Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Figure 99, which we have already given on page 46, is one of great value to the inquirer into the signification of certain symbols. It has been reintroduced here to show the identification of the eye, fish, or oval shape, with the yoni, and of the fleur-de-lys with the lingam, which is recognised by the respective positions of the emblems in front of particular parts of the mystic animals, who both, on their part, adore the symbolic palm tree, with its pistil and stamens. The rayed branches of the upper part of the tree, and the nearness to it of the crescent moon, seem to indicate that the palm was a solar as well as a sexual emblem.
The great similarity of the palm tree to the ancient round towers in Ireland and elsewhere will naturally strike the observer. He will perhaps remember also that on certain occasions dancing, feasting, and debauchery were practised about a round tower in Wicklow, such as were practised round the English may-pole, the modern substitute of the mystic palm tree. We have now humanised our practice, but we have not purified our land of all its veiled symbols.
In some parts, where probably the palm tree does not flourish, the pine takes its place as an emblem. It was sacred to the mother of the gods, whose names, Rhoea, Ceres, Cybele, are paraphrastic of the yoni. We learn from Araobius, Op. Cit., p. 239, that on fixed days that tree was introduced into the sanctuary of that august personage, being decorated by fleeces and violets. It does not require any recondite knowledge to understand the signification of the entrance of the pine into the temple of the divine mother, nor what the tree when buried in the midst of a fleece depicts. Those who have heard of the origin of the Spanish Royal Order of the Golden Fleece know that the word is an enphemism for the lanugo of the Romans. Parsley round a carrot root is a modern symbol, and the violet is as good an emblem of the lingam as the modern pistol.
It has long been known that the ancient custom of erecting a may-pole, surrounding it with wreaths of flowers, and then dancing round it in wild orgy, was a relic of the ancient custom of reverencing the symbol of creation, invigorated by the returning spring time, without whose powers the flocks and herds would fail to increase. It will not fail to attract the notice of my readers, that a pine cone is constantly being offered to the sacred "grove" by the priests of Assyria.