The term “phallic worship” or “phallicism” denotes religious veneration of the phallus, or erect penis. Nowadays, of course, “cock worship” is most prevalent among females and gay men, but in the past the practice was much more widespread, with the phallus representing the divine creative principle. Phallicism may involve worship of a phallic icon, as seen in this early 20th century illustration by Alméry Lobel-Riche, or it may be personified in the form of a God such as Priapus.
One of the first historians to appreciate the full extent of Phallicism was an Englishman named Hargrave Jennings, who produced numerous works on the subject in the last decades of the 19th century – either under his own name, or the pseudonym of “Sha Rocco”, or anonymously. In books like The Masculine Cross and Ancient Sex Worship (1874), Phallicism Celestial and Terrestrial (1884) and Phallic Miscellanies (1891) he showed that worship of the “male generative organ” is common to virtually all cultures of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Furthermore, the practice is not confined to supposedly primitive cultures – Christianity recognizes a number of Phallic saints, such as St Ters, St Guerlichon and St Foutin, who were benevolent symbols of fertility and objects of pious reverence amongst women in particular.