Coinneach Shanks: A Psychotherapist in Dublin, Ireland
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Sex, Pots and Helter Skelters
I was returning from Bray one evening and the fairground and sky caught my eye. So I took a quick shot on the small camera. The derivation of helter skelter is much debated but a substantial number of people think it originated with the Beatles song of the same name! There are mentions of the term as early as 1593, possibly deriving from Middle English, skelten, to come or go. Then it became the UK name for the popular fairground ride, which in the US is a tornado slide. The symbolism is obvious. It's a phallus and a rather ornate one at that. But if you dream of being on a helter skelter it could mean much more than a sexual encounter. A helter skelter involves a dizzying downwards spiral during which one feels out of control. Yet this fairground ride is completely contained and safe - and these days could be considered rather tame in comparison with other attractions. The phallus might be male but the spiral is lunar and female. So here we have a combination. In some parts of Africa it's a symbol of the dynamic of life. The Dogon have pots (a womb, a female symbol) around which are wound three (male) spirals of red copper (the word). It is thought that during insemination, the word enters the woman (possibly through her ear, which is regarded as a sexual organ) then coils around the womb. All very complicated. You never know what might happen on a helter skelter.