Dragon of the Sheela Na Gig: excerpt

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Sheela Na Gig in Fethard, Ireland. Photo Mike Searle via Wikimedia Commons

What is the meaning of these carvings set into masonry from the European middle ages? They’re often placed on churches, though the blatant exhibition of genitals certainly isn’t typical of medieval attitudes about the body, particularly the female body. Often the stonework is much older than the walls they are set into, as if they came from another structure altogether.

No one really knows why they’re there. So much of history has been lost, and only snippets of rumors hint at what may have been. One source suggests there may have been a kind of village healer, an old woman, whose methods included the display of her vulva. (I’d link it but I can’t find it now!)

I was captivated by Sheela Na Gigs long before I was an erotica writer. But since there is so little we know, our best source is our imagination, and that’s what I specialize in. In this story, the Sheela is a healer, and there’s also a dragon, because it wouldn’t be monster erotica without a monster, now, would it?

He picked wildflowers as he made his way up the forested mountain path, adding them to the ones he’d gathered in the meadow. It was said that the Sheela liked flowers. It was also said that he should follow the signs, not written in words, but carvings, set atop stone arches that stood over the path at infrequent intervals. The vulgar symbol was unmistakable: A cackling hag, naked and splaying her privates for the world to see. Though he was supposed to look up at the display as he passed under each arch, he found it difficult. The priests in the new church said that modesty was the hallmark of pious femininity; but when some of the elders of the village refused to enter a church without a Sheela Na Gig, the Father had relented and said that one could be set into the masonry, to serve as a reminder of the result of living a life of carnal sin. One would age into sagging flesh; once-youthful breasts would dangle; one would forget to comb her hair and behave decorously.

***

She knelt and held out her open hand to offer the gift: the yellow stone. She saw a flicker of interest in the eye, more twitching of the nostrils. She bowed her head. For a long moment there was no reaction; she began to wonder whether the stone was adequate. Perhaps it wasn’t big enough, perhaps the dragon (whom she thought of as he, though she’d never had any indication of gender from this beast) wanted something other than brimstone. Perhaps she wasn’t worthy. But she waited, until a long tongue flicked out, faster than she could track with her eyes, and wrapped around the stone. Then back into the slit of a mouth, taking the stone in. She heard the crunching of giant teeth crushing stone. She saw a ripple run down the length of the neck, until it met the torso. She saw the red glow in the belly flare brighter, and smelled the beast’s sulfurous breath. The hot wind blew her hair from her face.

The dragon lifted his great head and roared. She felt the mountain shake around her. Most people would have been terrified; but the old woman reveled in the dragon’s great power. It was power which she served; and which served her. She felt the vibration of the roar move through her body, awakening her senses, sending electricity from the top of her head, down through the neck, along the spine to the tailbone; and further down, to that deepest part of her. She breathed deeply of the hot, smoky air, raised her arms above her head, and keened in response. The two voices rose and blended into a duet. Woman and dragon swayed in rhythm to each other’s music.

***

I hope to release the full story at amazon by the end of this week.

Update: Here’s the link to buy it now at Amazon!