The Myth of Medusa
Within all the great myths of antiquity, there is an echo of truth that can be applied by anyone looking to make sense of the world today. The myth of Medusa is perhaps one of the most shocking of the Greek myths in its portrayal of the unconscious forces of existence manifesting through the body of a woman. Most people are familiar with the images of Medusa which depict a countenance of demonic possession, her hair hissing and writhing in the form of snakes. Such was her hideous appearance that anyone who caught her gaze would immediately be turned to stone. Eventually Medusa was slain by the hero Perseus, who preserved her severed head in order to vanquish his enemies in later adventures.
The myth of Medusa recounts that she was born a mortal to sea gods of the ancient world. One of three sisters, she was admired for her chastity and beauty. Her crowning glory, according to the myth, was her flowing golden hair. Medusa was chosen by Athene to serve as a priestess at her temple. After a while, Medusa caught the eye of Poseidon – the powerful god of the sea. Although there are discrepancies in the telling of the myth as to whether Poseidon loved Medusa and fathered two children or simply took her body for his carnal pleasure, it made little difference to the raging fury invoked in Athene, who saw what had happened as the betrayal of loyalty and the breaking of a sacred vow of chastity of the temple. So Medusa was banished, her beautiful physical appearance radically transformed to reflect the repulsion and primordial fear of the dark unconscious forces in matter – the unbridled energy of sex, forever seeking expression through the emotional vents of the psyche.
The actions of the gods and goddess determined for all time the subsequent fixation on power over others through illusion and psychic manipulation of the forces of the unconscious. The taint of Athene’s wrath and the plight of Medusa lives on in every female born on earth as self-doubt and fear to love. And in every man is born the seed potential of the hero that will struggle to overcome his more base instincts of his animal ancestry. At a certain intensity of psychic force, emotional energy changes the constituents of matter. There have been many reported instances of those possessed taking on the characteristics of a wild animal, for example a wolf or a tiger; many folk tales have their roots in this type of psychic transformation. Most women can testify in the own experience the change that happens in a man when he is emotionally charged with anger or sexual excitation. In that moment, with his face red and features hideously distorted, he becomes the living vestige of Medusa in male form. Similarly, when a woman reaches a similar level of emotional intensity she undergoes a psychic transformation, which for any man on the receiving end of her wrath is hell on earth.
Just as Medusa turned whoever looked upon her to stone, when emotion is allowed to enter existence to possess the minds of men and women the inevitable result is a hardening of the psychic flow within. The person is then held in a sort of limbo while the emotional self depletes the vitality of the body. Stillness and a sense of higher purpose are the divine protection for the hero to invoke the power to slay the monster of the underworld. The Medusa effect is then unable to manifest in the world. The legacy of Medusa is apportioned in varying degrees to everyone born on earth. Each of us must reconcile, in one way or another, the beauty and the beast that beguiles and lurks within the depths of the psyche.
To be free in existence as a conscious state of uninterrupted peace seems an impossible dream for most. And yet still we go on. Could it be that within each of us there is the power to symbolically sever the head of Medusa – the personal self of fear and subterfuge? And that the hero is none other than I, the living spirit in every body that upholds the integrity of truth? And of course the answer is yes. Life and love is true to its own creative source, a power which overcomes death and the restrictions of past as the immortal being liberated from the constraints of time.