Talk:Sheela na gig

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Symbol of Baptism[edit]

I have removed the "Symbol of Baptism" section from the Theories portion of the page. I have done this as this as it is not a widely known theory, cites no sources and appears to be original research. If this is not the case then please put the section back in but first make yourself aware of Wikipedia's rules re original research and verifiable sources. Pryderi (talk) 14:46, 22 February 2009 (UTC)


Talk:Sheela Na Gig/Archive1

Name not translatable into Irish[edit]

I've reverted an edit which removed the sentence which stated that there was controversy over the name and was not directly translateable into Irish. Both have documented in the Witch on the Wall and Images of Lust. (Pryderi (talk) 19:28, 7 May 2008 (UTC))

The Distribution of the Figures[edit]

I was wondering if a section on the origin and distribution of the figures would be appropriate? This could possibly follow on to a section on the theories surrounding the origin of the motif? Anyone fancy doing it? I'm aware I am adding most of the stuff on the page at the moment Pryderi 21:26, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

I have a added a stub section on the distribution of the figures but I have avoided giving hard and fast numbers. The definition of what is and is not a sheela na gig figure seems to be very much "in the eye of the beholder" Pryderi 16:01, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

From Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. I have recently read Starr Goode's book. I have also known her for more than 20 years. She is a highly competent scholar who has both done her library research (she quotes from the work of other Sheela scholars and critiques a few who draw conclusions that seem not to be based on the evidence of the Sheelas themselves) and traveled many times throughout the British Isles to see, touch, and studies the Sheelas in situ. Yes, the book is well researched. It is also well-written. Unbiased scholars all over the world will learn a great deal from Starr Goode's work. (talk) 15:25, 7 January 2017 (UTC)

Apotropaic exposure of female genitalia[edit]

The La Fontaine reference seems to be wrong in several of the quoted authorities, who state it is from La Fontaine's Fables, but the illustration they refer to is from La Fontaine's Nouvelles Contes. The story in question is Le Diable de Papefiguière. The illustration by Charles Eisen was copied to decorate a late 18th century porcelain cup and saucer, which I found illustrated at [1] (Accessed 17:04, 28 August 2006 (UTC)) where it is described as follows:

Paris cup and saucer with scenes from La Fontaine's Contes 1785-90

Dark blue ground, rich gilding of scrolls, foliage trails and vases. Reserves on the cup and saucer with grisaille scenes, identified in gilt writing on the underside: on the cup "la jument du compere pierre", and on the saucer "le diable de papefiguiere". No marks. Height of cup 6.1 cm, diameter of saucer 12.9 cm. Circa 1785-90.

This cup is of the Sèvres "gobelet litron" shape. Although unmarked, the quality of the gilding indicates one of the top Paris factories at the period, such as the Duc d'Angoulême's (Dihl & Guérhard). The two painted scenes are taken from the 1767 edition of the Contes de La Fontaine, which was pirated from the famous 1762 Fermiers Généraux one, with engravings after drawings by Charles Eisen. Le Diable de Papefiguière is the story of a devil which comes to frighten a village…

The commentators state that the woman exposes herself to fighten the demon, but I think the story is less straightforward. I haven't found an English translation yet, but it seems to me to be a variation of a well-known folk theme in which Satan/devil/demons are tricked by a cunning peasant couple. An English example would be the folk song "The Devil and the Feathery Wife". SiGarb | Talk 17:41, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Nice bits on the La Fontaine origin SiGarb and the parallels section. Just one thing on the first paragraph... It seems to be an expansion on the territorial goddess part of the pagan section? Might better off integrated into that section? Pryderi 19:06, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Moved goddess of kingship info from Paralells to the goddess section. It seems better off in that section given that other writers have made the connection and its not really a "parallel". Pryderi 10:41, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

This may represent a very old superstition. I recall reading (in Peter Maas's book on the Romany people) that there is a Romany belief that a woman can curse a man by exposing herself in this way. If there is a connection between this superstition, the La Fontaine piece, the Italian superstition mentioned in the article, and the Sheela na-Gig, then the superstition could be as old as the second millenium B.C. (or older), since that is the age of the cultural unity of these groups. Natrum (talk) 15:33, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

The story of Le Diable de Papefiguière is borrowed by La Fontaine from Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book 4, Chapter 47, where an old woman scares off a demon by exposing her vulva (misrepresented as an injury). This predates La Fontaine for more than 100 years. Please give a reference, I am not that technically advanced. (talk) 21:02, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Love the developments! also, organization of article[edit]

Just wanted to say that I very much appreciate the developments that have been happening on this page... I took a break when things were getting mired around verifiability issues, and recently returned to be pleasantly surprised with the newly added information... sources I haven't heard of! Excellent. I am wondering if the first few paragraphs can be incorporated into the later sections about theories... I think all of the current information is helpful, just imagining a more effectively organized article... any comments? If I find the time I may take a run at it... -Fennel 06:04, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Oops, just read Pryderi's suggestion of an origins and distribution section, this would improve things more effectively than incorporating into other sections. Sounds perfect. -Fennel 06:09, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
If you have ideas on better organisation, I for one would welcome it. It's not one of my strong points :o). On the distribution side it would be nice to get some maps done but fairly time consuming. Anyone know of some free European map templates? Pryderi 18:54, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

differences in materials of sheelas and their contexts...[edit]

A minor point, I noticed in the "Origin" section that a qualification has been added to McMahon and Roberts' position concerning the materials that make up the sheelas in comparison to the surrounding materials - "They point to what they claim are differences in materials and styles..." I asked Eamon Kelly (Keeper of Irish Antiquities, staunch proponent of the Anglo-Norman origin theory) about this point when discussing origin theories with him, and he acknowledged that many of the carvings identified as sheelas are made of materials obviously different from those surrounding them, and that some are apparently on their sides. He offered no explanation, shrugged his shoulders, but the acknowledgement is there... Do Jerman, Weir, or Anderson discuss this at all? I haven't read their writings. Fennel 03:34, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

There nothing especially surprising about such anomalies, but one would have to look at each case. Carvings might be locally imported from a mason different from the one used to cut the building stone, or they might be reused from an earlier building, and their meaning may change from the original context to a later one. Paul B 09:37, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, if it's not in the published sources, it shouldn't be in the article. Wikipedia is averse to original research. SiGarb | Talk 15:18, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
What shouldn't be in the article? The talk page is not the article. Paul B 15:23, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't concentrating; I noticed the bit about Fennel's verbal discussion with Eamon Kelly (which of course can't be referred to in the article), without re-reading the article properly. It's fine, as the material therein is attributed to a written source. As for whether the reference should be qualified, I don't have the other works to compare, so I can't say whether the theory is theirs alone. SiGarb | Talk 21:23, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
According to a friend of mine who has her doctorate from Yale in Medieval art and architecture, and who has studied the sheelas in situ, many of the sheelas are of obviously different and probably older materials. She says it was very common to re-use cut stone from older structures, and *any* pre-cut stones that could be found. Obviously, this was practical in that it saved labor for the stonecutters. Stones with any sort of carvings and decoration were especially valuable to the builders. However, we don't know if the recyclers interpreted the symbolism on the stones in the same way as intended by the original carvers. Unfortunately, my friend decided not to focus on the Sheelas in her Phd. dissertation, so I don't know of anything published on this. I could probably dig up a cite on the general practice of recycling among the guilds, though. And perhaps I can persuade her to publish on this in the future. ~ Kathryn NicDhàna 23:38, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
I dont know how much you can read into the "different materials" angle. As Kathryn says material was re-used from any source and as Paul says its not that surprising. I know of at least two churches in the UK with sheelas that have large amounts of Roman tile in their make-up. Easthorpe church has arches made from Roman tile and also has a circular window in a white stone which is completely different from the rest of the church and appears to be later in style. Churches are very much composite buildings. The sheela at Church Stretton is of similar stone to the remaining Romanesque fragments in the church. We have a local church which has large fragments of Roman sculpture included in the fabric and even has a altar to mars in the porch! Its a bit of leap though to go down the Mother Goddess route just on the basis of it being different from the rest of the church. On a more Wikipedian note most of the academic papers I have read which quote Roberts and MacMahon usually do so with a note that "caution" should be applied. Should we doing the same here? Pryderi 21:31, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I have to agree that Roberts and MacMahon are not the best source. They are essentially self-published, aren't they? Some self-published works go through peer-review, but I don't think they have. I think they are far too enamored of the, "Everything points to Goddess worship" POV, sometimes to an embarrassing extent. I think it damages their credibility to not say "we really don't know" in the cases where, well, we really don't know. ~ Kathryn NicDhàna 23:42, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Roberts and Macmahon may not be the most "rigorous" source, I agree... However I do think that the possibility that some Sheelas may predate the buildings in which they are found is significant. I'm not suggesting that those who recycled the stone were necessarily interested in or respectful of the original purpose of the carving; in fact I would suspect that the recyclers were often indifferent to the sheelas' origin, as suggested by sheelas that have been placed on their sides (such as the famous and very public sheela on the castle at the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary). What I am interested in is the possibility that some sheelas predate their supposed source, such as the Anglo-Norman buildings that they are often found in, because this seems to discredit the theory that the sheelas came to Ireland with the Anglo-Normans (I can't imagine that they would cart along large stone carvings to recycle in their construction efforts in new lands). Which is one of the points made by Roberts and MacMahon, a point that has not been discredited by academics that are aware of the point, such as Eamonn Kelly, and, I am wondering, Weir, Jerman, Anderson? So, my point: Roberts and MacMahon have an interesting and apparently unchallenged criticism of the academic theory of the sheelas' source. I would love to see reference to a rebuttal of their point, particularly after my conversation with Kelly.Fennel (talk) 22:55, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Reuse does not imply that they predate "Anglo-Norman" culture, just that some were in an earlier building than the one they are now in. Buildings were rebuilt all the time. And no-one I think is suggesting that Sheelas were physically carried over the sea, just the idea was, or that craftsamen were. Paul B (talk) 01:07, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I think some of their early stuff (the booklet and map) were self published but the Divine Hag was published by Mercier press who do a lot of stuff related to Ireland. I know the book has a number of factual errors even if you do/don't agree with the theory. Two British figures are described as being "uniquely" on their side and the South Tawton Figure is described as being in South Taunton. The Abson figure got included as a late addition and it's really not a sheela at all. Mind you errors seem to be endemic with books on sheelas. Pryderi 13:16, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

That Name again[edit]

In view of the fact that some of the contributors here have, in the past, derided the fact that 'Sidh' means 'fairy', I thought it appropriate to offer this:

P.W. Joyce has this to say on page 184, vol. 1, Irish Names of Places, 1901:

"Sidh [pronounced Shee] as we have seen, was originally applied to a fairy palace and it was afterwards transferred to the hill, and ultimately to the fairies themselves; but this last transition must have begun at a very early period, for we find it expressly stated in the Leabhar na hUidhre [early 12th century] , that the ignorant call the fairies Side [plural]. At the present day, the word generally signifies a fairy..."

Maoldown 09:46, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Sídhe or Sídh (Mod.Ir., ) means the "fairy" mounds (actually, tombs of the ancestors). The various forms of "people of the Sídhe" (Aes Sídhe, Daoine Sídhe, Daoine Sìth, Daoine Sìdh etc.) more properly refer to the inhabitants of the mounds - whether seen as "fairies", ancestors or deities. In modern, colloquial usage (generally among those with no Gaelic), Sídhe is often used as a shorthand for the fairies/spirits, but that's not actually correct. In both SG and Irish, the word "sí/sìdh/sìth" does not ever seem to be used alone to mean "fairy/fairies". It means "fairy" as an adjective, but always seems to be used in conjunction with a noun, e.g. "daoine-sìth", "aos sí", etc. As a noun, it only seems to mean "fairy hill/mound". I don't know that there is agreement on when people started calling the spirits themselves by the name of the mounds, but it's always been my impression that it was an abbreviation that came with English usage, as even modern Irish and SG dictionaries follow the above conventions. If you want to check Joyce's assertions for yourself and your Irish is good: Lebor na hUidre
I'm not sure why you say that people here have "derided" the meaning of sídh and its related forms. Rather, the question has been whether or not "sídh" is related to the name Sheela na Gig. One thing about Irish language is that, if we are to believe that "Sheela" was a phonetic rendering of something that contained sídh, Irish speakers would not be referring to a female figure as a sídh, but rather as a bean sídhe. If the name had been recorded as "Banshee na whatever", the argument would be far more convincing. I have noted all along in my writings on the subject that the root forms of Sídh may well be relevant to the meaning of "Sheela" - if the two terms come from the same root, which we have not confirmed. But that is very different from the sort of pat explanation I've seen presented in some of the content disputes on this page and the article. Slán, - Kathryn NicDhàna 21:06, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

Maoldown (above) quotes Joyce (with sound reference) as having written that 'At the present day, the word generally signifies a fairy..' Do you have a reference, Kathryn, for your counter assertion that 'Irish speakers would not be referring to a female figure as a sídh ' Doctorsheela (talk) 09:52, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Why can't it just be a descriptive nickname, or perhaps a euphemism, Sheila naGig(h)? If a nickname, it could have been coined by those who were familiar with the existence of the figures but did not have knowledge of the reason for their placement on churches. If a euphemism, the name may have been coined because the earlier name was believed to be unlucky. If the figures are put on churches to ward off bad luck, it could have been thought that to go around calling them by their original name (if their was one) would undo the benefit of having placed the images on churches (perhaps, for example, imprisoning them in the stone). Natrum (talk) 15:33, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Oh certainly, it *might* have been lots of things. But remember we're not here to speculate about what might have been - or we might as well include a (made-up!) speculation that it was a pun by an Australian learner of Irish in the 19th century when he saw such a figure and it reminded him of his girlfriend ;) Akerbeltz (talk) 11:09, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

I propose we move this page to Sheela na Gig. Any objections? - Kathryn NicDhàna 19:48, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

OK, there have been no objections, and poor RussBot has been going through and correcting double-redirects I caused (meaning them to be temporary). Unless someone objects now, I'll move this to the form we use in the article, Sheela na Gig, probably later today or tonight. I'll take care of the double-redirects this will cause. Tapadh Leibh, - Kathryn NicDhàna 20:41, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Mason's Joke[edit]

One of the theories missed out is that of the Mason's Joke. I.e. any anomalous or sexual figure is treated as as joke played by the mason who did the original sculpture. Is it worth including a section on this? I know the Kilpeck figure has had this explanation attached to it in the past. Pryderi 11:17, 23 August 2007 (UTC)


Why does it say "and/or" between Czech and Slovak republic? Either they're in both or just one surely?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:26, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Typo of some kind[edit]

"Dineen also gives Síle na gCíoċ, stating it is a stone fetish representing a woman, supposed to give fertility, gnly thought to have been introduced by the Normans" presumably contains a typo. I'd change it myself but I am not sure "only thought to have been introduced by the Normans" is especially good English. Also, if its a quote it should be in quotes, not italics. Pedantically yrs. Ben MacDui 17:00, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

It's his abbreviatin for generally. By all means, change the italics ;) Akerbeltz (talk) 18:36, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

George Devereux, Baubo[edit]

The great Ethnopsychologist George Devereux, Georgebecause he has lived in the US for a time fr:Georges Devereux/de:Georges Devereux has published a book, Baubo on female cult figures showing their genitalia, there are some pictures of Sheelas.

  • Baubo, ? (French edition).
    • Baubo. Die mythische Vulva, Eva Moldenhauer (translator), Syndikat, Frankfurt a.M., 1981 (German edition).--Radh (talk) 19:40, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

The "Blind" Path of Sophia/Sheila[edit]

The Opening (of the "Mouth") is Uttering the Word —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 19 November 2009 (UTC)


As documented by Herodot... is maybe not wrong, but seems to be misleading. He could not, did not document religious prostitution.--Radh (talk) 17:28, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Ancient texts[edit]

This revision was deleted as original research. What do you not like about it? This article Ballaghmore describes a similar history based on folklore. Not everything on this subject is going to be well documented. Unless there is a good reason for deletion, I plan on reinstating this edit. Thank you in advance.USchick (talk) 22:42, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Please do not re-instate this edit as it fails to satisfy Wikipedia's policies on a number of counts. Firstly can you please make yourself familiar with the Wikipedia:No original research policy There is no reliably documented evidence to support the assertion sheela na gigs came from mesopotamia. I am reasonably well read on this subject and as far I am aware none of the verifiable books on this subject mention this theory. The book you mention in your original edit does not fall into the verifiable category. I would also say that most of the information in the Ballaghmore article fails on a number of points including a neutral point of view e.g. "Sheela-na-Gig is known to be a Celtic fertility goddess, but that is about all we know" it cannot be proved conclusively that sheela na gigs are a fertility goddess or even celtic for that matter. Pryderi (talk) 20:47, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
Dear Pryderi, I can appreciate your dedication to this page and its subject matter. I enjoyed your web page and commend you on your effort to gather valuable information and to make it publicly available. Do I understand correctly – your comment that there is no direct evidence to support the assertion sheela na gigs came from Mesopotamia – that may be true, however, much of European and world civilization originated in Mesopotamia, but that's beside the point. Can you please explain your reluctance to include the definition of Nu Gig as it is found in ancient Babylonian and Assyrian texts written on clay tablets? Thank you. USchick (talk) 17:47, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
Hi USChick. As I understand it is Rufus Camphausen that links nu gig to na gig? Mr Camphausen's books are not what would be regarded as a verifiable source. This is also a theory that links and ancient mesopotamian name with a medieval sculptural motif and a demonstrably dodgy irish appelation for the figures (i.e. sheela na gigs

). Where's the connection? More importantly Wikipedia is not the place to discuss or put forward theories on this tenuous connection, if any there be. Hence my original research objection. I hope this explains the reasons for the deletion. Pryderi (talk) 19:47, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

The main reason I removed what I did was that it used sources that didn't try to connect Nu-Gig with Sheela na Gig. Articles must say only what the sources say. To take stuff from one source and make further conclusions is original research, and this is an encyclopedia, not a journal.
There's also the issue that, while a lot of European culture is derived from Mesopotamian culture, stuff from northern and western Europe had to get there from southern and eastern Europe, or north Africa. We would have stuff inbetween "Nu-Gig" and "Na Gig" in from all over Europe if we were going to have it in Ireland. Because there isn't, there is no evidence to connect "Nu-Gig" and "Na Gig." For this reason, I'm inclined to remove any future mentions of Na-Gig as coming from unreliable sources.
This is the article on Sheela na Gig, not on Nu-Gig. If Nu-Gig is notable enough to deserve it's own article, then it belongs there, not here. The only reason to mention Nu-Gig in this article would be to imply some sort of connection between it and Sheela na Gig, or to dispel a commonly held or notably held but inaccurate belief of connection. Since there is no evidence of a connection, nor evidence that a lot of people or someone notable believe there is a connection. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:02, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
Ok, fine, whatever. Nu gig and na gig are both transliterations from another language. They both have the same sound in English. I'm not sure what evidence would convince you, maybe a linguist? USchick (talk) 02:27, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
But that doesn't actually mean they're connected. Bits of languages don't just leap from place to place without leaving trails. The Aztec word Teotl and the Greek Theos both mean "god," but no (real) linguist would advocate that they're related (without being laughed at and fired for incompetence). It isn't a matter of convincing me (although because I remain unconvinced, I'm going to remove it until I see sources), it's also a matter of citing a reliable source without engaging in original research. You would basically need something like a book or article by a respected author from a respected publisher or in a respected journal that says Sheela na Gig and Nu-Gig are connected. If you have that, we can state that that author advocates that view. If not, it's not a matter of what anyone believes, there aren't sources for it. Ian.thomson (talk) 03:40, 22 July 2010 (UTC)


Sheela na Gig on town wall in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

The caption in the article states 'town wall', which is a very specific and historically important type of wall. Are we sure this is the town wall rather than any old wall? (talk) 17:56, 29 July 2010 (UTC) Yes it does appear to be on the Town Wall Pryderi (talk) 20:13, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
I took the photo myself and can confirm that it was on the town wall, being the fortified wall surrounding the old town of Fethard, which it seems that Pryderi has already established Fennel (talk) 07:26, 25 November 2010 (UTC)


I don't mean to make a big fuss about this but most of the sources quoted on the page seem to use a capital G:

  • The Sheela-na-Gigs of Ireland and Britain: The Divine Hag of the Christian Celts
  • Sheela Na Gigs: Origins and Functions
  • Sheela-Na-Gigs: Unravelling an Enigma
  • Sheela na Gigg

As far as I can make out, only two authors use lowercase g. I'm happy for this to go either way but let's briefly talk about this? Akerbeltz (talk) 10:19, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

I am an Irish speaker. The word cíoch in Irish meaning breasts (gcíoch is the genitive case meaning "of the breasts"), is a common noun, and like those in most other languages, is not capitalized. The longevity of the error in the article is no barrier to the necessary correction. In the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989), the term in English is spelled sheela-na-gig, all correctly in lowercase. — O'Dea (talk) 10:31, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Ok, the OED source is good. Let's just wait for a few more to chip in. That aside, I'm fully aware of capitalisation or rather the lack thereof overall in Irish/Gaelic (being a Scots Gaelic speaker) but that has little impact on how a word may or may not get borrowed. Indeed, I'd say OTT capitalisation is more likely when borrowing such a term as it will be seen as a proper noun, rather than a string of common nouns. Akerbeltz (talk) 10:37, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
I realise not everyone has easy access to the Oxford English Dictionary so I have uploaded a screen capture image of the entry for this term for anyone to inspect. Please notice, too, the variant forms the dictionary offers (shela-, sheila-, shiela-; -gigg) — none are in capitals. As for the sheela/sheila component, it is common for persons' names that become common nouns, like jack-in-the-box or johnny-come-lately, to convert to lower case. Thank you. — O'Dea (talk) 10:57, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Purely as an acadmic point, that's not always the case. the Third Reich retains its cap, most forms of Sushi are cpitalised in English though they're all technically common nouns.
It's a very good source, thank you for that! Just give it another day or two in case someone else comes up with a great source saying otherwise and then we can move it to lowercase. Akerbeltz (talk) 11:10, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Well, that wasn't exactly "a day or two" but no harm done I guess. If anyone objects, we'll deal with it then. Nice to see someone give a hand tidying up this article, gun robh math agad! Akerbeltz (talk) 12:19, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

Nice work on the citations Akerbeltz I dont quite see how to cite the disagreement on theories though. Every author has a different take or theory?? Pryderi (talk) 20:45, 24 April 2011 (UTC)


See Anasyrma the danger of a woman stripping, ideas dating back to AD 77-79 with references. USchick (talk) 04:44, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Books that mention[edit]

My feeling is we should nix that section, it's turning into an advertisement section for strange books. Akerbeltz (talk) 21:03, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Gets my vote Pryderi (talk) 15:35, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
But some of those are serious and scholarly works (eg Dr Anne Ross). I agree we don't want a long, rambling list of novels or fantasy genre stuff that use (or abuse!) the motif or just mention sheelas en passant, but a select list of serious reference works can't do any harm. They should be cited properly, though, and self-published stuff without an isbn is probably out. Some if not all of the Popular culture refs should go, though.SiGarb | (Talk) 15:46, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
My suggestion is, if they're serious, then they can be used to back up some fact or other. But "Books that mention" is totally meaningless as a reference or even just to suggest additional reading. It's a bit like listing Harry Potter on the Scotland page because the books mention Scotland - that doesn't help. I did not mean that necessarily all of them need to go but it needs a weed-out. If you're familiar with the topic, then please, by all means, suggest which one's should stay because I have not read any of them but things like Pauline McLynn, 'The Woman on the Bus' (2004) just scream "random" at me :) Akerbeltz (talk) 16:25, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
The further reading section is now basically a list of dodgy books on the subject. I agree with Akerbeltz a book an can be referenced in the main text. Sorry even with the changes I still think it should go. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pryderi (talkcontribs) 14:02, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Come on, Akerbeltz and Pryderi! Do you have the books? Have you read the books? How do you know they are dodgy? Intuition? I've removed The Woman on the Bus (a comic detective novel by "Mrs Doyle" from Father Ted!). For the rest, I can only vouch for a couple (Dr Anne Ross's classic work on the subject of Celtic Britain, and the Thomas Wright, which I have now read online, and which seems to be the earliest scholarly work to mention these figures in any detail) but Dexter & Robbins' magisterial tome will set you back over £60 and hardly seems to be a bit of vanity publishing! Look it up on Amazon, the subject-matter is directly relevant, and Dexter is co-author of a couple of the articles listed, from feminist publications. A subject like this is bound to attract the interest of feminist scholars; should they not be represented? The Oakley and Woodcock article is a report on a recently identified figure, I believe. Ronald Hutton is a respected historian, and his book was published by Blackwell, a respected academic publisher. Dodgy? Rufus C Camphausen might seem to be a bit of a populist but he has certainly put some work in on this and related subjects, given his list of publications. George Devereux published more then 400 works; look at the selected list in the article about him - he doesn't seem likely to have been a superficial dabbler in these matters! OK, the more feminist/spiritual/pagan/meditationist spin given to the topic by Edain McCoy may not be your cauldron of tea (or mine, frankly, having dipped into some extracts via Amazon) but it is probably the one publication listed here that you could justifiably diss as "dodgy". Remove it if you like. I agree it might be better if every one of these publications were scoured for a different viewpoint or spin on some aspect of the subject so it could then be referenced as a proper footnote, but mightn't listing them as Further Reading lead someone to read them and then add to this article by doing just that? SiGarb | (Talk) 12:11, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

SiGarb, relax, I'm not on a witch-hunt if you pardon the pun. My main concern was that I'm in no position to give qualified judgements on the sources in that section but that some - especially the Woman on the Bus item - made it look fishy so I proposed something radical in the hope of attracting someone who knows more than I do. I'm very grateful for your edit and posts and given the above, I'd be happy to leave the list now as it is, with the possible removal of McCoy. Long-term I'm glad we agree to try and use them as a source but in the meantime, ditching the Bus and possibly McCoy seems a reasonable weed-out to me. Akerbeltz (talk) 15:08, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

I'm relaxed, thanks! You should see me when I ain't! SiGarb | (Talk) 18:05, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Hi SiGarb yes I do have a quite a few of the books on the list and yes I have read them (not all I will admit). The Worship of the generative powers book is a good historical source and Ronald Hutton is generally brilliant (and hasn't really written that much on sheelas). I thought the section was becoming a dumping ground for dodgy books and will likely still be so. Unfortunately there is a lot of dross written about sheelas which includes a lot dross from "respectable" sources and by dross I mean unsupported by evidence. I think the further reading section could turn into a dumping ground like the previous section did hence my desire for removal of the section. Saying that I am not that exercised by it but if you looking for my opinion it should go. Pryderi (talk) 22:24, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
Okay, if you have these books and know their content to be drivel, delete them. It's your call. SiGarb | (Talk) 23:28, 20 November 2011 (UTC)


I appreciate that most sources seem to quote the 11th century as the beginning of the Sheela culture, however experts have been dating the Sheela na gig of Castle Widenham in Castletownroche, Co. Cork, nowadays known as Blackwater Castle, dating from most certainly the 8th or 9th century, which would make her the oldest so far. the original location at the holy well (since christian times known as "St. Patrick's Holy Well) reinforces the theory whereby the Sheela - and the well - would have been part of a fertility/wedding ritual in pre christian times, deriving from a mother goddess/ mother nature type of tradition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blackwatercastle (talkcontribs) 15:53, 23 February 2012 (UTC)


Re Kathryn NicDhàna edit removing the gaelic tag. I would support Kathryn's edit as the whole sheela na gig name origin/language is not clear cut at all it does not readily translate into clear Irish. The Sile Na Cioch name was a suggested interpretation of the name if I recall correctly and the gig part relates to English rather than Irish slang relating to female gentitals. (I don't have sources to hand at the moment but it comes from a 17th century dictionary of English slang) I think we need to be careful here. Sheela na gig looks Irish I will grant you but it crumbles under scrutiny.# Pryderi (talk) 08:23, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

With respect, Pryderi, do you speak Irish? An bhfuil aon Gaeilge agat? Ceapaim nach bhfuil. The words suggested by Maoldown 'Sí lena Gig' stand up perfectly to the scrutiny of Irish speakers. Ireland is full of stupid placenames that are bastardisations of proper Irish names. Who bastardised them? Well, it was English speakers who had no Irish of course. I recommend this site to all of you. It shows what English speakers have done to Irish words over the centuries. Get yourself an Irish dictionary and look up the words.
The Gig name in the north of England is probably the same word as is used in slang Irish. Same meaning in both places. Your nationalistic fervour is to be applauded, but determined assertion and reassertion cannot take the place of the truth. Sí lena Gig. Fairy with her gee. Slán leat... Tóg go bog é. Irishspeaker (talk) 16:42, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
See WP:No original research. Ian.thomson (talk) 17:15, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
No I dont speak Irish. My objection to the Si lena gig interpretation of the name is based on that it is not in any published works on sheela na gigs and therefore not suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. That's it period. As Ian has pointed out above see WP:No original research. Pryderi (talk) 13:13, 23 October 2012 (UTC)


I am a medical editor checking up on some of the material present in the anatomical article, Vulva. The first sentence mentions vulva but no where else is the term used to describe the images. The first sentence remains unsourced. Best Regards,

  Bfpage |leave a message  21:03, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
There are several references to the female genitalia - see para on Protection against evil and also Parallels. --Iztwoz (talk) 08:00, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

Star Goode "Dark Goddess" Book[edit]

What publishing house is it on? What sort of book is it? There have been some questionable edits around inserting it and I think it needs to be discussed. Who else here has read it besides the user trying to add it? - CorbieV 22:26, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

Inner Traditions is a large publishing house with an interest in spirituality and new age topics. It is totally reputable and should not be censored. I am an art librarian and have ordered this book for my library. It is filled with high quality images that add to the discourse. The author has written and published on the subject for years. She is a professor at Santa Monica College. I don't understand why you question this as a viable additional source to add. The book has been reviewed by other scholars. Here's are some excerpts from reviews by other scholars:

  • “. . . an all-encompassing layered work where all the parts harmonize with the whole . . .a poetic paean to the Great Mother. The writing is clear and exquisite. I strongly recommend it not only to students and researchers on women’s spirituality but to the public at large. An amazing tour de force on the Display Goddess.” (Cristina Biaggi, Ph.D., international artist, author of Habitations of the Great Goddess, and editor)
  • “Starr Goode has written a masterful work on the Sheela na gigs. She gives a solid historic and prehistoric foundation for the iconography of the Sheelas, beginning with the Aurignacian period of the Upper Paleolithic. Goode shares her wealth of knowledge, and she beautifully balances the scholarly with a deep sense of the spirituality which the Sheelas represent.” (Miriam Robbins Dexter, (Phd.) author of Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book and coauthor of Sacred Display:) --Sue Maberry (talk) 22:37, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

Inner Traditions is not a vanity press. Star Goode is an academic; several of her articles on the topic are already listed on the page. What's the problem with adding her book? Tornadox (talk) 23:22, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

I'm familiar with Inner Traditions, their works range from rather academic if possibly unorthodox (e.g. Joscelyn Godwin) to WP:FRINGE (Zecharia Sitchin, Rupert Sheldrake, most of the other names listed in that article). I'm seeing most of the reviews for the work in the latter category. What is Star Goode a professor of at that two-year community college? Judging from this, it would appear to be writing and literature. You keep highlighting the PhDs of other authors, as if they carry over for Star Goode. What are their PhDs in? A lot of fringe authors are technically PhDs in fields they don't have degrees in. Her work may well be perfectly valid for feminist literary theory, but all literary theories have parts that do not line up with historical non-fiction (which is what we base articles on historical subject on). For example, this other work that appears to be by her on the topic cites the long discredited Margaret Murray. If we had a further reading section for spirituality, her book would appear appropriate. However, such sections would be problematic. Ian.thomson (talk) 23:39, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Starr Goode has written a carefully researched, highly informative book on the Sheela na gigs. The book is thorough and wonderfully readable. Miriam Robbins Dexter2605:e000:62d3:2800:64ee:b73b:28c4:8039 (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
Ultimately anonymous praise about readability doesn't change whether or not the source is reliable. Even assuming you are the Miriam Robinns Dexter quoted above, there's the question of whether or not your PhD is even in a relevant field. Ian.thomson (talk) 04:59, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

I wasn't aware that there is a policy about only PhD writing being necessary for books to be included in a "further reading" list. I'm curious about WHY including a book from a reputable publisher (albeit "new age") is so problematic for people. The subject of sheela na gigs has a relevance to artists, especially feminist artists and has been of interest for decades. Goode's book contributes a discussion of the universality of "female sacred display" in it meanings and functions back to the origins of culture as seen in the Paleolithic cave art. That's very relevant to women artists.--Sue Maberry (talk) 16:59, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

You're drawing the wrong conclusions from the above discussion. You were the one who brought up PhDs, I pointed out that they need to be in relevant fields if you're going to make that argument. Per Wikipedia:Further reading, additions should either be reliable or historically important (i.e. discussed in the article). It is possible for a reliable source to be by even a masters degree (or even, in some circumstances, a bachelors degree), but their degree should be in a relevant field or at a minimum their claims should be non-controversial and supported by mainstream academia. There's the solid risk that Goode's work is bad history hiding as quite enjoyable art, literary criticism, or spirituality. Claims of universality to any kind of display require especially strong sources. Without some kind of academic backing, this looks more like adding Aleister Crowley's Liber T to the Playing card article than it does adding, say, Margaret Murray to the Witchcraft article. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:46, 7 January 2017 (UTC)

Weighing in here. I have read the book. It is valuable additional information on the subject of sheela na gigs. CRMW (talk) 18:14, 6 January 2017 (UTC)Casey RevkinCRMW (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.

I'm curious why so many single purpose accounts are posting what are essentially advertising blurbs for the book. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:46, 7 January 2017 (UTC)

The original questions by User:CorbieVreccan were "what publishing house is it on? What sort of book is it?" and "Who else here has read it?" How are you getting "advertising blurbs" from people who are saying that they've read it? What EXACTLY is needed here? I'm sorry to say, but I have to wonder why there are so many challenges to including a reasonable book that takes a theoretical and cross-cultural approach to a subject that has very few scholars associated with it. And there is no real agreement as to what these figures are and why they came to be on churches. Plus, Goode is as much a scholar on this subject as anyone and her articles are already referenced elsewhere in the article. --Sue Maberry (talk) 17:48, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

This that you added sounds plainly promotional of the book and to include a WP:FRINGE theory:
Starr Goode explores the image and possible meanings of the Sheela na gig through Celtic history in particular, but writes also about the recurring image worldwide. Through hundreds of photographs, she demonstrates that the image of a female displaying her sex is not an anomaly of European religious art or architecture, but that similar images are found in the visual arts and in mythical narratives of Goddesses and Heroines parting their thighs to reveal what she calls, "sacred powers." Her theory is that "the image is so rooted in our psyches that it seems as if the icon is the original cosmological center of the human imagination."
I don't think this author from this publishing house is a reliable source for theories on the "cosmological center of the human imagination." Even if this were a notable, reliably sourced and non-fringe theory, phrasing its mention like back cover text is quite inappropriate. Also, please WP:INDENT your comments with one more colon than the prior comment had. —DIY Editor (talk) 18:47, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
I am actually quite baffled by the inconsistencies in the comments on this Talk page and what is already on the article. Goode is criticized for using Margaret Murray as a source. Yet the one article by Murray she used in her book is quoted on the article page and cited as a reference. (Murray, Margaret. "Female Fertility Figures," in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol.LXIV (1934.)
The Sheelas as a goddess is hardly a fringe theory. There is even a heading on the page-Survival of a pagan goddess. It describes many well regarded scholars who see a link between Sheelas and the divine feminine or goddess:
- Maureen Concannon's book as Sheela Goddess of the Celts.
- Joanne McMahon and Jack Roberts state "that the carvings are remnants of a pre-Christian fertility or mother goddess religion."
- Well regarded Celtic scholar Anne Ross who wrote many book on Celtic culture sees the Sheela as a descendent of "The Divine Hag of the Pagan Celts."
- Renown scholar Mircea Eliade draws parallels between the Sheela na gig and the ancient Irish myth of the goddess who granted kingship.
- Jorgen Andersen, the father of modern Sheela studies sees "possible pagan influences on Irish sheela na gigs".
- Even Weir and Jerman, proponents of the view that the Sheela is a figure of sinful lust, admit some connection to the classical figure of Baubo.
Yes, of course, authors' theories about the Sheela point out contradictory evidence. There is as yet no exact consesus. On the page, it states- "Much of the disagreement among scholars about these figures focuses on determining exactly what they are meant to represent, and no theory explains all the figures."
Goode analyzes all these views in her book which has 42 pages of endnotes and bibliography. Have you read her book? How can you say she is not qualified to put forth her well-researched views on the subject?
As for degrees being a criteria:
- Roberts and McMahon cite no degrees in their publication and seem to be independent scholars.
- Maureen Concannon has a degree in psychology. Does this disqualify her as you claim Goode's degree in English does?
- Anthony Weir lists his credentials as an artist freelance photographer.
- Barbara Frietag list no degrees listed in her book, only that she is a Lecturer in Intercultural studies
If the problem is just with the publisher, I don't think that is a valid criticism. It's a very reputable press and distribution of their books is by Simon & Schuster. --Sue Maberry (talk) 18:12, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
Again, please WP:INDENT your comments - stop here if you don't understand and read that link. You seem not to argue directly for the material you tried to include and to go off on a tangent about Sheela representing a goddess. That's not what you tried to add, which I quoted. The fringe-sounding theory was exactly as I said above, "cosmological center of the human imagination". Also, if you don't understand how "Starr Goode explores" and "Through hundreds of photographs" sounds like promotional text, please stop and consider that. Trying to be as polite as possible, I feel that you are not reading others' comments on here and just argue willy nilly. —DIY Editor (talk) 18:40, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
So you would you let the addition stand if it didn't say "cosmological center of the human imagination" and "Starr Goode explores" and "Through hundreds of photographs"? I would say that the photos are quite an asset because people can SEE for themselves the similarities in the image and (from my experience as a librarian) most academic books have fewer images. Or is there some other issue here at play?— Preceding unsigned comment added by Maberry (talkcontribs)
Once again, you're not following. If the book does advocate any sort of ideas about a "cosmological center of the human imagination," then the book's thesis is fringe and should not be included even if its secondary ideas were more objective. The photos themselves are not issue so much as your writing about them (you make it sound like a selling point). In other words, quit writing as if you are being paid to sell this book.
When determining if a book is a reliable source or fringe, the author's credentials, the publisher, its reception by mainstream academia, and the ideas in the book should all be taken into account. Pointing out a single problem with other sources (whether or not it actually disqualifies those sources) does not support including Goode's book if it remains lacking. (By the way, I was already on the fence as to whether or not Concannon should be included as it appeared to be WP:REFSPAM). As explained before, Goode's degree isn't quite what is needed, the publisher is simply the most respectable of fringe publishers (their reliable authors are the exception), the only reviews of the work found are in the fringe corners of the internet, and finally the ideas in the book appear to be fringe (objective claims about a "cosmological center of the human imagination" would completely revolutionize science, non-objective claims would be religious in nature whatever their veracity). In all, there's nothing to support including the material. The other authors at least come from mainstream publishers or are in line with mainstream views. Ian.thomson (talk) 00:40, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
I have to agree on Ian Thomson on this—his points are entirely valid. This isn't a reliable source. :bloodofox: (talk) 01:25, 12 January 2017 (UTC)