Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Consists of six figures, copied from Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. vi., p. 278, and two from Bryant's Mythology, vol. ii., third edition, pp. 203 and 409. All are symbolic of the idea of the male triad: a central figure, erect, and rising above the other two. In one an altar and fire indicate, mystically, the linga; in another, the same is pourtrayed as a man, as Madaheva always is; in another, there is a tree stump and serpent, to indicate the same idea. The two appendages of the linga are variously described; in two instances as serpents, in other two as tree and concha, and snake and shell. The two last seem to embody the idea that the right "egg" of the male germinates boys, whilst the left produces girls; a theory common amongst ancient physiologists. The figure of the tree encircled by the serpent, and supported by two stones resembling "tolmen," is very significant. The whole of these figures seem to point unmistakably to the origin of the very common belief that the male Creator is triune. In Assyrian theology the central figure is Bel, Baal, or Asher; the one on the right Ann, that on the left Hea. See Ancient Faiths, second edition, Vol. i., pp. 88-85. §
§ For those who have not an opportunity of consulting the work referred to, I may observe that the Assyrian godhead consisted of four persons, three being male and one female. The principal god was Asher, the upright one, the equivalent of the Hindoo Mahadeva, the great holy one, and of the more modern Priapus. He was associated with Anu, lord of solids and of the lower world, equivalent to the "testis," or egg on the right side. Hea was lord of waters, and represented the left "stone." The three formed the trinity or triad. The female was named Ishtar or Astarte, and was equivalent to the female organ, the yoni or vulva—the [Greek] of the Greeks. The male god in Egypt was Osiris, the female Isis, and these names are frequently used as being euphemistic, and preferable to the names which are in vulgar use to describe the male and female parts.
There are some authors who have treated of tree and serpent worship, and of its prevalence in ancient times, without having, so far as I can see, any idea of that which the two things typify. The tree of knowledge, the tree of life, the serpent that tempted Eve, and still tempts man by his subtlety, are so many figures of speech which the wise understand, but which to the vulgar are simply trees and snakes. In a fine old bas-relief over the door of the Cathedral at Berne, we see an ancient representation of the last judgment. An angel is dividing the sheep from the goats, and devils are drawing men and women to perdition, by fixing hooks or pincers on the portions of the body whence their sins sprang. One fat priest, nude as our risen bodies must be, is being savagely pulled to hell by the part symbolised by tree and serpent, whilst she whom he has adored and vainly sought to disgrace, is rising to take her place amongst the blest. It is not those of the sex of Eve alone that are inveigled to destruction by the serpent.