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Fascinus is the name of an ancient Roman god who took the shape of a divine phallus.
Any phallic charm or amulet is also called a fascinus. These charms typically feature a winged penis. The spells used to invoke the ancient Roman god’s protection also share his name.
A fascinus charm is also called a fascinum.
Ancient cultures believed wearing a fascinus could bring good luck and cure envy or the evil eye. They did not perceive anything erotic about the fascinus, although some believed wearing one could enhance fertility. Some believed the fascinus could protect a woman during childbirth and later her children.
While Fascinus was a Roman god, fascinus charms were used in ancient Greek culture, too. Dionysus, the Greek god of fertility and wine, was said to use a fascinus during fertility rituals.
A winged fascinus is one of the most common representations of the Roman god, but it’s not the only seen during history. Roman soldiers used to carry an amulet depicted a fist clutched around the shaft of a phallus. This amulet was thought to provide good look to soldiers during battle.
We get the English word fascinate from the term fascinare, a Latin word which translates to “use the fascinus’ power.” It’s not such a leap between this translation and enchanting or bewitching, which are both synonyms for fascinate.