Chattering Mind

I once wrote an article for “The Washington Post” about the dreams people have about Washington D.C.

Turns out lots of people have dreams that involve the Washington Monument.

When I queried a Jungian analyst on this, we both agreed it was hard not to see this 555-foot tall obelisk as our nation’s phallus. “A great country needs a great phallus,” the Jungian analyst said, stroking his beard. This remark astonished me, and then made sense for a time, and then stayed with me long after I’d moved on to other projects.

Well, the folks who march around the Tagata Shrinei carrying phallus flags in central Honsu every March 15th to commemorate the Shinto Hounen Festival have the same general idea. Only their phallus isn’t nationalistic. Their ritual parading of a thirteen-foot long phallus is all about their gladness for the universe’s creation and their hopes for a fertile farming year. “It is the time plants come into bud and [we] feel the power of life,” says one website. Couples longing to become pregnant also come to meditate and celebrate.

Here’s a pretty amazing (and amusing) film of the 13-foot long penis (called Oo-Owasegata) that will again be on display at Tagata Shrinei this coming Wednesday. Pass this link around and wish your friends their own Happy Hounen Festival! (Do any readers know how to say “Be fruitful and multiply!” in Japanese?)The men carrying Oo-Owasegata offer drinks to attending farmers in hopes of inseminating their fields for a bountiful year, according to Anneli Rufus’s “World Holiday Book” and Waverly Fitzgerald. So you could lift a glass yourself, in honor of spring and everything fecund.

P.S. Regarding that Washington dream project I mentioned earlier: People didn’t only dream about phalluses. They also had dreams of being served a sumptuous meal by a motherly Barbara Bush, and other understandably odd things like that.