SHEELA-NA-GIG

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I want to be someone who knows how to attain mythical status, Sarah thought. I don’t just want to be myself. I want to be symbolical. This was, perhaps, riding for a fall, but she thought she ought to try it anyway. No-one else had the time to do it.

She happened to visit a very old church where there was a famous Sheela-Na-Gig - a female gargoyle who, in an offensively direct manner, displayed her open vulva to the world. She held it open to the common view, and she was laughing. Sarah read up about the Sheelas. Some historians thought that they were Christian warnings about appalling female lust: others thought that they were a residual hangover from pagan celebrations of female appetite and fertility. Sarah read and read, losing herself in the highways and byways of academic controversy. Some of the more conservative commentators clearly had their own axe to grind, and their views were compounded by terror and distaste. Finally, her patience was wearing thin, and after weighing all the evidence (and taking her own feminist bias into account) she decided that the Sheelas were a celebration and not a warning. But as she collected images of them, something very peculiar started to happen to her own body.

It began with a tingling sensation down below. Sarah had always prided herself on being rather compact there, and indeed had been a rather snug fit for some of her lovers. But now it was as though she was opening up in an unexpected way. There was a slackening. Sarah always thought one should behave with a degree of modesty, and would never have dreamed of displaying herself like some of the Sheela gargoyles. But nonetheless something was coming out of her, and she began to bear down. What was emerging? As she stood up, various small objects cascaded from her body onto the floor. They were things that she had desired in the past: a diamond pendant, a pack of embossed playing cards, a Pomeranian puppy yapping as it came out to play, a miniature First Folio four inches high.

There was a pause, and she thought the birthing episode was over. But not so. It was like having twins: a brief respite, and then further effort. Objects that other people had wanted from her now began to emerge: a new mobile phone (thank God it wasn’t an Ipad), an alarm clock without hands, a pair of hiking boots the size of thimbles. The worst was a scroll which was a Certificate of Total Emotional Commitment.

What would come next, she wondered? As ever, Sarah was ambivalent about what she had produced. The things she had desired, she no longer wanted: the things that people had wanted from her, she was reluctant to provide. She felt another stirring, and realised that something else was on the move inside her, but this time it was not personal. As she bore down, she felt herself becoming stiff and monumental somehow. Her face was fixed in a rictus of triumph, her legs were splayed, her hands were coaxing out the child of time from her body. She could not move now. She had become a gargoyle. She was made of stone. She was Sarah-Na-Gig.