The Goddess: Sheela-Na-Gig

SHE WHO IS ALL – THE GODDESS AND THE DIVINE FEMALE

Sheela-Na-Gig

 

SheelaNaGig1

(Photo: bbc.com)

Sheela-Na-Gig. Who is She? What is She?

Carvings of her abound in Europe, with the bulk of them being in the British Isles, most commonly Ireland, and dating back to the 12th century. Her image, carved in stone, has a grinning face, knees bent with legs open, holding open her vagina with both hands, for all to see. Every time I see Her, I smile.

Archeologists, scholars and theologians all have varying theories of Her origins. Some say She is a warning against lust, in general, and women, specifically. It is theorized that is why she is on many ancient churches, as a warning of the evil of women.

Others say She is protection *against* evil as the folklore would indicate that a woman showing her genitals could scare a demon away, as this photo from Wikipedia portrays.

 

SheelaNaGig2

 

Her name may possibly come from the Irish “Sighle na gCloch”, meaning “old hag of the breasts”. It’s worth noting, but most carvings do not show Her with breasts at all, or very little. The etymology seems to center around the word “hag”, and “gig” may have meant “a woman’s bits” in Britain.

 

SheelaNaGig3

(Photo: visualizingbirth.org)

 

Some believe that she is an ancient Goddess of fertility and child-birth, which seems self-evident based on Her appearance. It is said that brides were made to look upon Her on their wedding day, to increase their fertility, and to bring about a successful labor and delivery.

 

SheelaNaGig4

(Photo: theguardian.com) (thanks to BR)

 

Present-day women, or at least those who have not forgotten the Goddess, see Her as an empowering figure, Her exaggerated genitalia representing the power to give life and claiming our own sexuality on our own terms. Georgia Rhodes, who wrote “Decoding the Sheela-Na-Gig” believes that She represents the Crone or Earth Goddess, “she who gives birth and takes us back in death”.

Since 1999, John Harding and the Sheela-Na-Gig Project has been collecting and collating information on Her carvings throughout the UK.

 

SheelaNaGig5

(Photo: bbc.com)

 

Currently, in Ireland, Irish feminists have reclaimed Her sexuality as empowering for women. Unknown artists are crafting new Sheela’s out of clay and placing them covertly at places that are important to women and their struggles. It is called Project Sheela and you can follow their Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/projectsheela/?hl=en

 

In 1992, an indie performer by the name of PJ Harvey came out with a song that she called “Sheela Na Gig”. The lyrics are:

I’ve been trying to show you over and over

Look at these, my child-bearing hips

Look at these, my ruby red ruby lips

Look at these my work strong arms and

You’ve got to see my bottle full of charm

I lay it all at your feet

You turn around and say back to me, “he said”

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Just like the first time, said he didn’t care

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Heard it before, no more

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Turn the corner, another one there

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Heard it before, he said

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Put money in your idle hole

Put money in your idle hole

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Just like the first time, said he didn’t care

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Heard it before, no more

Gonna take my hips to a man who cares

Turn the corner, another one there

Gonna take my hips to a man who cares

Heard it before, he said

Sheela-na-gig, sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Sheela-na-gig, sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Put money in your idle hole

Put money in your idle hole

He said “wash your breasts, I don’t want to be unclean”

He said “please take those dirty pillows away from me”

He said “wash your breasts, I don’t want to be unclean”

He said “please take those dirty pillows away from me”

He said “wash your breasts, I don’t want to be unclean”

He said “please take those dirty pillows away from me”

He said “wash your breasts, I don’t want to be unclean”

He said “please take those dirty pillows away from me”

 

 

 

 

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