Androids of Mu and Monica Sjoo
In 'Rip up the footnotes' -previous entry - I showed that there was a route from an undeniable punk person - Mark Perry / Sniffin' Glue and ATV to Stonehenge and the 'New Age Travellers' [stupid description, new agers loathed 'em] hippy/punk synthesis by way of Here and Now.
And that this long strange trip closely connected with Zounds, The Mob, The Astronauts and... The Androids of Mu.
The Androids (from an interview they did with No Class fanzine 1980ish) turned down an offer from Crass to make a record. Instead they did it themselves with help of Kif Kif and Grant Showbiz - of Fuck Off records/ Street Level Studio and Here and Now and... all of the above.
I saw the Androids play a free gig in Hyde Park summer 1979 (or was it 1980?) and bought their album. Playing it now. Reading the small print - always a good idea - 27 years later spotted that front cover art work is credited to Monica Sjoo.
This may not be very significant to many folk, but it is for me. It entangles the thread I am trying to follow way way deep.
Who was Monica Sjoo? She was a hugely influential artist who also researched 'goddess' culture. And... for example, along with Pinki (my late partner for them as doesn't know) and Starhawk - still active eco-feminist pagan - and several other women mainly, like Pinki, from Greenham, Monica Sjoo walked from Silbury Hill to Stonehenge across Salisbury Plain around Beltane (1st May) 1985.
This was just a month before the Battle of the Beanfield where the forces for law and order ran riot and smashed the fuck out of a convoy of 'hippy-punk' travellers on their way to Stonehenge for the festival.
Monica Sjoo died in 2005. Here is the text Monica wrote for the first image - painted 1978.
Pinki had a poster of the sheela na gig painting stuck up on the wall beside our bed.
There is a website where you can see more. www.monicasjoo.org/
Sheela Na Gig is the Goddess as primordial power. She is portrayed as skull and bleached white bones. She holds wide her vagina from where all the blessings of mother-born life originate. I did this painting in 1978 soon after an initiatory and life-transforming experience of this ancient Mother Goddess at her most powerful and sacred neolithic centre in the northern world, at Silbury Mound, the pregnant womb of the Earth itself. In my painting Her vagina is shown as Silbury Mound, near Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire, southern England. Her powerful and trance inducing presence can be felt there in the very land itself - in its stones and waters. Since that experience, the ancient and sacred sites of the Goddess have become my "teachers", opening me up to the reality of communications with the ancestors, the spirits both of the land and the dead.
Stone-carved images of the Sheela Na Gig can be found on old churches, monasteries and castles in the Celtic world, especially in Ireland. Such images of the Goddess are also found in Indian Tantric art, over the doorways to sacred spaces in many parts of the tribal Shamanic world. The doorway represented Her vulva, and the sacred space Her womb, and people would enter between Her legs, touching Her vulva as they did so for protection and blessing. Such stone-carved images also stood by holy wells where people crawled between Her legs to drink of the waters. The well was in the old times seen as a vagina of the Earth Mother, and the waters as the menstrual flow from Her underground womb and blood arteries.
Pagan masons smuggled the image of the Goddess into the early churches for protection and luck. The very early Celtic Church was still enriched with Pagan and Druidic practices. To the later Catholic hierarchy - that tolerated no opposition to their own straight and narrow patriarchal stance and for three hundred years persecuted so-called heretics and witches (women and men of the Wise craft) throughout Europe for practising their ancient Goddess-given healing skills and for believing that the Earth is our living mother - the Sheela Na Gig was a monstrosity. She is indeed a powerful image of autonomous womanhood, with an active and dynamic sexuality - the very sexuality that the Church had declared taboo and out of bounds. Instead, it upheld the image of the non-sexual Virgin Mary, a passive vessel awaiting the command of a Fathergod, now seen as the real creator of life, who gives birth to their "saviour" without ever having experienced sexual pleasure. To the Goddess, however, all forms of non-harmful sexuality are sacred. Ecstatic sexual practices are integral to Her rites. A number of images of the Sheela Na Gig were hidden away over many years from public display in the basement of the National Museum in Dublin.