The Sheela-Na-Gig let it all hang out
Cruise the old
churches of Europe and you’re sure to run into the Sheela-Na-Gig.
She’s found on arches and carved in stones. Her huge head, staring
eyes and her hands reaching down between her wide open legs to spread
her swollen and oversized womanhood suggest more prostitution than
protection. The Sheela-Na-Gig are said to keep evil away.
She is connected in old
stories with the Banshee. The one who guides transition from one existence
to another. She is the unknown and Birther of all. The Great Mother.
abound. Despite their having been penned by men, these stories show the
bringer of life as a symbolic passage. Giving birth moves the mother to
another existence. Death is the same, bringing us to another existence.
Each major passage in a woman’s life brings forth new existence.
Goddesses of well and river are perfect examples of splitting off or
creating new flow.
Is it surprising that
many have been archeologically aged and are found to be much older than
the buildings themselves, suggesting they were moved from their original
pagan structure to the churches which often occupy former pagan grounds.
The Sheela-Na-Gig are
grotesque images of womanhood itself. The deep dark passage between
existences epitomizes everything human beings will know. She is the
protector of life, thus her position at entrances to church yards and
arches. Her head reminds us of the unborn baby, oversized and
disproportioned. Her eyes stare into our future, knowledge of
what-will-be reflected there. Her womb both awaits us in our journey to
the next realm and shows the mystery of what has come before.
A Treasury of
Legend, and Folklore
Sheela Na Gig Project
The Sheela Na Gig Project is an attempt
to collate information about Sheela Na Gig's in the UK. Whereas there
seems to be plenty of data on Irish figures the UK figures are often
overlooked. This website aims to address the balance by listing all
known figures in the UK complete with photographs. This is by necessity
a work in progress so please check back to see if any "new"
sheelas have been added.