For the first time we get Medusa. She is one of the Gorgones, three monstrous sisters with snaky hair, fangs, and great wings of bronze Who live out in the furthest West; and Medusa is commonly said to be the only mortal of the three sisters. In the classical myth, Medusa was once a beautiful maiden famed for Her glorious hair Who incurred the wrath of Athena by having sex with Poseidon in one of Athena's temples. Or She incurred the wrath of Athena by being raped by Poseidon in one of Athena's temples. Ancient patriarchies of course (and modern ones, alas) don't really distinguish between the two. And so in the story Athena punished Her, Medusa, not Him, Poseidon, quite savagely, by transforming Medusa into a monster so ugly Her merest glance turned men into stone.
Now, I like Athena. A lot. But I'll have no truck with this blaming the victim crap. None at all.
I suppose you could rationalize it by theorizing about why Athena wouldn't want to go after Poseidon--He is too powerful, it could start a very big war, it wasn't going to end well, whatever--and so, eminently practical Goddess that She is, Athena took out Her anger on the next nearest target, His victim.
Or we could just say it's the fucking patriarchy putting words in Athena's mouth and assume it's all been twisted out of recognition. I lean towards this interpretation myself, but then, I really like Athena. So I am not unbiased.
The thing is, though, Medusa as a transformed maiden doesn't really make much sense. Now, okay, it's mythology, and so it is no more linear and logical than a dream; and ordinary reason does not apply. But Medusa has those two sisters, Who are always spoken of as monstrous, snaky-locked, bronze-winged and fangéd. That is just how they are, and always have been. Why should Medusa be any different? I suspect part of it is the Perseus myth, where the hero cuts off Her head (while She is asleep!) on a dare, helped along by the typical heroish accoutrements of winged sandals, a helmet of invisibility, a mirrored shield. For him to be able to do this Medusa has to be different than Her sisters: She has to be mortal.
She also has to be 'guilty', I think. When Perseus cut off Her head, two beings leapt out from Her severed neck: Pegasos, the magical winged horse, and the hero Khrysaor, about Whom one hears very little except that He was the father of the three-bodied Geryon. Poseidon is said to be their father.
Think about all that a minute. It is usually glossed over, or made invisible, but that means Medusa was pregnant when Perseus killed Her. She was also, as far as I've ever heard, just minding Her own (albeit monstery) business. It's not like She was harassing the locals and threatening to eat a princess or something (i.e. Andromeda).
Something here has been re-cast, the story changed. I'm not sure how though and am truthfully just going on instinct, on the fact that something smells off to me; but Hesiod (one of the earliest sources), though he does call the Gorgones monsters, also makes no mention of rape, or of Athena's temple; instead, he says that 'Poseidon, he of the dark hair, lay with [Medusa] in a soft meadow and among spring flowers.' From what I can tell, the story of Medusa's rape in the temple comes from Ovid. While it's true he may have been repeating something said earlier, still he is not only late (the first centuries BCE and CE), he is in fact also Roman.
There is also the matter of Medusa's name. It means 'Mistress,' 'Guardian,' or 'Queen.' Those are not usually negative words. Her sisters, incidentally, are Sthenno ('Strength', Whom I have painted), and Euryale (either 'Wide-Stepping' or 'the Wide Salt Sea'). They are daughters of the Sea-Deities Keto (Who gives Her name to the order of whales, cetaceans) and Phorkys.
They are certainly elemental, primeval creatures, as are Their siblings, Skylla, the Graiai, and the dragon Ekhidna. And civilization does tend to demonise the primeval, to make monsters out of the natural world which can be so unthinking of the needs of us humans.
But there is something else about Medusa.
When Perseus cut off Her head, Athena caught up some of Her blood. That from the left side of Medusa's body killed instantly, but that from the right had such healing powers it could bring the dead back to life.
So. She is primeval, and powerful, and not entirely monstrous. Perhaps that is why in the later legends She is said to once have been beautiful. The story of Her blood is part of the reason I painted Her as beautiful, and why Her snakes are that deep red color.
So for this week then? I think last week's theme, anger and the primeval power of the natural world will continue to play out; also the Gorgones' connection with the Sea make me think of the gushing oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Although of this writing I hear it has been capped somewhat, the effects of the spill are going to be with us a long time. There are consequences to be dealt with, Work to be done on that.
On an individual level, keep paying attention to your anger. What does it ask of you? Keep an eye towards fairness and justice, never forgetting to turn it towards your own self. And blood, too, however you interpret that, though it need not be dire. Myself I tend to see menstrual issues in this card, if only a warning that you may be in for a crampalicious week.
Whatever it is it's pretty primal or basic. Be aware (or as aware as you can manage) of the forces, emotional and physical, that are moving about under the surface. Don't assume your conscious mind has the full picture right now.
What does She say?
I am blood. I am old, old as blood, old as seawater; I move within each of us, in tidal rhythm. I am slow, and powerful, and ancient. I inhabit the furthest west, that place where night meets the Sea; a liminal realm, threshold to another. I guard that border. You cross only in accordance with my will.
Sisters, remember me. I am also that which is made monstrous by fear. And I am truth. Seek out the truth of me. Unbury me from your stories. I am not what you might think. But you will have to find your own truth of me.
To read Her story, go here.
References: Theoi's Medusa and Gorgons page.