This first piece is fairly modern but bear with me and I will deliver unto you some lovely and bizarre reading from ages past.
Sex Toy History
by Michael Castleman
author of Sexual Solutions
Many people assume that sex toys are Asian inventions. Asians have used sexual aids for more than 1,000 years. Ben-wa balls are clearly Asian. And today many sex toys are manufactured in Asia. But two of the most popular sexual aids, dildos and vibrators, have surprisingly Western roots.
Historians don't know who invented the dildo, but the world owes its popularity to the ancient Greek port city, Miletus, on the west coast of present-day Turkey. Miletan traders sold what the Greeks called olisbos around the Mediterranean. Today's dildos are often enjoyed by couples, but in ancient Greece, they were sexual refuges for lonely ladies. A Greek literary fragment from the third century BC tells the story of a young woman named Metro, whose husband is away. She visits a friend, Coritto, to borrow her olisbo, only to learn that Coritto has lent it to another lonely maiden. Metro departs crestfallen.
In Renaissance Italy, olisbo became "dildo" probably from the Italian diletto, to delight. But compared with today's lifelike models, early dildos were hardly delightful. Made of wood or leather, they required liberal lubrication with olive oil for comfortable use. Modem rubber dildos did not appear until the mid-19th century.
Dildos have always had a frankly sexual purpose, but vibrators are another story. For most of their history, they have been a "camouflaged," their sexual purpose hidden behind a medical use in "massage therapy," which to some extent, is still the case. The first vibrators were developed 130 years ago to treat an illness called "female hysteria." Hysteria, from the Greek for suffering uterus, involved anxiety, irritability, sexual fantasies, "pelvic heaviness," and excessive vaginal lubrication, in other words, sexual arousal during the Victorian era, when women were not considered sexual beings. Physicians treated hysteria by massaging sufferers' vaginal lips until they experienced relief through "paroxysm" (orgasm). During the 1860s, health spas offered higher-tech alternatives to manual therapy, massage with water jets, and steam-powered vibrating devices.
When electricity became widely available in the late 19th century, the first electric vibrators appeared, still camouflaged as therapy for hysteria and sold only to doctors. But as the years passed, magazine advertisements began offering vibrators to, women for self-treatment of hysteria at home. The 1918 Sears Roebuck catalog touted one vibrator as a "very satisfactory...aid every woman appreciates." And an advertisement ill a 1921 issue of Hearst’s magazine urged men to buy the devices for their wives as Christmas gifts to keep them "young and pretty" and free from the scourge of hysteria.
But during the 1920s, early "blue" movies showed women using the devices not for their camouflaged purpose but for sexual stimulation. Early pornography stripped vibrators of their social camouflage, and by 1930, they were no longer openly advertised.
Today, of course, vibrators are popular sexual aids sold for sexual purposes. But many outlets continue to camouflage them as "massagers." One large consumer catalog says its dual-speed massager is "perfect for those hard-to-reach places." True...and a few places within easy reach as well.
Hippocrates, the great Greek doctor of 5th century B.C., suggested using honey to help one's libido. In ancient days European newlyweds drank mead or hydromel, both honey-based drinks, during the first month of their marriage and gave us the term "honeymoon." (Legend has it that Attila the Hun OD'd on the stuff on his wedding night.) Indian tradition calls for a groom to have honey on his wedding day, and in parts of India it is still a common gift to give him. The term "honey" is one of endearment, and honey has been connected with love in literature ranging from The Kama Sutra to The Bible.
Honey is one of the most perfect foods, being easily and quickly absorbed by the body, imparting its considerable energy soon after ingestion, and containing minerals, B-complex vitamins and the sugars dextrose and levulose. From a lover's point of view this has a variety of effects: it gives lasting energy, promotes sexual health in both genders, and provides the main building blocks for semen.
This discussion centers around its ingested use. It can and has been applied topically to excellent erotic effect, but lest one get carried away with it, I should point out that honey is an antilubricant, if you take my meaning.
Devil's food, indeed.
Chocolate, made from the bean of the South American cocoa plant, was firstly and for many generations only had as a thick, bitter beverage. Aztec nobles always took some before going to bed with a woman, and Montezuma supposedly had 50 cups a day for exactly that reason. After all, he had a harem of 600. In Mayan culture a night in a brothel cost a handful of cocoa beans.
I believe it was the Incans who decreed that because of its power to incite lust, women were not permitted have any. Go figure. When the Spanish observed the wild orgies that went on during the cocoa harvests, they quite naturally brought it back to an unsuspecting Europe, which immediately became enamored of chocolate.
Within a few decades, French monks were forbidden to taste chocolate, the Spanish Inquisition prosecuted several women for drinking it (the implications were that they were in league with the Devil, though the Inquisitors, who also drank the stuff, were presumably not), Spanish American women made scandals by drinking it in church, and all sorts of delicious trouble came of the little brown beans. Not too long afterward, Casanova made use of it as well, and swore by its effects.
Today chocolate is as popular as ever, and comes in more shapes and forms than the Aztecs ever dreamed. It remains a symbol of romance, and a strong social (as opposed to medical) aphrodisiac.
Science has discovered a bevy of good things intrinsic to chocolate: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin A. It also has a minute amount of caffeine and a substance called phenylethylamine (PEA for short). PEA is an endorphin, a natural amphetamine which is also generated by the brain of someone falling in love, meaning that chocolate emphasizes and may even cause that marvelous sensation. In addition to all this is the recent revelation that cocoa beans house a cannabinoid, one of the "active" ingredients in marijuana.
Though I adore dense, powerful chocolate creations and make them whenever I have the time, someone will occasionally comment that the confection features "too much chocolate." I believe the phrase is meaningless.
17th century English women usually "got their man" by baking a cockle bread, a bread whose dough was kneaded and pressed against the woman' vulva and then baked. This bread was then given to the object of the baker's eye.
The religion of the Goddess, wherever it was practiced throughout history, has always been sex positive. The most famous of the ancient rituals is the Hieros Gamos, or Sacred marriage ritual. Records of this ceremony have been dated as far back as early Sumerian, about 5500 years ago. In this ritual the high priestess acting as avatar of The Goddess had sex with the ruler of the country to show the Goddess's acceptance him as ruler and caretaker of her people. Here is part of the ceremony as translated from an ancient Sumerian poem.
The High Priestess, acting for Inanna, is speaking to Dumuzi the new king.
My vulva, the horn,
The boat of Heaven,
Is full of eagerness like the young moon.
My untilled land lies fallow.
As for me, Inanna,
Who will plow my vulva?
Who will plow my high field?
Who will plow my wet ground?
As for me, the young woman,
Who will plow my vulva?
Who will station the ox there?
Who will plow my vulva?
The symbolism is, I hope, obvious to you. If you've ever looked at an anatomical picture of the female reproductive system, you may have noticed that the vagina is shaped like a horn, it curves upward and narrows towards the back.
On the male side, an old time plow (not the modern day tractor type) had a long, hard projection that pushed into the ground.
Dumuzi, the king replies:
Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva,
I, Dumuzi the King, will plow your vulva Inanna accepts him saying:
Then plow my vulva, man of my heart
Plow my vulva.
Then follows more details of the happenings
My eager impetuous caresser of the navel,
My caresser of the soft thighs;
He is the one my womb loves best,
My high priest is ready for the holy loins.
My lord Dumuzi is ready for the holy loins.
The plants and herbs in his field are ripe.
O Dumuzi, Your fullness is my delight.
The high priestess then directs things to be readied
Inanna called for the bed.
Let the bed that rejoices the heart be prepared
Let the bed that sweetens the loins be prepared
Let the bed of kingship be prepared!
Let the bed of queenship be prepared!
Let the royal bed be prepared!
This bed was set up in front of the entire congregation. The people watched the entire ritual including the sexual part.
He shaped my loins with his fair hands,
The shepherd Dumuzi filled my lap with cream and milk.
He stroked my pubic hair.
He watered my womb.
He laid his hands on my holy vulva,
He smoothed my black boat with cream,
He quickened my narrow boat with milk.
He caressed me on the bed.
The King went with lifted head to the holy loins.
He went with lifted head to the loins of Inanna
He went to the queen with lifted head.
He opened wide his arms to the holy priestess of heaven.
We rejoiced together.
He took his pleasure of me.
He laid me down on the fragrant honey-bed
My sweet love, lying by my heart,
Tongue-playing, one by one,
My fair Dumuzi did so fifty times.
Now, my sweet love is sated.
At the climax of the ceremony (or should I say, climaxes, fifty times, wow!) the populous would cheer and shout their approval and appreciation. This ritual brought prosperity to the people and to the land, so they were very happy to witness its successful completion.
Ancient Babylonia & Assyria
Babylonia is the southern portion of Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which is presently known today as Iraq or "coastland." Assyria in the northern portion of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is known to have the oldest records of human history, and is said to be the first human civilization.
Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of love, fertility, nature, sex, and war.
Ishtar was the primary deity of ancient Mesopotamia. She was the deity of all life, men, women, other deities, sexual power, pregnancy, birth, everything that was female, including war. Mesopotamia originated as a matriarchy and its goddess, Ishtar, ruled over everything including war and weapons. But as time changed, and men rose up, she lost some of her status as male gods began to surface who also bore weapons. Since she was the goddess of war, after victories, her temple of women would celebrate victory with a feast and sex. But when the matriarchy began to shift power to men, her temple became one of prostitutes.
Ishtar was said not to listen to men's pleas unless the man visited an Ishtar cult. A woman that dedicated herself to the goddess Ishtar was said to have a sacred duty. All women were required at least once in their lifetime to go to the Temple of Ishtar (usually after they were married). They were to sit in the temple until a stranger came and threw a piece of silver in her lap. Then she was to leave the temple and have sex with the stranger, after which she could return home. She was not allowed to refuse the first stranger. Unfortunately, some of the less attractive women remained in the temple for years, waiting for a stranger to throw them a silver coin.
Men and women prayed to Ishtar for virility, fertility, and sexual power. Those in Babylonia that put up the most fuss over the Ishtar cults were married women, and not surprisingly, married men were the most frequent visitors. There were laws passed making it a serious offense to speak badly of the holy prostitutes. It was common to find phalluses at every temple and shrine and there were shrines of phalluses erected as well. A great temple was built for the goddess, Ishtar, who had many symbols that represented her. The animal that represented her was the lion. The symbol was the star.
The Peor cult is also called the "celebration of the phallus." This particular cult was really a public orgy. It began with an exhibitionist show of people engaged in various sexual acts. The finale would involve those in the audience joining in. The cult of Peor had the ass as their animal symbol and bestiality was a part of the show.
Marduk is the son of Damki(na) and Ea, and became the head of the gods. According to the cosmology in the Enuma Elish, it was through Ea's blood and Marduk's plan that humankind was created. During the reign of King Hammurabi, Marduk was declared the national god of Babylonia.
Some of the first references to sexually transmitted diseases are found in Ancient Babylonia, mainly gonnorhea and syphillis. These diseases were said to be caused by the gods and their mismatches which were shown in the sky by the crab and the scorpion. The chancre sore from syphillis was said to literally be a crab bite. In King Hammurabi's Codes, there is a sexual warning to those who oppose him, that "...an evil disease, a dangerous sore which cannot be cured, which the physicians cannot diagnose, which he cannot allay with bandages, and which like the bit of death cannot be removed; and that he, until he brings his life to an end, may lament the loss of his vigor...curse him, his seed, his land, his army, his people and his troops with an evil curse."
Thus, it is also very possible that since Ishtar was regarded as a goddess of love and war, that she was also believed to cast sexually transmitted diseases to the enemies of those that worshipped her. Such a statement from a powerful king may have effected how the enemies of Ancient Babylonia regarded the great state and its sexuality. In opposing Hammurabi, those peoples also had to oppose the goddess Ishtar and the Babylonian ideas of sexual openness.
Different types of contraception were attempted, such as the use of animal dung as a form of a spermicide. If this failed, potions were derived to induce miscarriage. Potions were also used as aphrodisiacs.
Lineage of Pharoahs
Ancient Egypt's lineage was traced through women and property was passed through women. For this reason, Ancient Egypt originated as a matriarchy. The pharoahs were trustees of the property passed down and their reign was decided by their matrilineal status. Because of the matrilineal structure, husbands would lose their property and status if their wife died. The property was passed down to the daughters and granddaughters. Many incest relations began with fathers and daughters and granddaughters because the men wanted to stay with the property. There were also numerous brother/sister incest marriages.
Sexual Imagery of Gods and Religious Rites
One Creation Story
Chaos (probably the Roman name equivalent of the Egyptian deity), the god of creation, masturbated, and from his ejaculation he created the other gods.
Isis and Osiris
Osiris was hacked into pieces by his brother Seth. Isis pieced him back together but was unable to find his phallus, so she created a new phallus. Egyptians would have a celebration of this event, during which women would walk through the streets singing and walking with puppets that had extremely large genitals.
Bes was the dwarf god with a very large phallus. He was considered a protector of women and some would tatoo Bes on their thigh. Bes is celebrated in physical sex and rooms came to be known as 'Bes Chambers.'
Hathor was the goddess of love and music. In one story she exposed her genitals to her father, the sun god who smiled.
Bastet was the cat goddess, associated with Hathor, and also a fertility goddess. During the festival for Bastet, women would expose their genitals.
Cult of Apis
For 40 days, women would go to the Temple of Apis, the Bull. They would expose their genitals to the statue. Once they left, they never returned again.
Temple of Amun
The Temple of Amun had different practices over Egyptian history, but at one point, a woman would go into the temple, have sex with whomever she pleased until menstruation, after which there was a celebration. Then she was married.
The Sixty Four Arts
The sixty four arts of love-passion-pleasure began in India. There are
many different versions of the arts which began in Sanskrit and were
translated into other languages, such as Persian or Tibetan. Many of
the original texts are missing and the only clue to their existence is in
other texts. Kama Sutra, the version by Vatsyayana, is one of the well
known survivors and was first translated into English by Sir Richard
Burton and F. F. Arbuthnot.