Religion Past and Present

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Phallic Cults
(676 words)

[German Version]

The phallus (Gk ϕαλλός/phallós), the erect male member, plays various roles in religions; it is more than a mere cult object. In prehistoric cave drawings (Prehistoric art), the phallus denotes the man pressing towards coitus. The vulva is always to be thought of together with the phallus, and sometimes coitus is represented directly or by a symbol of the vulva (e.g. a triangle) – plastic expression of a ritual performed, either in reality or via creation of the image, in order to obtain regenerative life force or the successful outcome of a hunt (Hunters).

In the ancient…

Cite this page
Kraatz, Martin, “Phallic Cults”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 19 October 2019 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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