Sheela Na Gigs are carvings of naked females posed in a manner, which displays and emphasizes the genitalia. Antiquarians first brought them to scientific attention in the 1840s. The name Sheela Na Gig was first published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 1840–44 as a local name for an exhibitionist carving which was once attached to the gable wall of a church. The name Sheela Na Gig comes from the Irish language – the most likely interpretations are Sighle Na gCioch meaning the old hag of the breasts, or Sile-ina-Giob meaning sheela (a name for an old woman).
Sheela Na Gigs are religious carvings of women, special women, the symbolical representation of femininity and/or actual female deities or Goddesses. They were placed on churches, castles, and other important buildings of the medieval period and, until quite recently in some instances, they acted as dedicatory or protective symbols promoting good luck and fertility.
However, their meaning goes much deeper and the fact that they were erected over the doorways of churches and castles and otherwise placed in very prominent positions suggests that they were a very potent and powerful image.
I wear a Sheela Na Gig around my neck and I have had her for many years now, both Pagans and Heathens alike revere her in my homeland. I consider her a powerful and underestimated Irish Goddess. Since Christianity took a grip on my homeland typical comments when referring to Sheela Na Gig are “Devil Stone, the Idol, the Evil Eye Stone, Julia the Giddy, Shiela O’Dwyer, Cathleen Owen, St. Shanahan, Whore, the Witch, and the Hag of the Castle.”