Sex Symbols of the Ancient World: Top Ten Sexually Explicit Caves, Mountains, Temples and Artifacts
If you are sensitive about matters pertaining to sex and sexuality it's probably best that you press the back button now. For those with a more exploratory attitude, what I hope you take away from this article is a sense of the stark contrast between how open things of a sexual nature were for the longest time, and how things are now with modern dogmatic religions, regarding sexuality as taboo and associating it with sinfulness and wrongdoing.
The Sexuality of Mother Earth and Father Time
Sexual behavior, its sociopolitical impact and its regulation and taboos, have had a profound effect on societies since pre-historic times. Sexuality was a 'way of the gods', having sex was holy and the moment of orgasm was thought of as communing with the deities. The French term for an orgasm, "la petite mort" (the little death), is a hangover from this way of thinking.
Early cultures associated having sex with supernatural forces and religious architecture and arts are intertwined with such depictions. Sexual imagery is found on statues, pottery, paintings, sculpture, dramatic arts, religious buildings, monuments and music. Thousands of years before the written word ancient societies extended their sexuality and sexual practices into the surrounding landscapes and at important dates in agricultural and ritual calendars people got hyper-sexualized and spiritualized at natural places perceived as being abundant with the magic energy of fertilization.
THE HIGHEST SNOW-CAPPED MOUNTAINS EJACULATED, CHARGING WHITE RIVERS WHICH FERTILISED THE AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES AND THEY WERE REGARDED AS THE EARTHLY RESIDENCES OF POWERFUL MALE CREATOR GODS.
Conceptions of a female Earth Mother can be found within almost every ancient culture and she was generally associated with gently rounded hills, softly flowing streams, fresh water springs and the deepest caves, perceived as wombs, in which her abundant powers of fertility were worshiped.
Mountains, hills, rivers, waterfalls and caves shaped as breasts, penises and vaginas were perceived as highly-sacred places where ancient cultures indulged in prolonged sex rituals to assure successful harvests, animal breeding programs, the safe return of explorers and armies but most importantly to assure the daily return of the sun.
Having spent over 20 years travelling around the world's ancient landscapes filming and writing about sacred sites, fertility rituals and creation myths, I have taken the time to compile a Top 10 list of the most sexually explicit caves, mountains, rock formations, temples, arts and artifacts from the ancient world. Together, these ancient gateways into the magical realm of fertilization offer us an insight into mankind’s age-old obsession with sex, how our forebears had sex and how they attempted to understand and harness their sexuality.
10. USA: Utah’s Sandstone Marvels
It has been said by more knowledgeable people than myself that "bigger is always better". If this is the case, then the Arches National Park, north of Moab in the state of Utah offers the very best. Bordered by the Colorado River in the southeast more than 2,000 natural sandstone geological formations include vast arches and balancing rocks but the focus of Native American Indian tribal fertility rituals is one of the world’s oldest and largest sandstone yonis.
Native American fertility rituals took place at this large sandstone yoni
Situated 5,800 feet (1,767.8 m) above sea level, the Arches National Park features some of the loftiest phalluses in the world. This particular specimen is accessible from the south by following a dirt road from Page Arizona to Cannonville, passable for most vehicles in dry conditions but slippery and dangerous when wet.
Phallic symbol in the Arches National Park
9. China: Guizhou Twin Peaks
China boasts some of the world’s best formed mountainous stone breasts, for example; the perfectly formed two-breasted peak in Zhenfeng County, Guizhou. Nobody ever ventures to the top of either peak because they are believed to be the sacred residences of a Goddess. The surrounding landscapes are humid, moist, fertile and highly scared paddy fields and local farmers say, with a wry smile, that evidently its colder at the top.
The two-breasted peak in Guizhou, China
8. India: Khajuraho Carnal Sex Temples
Ancient Indian Vedic cultures took sexual rituals to an entirely different level, much of which is today regarded as - just wrong! Located in deep jungles the 10th century Khajuraho Monuments are a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh comprised of purpose built sex temples and carnal chambers. Every square inch of wall has been carved with tens of thousands of highly graphic sexual images to enhance the ritual environment.
Khajuraho Monument in India
From depictions of men having sex with animals to bizarre 1 woman to 20 men group sex encounters, these ancient Vedic rituals were hyper-theatrical, complex arts where orgasms were timed, held and released at key stages within the ceremonies. It was in this research and developmental period, where sex corresponded with spirituality, that the seeds were sown for what later became the internationally bestselling love guide - The Kama Sutra.
Explicit sculptures in the Khajuraho temple
7. Thailand: Lamia Grandparent’s Parts
On the coast near Lamia on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand, the Grandpa (Ta) and Grandma (Yai), look, respectively, like male and female genitalia. The Grandfather & Grandmother Rocks have been shaped by millions of years of salty and abrasive oceanic foam eating away at weakness in the costal bedrock. Even today Buddhist Monks and nuns worship at these highly explicit features believing them, and their proximity to each other, to be the very ' cause' of planet Earth.
The Grandma (Yai) rock formation in Thailand
The Grandpa (Ta) rock formation in Thailand
6. Italy: Ancient Rome, Porn Central
Ancient Romans were obsessed with sexual debauchery and their calendar was filled with sex festivals. The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine, freedom, intoxication and ecstasy based on the Greek Dionysia and the Dionysian mysteries. Hundreds of people would attend the 3-day long, drug and booze fueled, fruit & oil orgies and Rome is peppered with tens of thousands of highly explicit carvings, statues and monuments dedicated to their hedonistic lifestyle.
A Roman fresco found at Pompeii in Italy
5. Turkey: Cappadocia Cock Rocks
Located in the Love Valley near Cappadocia, Turkey, a truly bizarre collection of vertically prepared phallic rocks is known locally as the 'Cock Rocks'. Some of these magnificent specimens are 130 feet (40 metres) high and were created by volcanic eruptions approximately 9 million years ago. Erosion from the wind and water have left only the harder elements behind which have formed an unusual landscape often described as cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, fairy chimneys and penises, depending on how one sees them.
4. Greece: The Delos Winged Champion
In ancient Greece, phallic artefacts including amulets, votives, figurines, lamps, ornaments and pottery, were often placed outside houses, in doorways, walls, boundaries, graves. The phallic bird symbol was used in Ancient Greek fertility rituals where participants carried poles with winged members atop. The unveiling of the winged phallus constituted an important rite of Dionysiac celebrations. This cheery example was recovered from Dionysus Temple, Delos Island, Greece, and dated to around 300 B.C.
The phallic bird symbol, found in Dionysus Temple on Delos Island, Greece
3. Jamaica: St. Catherine’s Pum Pum
Located along the Bog Walk gorge on the Rio Cobre River, St. Catherine, Jamaica locals call this yonic shaped cave entrance “Pum Pum Rock ”. Pum Pum is slang for that other P-word we call cats and scared people, in the island’s native dialect. Known as the eighth wonder of the world, the huge limestone is interpreted as a giant woman washing her vagina in the river, a perfect natural expression of the Goddess fertilizing a river, which in turn gives birth to fresh water and fish.
St Catherine’s Pum Pum
2. Philippines: The Sagada Porn Cave
In 2012, I ventured into the remote north highlands of the Philippines filming a documentary segment in a 1 kilometer deep cave known as the Sagada Porn Cave. For millions of years, rainwater has penetrated the fields and an extensive range of natural flows have forged features resembling female sexual anatomy to an astonishing degree of visual likeness. A tribal elder told me that sex festivals still occur in this cave on important agricultural dates.
A rock formation in the Sagada Porn Cava
1. Malaysia: Lang’s Love Cave
The Gunung Mulu National Park is situated close to the southern border of Brunei with Malaysia, about 100km east-southeast of the town of Miri and 100km due south of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Hidden beneath densely forested mountain slopes is the largest limestone cave system in the world. Deep within Lang's cave this penetrating rock formation has been the center piece for sex and fertility rituals for over 1,000 years and a quirky local poem ends “Borneo Makes You Horneo ”.
A formation in Lang’s Love Cave
Rather that departing with a philosophical flurry, I will leave you with a wonderful historical tale pertaining to the sexual nature of man:
“Someone told me the delightful story of the crusader who put a chastity belt on his wife and gave the key to his best friend for safekeeping, in case of his death. He had ridden only a few miles away when his friend, riding hard, caught up with him, saying 'You gave me the wrong key!”
- Anaïs Nin.
All images courtesy of Ashley Cowie
By Ashley Cowie
Ashley Cowie is an author, researcher, explorer, film-maker and blogger about lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and arts, the origins of legends and myths, architecture, iconography, artefacts and treasures. Visit https://ashleycowie.com