History’s Most Bizarre Rituals & Beliefs
History’s Most Bizarre Rituals & Beliefs

History’s Most Bizarre Rituals & Beliefs

Khalid Elhassan - September 20, 2023

History’s Most Bizarre Rituals & Beliefs
An amulet for Fascinus. Ancient and Oriental.

The Ancient Belief in Flying Dongs

Ancient Rome had a rich religious pantheon that included hundreds of gods. One of the lesser-known ones today – although he was quite popular with ancient Romans – was Fascinus, the winged phallus god. The god of masculine regenerative power, Fascinus’ symbol was a phallus. He was literally all dong, taken to a ridiculous degree of dong-hood. His body was an erect phallus and testicles, which sported an erect phallus, and he had a phallus for a tail, and phalli for legs. He also had wings, so he could fly around and spurt his blessings upon fortunate mortals.

Fascinus was believed to be lucky, so worshippers carried him around in the form of amulets or pendants that hung from their necks. It was just like how pious Christians wear crosses around their necks today. Except that instead of a cross, ancient Romans had an erect dong dangling from their necks. It was a different culture. Fascinus, a hard phallus who sported multiple hard phalli, was constantly on the prowl, with a particular preference for sleeping women. Many Roman art motifs and tales revolved around sleeping maidens, usually getting some shuteye in bucolic settings, who woke up to discover that Fascinus had flown between their legs to bless them.

History’s Most Bizarre Rituals & Beliefs
‘With a Turned Thumb’, by Jean Leon Gerome, 1872. Wikimedia

Traces of the Flying Phallus God in Modern English

The most famous Roman maiden supposedly impregnated by Fascinus was Ocrisia, the mother of Rome’s sixth monarch, King Servius Tullius. Ocrisia was a foreign noblewoman captured in war, and made a slave in the household of Rome’s King Tarquinius. As the legend went, Ocrisia was a virgin, and one day, as she performed the sacred rites of the Vestal Virgins, a disembodied winged phallus flew in and impregnated her. The result was Servius Tullius, who was raised in the royal household. Although a slave, he so impressed King Tarquinius that he eventually freed him and gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage.

After Tarquinius’ demise, he was succeeded on the throne by Servius, his son in law and son of the divine winged dong. Fascinus’ name gave rise to the Latin verb “fascinare“, which means the power to use the Fascinus to entrance or cast a spell, because of a widespread belief that the flying dong god had such powers. The worship of Fascinus declined with the rise of Christianity, and eventually vanished, along with the rest of antiquity’s pagan pantheon. Nonetheless, a trace of Fascinus remains with us today: the etymology of the modern English word “fascinate” traces back to the Latin word “fascinare“, and the Ancient Roman flying phallus god.



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