Thursday, January 8, 2009

Penis and Vulva Amulets - gifts of protection to everyone in the family

Penis Amulets of the Roman Era
Penis amulets and bas reliefs were fairly common in the late Roman era, especially in the outlying regions of the Empire. The bronze penis amulet shown here is 2" long and dates to the first century AD. It was found in a spring at an old Roman settlement near York, England:

Although most modern practitioners of witchcraft and other forms of magic immediately think of sex magick or some form of sacred sex rite when they see amulets like this, in ancient times such charms were often used as votive offerings, tossed into holy wells or springs in the same way we might toss a penny or dime in a wishing well for luck or when making a prayer-wish for healing. That this amulet was not made to be worn in a sex magick rite is evident by the fact that it has no loop or hole for hanging; instead it ends in a tang-like extension, which gives the impression that it might have been inserted into a terracotta, stone, or bronze figurine of a man or god. 

The glans of the penis is comprised of a grape leaf, the testicles are made up of pomegranates, and bunches of grapes simulate lush public hair, giving this amulet the distinct look of an agrarian fertility charm. It may have been an offering to Bacchus, the god of vintners. The foliated glans is also reminiscent of the post-Roman British development of the Green Man image - a man whose face is made up of leaves. 

Other late Roman penis amulets and bas reliefs depict the penis with lion haunches, sometimes wearing a bell around its neck like a little pet animal, and sometimes winged like a bird. Many of these lion-haunched penis-animals have diminutive penises of their own. These bear an uncanny resemblance to the lion-haunched bronze, brass, pewter, and silver penis amulets of Thailand, manufactured from the 8th century to the present day.

The engraving shown here is from "The Worship of the Generative Powers" by Thomas Wright (1866). It depicts a Roman bas relief found on a monument at Nimes, France in 1825. In this image, the penis forms the tail of a belled, crested bird who sits upon a nest of egg-like vulvas.

Penis Amulets from Thailand
The Thai name for a penis amulet is palad khik, which means "honorable surrogate penis." These small charms, averaging less than 2' in length, are worn by men and young boys on a waist-string under the clothes, off-center from the real penis, in the hope that they will attract and absorb any magical injury directed toward the generative organs. It is not uncommon for a man to wear several palad khiks at one time, one to increase gambling luck, for instance, another to attract women, and a third for invulnerability from bullets and knives. Women in Thailand do not generally wear palad khiks, nor is there a Thai equivalent of the vulva amulet for them to use - although a circular disk amulet called a chaping is worn by young girls to protect their genitals from evil forces. Though not generally worn by women, they may be carried in a purse as protection from rape or purse-snatchers, or used as an offering at a shrine if a specific petition has been granted. A beauty queen in Thailand was said to have hidden a Palad Khik in her hair during a beauty contest to enhance her appeal.
The next style of palad khik is the only one carried by women, who place it in their purses as a form of magical protection to deter purse-snatchers and ward off assaults by men:
The following penis amulet is 2" long and cast in brass. It depicts a naked yogini in the asana called "the bridge," laying atop a lion-haunched "penis-animal." As with all of the penises which depict naked yoginis, it is suitable for men who wish to express devotion to Sakti and can also be carried by women to protect themselves from muggers and rapists:
Here follows a penis amulet of a tiny baby penis cast in brass, only 1" long. As indicated by its small size and non-erect position, it is a charm that parents place on male infants and young boys. It is said to protect their genitals from harmful spells or the jealous gaze of childless women:
The image of the Palad Khik is said to have evolved from the Shiva Linga of early Thai Brahmanic beliefs and were brought to Thailand by Khmer monks in the 8th century AD. (Extant examples of these lingams can still be seen in various temples around Angkor Wat.) It is also said to have originated part of a fertility cult in early Thai history. Early styles of palad khik bear inscribed invocations, entreaties, and praises to Shiva; later ones combine these with interlineated invocations and praises to Buddha; modern ones bear uniformly Buddhist inscriptions, invariably written in an old form of script that cannot be read by contemporary Thais. Palad khik amulets carved from wood, bone, or horn are made by monks who specialize in their manufacture, and the efficacy of a given amulet is dependant on the charisma and reputation of its creator. The lettering of the inscriptions is a matter of serious ritual and can take several days to complete. Cast metal palad khiks do not always bear inscriptions, but they may carry the additional symbolism embodied in an animal holding the penis. 

Palad Khiks are different from normal Buddhist amulets in the sense that one can wear them below waist level, for example in trouser pockets, while it is mandatory for Buddhist amulets to be worn above waist level, like on the neck.

Although palad khik amulets are not designed specifically to use in love spells, among American eclectic pagans, witches, and magicians, they are often employed that way at the present time. Palad Khiks have been known to possess the special power to make a person charming and likeable by people around him. Palad Khiks are also known to be able to bring about great wealth to the person who wears it with faith. Many shop owners in Thailand place images of Palad Khiks at a prominent position in their shops to attract business. Palad Khiks are also able to ward off all kinds of evil.

Now we mothers who are into magick and witchcraft know what we ought to give our sons in present, but what about the protection of our young daughters? A secret penis amulet under the skirt could be too much to bear for some parents, and in that case, what about a vulva amulet?

Vulva Amulets
Although ancient Roman penis amulets are well known and contemporary Thai penis amulets come in numerous forms, charms or amulets that depict the anatomically-correct vulva are relatively uncommon. There are two reasons for this: First, since Neolithic times, the entire human female body (or at least the torso) has been used as a votary figure - as in the famous Sheela-Na-Gig images of Ireland. Second, the subtle folds of the female genitals are more difficult to render than are the bold cone-cylinder-and-spheres of the penis and testicles. 

The metaphoric vulva is the most common form in which this ancient protective charm is found. The British say that old shoes are lucky. The Arabs see protective value in the crescent. A used horseshoe or horseshoe wall plaque is also a stand-in for the vulva, especially when, as in most of the world, it is displayed pointing downward. Likewise the ancient Egyptian buckle of Isis or tit amulet, while not a vulva per se is the thing closest too it - the menstrual pad of the goddess Isis. 
The sterling silver vulva amulets above were commissioned by the Lucky Mojo Curio Company Occult Shopto fill requests from the American sex magick community for symbolic counterparts to contemporary Thai penis amulets. Sculpted by Oberon Zell of Mythic Images, they are modeled from life and are weighty, fully dimensional, wearable art in silver. There are two styles, shown from both the front and back. Each amulet depicts an anatomically accurate vulva flowering from a naturalistic sea shell.