Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Or so the saying goes. And Medusa? Well, she’s one of those women. Medusa has become an ubiquitous symbol of female empowerment and for good reason. Modern women and pagans realize just how powerful Medusa’s story is and what it means to women, trans women, the downtrodden and oppressed today. Here we discuss Medusa as a goddess, gorgon, and icon AND we teach you 8 ways to work with her fierce energy.
Maybe you don’t think of Medusa as a goddess. Maybe you think of her as a monster. But you’d only be partially correct. Medusa is a complex being whose name evokes different emotions: fear, awe, anger, fascination and even courage. Her name means “guardian” or “protectress”. Medusa was born to two sea deities Ceto and Phorcyos, along with her sisters Echidna and Ladon.
She may have first been a goddess to the Berber culture brought to Greece later on. There is lots of speculation and theories around the idea Medusa may have been (or is, depending on how you see it) a black goddess. The ancient Berbers, also called the African moors, were black. Therefore, if Medusa was a deity of the Berber people, she too was likely viewed as black. Needless to say, there were black people in ancient Greece, so it’s probable that more than just one ancient Greek deity was originally black. Click here to learn more about Africans in Ancient Greece.
Medusa Goddess of Snakes began as a beautiful, mortal woman who was sought after by the sea god Poseidon. When she rejected his advances, he assaults her and takes what he wants anyway. He violates Medusa in one of Athena’s temples and because of this, Athena “punishes” Medusa by turning her into a monster. Athena “curses” Medusa with snakes for hair and a face so terrifying that anyone who sees it turns to stone. She becomes Gorgo, one of the three Gorgon sisters.
From Vanderbilt.edu, “just as the Medusa was powerless to fight against the repressive actions forced upon her, so too was she powerless against the continual metamorphosing of the myth which resulted in the more popular Medusa myth commonly known today. In this popular version the Medusa is a monster with hair of a thousand snakes. She is under a curse which causes everything she looks at to turn to stone. Cixous explains that this monstrous image of the Medusa exists only because it has been directly determined by the male gaze. Once Cixous establishes that the myth of the Medusa is nothing more than a facade, she begins to question if the Medusa does in fact have the ability to turn things into stone or if her fearful imagery comes merely from our perception of her, a perception that has manifested itself from male warnings.”
Perhaps the most well-known Medusa myth involves Perseus and Medusa’s death. The Greek “hero” Perseus is sent to take Medusa’s head in order to save his mother from marrying a selfish, evil king. Perseus was granted help by the gods including a reflecting tool. He uses this tool to gaze upon Medusa without being turned to stone and then he beheads her with a divine sword. But from Medusa’s tragic death springs new life and beauty. At the moment Perseus cuts off her head, a Pegasus flies out of her body and is born.
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How you experience deity is unique to you and your relationship with that god or goddess. But if you need some ideas to get started working with the goddess Medusa, here’s 7 ways:
The best way to start getting to know a deity is to read about them. Read and study Medusa’s origins, her sea god mother and father and two sisters. Study the myth of Medusa, paying close attention to Poseidon’s assault on Medusa and Medusa’s death by Perseus’ hand. Record how these myths make you feel and how YOU interpret the symbolism in them. Medusa has also been featured in novels, movies and TV shows.
Consider the myth of Medusa in a different light: yes, Medusa was raped by Poseidon. But did Athena really curse Medusa OR did she try to help Medusa? By giving Medusa snakes for hair and the ability to kill with one look, she inadvertently protected Medusa from further assault. Maybe Medusa was thankful to have most men keep away from her, especially after suffering Poseidon’s attack.
Set up and dedicate altar space for Medusa Goddess. Candles, incense, offering bowls, stones, and cups are appropriate. Add a picture or representation of Medusa as the focal point. Snake figurines or images are also appropriate. Medusa particularly loves the color green.
Medusa is a sea spirit at her core. Therefore sea water and sea salt are both appropriate offerings. Medusa’s blood becomes coral, therefore coral is also an acceptable offering. Consider burning incense and candles for her, as well as offering glasses of wine and plates of seafood. Traditional Berber and Greek foods are appreciated. Snake figurines, artwork, and snake sheds make great offerings that can stay on the gorgon’s altar. Seashells, driftwood, and sand honor her sea roots. Never place a mirror or reflective device on Medusa’s altar. If she sees her own reflection, it will turn her to stone.
In recent years, Medusa has become a symbol of female empowerment. A statue was erected in Manhattan outside of the courthouse where Weinstein was brought to stand trial for numerous acts of assault against women. Medusa stands proud and strong, holding Perseus’ severed head in her hand. This is symbolic of women standing against their abusers. Medusa’s story of assault and then being hunted by men comes full circle in this statue – revenge. Justice. Stand up for women’s rights in whatever way you can and invoke the fierce, protective energy of Medusa the goddess.
Medusa is the goddess of snakes. The snake is her familiar and friend, and if you want to work with Medusa the snake should become an ally of yours too. You don’t have to have a snake as a pet, but invoke the snake familiar or spirit guide and he will bring lessons of transformation, healing and strength.
Medusa, like any other god or goddess, may be invoked when you are performing rituals or casting spells. This gorgon goddess is particularly helpful for protection, banishing, beauty, ferocity, and justice spells. She gladly lends her energy to defend abused, battered, or assaulted women and children.
Kundalini is the cord of energy inside of us, rising up our spines, tying the chakras together. It is the life inside our bodies and connects us to the earth and the divine. Kundalini is depicted as a snake-like energy that twists and turns and wriggles with luminescence. When you tap into your personal power (mind, body and soul), you awaken your kundalini. This is called Kundalini rising. As Medusa is the snake goddess, she embodies Kundalini.
Because of Medusa’s fearsome looks, her image was used for centuries in ancient Greece to ward off the evil eye. Some scholars believe she wasn’t necessarily a goddess but more of an apotropaic tool. A means of protecting the individual or household from evil. I believe she was indeed a goddess, once, and was demonized by the patriarchy. Like so many powerful women in the pages of history. You can carry her image on you to ward off evil, or even wear an amulet with her image on it. I believe awe-inspired offers these on their website.
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