Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Crossover Cover: The Wedding of Sheila-Na-Gog

This issue contains a Simon of Gitta story by Richard L. Tierney and Glenn Rahman. Simon visits Regio Averonum, an area of Gaul. He finds himself aligned with a tribe called the Averoni, who worship a god named Sadoqua and command large black cats. Fighting Simon and his allies are the Black Goat Druids, adherents of the goddess Sheila-na-gog, who was originally in Acheron and Hyperborea. Simon throws a corrupt Roman official into Sheila-na-gog, and she gives birth to a monster who “was small and had the shape of a rat, but its pallid bearded face and handlike forepaws were evilly human.” Rick Lai writes, “Regio Averonum is a chronologically earlier version of the region of France later known as Averoigne in ‘The Holiness of Az├ęderac’ and other stories by Clark Ashton Smith. Sadoqua is an alias which Smith used for his demon-god Tsathoggua. The name Regio Averonum and the black cats were actually ideas of H. P. Lovecraft’s, which were given to Smith in the correspondence between the two authors (see Lovecraft’s Selected Letters IV: 1932–1934, letters #669, 674, and 685). Lovecraft also came up with the idea of a tribe called the Averones, whose name was changed to Averoni in the Simon of Gitta story. Acheron is from Robert E. Howard’s ‘Black Colossus’ and Conan the Conqueror, while Hyperborea is a polar continent described by Clark Ashton Smith. Sheila-na-gog has the form of a pool which gives birth to monsters. The appearance and nature of Sheila-na-gog are virtually identical with Abhoth the Unclean, the Hyperborean deity from Clark Ashton Smith’s ‘The Seven Geases.’ I don’t think Sheila-na-gog and Abhoth are the same deity. I suspect that they are either father and daughter, or sister and brother, or son and mother. The monsters spawned by Sheila-na-gog only have a long life span if a human being is thrown into Sheila-na-gog first. The goddess devours a human and fashions a spawn from his flesh. Sheila-na-gog’s spawn in this story could be Brown Jenkin from Lovecraft’s ‘The Dreams in the Witch-House.’”

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