By White Wave and Ocean Wild
Lately we’ve been hearing the hisses of the many snake headed beauty, Medusa. Ever since I dyed my hair green all I can think of is the Mermaids and Medusa! Her stories are many and complex. We’re going to try to make this “monster” more relatable and the misunderstood, understood.
Folklore / Myths / Family Tree
There are many versions of her main myth. They all start the same, she was once a golden haired beautiful priestess of Athena. She was very dedicated to her Goddess, vowing a life of celibacy. Her eyes were full of love and light and her beauty was known throughout the land. Then the different versions come into play:
Version 1: The priestess Medusa is taken and raped by Poseidon who lusted after her for a long time. He raped her in the temple of Athena, angering the Goddess of chastity. Athena curses her priestess for breaking her vow and sullying her temple by taking away her beautiful hair and replacing it with venomous snakes and her eyes once renowned, are weapons against anyone who looks upon her. Medusa is then sentenced to a remote island, to live alone and scorned.
Version 2: The priestess Medusa is woo’d by Poseidon and falls in love with him, abandoning her vows and embracing love. Athena then curses her priestess for breaking her vow, just as stated before.
Version 3: The priestess Medusa is raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. The Goddess Athena to protect her priestess from any other man trying to violate her again gives her powers, venomous snakes for hair and eyes that curse the onlooker to turning into stone. Medusa takes a solitary life and continues her relationship with Athena, but is constantly harassed by men coming to battle her and call her a monster.
Later Perseus is the one to battle and kill Medusa, removing her head with her magic eyes and mounting it onto a reflective shield to destroy his enemies by turning them into stone with Medusa’s powers. Medusa while being a Gorgon, is the only sister to be mortal and able to be killed but her eyes are still laden with her magick even after death. In some versions of that myth, Athena is the one to give him the shield to go kill Medusa as she knows that the only way he will be able to defeat her is by looking at her through the reflection of a mirror.
Medusa is one of three sisters known as the Gorgons. Their parents were Phorcys (An Ocean God) and Ceto (Sea Goddess and mother of all Monsters), the children of Gaea (Mother Earth) and Oceanus (Father Ocean.) Her sisters are immortal, but Medusa is not. Medusa’s sisters are Sthenno and Euryale. Sthenno was known to be the most independent and ferocious of her sisters, she is seen in many forms. Sometimes Sthenno is seen as a woman with red snakes for hair or a boars tusks and a protruding tongue. She killed many men and was feared as a monster. Euryale also was known to have snakes for hai. She was also known for her bellowing and weeping upon her sister Medusa’s death.
Phorcys and Ceto were also the parents of the Graeae, three women that were born old, they shared one eye and one tooth between the three of them. The Graeae are known to be grey witches or the grey ones. Perseus when he was on his mission to kill Medusa bribed the grey ones for information about Medusa by using their one eye as ransom. The Graeae have always been old, they were born old, they do not know what youth is or what it is to be a child. They are associated with death, fate, and aging.
Another monster child of Ceto is Echidna or a half woman, half serpent. She is sometimes seen with hundreds of snake heads or snake hair. Echidna was also known as the mother of all monsters and is sometimes credited with birthing Cerberus, Chimera, Sphinx, Colchian Dragon, Scylla and many others.
How We Relate to Medusa
With this family tree of monsters and sea serpents, Medusa is unique in the fact that she is mortal. She has been hurt and she has been wronged. In many ways she is only human. Some may see her as inhuman, a monster, vicious, and murderous–but with the cards that destiny has dealt her, do you blame her? Isn’t she relatable in some ways? Her innocence squandered and her heart broken, she lives alone and cannot love. Haven’t we all felt this way at some point of our lives? Medusa gives us the cold light of reality and offers solace to the lonely.
Less Known Myths of Medusa
As many know, the legend of Medusa begins with her being the victim of Athena’s anger. Be it because Medusa was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple, or just angered Athena because she was far more beautiful. In the end, Medusa became the monstrosity that we know her today. However, there are other legends that could explain Athena’s hatred of Medusa.
The first being that as the goddess Athena was adapted to the Athena we know, she started out in North Africa as Medusa. As the ancestors of the Greeks began to move north into Greece, it may have been that they found the fearful appearance of Medusa too much. This would then turn Athena’s act of sending Perseus to kill Athena, into an action of destroying the goddess’s past. By destroying Medusa, Athena is then able to “erase” her past and make it known to none.
Another side of this story is that Medusa herself was a Libyan goddess. And despite the stories we know of Athena being birthed from Zeus’s head, some stories state that Medusa was in fact Athena’s mother. In this respect, it may be taken that Athena wanted the power her mother had. Hence, why after Perseus gave the head of Medusa to Athena, Athena wore the head upon her shield since it still retained her powers.
Any way you look at it, Medusa is far from just a monster. Medusa is a very powerful goddess in her own right. Be it a sea goddess, or a goddess of menstruation, Medusa holds her own and has a far deeper history that many think.
Calling on Medusa
Medusa is seen more often as an extremely powerful feminine figure along with her sister. Medusa has long been associated with menstruation. Regardless of the region, there any many myths relating menstruation to snakes, such as the German myth that burying a menstruating woman’s hair in the ground will cause a snake to grow from it. Regardless, Medusa or her sisters the Gorgons are best when it comes to working with feminine energies or menstruation.
When working with Medusa, she may show herself in her more monstrous form, but she may show herself as a beautiful goddess or a mermaid. These are just some of the forms she may take.
Offerings to Medusa that are genuinely best are anything serpentine, menstrual blood stained pads or garments, as well as coral. Coral was once thought to adorn the snakes in Medusa’s hair, as well an old myth states that coral was formed when Medusa’s blood fell into the sea.
Ritual Items for Medusa
A mirror with a snake or an image of her face on the back of the mirror would be great for working with her. As either a creature of beauty or ferocity–having a mirror with her image would be a dual emphasis tool. Anything having to do with snakes like the crystal serpentine, snake eye marbles, snakes fangs, shed snake skins, images of snakes or carvings of snakes would work well for this too. If you have a pet snake and would like to get them in on the ritual, bring them out and let them venerate her too. Medusa would fondly embrace another one of her snake-kin.
Images of mermaids, monsters, sea serpents, and sea dragons would work well with Medusa’s energy as well.
Medusa’s blood was very sacred according to myths, one side of her body if cut, the blood could kill and the other side of her body’s blood could cure. It’s much like the venom of a snake, the venom is needed to make the antidote. So any rites with blood could work with her and her sacred blood. Menstruation blood, pads, tampons, etc may also be used to work with her, however here’s a warning for you: blood magick is very potent stuff, be careful what you wish for.
Green, Black, Pink, Blue, and White candles could all be used with Medusa.
To Make Snake Oil:
These oils were traditionally blended in the fat of a snake however, we suggest using a carrier oil of your preference.
Red Peper Oil
For more information and where we got this awesome recipe: Lucky Mojo Curio Company’s Rattle Snake page
That’s all we have for this mysterious Goddess, please let us know if you have any experiences with this Lady of Snakes For Hair. We’d love to hear stories.
Love and Light,
Artists unknown and found under Google’s labeled for reuse tab, if artists would like to claim their art and be credited please let us know. All written content property of Wondrous Wave.