Friday, January 9, 2009
Sheela na Gig
The Kilpeck Sheela na Gig from The Sheela na Gig Project
I had first come across these interesting characters in an occult shop (sadly long closed) in Toronto in the mid-nineties. The shop had an assortment of Sheela na Gig figures, from resin plaques to pewter pendants. I settled on getting a pendant.
There was something about them that I was greatly attracted to, which I can only describe as a familiarity. I had asked the shop owner what she knew of the Sheela na Gigs, and then set myself off on a research adventure.
The research became somewhat of a wild goose chase, as I could find very little in books. But with the rise of information available on the net I found out more, which was both a blessing and a curse. One is left to sift through this info to find the truth. In reality, although there are many theories, there are just as many disagreements as to what the origin of the Sheela na Gigs really is.
There are Sheela na Gigs spread throughout a large area including in Wales, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France, Norway, and Switzerland. They are widely believed to have their origins date back to the 11th century as 'church ornaments' in France, but some folks dispute this.
My Sheela na Gig now finds her home on my smallest cauldron.
Kathryn Price NicDhàna points out that there is a vast difference in the style of the 'Continental Sheelas' and the 'Insular Celtic Sheelas', and that the 'Insular Celtic Sheelas' might go back quite further in history. She had become aware of some images on standing stones in Ireland of which she believes could be Sheelas (or as she puts it 'at least the precursors to the Sheelas'). Click on here for a photo, I think that the similarities are uncanny.
The Sheela na Gig Project has an excellent website, where they go through many of the theories including A Celtic Pagan Survival, An Example of the Goddess, A Fertility Figure, A Warning Against Lust, and Protection Against Evil.
Two other excellent resources that I have come across are Tara McLoughlin's (great photos!), and The White Dragon's article (awesome magazine!).
Now I will leave you with a video of Pj Harvey's Sheela na Gig.