The Land of Milk and Honey…and Phallic Symbols


I’ve mentioned before that sex and food go together like….well, sex and food. Ancient cultures usually have a ton of festivals related to sex and fertility, mainly because they didn’t have weekends. I know you might think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Roman had an average of 10 festivals a month and most of them had to do with food and sex.

The primitive cult of the erect phallus and sexual dynamism was a key element of ancient societies.  Men went from being unaware of the purpose of their erections to venerating them unconditionally, once they made the reproductive connection. In every civilisation, from the very earliest, the male organ was considered to possess the power to ward off evil and increase fertility. Ancient Rome was no exception. – theglobaldispatches.com For one notable fertility ritual a man, the owner of land, was required to have sex with his wife in the middle of a field while others stood around watching.

Gnosticism was an early form of the Christian religion that was much more Roman/Mesopotamian than Jewish and was likely the prime philosophy that inspired Jesus. One of it’s most famous teachers, Valentinus born in 100 c.e., was being consider for Bishop in Rome (yes, they already had bishops then). One of their most scared rituals was the hieros gamos which was celebrated in different forms all throughout Greece, Egypt, the Middle East, Northern India and survived well it Roman times. This  was the sacred marriage of the god and the goddess, expressed through sexual union. Images of sex and the erect phallus were everywhere in the ancient world and they were always associated with food and agriculture.

shivalingam

The lingam (also, linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, Sanskrit लिङ्गं, liṅgaṃ, meaning “mark”, “sign”, “gender”, “phallus”, “inference” or “eternal procreative germ”) is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples. Whether the lingam symbolizes the physical body of the god or something purely spiritual is the topic of many a century-old debate within Hinduism. The lingam has been interpreted as a symbol of male creative energy or of the phallus, though today most Hindus view the linga as a symbol of divine energy rather than as a sexual symbol. The lingam is often represented with the yoni, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”

The Navaneetha Lingam is made of butter, the Guda Lingam or Sita Lingam is made of Jaggery and sugar, other kinds of lingam’s are made of rice flour, curd, milk, and fruits. If the symbolism of these pictures is lost on you, you are probably Catholic. (The Catholic tradition and it’s off shoots are one of the few religious traditions that rejects and condemns sex.)

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A lingam at a temple in Mahabalipuram.

In ancient Egypt when Osiris’ body was cut in 14 pieces, Seth scattered them all over Egypt and his wife Isis retrieved all of them except one, his penis, which was swallowed by a fish. Supposedly, Isis made a wooden replacement. (And why not?) In ancient Greece the son of Aphrodite  is the protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens, and male genitalia. His name is the origin of the medical term priapism. The city of Tyrnavos in Greece holds an annual Phallus festival, a traditional phallophoric event on the first days of Lent. The Hohle phallus, a 28,000-year-old siltstone phallus discovered in the Hohle Fels cave in Germany is among the oldest phallic representations known.

Common foods at fertility rituals were milk, honey and grain (duh). There also seems to be a lot of blood involved, but since I don’t have any good recipes for blood pudding, we’ll skip that part for now. I thought this recipe sounded much yummier and if the symbolism of it is lost on you, you are probably still Catholic:

Passionfruit and honey cheesecake

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  • 6 savoiardi (sponge finger) biscuits, halved lengthways
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup passionfruit pulp (see note)
  • thick cream, extra passionfruit pulp and honey, to serve

Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line base and sides of a 5.5cm deep, 22cm (base) springform pan. Arrange sponge fingers over base of pan, cutting where necessary so base is covered.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and honey until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in cream and passionfruit pulp.

Pour cream cheese mixture over sponge fingers. Smooth surface. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn oven off. Leave cheesecake in oven with door ajar for 3 hours.

Remove cheesecake to a plate. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or until chilled.

Spread cheesecake with cream. Top with passionfruit pulp. Drizzle with honey. Serve.

 

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