From the looks of it Sheila Na Gig’s pose would seem to be something straight out of a men’s magazine baffling and intriguing many with her extravagant way of display. Sheila Na Gigs are stone carvings of women, with their legs wide open, exhibiting their vaginas. Sheila Na Gig to this day, can still be found in many conservative churches and even castles throughout Ireland and England having a variety of theories as to what was her ultimate meaning and use.
You just can’t simply dismiss her as having her legs open, they are open for a reason which has many scholars and anthropologist alike trying to figure out the ultimate meaning to her poses. This is truly an amazing sight considering most of these stone carvings have been found in churches. Although most have been defaced, all throughout the British Isles, there are many Sheela Na Gigs and opinions as to her origins and uses still around. One of the theories as to why Sheela Na Gigs have been in churches is that they were perhaps a symbol and reminder to followers as to the dangers and sins associated with lust. However many associated the female form as an amulet for protection from evil forces as well as luck charms. Throughout many cultures the images of vaginas were used mostly to represent life, death and regeneration.
From The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, by Barbara G. Walker
“Sheila-Na-Gig figures appeared all over old Irish churches before the 16th century. Many were still in place during the 19th century, but Victorian prudery defaced or destroyed large numbers of them. Some have been found buried near the churches they once embellished.”
“Sheila-Na-gig figures closely resembled the yonic statues of Kali which still appear at the doorways of Hindu temples, where visitors lick a finger and touch the yoni “for luck.” Some of the older figures have deep holes worn in their yonis from much touching.”
“Celts generally protected doorways with some female-genital fetish, which is why they settled on the horseshoe, classic Omega-sign of the Kalika. In India it stood for the feminine cosmos within which Shiva ever performed his creative sexual dance, although he was assimilated to the Kalika and given her title of Destroyer.”
“Derivation of the term sheila-na-gig is obscure. It meant something like “vulva-woman.” Gig or giggie meant female genitals and may have been related to the Irish “jig,” from French gigue, in pre-Christian times an orgiastic dance. In ancient Erech a gig seems to have been a holy yoni; the sacred harlots of the temple were known as nu-gig.”
This last quote on the origins of the word Gig is very interesting to me because on the show Family Guy Quagmire loves to say “giggidy” especially when he is is some sexual pursuit.
I’m sure it would be hard for many to believe that women are sacred and not just sexual objects. I believe that Sheila Na Gigs represents the fact that being a woman is part of truly knowing yourself. Not just the physical aspect of you, but rather the whole, which ultimately manifests itself on to the physical. Many neglect their sacred selves and lose themselves in the world of criticisms and so called established rules. Sheila Na Gig shows that a woman is not just a hole, but perhaps she is the embodiment of the planet, cosmos and reality we call life. Reminding her believers where they came from, where they can discover true divinity of one self and the world .
For more images and history concerning Sheila Na Gig check these links out: