Sex Temples of the Ancient World.
A shrine is a place of worship representing various cultural beliefs where it is believed that divine spirits dwell, be they gods, ancient heroes, or any other figure of awe or respect. They can appear in a number of settings and lend themselves to helping hopeful pilgrims in their pursuit of any number of aspirations, even sex! Here are some examples to whet the appetite of any of you intrepid explorers looking to seek out something a little different on your travels:
1. Khajuraho Monuments, Madhya Pradesh, India
Thousands of years ago in central India, the Hindu Kings built the capital city, Khajuraho, where twenty of their sacred temples still remain today. However, few people know of Khajuraho’s reputation as a Tantric center, where depictions of erotic desires are cast in stone and coupled with striking temple settings. Situated in the central Indian state near New Delhi, the monuments are known worldwide for their beautiful artwork and frank depiction of eroticism.
The temples are famous for their sensuous sculptures, which are often associated with an expression of India's world renowned Kama Sutra. In fact, the Khajuraho Monuments have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are considered to be one of the country’s ‘seven wonders’.
2. Cerne Abbas Giant, Cerne Abbas, England
Amidst the beautiful rolling hillsides of a small village near Dorset, England lays a most unexpected sight; a larger than life drawing of a huge naked man wielding a club. Standing at over 180 feet high, the drawing of the giant was formed by carving away the grassy landscape to reveal the underlying white chalk, then adding additional chalk -which has been periodically restored over the years- to fill the trench one foot deep.
Known also as the Cerne Giant or simply, The Rude Man, the carved out giant has a very prominent penis, a disproportionately small head, and a simple, almost comical face. No one quite knows how or why he is there, but the mystery is alluring enough to make this hill the most visited site in the country. Perhaps onlookers are interesting in the lore regarding his ability to assist in fertility; having sex within the figure's prominent penis is said to aid a couple trying to conceive. In addition, young women used to sleep on the giant’s phallus to ensure a future marriage. For hundreds of years, it was also local custom to erect a maypole within the nearby landscape known as the Trendle, where childless couples would dance to promote fertility.
3. Temple of Isis, Philae, Egypt
Aside from the numerous other shrines and fellowships dedicated to her honor, this temple is devoted to a very important female figure in the ancient world: the goddess Isis. Throughout the Graeco-Roman world, Isis became one of the most significant mystical religious figures, and classical writers throughout history refer to her temples, cults and rites. The Egyptians were the first to venerate this goddess.
Her role as the wife of Osiris (who, after being murdered, was brought back to life by having sexual relations with her), and mother of Horus, dominate ancient Egyptian culture and religious beliefs. During the Roman period her cult spread throughout Greece and the Roman Empire, and temples in her honor have since been built all over the world; one temple shares the same location as the Dionysus Shrine, in addition to a well preserved example discovered in Pompeii.
4. Shrine of Dionysus, Delos, Greece
Said to be the birthplace of Apollo in classical Greek literature, Delos is a tiny island off the coast of Greece that is covered with ancient white monuments. But one special shrine stands apart from the rest, perhaps because its several pillars are mounted with giant erect penises: the Shrine of Dionysus.
Known also by Bacchus in the Roman pantheon, the shrine that has become popular throughout much of the world is dedicated to Dionysus, the Greek god of fertility, drunkenness, ecstasy, unrestrained sexuality, and (sometimes) even madness. During the Dionysian festivals, the maenads (dedicated female followers of Dionysus), would enter a trance … dancing and waving to the beat of drums, and sometimes going into a frenzy during which they supposedly gained supernatural powers.
5. Nai Lert Park, Bangkok, Thailand
Clusters of carved stone and large wooden phalluses surround a spirit house and shrine built by millionaire Nai Lert to honor a female deity named Jao Mae Thap Thim, who is thought to reside in the old banyan tree on the site. It is said that someone who makes an offering of flowers or incense - not to mention candies or small toys resembling a penis - would have a baby shortly thereafter, and the shrine has received a steady stream of worshippers (mostly young women seeking fertility) ever since.
Most people would assume that the phallic offerings have something to do with either sex or a desire for children, but those who actually go with offerings know that it isn’t the case. In addition to helping the barren and impotent, Jao Mae Thap Thim can grant all sorts of wishes, as long as her preference for phallic objects is satisfied!
6. Kamakhya Temple, Assam, India
The followers of the tantric path attach significance to certain Hindu temples and Kamakhya is at the center of the widely practiced, powerful Tantric tradition in India. Situated in the north eastern state of Assam, temples like Kamakhya host ceremonial sacrifice of animals that are carried out even today, while in others, like the Mahakaal temple of Ujjain, ashes of the dead are used in the "aarti" rituals.
Legend has it that Kamakhya came into existence when Lord Shiva was carrying the corpse of his wife Sati, and her yoni (female genitalia) fell to the ground at the spot where the temple now stands. Down a flight of steps is located a mysterious chamber containing a natural cave with a spring within it - and here, draped with a silk sari and covered with flowers, is kept Sati’s ‘matra yoni’. At Kamakhya, tantric Hinduisin has been practiced by generations of tantric priests throughout the centuries.
7. Temple of Abydos, Abydos, Egypt
Within the chambers of the temples of Abydos is yet another shrine containing phallic symbology that is linked to the life-giving story of Isis and Osiris. The coded scenes on the chapel walls contain images of the mummified Osiris shown on a bed with the goddess Isis (in bird form) perched upon his erect phallus. The sexual artifact still holds a certain power for some visitors, particularly women, who go to the temples in search of the magic of the gods to help them. Although Osiris’ phallus has long since been chipped out, people still go into temples and want to be part of the fertility that could possibly help get them pregnant. Even in today’s modern times, tourists touch the spot where the deity’s phallus would have been to be a part of that power.
8. Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England
Thought to represent a pregnant mother goddess, a giant man-made mound on Silbury Hill draws many curious visitors wishing to honor the deity, some of which have hopes of being blessed by the fertile spirits resonating in the area. Believed to have been created around 2660 BC, Silbury Hill is the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe and one of the largest in the world. To give you an idea of its spectacular size, the mound is comparable to some of the smaller Egyptian pyramids of the Giza Necropolis. Some sources have been estimated that 18 million man-hours went into the 130 feet high building of Silbury Hill … the equivalent of 700 men working for 10 years!
Despite centuries of study and excavation, its original purpose continues to elude scientists and remains one of the most enigmatic of Britain’s prehistoric sites. One researcher suggests that the hill is a symbolic effigy of the ancient Mother Goddess and is to be associated with fertility rituals which marked the course of the year. It has also been noted that a spring which flows five hundred yards south of the hill was formerly called the Cunnit, a name which may be connected to the Mother Goddess and fertility.
If you’ve ever seen a shrine that was dedicated to anything related to sex, share them below. May the gods smile down on your pursuit of love and desire!