The tale of Medusa is a story about women betraying women, some would argue the worst type of betrayal.
It is also the tale of alienation, and how we become that which we think we are.
Medusa’s archetype of an evil, despicable woman, invoking fear and dread in everybody, starts much earlier; when she was a beautiful, pure priestess of Athena. Athena demanded celibacy from her priestesses, and Medusa was too eager to please. She enjoyed her simple duties in Athena’s temple, adoring Athena and her teachings. So when Poseidon raped her, she was devastated and turned to Athena for help and advice. Athena however, was livid. Perhaps she was a little bit jealous of Medusa, who had become quite famous for her extraordinary beauty. Perhaps she was enraged because Poseidon (whom she was in a contest with for the naming of what was later known as Athens) had managed to defile one of “her” priestesses, in her own temple, using one of Athena’s own as a pawn.
In Athena’s rage, she cursed Medusa, turning her beautiful hair into a nest of venomous, crawling snakes so that no one would dare to come near her. At first, Medusa’s agony over the betrayal, the injustice, the hurt, and the isolation were almost overwhelming. So she did what so many others saw as their only way of coping. She shut herself off, hardened on the inside, and started to BECOME the rage, the hate, the vengeance, and the terror. The archetype of Medusa became the manifestation of evil, and she became The One that had to be defeated.
This story is not intended to invoke sympathy for Medusa, although I feel deep sorrow. Neither is it meant to excuse any evil doings for anyone because of what that person had endured.
Was Medusa completely at the mercy of Athena and Poseidon? Who knows. Another version states she was seduced by Poseidon. Well, I want to say, even if she was, even if she was instrumental to her own demise, even if they had a full-blown affair right under Athena’s nose, this was still so friggin unfair.
When Medusa was eventually slain by Perseus, who by the way had so much support from the other gods and goddesses, her head became the symbol of courage and protection. No one could look at the face of Medusa without turning to stone (in other words, they would harden as Medusa had hardened). The head eventually got embossed on Athena’s shield.
I find myself, as so many times before, drawn to the side of the misunderstood, the misfit, the weirdo.
And I feel angry at Athena for getting away with it, stepping out as the heroine!
But I dare to go deeper. …
I see the many Medusas, and many Medusa-moments, in myself, and around me:
- The times when we feel so alienated from the world that we create a reason for the world to further alienate us. When we would try and shock or defy the world with our behaviour.
- The times when we fear rejection so much, that we reject first. When we create an armour and a defence so impenetrable that nobody dare try to break through it.
- The times when we misunderstood, mis-used, and mis-applied our sacred masculine traits. When we are so eager to show our significance and our worth, that we don’t realise the impact of our wounded masculine had on our behaviour.
- The times when we are so in awe of something outside of ourselves, so doubtful of our own brilliance, that we forgot about our own free will. When we put others on pedestals, only to be at the mercy of their viewpoints and actions.
- The times when we are blind to the difference between self-aware or self-empowered, and self-ish. When we are so hungry for pleasure, power, and acceptance, that we do not consider the consequences of our frivolous actions on our relationships.
But also the times when we can be the greatest symbol of protection, courage, and inspiration for the world. The symbol on Athena’s shield. Not as wrathful revenge, but as fully embodied warrior.
And so, Medusa represents our internal beasts. Athena was just the messenger. Athena just uncovered the beasts inside of Medusa; the unhealed, wounded parts inside all of us.
Thankfully the story doesn’t end there.
After Persues had slain Medusa, after he had slain the beast of all the unconscious, misunderstood, misaligned and mis-used gifts, the beautiful, gentle creature Pegasus (the son of Poseidon) sprang from Medusa’s blood, along with his brother Chrysaor with the golden sword. The white-winged horse remains a symbol of trust, duty, kindness and wisdom to the world, and his wings remind us of his ability to soar and play above the pettiness and ugliness that we sometimes find ourselves in.
What a tragedy if, like Medusa, our gifts would only come to fruition after our departure from Earth.
About the Author:
Celeste Du Toit is a Transformational Coach and Holistic Therapist.
She is known for her deep work on thought patterns and the manifestation thereof on our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being, and her self-awareness and empowerment workshops and retreats help people align with their true purpose and ZEST for life.
Her focus and earth mission is to help heal individual and planetary misalignment and shadows, to assist with the evolution of consciousness.