“Sheela-na-gig” by Changeling

“Sheelah-na-gig’s themes are fertility, sexuality, protection, passion and femininity.  Her symbols are nakedness, lust-inspiring scents and whiskey.  The image of this Irish Goddess of fertility tells us much about the unbridled nature of feminine passion that Sheila-na-gig inspires with spring-like whimsy. She is shown smiling broadly, holding Her legs wide open, completely naked. Nonetheless, this is not irresponsible lust; it is the gat of life through which we all pass. Interestingly enough, Sheila-na-gig’s image, in an amulet, offers protection too – perhaps She was the first Goddess of safe sex?!

Sheelah’s Day is celebrated in true Irish fashion by drinking abundant whiskey and drowning a shamrock in the last glass consumed, to end the festivities. This particular custom denotes the idea of consuming one’s luck, increasing fecundity, and internalizing the Goddess’s protective energies before the day is over. So if you can tolerate whiskey, toast Sheelah, take a sip, and warm up your passion! Otherwise, offer Her a libation of whiskey, asking for Her energy to be likewise liberated in your body.

If you have a significant other, one of the ways to honor Sheelah is through passionate encounters that are balanced with wisdom and foresight. Take a condom and bless it, saying:

‘Sheelah, my hunger see, let my body love freely
But keep us safe, fertility bind
No matter our haste, keep protection in mind.’

Carry this condom with you to your tryst.”

 (Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

At one time or another all of the above figures have been called Sheela Na Gigs.

“Sila na Geige [SHEE-luh-nah-GIG] is a shadowy sometimes-controversial Celtic Goddess. She represents both mother and crone aspects of the Goddess. Her image is found carved on stone thresholds, lintels, and standing stones of sacred sites or places of worship throughout the British Isles (mostly Ireland).  Stone carvings of Her depict a grinning woman holding open Her vulva. She is regarded by some as a gargoyle-like figure meant as a medieval allegory of lust, or as a magical figure meant to cure infertility in women, but others have seen in Her an echo of the ancient Irish Earth Mother. Not a lot has been written or is known about this Goddess or Her origins, and much information may have been lost through the ignorant prudishness of a patriarchal culture that saw only a vulgar caricature. Sila, however, survived into Christianity, and Her image can still be found carved on lintels and thresholds of churches in Ireland. In the 19th century, patriarchal society was appalled by the unrestricted feminine sexuality of the Sila images, and many Sila images were defaced or destroyed entirely.” [1][2]

“Sheela Na Gig” by Thomas Sheridan

The word ‘gyg’ is Norse for giantess, in other words, a supernatural or deified female, while ‘Sheila’ is a woman’s name, or used as a word for ‘girl’.

The vulva as holy symbol of birth and life is a very ancient idea that symbolizes the life-giving and regenerative powers of the Earth Mother. The image of the vulva has a long history of being carved in stone, and is found all over Europe from the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages. Passage graves were built in the shape of the Goddess, with the passage the vagina, and the tomb chamber itself representing Her uterus. ‘Tomb’ and ‘womb’ were equated, thus ensuring regeneration and continuity after death, in the same way that a ‘dead’ seed is planted in the fertile earth and sprouts up to grow into a complete plant.

Alternate spellings: Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-no-gig, Sheelanagyg, Irish Síle na gCíoch ‘Sheila of the Breasts” [3]



Colors: red, orange, purple, magenta

Moon Phase: full or waning

Animals: heron, crane, stork

Herbs/Flowers: hawthorn, birch, willow, cedar, black cohosh, heliotrope

Stones: any hard stone or building stone

Aspects: protection, death, fertility, birth, lust, opening, enjoyment of life, feminine power, feminine mysteries, womb chakra

Wheel of the Year: Alder Moon (Fearn) March 18 – April 14
Willow Moon (Saille) April 15 – May 12″ [4]


Saille, Rowan.  Order of the White Moon, “Sila Na Geige

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Sheila-Na-Gig“.

Suggested Links:

McLoughlin, Tara. Sheela-Na-Gig Website.

NicDhàna, Kathryn Price. Bandia.net, “Sheela na Gig and Sacred Space“.

Seren. Tairis-cr.blogspot.com, “Sheelah’s Day“.

The Sheela Na Gig Project, “Sheela na Gig Theories“.

Wikipedia, “Sheela na gig“.