by catherine yronwode

The illustration on this page is a California Indian charmstone
from the pages of the Lucky W Amulet Archive.

Hargrave Jennings (1817-1890) was an English cleric and author whose studies of comparative religion played an important role in the development of Western interest in sex magic during the Victorian era. A Freemason and Rosicrucian, he numbered among his friends the American sex magician and occult writer Paschal Beverly Randolph.

In addition to covering subjects such as Rosicrucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism in his books, Jennings drew on the works of predecessors, such as Richard Payne Knight, to developed at length his theory that all religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, ultimately derive from in ancient phallic worship, which he properly called "phallism." (In later editions he reluctantly acceded to popular, although incorrect, usage and called his subject "phallicism.")

Unlike many modern authors, for whom he word "phallic" implies the male penis, Jennings used the word "phallic" in its non-gendered sense, meaning "relating to the sexual organs". For this reason, in addition to citing examples of religions which featured worship of the male genitalia, he studied those in which the worship of the female genitalia and the worship of human sexual union were practiced.

Jennings did not limit his description of phallic religions to representations of genitalia or human coitus; he also wrote extensively on the human tendency to utilize natural things, such as snakes, the Sun, fish, and fire as symbols of phallism, and, with the establishment of sacred architecture in prehistoric times, to create specific forms of consecrated structures that had a phallic character, including megaliths, wells, obelisks, and the round towers of Ireland. He was particularly interested in the erotic temple architecture of India, but did not overlook even the humble phallic charmstones of California native tribes. His relish for these matters might seem unexpected in a Christian minister of his time period, but Jennings apparently saw no moral contradiction between studying the Bible and writing enthusiastic descriptions of lingam-in-yoni artifacts from India.

In addition to the works to which he affixed his own name, Jennings is thought by some researchers to have written a number of anonymous volumes in the limited edition and privately printed "Nature Worship and Mystical Series", and possibly also to have written under the pseudonym "Sha Rocco."

The "Nature Worship and Mystical Series" books are typical Victorian era miscellanies. Each one is devoted to a specific aspect of phallism and, in addition to the author's writing (which is virtually identical in style to the signed works of Jennings), they each contain short scrap-book like excerpts from a variety of travel accounts, historical documents, newspaper clippings, and books by other authors that support the authors' ruminations on the several branches of phallism.

Books by Hargrave Jennings

Books by Sha Rocco

The Anonymous "Nature Worship and Mystical Series"

For the convenience of those interested in a lenthier descriptive bibliography of these rare books, i have written a short catalogue of the "Nature Worship and Mystical Series" attributed to Hargrave Jennings.


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