How Silently Sheela-Na-Gig Speaks: Memory, Mythos, and the Female Body

Amber C. Snider

Abstract

How and why do we destroy female agency, still today? Focusing on some of the mythical foundations and formations found in ancient Celtic and Greek imaginings, the "bodily" aspects in particular, this thesis traces the ways in which some of the modern women intellectuals receive or reject the typical feminist or female elements found in mythologies; the elided nature of the female trinity and the life giver-destroyer circularity inherent in goddesses and archetypes, for instance, appears to mirror our cultural impulse to destroy the female body. It is then not enough to create a new mythology by and for women--we must reinterpret and reintegrate myths of women back into our social consciousness in order to understand women's historicity. To ignore these stories, signs and symbols is to blacken the illumination of nature, to silence historical voices, and to muddle the female lineage of spirituality.

The symbols and mythos that point to the life and death circles have not been fully integrated into our modern cultural consciousness. Despite the interest feminist thinkers have ascribed to mythological women, the idea of the female trinity has been rebuffed and buried by patriarchal religions. While this annihilation is common, the question of why and how still remains. Interestingly, as we dig into the reasoning behind this patriarchal disempowerment and disregard we find that the problem is not with the enchanted woman of the myth, but her body.