April showers, May flowers, June phallus? Seems logical to me.
In the Cyprian calendar, June 2nd is a holiday with two names: Fortuna Virilis and The Feast of St. Foutin. Both have a peculiarly phallic bent.
According to Burgo Partridge in A History of Orgies (yes, that’s a book):
The worship of a deity known as Fortuna Virilis, said by some to be connected with Venus, and worshipped … in the men’s baths … ‘there, those parts of the male body are uncovered which seek women’s favour’ display the same rather Hellenic attitude.
The “Hellenic attitude” referenced here is a similar practice done by sacred priestesses (courtesans) of Aphrodite for several centuries before. In these cases, men hoping for “fortune” would spend the day in the baths hoping to be “surprised” by groups of priestesses, who might rush in at any moment and apply their oral prowess to the fortunate.
The Italian Renaissance also had its own phallo-centric moments. Frederico Andahazi says, in his historical novel, The Anatomist, about Mateo Colombo (“discoverer” of the Amor Veneris, vel Dulcedo Appelletur – the clitoris, the “sweetness of Venus”):
In the Bottega dil Moro, prosthetic devices were sold for placing under the clothes to lend fortune to those less fortunate. Among the many adornments, from diadems in precious stones that ringed the “minister” to showy nettings of stringed pearls, were ribbons tied to four or five bells that betrayed with their tinkles the moods of “his lordship”. According to the tinkling of the bells, (those present) were able to measure their acceptance among (those) men.”
Something I like to call “The Ball of the Bells”.
St. Foutin is an “historical” figure of uncertain origin. It seems he was a syncretic amalgam of Priapus and Ponthinus. His name, being similar to the Old French verb foutre, went through a linguistic assimilation over the years causing him to be referred to as “Saint Fuck” – a phallic saint. His worship, among other things, included a celebration in which sacred wines were poured over the head of the penis and collected in a goblet, then used for a type of toast.
In archaeological discoveries throughout ancient Rome, sculptures and bas reliefs of phalli accompanied by the words Hic Habitat Felicitas (“Happiness Lives Here”) have turned up again and again – often demarcating temples and other venues where phallus worship occurred. Typical explanations made by historians include “protection against ill-luck” (Partridge), but Otto Keifer, in his 1934 Sexual Life in Ancient Rome, contends, “The man of today views these things almost with the eyes of St. Augustine, and so, does no justice to the deep original meaning of the symbol.”
Though the meaning, and practice, of these ancient rites may be somewhat lost to the modern world, what is important is that we take a moment and consider the Masculine with honor. Remember that this doesn’t have to be a “male” thing. Just Masculine. It also doesn’t have to a be a heterosexual thing. Obviously, the frame in which most 19th and 20th century historians placed their theories was the predominantly hetero-centric culture they lived in. Even the progressive historians. But to deny that our ancient brothers and sisters were openly accepting of love in any arrangement of gender is dangerous, short-sighted, and patently untrue.
Some Modern Phallus Decorations by Sylvie Monthulé
So take June 2nd to pay attention to Masculine energies. Celebrate by whatever means makes the most sense to you. Maybe order some jewelry from French designer Sylvie Monthulé (download the catalog here) and pretend you’re in Renaissance Italy at your own “Ball of the Bells”. And if you want to pop a bottle of wine…
Fiat Lux Lunae
A few more (quite a bit less phallic) signature designs by Sylvie Monthulé