Willies: December 2004 Archives

December 31, 2004

A shrine for every need

Japan: New Year's Eve is a popular time to visit certain Shinto shrines. Some of them are clearly helpful with those resolutions:

Kotohira-gu shrine in nearby Minato-ku is for those looking to give up vices like smoking, drinking and gambling.

But others deal with more realistic human aspirations:

Izuyama Jinja, another Shinto place of worship located in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, is best known for the tree on its grounds. The tree is called a butcher's broom, or nagi in Japanese and is named after Izanagi, the mythical god of Shinto legend whose spilled sperm formed the main Japanese islands. Carrying leaves from the tree is said to offer success in love.

Taking a bit both ways, according to Shukan Jitsuwa is Kyoto's Yasui Kompira, a shrine that offers people the chance to either find the love of their life, or get rid of an unwanted love. A stone's throw away is Ichidaninanano Jinja, a Shinto shrine that promises to requite unrequited love.

New Year shrines find pagan pilgrims looking for love, larger libidos - Mainichi Shimbun WaiWai, 31st December 2004. See also Unusual Japanese shrines - Pagan Prattle, 12th July 2002.

December 29, 2004

Penis-snatching nothing new

Italy: A university lecturer has published a book arguing that an unusual mediæval mural in Tuscany is a depiction of witchcraft. The Massa Marittima mural shows a tree bearing penises as fruit, and a woman who appears to be poking the tree with a stick. Dr. George Fercozo, of the University of Leicester, thinks this represents something described in the Malleus Maleficarum:

In its description of witches' practices, intended to help witch-hunters identify their prey, it says they were in the habit of robbing men of their genitals.

[Witches] sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as 20 or 30 members together, and put them in a bird's nest, or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn, wrote the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum.

Published in 1486, the manual brought together much of the legend surrounding sorceresses that had grown up in previous centuries.

Two of the other women in the mural are tearing at each other's hair as they appear to fight for possession of just such a magically liberated penis as the one described in the Malleus Maleficarum. On the other side of the woman with a stick another is being sodomised by another free-wheeling, or rather free-floating, male organ.

In the middle ages, heretics did one thing above all and that was sodomy, Dr Ferzoco said. To the medieval Italian mind, it was an act that exemplified unnaturalness, disharmony and lack of community.

Medieval mural's tales of sorcery - Education Guardian, 28th December 2004. See also Penis tree - fertility symbol or political poster? - Reuters, 7th December 2004, and the accompanying picture of the mural.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Willies category from December 2004.

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