Medusa is a powerful and much debated figure in mythology.
She was a sacred priestess to the Goddess Athena and had dedicated herself to her temple. She was said to be a beautiful maiden and that many men sought her hand in marriage, to which she refused as she had taken vows of chastity. This didn’t matter to the God Poseidon.
The Sea God broke into the Temple of Athena and forced himself upon Medusa. She tried to fight him off but he was too powerful. This angered the Goddess Athena greatly. Medusa was transformed from beautiful maiden to monstrous Gorgon, with snakes upon her head and a gaze that could turn men to stone.
Medusa was punished for actions that were not her own, both cursed and blessed with a crown of serpents upon her head. They would be her protection, but they would also be her downfall. In her suffering we see our own, silenced and turned into monsters by those who are the true demons.
Did the Goddess curse Medusa or give her a gift to defend herself?
The Ancient Gods were well known for toying with mortals in whatever way pleased them at the time. Zeus turned Io into a heifer to hide his infidelity from Hera, his angry and often scorned wife. Apollo cursed Cassandra with prophecy that would never be heard because she wouldn’t love him. No one believed her and it contributed the fall of Troy.
As many myths, Medusa’s story doesn’t end well. She was feared and destroyed for the power that would keep her safe from the intrusions of others. Perseus received a mirrored shield from Athena that would mirror The Gorgons gaze back to her, and while she slept he crept into her temple and took her head. Perseus went on to save the beautiful Andromeda from a sea creature with the severed head of Medusa. As so often occurs in these patriarchal hued myths, he slayed the demon, saved the princess and was rewarded as the hero.
But where is the justice for Medusa? Where is the crown of heroism for the maiden who tried to fight off a God? She was sold out by the very Goddess she was dedicated to and that transformed her in the first place. When maiden rose up to protect herself, she was disposed of as a monster.
Medusa teaches us that we have the right to defend ourselves.
So often we are taught that we need to put up with the actions of others in a quiet way, demurely accepting what others would put upon us. She shows us that we need to stand our ground when someone would do us harm. We are not here to quietly accept the intentions of others. We have the right to be safe.
Medusa tells us to know our power and to honor the gifts that swim within our veins, even though sometimes it may feel like more of a curse than a blessing. She brings us the wisdom of the snake, of transformation and of rebirth. She asks that we too hold up the mirrored shield towards those that would wish us ill and reflect back upon them what they have created.
Medusa reminds us that there will always be those who will spit venom at us, in word and deed. That does not make them right. We are not here to be the plaything of others. We are Sacred Priestesses of the Divine. And we will not back down.