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The pagan cross evolved from the crux ansata, sacred with the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Buddhists, and the Hindus—it was the symbol of the Hindu god Agni—the Light of the World. It was a combined sexual symbol, its two portions being the male and female aspects of Nature—the oval or upper portion the vulva, or yoni of the Hindus, and the lower portion or Tau—the Phallus, Priapus, Linga of the Hindus, Ashera of the Jews. The phallus, the common symbol of the life giver, was commonly denoted by a lighted torch, a tree, a fish or a sceptre.
Sculptures of Priapus with large, erect genitalia were placed in gardens and fields to guarantee an abundant crop. For the Romans, his statue was used as a scarecrow and his erect penis was thought to frighten thieves. Epigrams collected in Priapeia (treated below) show Priapus using sodomy as a threat toward transgressors of the boundaries he protected like a herm:
"I warn you, my lad, you will be sodomised; you, my girl, I shall futter; for the thief who is bearded, a third punishment remains."
"... If I do seize you . . . you shall be so stretched that you will think your anus never had any wrinkles."