Buddhism, Christianity and Phallicism
Works by specialists and scholars have to be treated with a certain respect, due to science. But such works as Payne Knight’s On the Worship of Priapus, and the Ancient Faiths, etc., of Dr. Inman, were merely the precursory drops of the shower of phallicism that burst upon the reading public in the shape of General Forlong’s Rivers of Life. Very soon lay writers followed the torrent, and Hargrave Jennings’ charming volume, The Rosicrucians, was superseded by his Phallicism.
As an elaborate account of this work – that hunts up sexual worship, from the grossest forms of idolatry up to its most refined and hidden symbolism in Christianity – would better suit a newspaper review than a journal like the present, it becomes necessary to state at once the reason it is noticed at all. Were Theosophists entirely to ignore it, Phallicism1 and such-like works would be used some day against Theosophy. Mr. Hargrave Jennings’ last production was written, in every probability, to arrest its progress – erroneously confounded as it is by many with Occultism, pure and simple, and even with Buddhism itself. Phallicism appeared in 1884, just at a time when all the French and English papers heralded the arrival of a few Theosophists from India as the advent of Buddhism in Christian Europe – the former in their usual flippant way, the latter with an energy that might have been worthy of a better cause, and might have been more appropriately directed against “sexual worship at home,” according to certain newspaper revelations. Whether rightly or wrongly, public rumour attributes this “mystic” production of Mr. Hargrave Jennings’ to the advent of Theosophy. However it may be, and whosoever may have inspired the author, his efforts were crowned with success only in one direction. Notwithstanding that he proclaims himself, modestly enough, “the first introducer of the grand philosophical problem of this mysterious Buddhism,” and pronounces his work “undoubtedly new and original,” declaring in the same breath that all the “previous great men and profound thinkers [before himself] labouring through the ages [in this direction] have worked in vain,” it is easy to prove the author mistaken. His “enthusiasm” and self-laudation may be very sincere, and no doubt his labours were “enormous,” as he says; they have nevertheless led him on an entirely false track, when he asserts that:
“These physiological contests [about the mysteries of animal generation] . . . induced in the reflective wisdom of the earliest thinkers, laid the sublime foundations of the phallic worship. They led to violent schisms in religion, and to Buddhism.”
Now it is precisely Buddhism which was the first religious system in history that sprang up with the determinate object of putting an end to all the male Gods and to the degrading idea of a sexual personal Deity being the generator of mankind and the Father of men.
His book, the author assures us: “Comprises within the limit of a modest octavo all that can be known of the doctrines of the Buddhists, Gnostics, and Rosicrucians as connected with phallicism.”
In this he errs again, and most profoundly, or – which would be still worse – he is trying to mislead the reader by filling him with disgust for such “mysteries.” His work is “new and original” in so far as it explains with enthusiastic and reverential approval the strong phallic element in the Bible; for, as he says, “Jehovah undoubtedly signifies the universal male,” and he calls Mary Magdalen before her conversion the “female St. Michael,” as a mystical antithesis and paradox. No one, truly in Christian countries before him has ever had the moral courage to speak so openly as he does of the phallic element with which the Christian Church (the Roman Catholic) is honeycombed, and this is the author’s chief desert and credit. But all the merit of the boasted “conciseness and brevity” of his “modest octavo” disappears on its becoming the undeniable and evident means of leading the reader astray under the most false impressions; especially as very few, if any, of his readers will follow or even share his “enthusiasm . . . converted out of the utmost original disbelief of these wondrously stimulating and beautiful phallic beliefs.” Nor is it fair or honest to give out a portion of the truth, without allowing any room for a palliative, as is done in the cases of Buddha and Christ. That which the former did in India, Jesus repeated in Palestine. Buddhism was a passionate reactionary protest against the phallic worship that led every nation first to the adoration of a personal God, and finally to black magic, and the same object was aimed at by the Nazarene Initiate and prophet. Buddhism escaped the curse of black magic by keeping clear of a personal male God in its religious system; but this conception reigning supreme in the so-called monotheistic countries, black magic – the fiercer and stronger for being utterly disbelieved in by its most ardent votaries, unconscious perhaps of its presence among them – is drawing them nearer and nearer to the maëlstrom of every nation given to sin, or to sorcery, pure and simple. No Occultist believes in the devil of the Church, the traditional Satan; every student of Occultism and every Theosophist believes in black magic, and in dark, natural powers present in the worlds, if he accept the white or divine science as an actual fact on our globe. Therefore one may repeat in full confidence the remark made by Cardinal Ventura on the devil – only applying it to black magic:
The greatest victory of Satan was gained on that day when he succeeded in making himself denied.
It may be said further, that “Black magic reigns over Europe as an all-powerful, though unrecognized, autocrat,” its chief conscious adherents and practical servants being found in the Roman Church, and its unconscious practitioners in the Protestant. The whole body of the so-called “privileged” classes of society in Europe and America is honeycombed with unconscious black magic, or sorcery of the vilest character.
But Christ is not responsible for the mediaeval and the modern Christianity fabricated in His name. And if the author of Phallicism be right in speaking of the transcendental sexual worship in the Roman Church and calling it “true, although doubtless of profound mystical strictly ‘Christian’ paradoxical construction,” he is wrong in calling it the “celestial or Theosophical doctrine of the unsexual, transcendental phallicism,” for all such words strung together become meaningless by annulling each other. “Paradoxical” indeed must be that “construction” which seeks to show the phallic element in “the tomb of the Redeemer,” and the yonic in Nirvâna, besides finding a Priapus in the “Word made Flesh” or the LOGOS. But such is the “Priapomania” of our century that even the most ardent professed Christians have to admit the element of phallicism in their dogmas, lest they should be twitted with it by their opponents.
This is not meant as criticism, but simply as the defence of real, true magic, confined by the author of Phallicism to the “divine magic of generation.” “Phallic ideas,” he says, are “discovered to be the foundation of all religions.”
In this there is nothing “new” or “original.” Since state religions came into existence, there was never an Initiate or philosopher, a Master or disciple, who was ignorant of it. Nor is there any fresh discovery in the fact of Jehovah having been worshipped by the Jews under the shape of “phallic stones” (unhewn) – of being, in short, as much of a phallic God as any other Lingam, which fact has been no mystery from the days of Dupuis. That he was pre-eminently a male deity – a Priapus – is now proven absolutely and without show of useless mysticism, by Ralston Skinner of Cincinnati, in his wonderfully clever and erudite volume, The Source of Measures, published some years ago, in which he demonstrates the fact on mathematical grounds, completely versed, as he seems to be, in kabalistic numerical calculations. What then makes the author of Phallicism say that in his book will be found “a more complete and more connected account than has hitherto appeared of the different forms of the . . . peculiar veneration (not idolatry), generally denominated the phallic worship”? “No previous writer has disserted so fully,” he adds with modest reserve, “upon the shades and varieties of this singular ritual, or traced up so completely its mysterious blendings with the ideas of the philosophers as to what lies remotely in nature in regard to the origin of the history of the human race.”
There is one thing really “original” and “new” in Phallicism, and it is this: while noticing and underlining the most filthy rites connected with phallic worship among every “heathen” nation, those of the Christians are idealized, and a veil of a most mystic fabric is thrown over them. At the same time the author accepts and insists upon Biblical chronology. Thus he assigns to the Chaldaean Tower of Babel – “that magnificent, monster, ‘upright,’ defiant phallus,” as he puts it – an age “soon after the Flood”; and to the Pyramids “a date not long after the foundation of the Egyptian monarchy by Misraim, the son of Ham, 2118 B.C.” The chronological views of the author of The Rosicrucians seem to have greatly changed of late. There is a mystery about his book, difficult, yet not wholly impossible to fathom, which may be summed up in the words of the Comte de Gasparin with regard to the works on Satan by the Marquis de Mirville: “Everything goes to show a work which is essentially an act, and has the value of a collective labour.”
But this is of no moment to the Theosophists. That which is of real importance is his misleading statement, which he supports on Wilford’s authority, that the legendary war that began in India and spread all over the globe was caused by a diversity of opinion upon the relative “superiority of the male or female emblem . . . in regard of the idolatrous magic worship. . . . These physiological disputes led to violent schisms in religion and even to bloody and devastating wars, which have wholly passed out of the history . . . or have never been recorded in history . . . remaining, only as a tradition.”
This is denied point-blank by initiated Brâhmanas.
If the above be given on Col. Wilford’s authority, then the author of Phallicism was not fortunate in his selection. The reader has only to turn to Max Müller’s Science of Religion to find therein the detailed history of Col. Wilford becoming – and very honestly confessing to the fact – the victim of Brâhmanical mystification with regard to the alleged presence of Shem, Ham, and Japhet in the Purânas. The true history of the dispersion and the cause of the great war are very well known to the initiated Brâhmanas, only they will not tell it, as it would go directly against themselves and their supremacy over those who believe in a personal God and Gods. It is quite true that the origin of every religion is based on the dual powers, male and female, of abstract Nature, but these in their turn were the radiations or emanations of the sexless, infinite, absolute Principle, the only One to be worshipped in spirit and not with rites; whose immutable laws no words of prayer or propitiation can change, and whose sunny or shadowy, beneficent or maleficent influence, grace or curse, under the form of Karma, can be determined only by the actions – not by the empty supplications – of the devotee. This was the religion, the One Faith of the whole of primitive humanity, and was that of the “Sons of God,” the B’ne Elohim of old. This faith assured to its followers the full possession of transcendental psychic powers, of the truly divine magic. Later on, when mankind fell, in the natural course of its evolution “into generation,” i.e., into human creation and procreation, and carrying down the subjective process of Nature from the plane of spirituality to that of matter – made in its selfish and animal adoration of self a God of the human organism, and worshipped self in this objective personal Deity, then was black magic initiated. This magic or sorcery is based upon, springs from, and has the very life and soul of selfish impulse; and thus was gradually developed the idea of a personal God. The first “pillar of unhewn stone,” the first objective “sign and witness to the Lord,” creative, generative, and the “Father of man,” was made to become the archetype and progenitor of the long series of male (vertical) and female (horizontal) Deities, of pillars, and cones. Anthropomorphism in religion is the direct generator of and stimulus to the exercise of black, left-hand magic. And it was again merely a feeling of selfish national exclusiveness – not even patriotism – of pride and self-glorification over all other nations, that could lead an Isaiah to see a difference between the one living God and the idols of the neighbouring nations. In the day of the great “change,” Karma, whether called personal or impersonal Providence, will see no difference between those who set an altar (horizontal) to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar (vertical) at the border thereof (Is. xix. 19) and they “who seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards” – for all this is human, hence devilish black magic.
It is then the latter magic, coupled with anthropomorphic worship, that caused the “Great War” and was the reason for the “Great Flood” of Atlantis; for this reason also the Initiates – those who had remained true to primeval Revelation – formed themselves into separate communities, keeping their magic or religious rites in the profoundest secrecy. The caste of the Brâhmanas, the descendants of the “mind-born Rishis and Sons of Brahmâ” dates from those days, as also do the “Mysteries.”
Natural sciences, archæology, theology, philosophy, all have been forced in The Secret Doctrine to give their evidence in support of the teachings herein again propounded. Vox audita perit: litera scripta manet. Published admissions cannot be made away with – even by an opponent: they have been made good use of. Had I acted otherwise, The Secret Doctrine, from the first chapter to the last, would have amounted to uncorroborated personal affirmations. Scholars and some of the latest discoveries in various departments of science being brought to testify to what might have otherwise appeared to the average reader as the most preposterous hypotheses based upon unverified assertions, the rationality of these will be made clearer. Occult teaching will at last be examined in the light of science, physical as well as spiritual.
Lucifer, July, 1896
H. P. Blavatsky
1 Phallicism, Celestial and Terrestrial, Heathen and Christian; its connection with the Rosiscrucians and the Gnostics and its foundation in Buddhism.