It turns out I am sadly uneducated about fertility figurines, goddesses, Earth Mothers. Since yesterday’s post about the Venus of Willendorf, I have done a bit of browsing around the web. This was in part spurred on by Opher’s comment yesterday: There are lots of examples of similar ones Sheela Na Gig comes to mind – often with very marked genitalia. P J Harvey did a great song about her.
Now I had never heard of either of these things. Having read and listened, I now do. Turns out PJ Harvey is an English musician, singer-songwriter, writer, poet, and composer. Which is why Opher is familiar with her work – he’s a Pom too. Mad about music he is. And writes sci-fi novels amongst other things. PJ is known as a vocalist and guitarist – and turns out she sings a song about Sheela Na Gig – here’s some of the lyrics:
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 char
You turn around and say back to me, “he said”
So just what is a Sheela Na Gig? She is a carving of a woman with exposed and/or exaggerated genitalia, usually found on religious buildings. Most of these figures can be found in Ireland although they can be found in the UK, France, Spain,Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, Denmark and in the former Czech republic. More are turning up all the time. Well, I never…
I got to wondering where the Aussie slang word for woman came from – sheila. Turns out it has its origins in Ireland. I just knew it!
Like the Venus of Willendorf, there is a mixed range of beliefs about exactly what the Sheela represents. The0ries range from representation of female lust, corruption, sinfulness, or fertility and mother goddess.
Turns out there is a veritable plethora of Fertility deities – Wikipedia has an alphabetical list of them – too numerous to count.
© Raili Tanska