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Sheela Na Gig: a portal between Heaven and Earth
A rude and uggly expression of female nudity or a manifestation of the cult of the sacred feminine?
Sheela Na Gig, for all its ugliness, somehow has beauty within itself. Was she the portray of ugly sin, a warning to men not to indulge in sexual practices, or a tribute to the scraded feminine and to the fertility powers of Earth held in the female sacral chakra?
These grotesque figures appear in 12th century buildings, mostly churches but also in the facade of some castles all across Continental Europe and the UK.
At this time Europe was in the midst of the Medieval period, and church had gained hold on the spirituality of the population. Having fought hard to iradicate all pagan symbols, many depicting female fertility and the cult of the Sacred Feminine, the Church skeed to establish an autocratic power based on a monoteist cult symbolised by one man only: Christ in the spiritual world, the Pope as his representant on Earth.
Female figures were relegated to the background of this newly established religion, and only allowed in to emphasise chastity. Virgin Mary the supreme example of this sex voided female presence in Christianity. Mary Magdalene the opposite of virginal purity, portrayed as a prostitute. Eve forever tainted with the blame for Adam's expulsion from the garden of Eden, and the Fall of human kind.
In the dark days of Middle Ages, it was not easy being a female, especially if practicing of the old rituals of the Female cult.
And what better way to ward off the devotees of this ancient cult then to portray the feminine sexuality as something ugly, repulsive and gruesome, as seen in the many Sheela Na Gig figures strategically displayed on the buildings dedicated to worship of a cult that rejected any references to sex except for procreation.
Were these grotesque figures mean to frighten Cristian devotees into sex abstinence, perhaps the Medieval version of family planning advertisement?