Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Contains pagan symbols of the trinity or linga, with or without the unity or yoni.
Fig. 1 represents a symbol frequently met with in ancient architecture, etc. It represents the male and female elements, the pillar and the half moon.
Fig. 2 represents the mystic letters said to have been placed on the portal of the oracle of Delphi. By some it is proposed to read the two letters as signifying "he or she is;" by others the letters are taken to be symbolic of the triad and the unit. If they be, the pillar is a very unusual form for the yoni. An ingenious friend of mine regards the upright portion as a "slit," but I cannot wholly agree with him, for in Fig. 1 the pillar cannot be looked upon as an aperture.
Fig. 3 is a Hindoo sectarial mark, copied from Moor's Hindu Pantheon, and is one out of many indicating the union of the male and female.
Fig. 4 is emblematic of the virgin and child. It identifies the two with the crescent. It is singular that some designers should unite the moon with the solar symbol, and others with the virgin. We believe that the first indicate ideas like that associated with Baalim, and Ashtaroth in the plural, the second that of Astarte or Venus in the singular. Or, as we may otherwise express it, the married and the immaculate virgin.
Fig. 5 is copied from Sharpe's Egyptian Mythology, p. 15. It represents one of the Egyptian trinities, and is highly symbolic, not only indicating the triad, here Osiris, Isis, and Nepthys, but its union with the female element. The central god Osiris is himself triune, as he bears the horns symbolic of the goddess Athor and the feathers of the god Ra.
Fig. 6 is a Hindoo sectarial mark, from Moor's Hindu Pantheon. The lozenge indicates the yoni. For this assertion we not only have evidence in Babylonian gems, copied by Lajard, but in Indian and Etruscan designs. We find, for example, in vol. v., plate xlv., of Antiquités Etrusques, etc., par. F. A. David (Paris, 1785), a draped female, wearing on her breast a half moon and mural crown, holding her hands over the middle spot of the body, so as to form a "lozenge" with the forefingers and thumbs. The triad in this figure is very distinct; and we may add that a trinity expressed by three balls or three circles is to be met with in the remotest times and in most distant countries.
Figs. 7, 8, 9 and 10 are copied from Cabrera's account of an ancient city discovered near Palenque, in Guatemala, Spanish America (London, 1822). Although they appear to have a sexual design, yet I doubt whether the similarity is not accidental. After a close examination of the plates given by Cabrera, I am inclined to think that nothing of the ling-yoni element prevailed in the mind of the ancient American sculptors. All the males are carefully draped in appropriate girdles, although in some a grotesque or other ornament, such as a human or bestial head, a flower, etc., is attached to the apron or "fall" of the girdle, resembling the sporran of the Highlander and the codpiece of medieval knights and others. I may, however, mention some very remarkable sculptures copied; one is a tree, whose trunk is surrounded by a serpent, and whose fruit is shaped like the vesica piscis; in another is seen a youth wholly unclothed, save by a cap and gaiters, who kneels before a similar tree, being threatened before and behind by some fierce animal. This figure is peculiar, differing from all the rest in having an European rather than an American head and face. Indeed, the features, etc., remind me of the late Mr. Cobden, and the cap is such as yachting sailors usually wear. There is also another remarkable group, consisting apparently of a man and woman standing before a cross, proportioned like the conventional one in use amongst Christians. Everything indicates American ideas, and there are ornaments or designs wholly unlike any that I have seen elsewhere. The man appears to offer to the cross a grotesque human figure, with a head not much unlike Punch, with a turned-up nose, and a short pipe shaped like a fig in his mouth. The body is well formed, but the arms and thighs are rounded off like "flippers" or "fins." Besting at the top of the cross is a bird, like a game cock, ornamented by a necklace. The male in this and the other sculptures is beardless, and that women are depicted, can only be guessed at by the inferior size of some of the figures. It would be unprofitable to carry the description farther.
Figs. 11, 12 are from vol. i., plates xix. and xxiii. of a remarkably interesting work, Recherches sur l' origine, l' esprit, et les progrès des Arts de la Grée, said to be written by D'Harcanville, published at London, 1785. The first represents a serpent, coiled so as to symbolise the male triad, and the crescent, the emblem of the yoni.
Fig. 12 accompanies the bull on certain coins, and symbolises the sexual elements, le baton et l'anneau. They were used, as the horse-shoe is now, as a charm against bad luck, or vicious demons or fairies.
Fig. 13 is, like figure 5, from Sharpe's Egyptian Mythology, p. 14, and is said to represent Isis, Nepthys, and Osiris; it is one of the many Mizraite triads. The Christian trinity is of Egyptian origin, and is as surely a pagan doctrine as the belief in heaven and hell, the existence of a devil, of archangels, angels, spirits and saints, martyrs and virgins, intercessors in heaven, gods and demigods, and other forms of faith which deface the greater part of modern religions.
Figure 14 is a symbol frequently seen in Greek churches, but appears to be of pre-Christian origin.§ The cross we have elsewhere described as being a compound male emblem, whilst the crescent symbolises the female element in creation.
§ There is an able essay on this subject in No. 267 of the Edinburgh Review—which almost exhausts the subject—but is too long for quotation here.
Figure 15 is from D'Harcanville, Op. Cit., vol. i., plate xxiii. It resembles Figure 11, supra, and enables us by the introduction of the sun and moon to verify the deduction drawn from the arrangement of the serpent's coils. If the snake's body, instead of being curved above the 8 like tail, were straight, it would simply indicate the linga and the sun; the bend in its neck, however, indicates the yoni and the moon.
Figure 16 is copied from plate xvi., fig. 2, of Recueil de Pierres Antiques Gravés, folio, by J. M. Raponi (Rome, 1786). The gem represents a sacrifice to Priapus, indicated by the rock, pillar, figure, and branches given in our plate. A nude male sacrifices a goat; a draped female holds a kid ready for immolation; a second man, nude, plays the double pipe, and a second woman, draped, bears a vessel on her head, probably containing wine for a libation.
Figure 17 is from vol. i. Récherches, etc., plate xxii. In this medal the triad is formed by a man and two coiled serpents on the one side of the medal, whilst on the reverse are seen a tree, surrounded by a snake, situated between two rounded stones, with a dog and a conch shell below. See supra, Plate ix., Fig. 6.