Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Figures 63 to 66 are all drawn from Assyrian sources.
The central figure, which is probably the biblical "grove," represents the delta, or female "door." To it the attendant genii offer the pine cone and basket. The signification of these is explained subsequently. I was unable at first to quote any authority to demonstrate that the pine cone was a distinct masculine symbol, but now the reader may be referred to Maffei, Gemme Antiche Figurate (Rome, 1708), where, in vol. iii., he will see a Venus Tirsigera.
The goddess in plate 8, is nude, and carries in her hand the tripliform arrow, emblem of the male triad, whilst in the other she bears a thyrsus, terminating in a pine or fir cone. Now this cone and stem are carried in the Bacchic festivities, and can be readily recognised as virga cum ovo. Sometimes the thyrsus is replaced by ivy leaves, which, like the fig, are symbolic of the triple creator. Occasionally the thyrsus was a lance or pike, round which vine leaves and berries were clustered; Bacchus cum vino being the companion of Venus cum cerere. But a stronger confirmation of my views may be found in a remarkable group (see Fig. 124 infra). This is entitled Sacrifizio di Priapo, and represents a female offering to Priapus. The figure of the god stands upon a pillar of three stones, and it bears a thyrsus from which depend two ribbons. The devotee is accompanied by a boy, who carries a pine- or fir- cone in his hand, and a basket on his head, in which may be recognised a male effigy. In Figure 64 the position of the advanced hand of each of the priests nearest to the grove is very suggestive to the physiologist. It resembles one limb of the Buddhist cross, Fig. 37, supra. The finger or thumb when thus pointed are figurative of Asher, in a horizontal position, with Anu or Hea hanging from one end. Figure 65 is explained similarly. It is to be noticed that a door is adopted amongst modern Hindoos as an emblem of the sacti (see Figs. 152, 153, infra).
My friend Mr. Newton, who has taken great interest in the subject of symbolism, regards these "groves" as not being simply emblems of the yoni, but of the union of that part with the lingam, or mystic palm tree. As his ideas are extremely ingenious, and his theory perfect, I have requested him to introduce them at the end of this work.