Sheela-Na-Gig, St. Patrick, and the Serpents of Ireland.

Le Diable de Papefiguiere, by Charles Eisen

‘Le Diable de Papefiguiere’ from ‘Contes et Nouvelles en vers’ by Jean de la Fontaine *engraving *

The wheel of the year turns to the gateway of Spring- the first day of Spring heralded by the Vernal equinox when primordial forces of fertility, life and renewal are strong. It is a balancing point between the opposites, inviting integration and wholeness… beyond duality.

In the old Celtic calendar, the Sheela na Gig was celebrated on March 18th- the day after St. Patrick’s Day- the Saint who allegedly eradicated the serpent form Ireland and converted the people from pagan to Christian.

The unflinching Sheela, shamelessly opening and exposing her vulva for all the world to see is in stark contrast to the pious Christian missionary bearing book and cross.

It may be no coincidence that Saint Patrick is celebrated on March 17th (other than it is said to be his death day) as it is at this time of the year when the serpent energies, risen on Imbolc and celebrated by honouring the Goddess Brigid are sweeping thorough the land and people, gaining strength towards the fertility rites of Spring, and onward to Beltane.

This fertile power is connected to the mysteries of the womb… life, death, renewal, and transformation. Killing the serpent can be read symbolically as crushing the feminine wisdom deemed to be dangerous by the Church Fathers… kundalini fires of awakening that forge empowered people for whom an intermediary to Source is redundant. It is also a confrontation with death not as an end in itself or a prelude to the heavenly hereafter but as an organic cycle.

Fertility and the rites of the spring points to more than the greening of the land or the fertilization of the egg- it is the physical manifestation of divine processes able to facilitate a deeper anchoring of Spirit in the material world. It is the sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth, the union of opposites expressed so perfectly in the equal day and night of the equinox and offers a portal into the mysteries of the ‘twice born’, as expressed through the mythos of the resurrected Christ.

The gaping black-hole of the Sheela’s yoni invites us in, challenging us to enter even as we instinctively know that part of us will die. Her plump, fleshy and fertile vulva is in stark contrast to her deathly skinny crone body with protruding ribs and swollen staring eyes that refuse humility.

Sheela Na Gig

Sheela Na Gig

This is the initiation… the resolve of opposites, life and death, heaven, and earth, in one whole and eternal cycle with no beginning and no end, no good or bad, or hierarchy of dark and light… a knowledge which surely challenges our ego, constructed through illusions of safety, control, and superiority… and separation from the Great Mother.

Blessing of Spring!

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