Pious literalist Christians will tell you that the crucifix is the symbol of their religion because Jesus was crucified by the Romans. That story is certainly a part of the official Christian mythology, written down and edited together generations after the supposed death of Jesus, but there’s more to the symbol of the crucifix than that.
For one thing, as a religious symbol, the crucifix predates the legendary dates of the life of Jesus – by hundreds of years at least.
For another thing, the original crucifix was horny.
What you see here has the basic shape of what we call a crucifix, but in its time, it was referred to as a herm. It was found in Greece and is estimated to have been made around 490 “BCE”. What does BCE stand for? Perhaps it’s Before the Crucifix got Emasculated.
As you can see, before the Christians got a hold of it, there was no cloth draped strategically over the crucifix, and it had an unashamed erection. It was a phallic image – to a god of commerce, sexual and otherwise.
Sex was about more than just getting it on and having a good time. It was symbolic of the fertility that is created through all sorts of commerce, when trade, literal and metaphorical, of ideas and materials is allowed to cross the boundaries between what seem to be separate entities.
Christianity wasn’t just an outgrowth of Judaism. It was the product of a regional Hellenistic culture that included recognition of the power of the deity represented by the herm – Hermes. Hermes was the original good shepherd. Hermes was called Christ before Jesus ever was. Hermes was the big brother of Jesus, with the same parents, the son of the sky god and the earth goddess Maia.
Before Jesus was crucified in legend, Hermes was the crucifix, and the snakes of fluid transformation that climbed up the crucifix tree represented by the caduceus. The difference between Hermes and his little brother Jesus is that while Jesus regarded the serpent as evil, Hermes watched the serpent undulating, traveling back and forth opposites of shadow and light. While Jesus literally flipped out at moneychangers in the temple, Hermes had the depth to see the sacred quality of their trade, uniting sex, money and enlightenment. Hermes was a trickster, but Jesus saw only the straight lines in life, and was not described in his surviving legends as having laughed, even once.