Ancient phallic magic (photo gallery)

Tintinnabulous: These bronze wind chimes were hung outside of dwellings and shops, or in gardens, to ward off evil spirits. They often featured polyphallic creatures with bells hanging off each erection. In addition to creating music in the air, these chimes may have been used as an alarm system.


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"Fist and phallus" amulets: Soldiers wore these to keep safe. The amulets featured a clinched fist at one end and a phallus at the other. These twin shafts were often joined at the base by an image of a fig or testicles.


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Bulla: These phallic amulets were given to boys soon after they were born to keep them safe, particularly from jealous men. Boys wore these charms until they became full Roman citizens at 16. Some were made of lead and others of gold depending on the family's status.


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"Welcome" phalluses: Reliefs of erections were carved into walls and onto paving stones, and even erupted off the sides of buildings to bring safety and prosperity to shops and dwellings.


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Lamps: A popular lamp design was for a wick to stick out of the end of a phallus, fueled by a reservoir of oil in the hollow shaft.


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Figurines: Many statues featured erections. Some of these erections were shown supporting bundles of food or produce. This, again, pairs phalluses with the idea of prosperity.


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  • A polyphallic wind chime (tintinnabulous) of Mercury

Ancient Romans were not shy about celebrating their affinity for male genitalia. Some historians go so far as to describe the Romans as phallocentric. Phallic charms, or fascinum, have been found in ruins throughout the former empire, particularly in the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were buried in volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. While erections during this time period often popped up in erotic art, phalluses were also incorporated into everyday artifacts, and symbolized idealistic male virtues like strength, virility and prosperity. In this way, phalluses were used as good luck charms to fend off evil and ensure good fortune. The National Archeological Museum in Naples, Italy, houses a large collection of artifacts that feature the popular symbol. Below are some of the most common types of objects that incorporate this imagery.

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