Beginning with an overview of the symbolism of creative forces in general, The Phallus first examines the representation of male fertility in such forms as the menhirs or standing stones of prehistoric Europe; the Mahalinga and Svayambhu of India; and the ancient Greek Omphalos. The second part of the book surveys the presence of ithyphallic gods in archaic shamanistic religions (the Lord of the Animals), the Greek pantheon (Hermes, Priapus), and the Hindu deities (Ardhanarishvara, the androgyne). Danielou also explores the role of Shaivist and Dionysian initiatory rites in bringing men into communion with the creative forces of life. Illustrated throughout with photographs and line drawings of European and Indian art, The Phallus celebrates the expression of the masculine in the religious traditions of East and West.
Phallic imagery, in one form or another, may be found in the artistic traditions of virtually every world culture since prehistoric times. Alain Danielou here unveils the religious impulse underlying art that at first glance seems to have no purpose beyond the erotic.
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994) spent more than 15 years in the traditional society of India, using only the Sanskrit and Hindi languages and studying music and philosophy with eminent scholars. He was duly initiated into esoteric Shaivism, which gave him unusual access to texts transmitted through the oral tradition alone. He is the author of more than 30 books on the religion, history, and arts of India and the Mediterranean.
"Danielou was one of the most distinguished contemporary orientalists, who brought the beauty of ancient texts and music to our unfortunate and increasingly barbaric continent. Our debt to his scholarship and humanity is immeasurable."
– Times Literary Supplement
"The Phallus: Sacred Symbol of Male Creative Power is an excellent overview and introduction to a remarkable field of study, one as relevant to us today as to those who danced in the mists of antiquity."
– Thor the Barbarian
"A great introduction to an often shunned aspect of religion."