Priapus :The Gardener

Priapus, Lord of the Phallus, first emerged as a fertility spirit in Asia Minor. He was venerated in Greek Anatolia, especially at Lampsacus on the Hellespont where he was reputedly born. Priapus was the most important spirit of their local pantheon. He was an important deity in regions near the Black Sea where he was venerated as a spirit of fertility, aggression, and self-defense. This martial aspect may explain why, according to Greek myth, Hera hired Priapus to raise her son, Ares. The cult of Priapus entered Greece around 400 BCE, but he was never very popular there. (He was officially incorporated into the Greek pantheon as Aphrodite’s son by either Adonis or Dionysus.) The Greeks perceived Priapus as ugly and too overtly sexual. Whatever popularity he held was in the Greek countryside, not urban areas. The Romans, however, loved him. He became their patron of fishermen, sailors, gardens, and viniculture. Priapus ensures fertility of women, crops, animals, and gardens. He infuses soil (and women!) with fertility. Priapus protects against the Evil Eye. He protects gardens and small farms from thieves of all kind. (If a bank is threatening to foreclose on a small family farm, Priapus may perceive this as theft and be sympathetic.)


Asia Minor


Women, gardeners, and fishers as well as owners, keepers, and guardians of small farms, vineyards, and orchards


Priapus is best recognized by his huge, permanently erect penis. Deities or sculptures featuring erect or exaggerated male members are called Priapic.


The traditional image of Priapus depicts him holding up his robe, which is filled with fruit to display a massive, erect penis. The image isn’t subtle; you can’t miss it. His images were traditionally carved from fig wood, associated with sex, fertility, genitalia, and protection from the Evil Eye.


Pruning knife




Donkey, goose




Placing his image in your garden effectively creates a petition. If you don’t have a garden, stick his image in a window box or flower pot on an altar. His images are commercially available, but if you can’t find one, an image of a phallus, equivalent to a Shiva lingam, may do the trick, too.


Priapus does not consider his services to be a favour but a transaction. Expected payment is the first fruits or vegetables from your garden. Should you have no garden and, thus, no first fruits, Priapus will accept offerings of honey and milk instead. He will also accept wax, papiermâché, or other renderings of fruit. Traditionally a divinity beloved by the poor, should finances be very tight, Priapus accepts offerings of original verse as long as they are offered with sincerity and a good heart. (He’ll know.)


  • Adonis
  • Aphrodite
  • Ares
  • Dionysus
  • Hera
  • Shiva


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.