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Goddess of the early Irish and British Celts, and Mother of all ... displays her vulva to ... Birth, the ... Life, the Gateway to the Womb of the Goddess, from whom allcome,

Goddess of the early Irish and British Celts, and Mother of all Life.
Sheela-na-gig displays her vulva to symbolise Birth, the Origins
of Life, the Gateway to the Womb of the Goddess, from whom all
come, and to whom all return.

She is inspired by the numerous Sheela-na-gig plaques dotting
the early Irish and British churches and shrines, vibrant
reminders of a proud celtic mother goddess.
Sheela-Na-Gig The Goddess Displaying Her Parts.
This Celtic archetype of the Great Mother appeared in folk
and church art by at least 1080 AD, but undoubtedly is of
much earlier origin. She may be identical with the war
goddess Morrigan, consort to the Dagda. One of her
images is found near the ancient goddess shrine of Avebury,
where she symbolized fertility; displaying her sexual
parts was believed to ward off evil. Carvings of
Sheela-na-Gigs may have accompanied the seasonal harvest
custom of weaving corn dollies which dates from North
European antiquity.

Sheela Na Gig's are quasi-erotic stone carvings of a goddess figure ,
usually found on Norman churches but possibly of celtic origin.
They consist of an old woman squating and pulling apart her
vuvla a fairly strange thing to find on a church Ill think
you'll agree when you consider the puritanical attitudes
of many christians. The carvings are very old and often
do not seem to be part of the church but have been taken
from a previous older building (see the weathering on
the Church Stretton Sheela as compared to the surrounding masonry).
This may have a connection with fact that many churches
are built on previous pagan sites (for instance Kilpeck)
and may have been incorporated into the building from
the previous pagan shrine. Many of the carvings are badly
weathered and it is difficult to determine features.
This would also seem to indicate an older origin than the
host church.

They were placed on churches, castles and other important buildings
of the medieval period and, until quite recently in some
instances, they acted as dedicatory or protective symbols
promoting good luck and fertility.

Interpretations of the figures generally fall into four
main categories: fertility icons,
warnings against sins of the flesh, representations of a figure
from the old Celtic goddess trinity, and protection from evil.

gCioch" ("sheela of the breasts") or "Sile-ina-Giob"
("sheela on her hunkers"). In the Encyclopedia of Sacred
Sexuality, Rufus Camphausen notes that in Mesopotamia the
term "nu-gug" ("the pure and immaculate ones") referred to
the sacred temple harlots, and he postulates that the name
may somehow have had its origins there. Kathryn Price
Theatana outlines an interesting etymological study of the
name on her website-- well worth a look.
Even though the image is overtly sexual the representation is
always grotesque, sometimes even comical. They are usually
associated with "hags" or "old women". The carvings often
incorporate ribs showing on the torso and sometimes facial
scaring as well, although this feature seems to be more
common in Ireland than in mainland Britain.

Anderson, Jorgen. The Witch on the Wall: Medieval Erotic
Sculpture in the British Isles. Rosenkilde and Baggen,
Copenhagen, 1997

Camphausen, Rufus. The Encyclopedia of Sacred Sexuality.
Inner Traditions: Vermont, 1999.

Cherry, S. A Guide to Sheela-na-gigs.
National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, 1992

From Beyond the Pale: Art and Artists at the
Edge of Consensus. Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 1994
(This was the catalog that accompanied the exhibit of the
same name that ran from September 1994- January 1995 at
the Irish Museum of Modern Art)

Kelly, Eamonn P. Sheela-na-gigs: Origins and Functions.
Country House, Dublin, 1996

Marron, Fiona. "Sheela-na-gig: A Letter from Fiona Marron".
The Beltaine Papers. Issue #10, Lammas 1996

McGarry, Greg. Sheila Na Gig: A Celtic Treasure Hunt.
Preas An Phuca, DonegalArticle Search, 1993

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Judi Singleton is the publisher of Jassmine's Journal Goddess Gospel edition. You can subscribe at

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