of ritual prostitution would release “fertility energies” on the land (Encyclopedia Britannica 15:76)
The ancient Canaanites were also immersed in sex rites revolved around their father god El, the mother goddess Ashera and their son called Baal. They believed that sex acts would stimulate the passion of their father and mother deities to give them fertility.
These rites made Canaanite cults so appealing such that the Bible makes several references to the nation of Israel becoming ensnared in their worship (Numbers 22:41, Judges 2:13, 8:33, Jeremiah 5:7 etc).
In the 1960s, some archaeologists unearthed the temple of Baal-berith at Shechem and found in it the sacred pillar (the phallus), an emblem of Baal. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary:
“Baal was the son of El, the father of the gods and the head of the Canaanite pantheon … The inhabitants of Canaan were addicted to Baal worship which was conducted by priests in temples and in good weather outdoors in fields and particularly hilltops called ‘high places’. The cult included animal sacrifice, ritualistic meals and licentious dances. Near the rock altar was a sacred pillar or Massebah and close by the symbol of Asherah, both of which apparently symbolized human fertility” (Merril F. Unger, Chicago. article “Baal”, 413).
Most historians agree that fertility and phallus worship existed in prehistoric central and Eastern Asia which influenced the pre-Buddhist and pre-Shinto religions. A relic of this can be seen in the yearly Hounen fertility festival in Komaki, Japan (held on March 15). A 9 feet long phallus is carried and followed by a crowd until they reach a temple where it is spanned in a 360 degree fashion. The people are “blessed” by Shinto priests and they pray for a fruitful year.
In ancient Egypt, Min, a fertility deity (often shown with an erect phallus) was extensively worshipped around 2050-1550 B.C. Coronation ceremonies of a new pharaoh involved sex rites. In the Yoruba religion in West Africa, the staff of Oranmiyan is also an emblem of the phallus, though disguised with non-sexual legends.
The ancient Greeks were not far behind. Apostle Paul wrote that “it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph 5:12). He was most probably making references to the Eleusinian and Bacchanalian mysteries which were performed in the dark at nights and were known to be so immoral that the Roman senate banished them from Italy. Plato wrote about seeing the entire population of Athens drunk at these festivals.
The myths of Greek deities also indicated the level of sexual depravity in Greek culture. For instance, Flora was a prostitute; Apollo was a seducer of women; Zeus had sex with many women and even a boy (Ganymede); Pan was into little girls and masturbation; Hades captured Persephone for pleasure and Bacchus was a drunkard and reveler.
These pagan gods were simply a reflection of the people who worshipped them and made up their myths. Notably, the early church thrived in the midst of this perverse culture. Thus, we can understand why the epistles emphasized Godly separation from such sexual depravity.
Ancient Roman deities were also worshipped with immoralities. A good example was Dionysus (symbolized by the bull and goat) whose rites were famous for sex orgies and revelries. Obelisks (phallus emblems) were moved over to Rome from Egypt by the emperors. One of them is still in the Vatican square today – opening the door wide to the ancient stronghold of Baal worship.
Modern Neo-Pagan movements follow the same route of sexual permissiveness. Gavin and Yvonne Frost of the Church and School of Wicca wrote a book many years ago, The Witch’s Bible: How To Practice the Oldest Religion, detailing sexual initiation of pubescent boys and girls by older coven members, using artificial “phalli” on girls and group sex magic.
The book attracted a howl of rage from many Wiccans back then. But the fact is, these authors were simply honest about what goes on in many pagan circles today. Many higher level initiations in the occult are sexual in nature.
History informs us that many of these ancient depraved civilizations rotted from within and died. Their despicable acts attracted divine judgement and their political power sank into the dust – giving us an example of what will eventually befall cultures that follow suit today. Sadly, these same perversions are still being promoted by modern entertainment.