Showing posts with label Medusa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Medusa. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Does Medusa Shed A Tear Above My Temple Doors?

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Interesting things always happen in the life of a Hellenist, even if sometimes we may not understand them, or misinterpret them entirely. Hellenism is a life of learning, experiencing, and philosophizing. Above my temple doors has long stood a plaque of Medusa, although it was originally white, with a flawlessly smooth surface, and in actuality was placed not to only represent Medusa, but the Gorgon itself, as it is a powerful protective Spirit in Greek religion. In fact, Alexander the Great wore one on His breastplate. In the past, I have also pointed out the fact that the story of Medusa being a vilified rape victim who was turned into a monster is the Roman version. In Hesiod (the Greek), she is a natural born Gorgon (although she was the only one of them who could be killed, and therefore possessed a mortality about her) and there is no mention of a rape or a temple desecration whatsoever. 

Recently I was adding some additional paints to my temple areas. With some left over bronze, I decided to give the Medusa plaque some color. When finished, I noticed an incredibly straight line descending from the left eye, which I thought was strange since the surface of the piece is smooth and I made no additional marks with my brushes. The image appears to be shedding a noble tear as she overlooks the doorways. Of course, I could simply paint over it, but I have decided to let it remain. Could this be something symbolic? If so, what? What could it mean or what could Medusa be trying to tell us?

Well I think there are many ways to look at it, as there are usually numerous ways to view everything in the world and the spiritual realms. I reject the idea that it has anything to do with a sexual assault or unjust sentences because, as I stated earlier, that is not the Greek telling. The first is the simplest. I imagine it's painful, sad and demoralizing to have your head severed off. Secondly, it could represent the strife and endurance of Medusa, and more largely, the Greek people themselves, even in the face of centuries of oppression. Finally, it may signal to an oncoming foe that physical and emotional powers are tremendous here, and no amount of pain or terror will make them run. I imagine the tear could also be a representation of all of these three things combined. Of course, I do entertain the possibility that it is merely a painting error, but as I said, it would seem very odd given the structure of the image.

I was honestly a little hesitant to make this post at first, as I didn't want to seem like a starry eyed zealot who thinks their statues are sobbing. I do not. I think that, if it does mean something, it's a symbol to be interpreted. But in any case, I just couldn't get over the fact that it appeared so obvious, and strangely so. I therefore wanted to talk about it. I'm sure many other Hellenists and Pagans out there will have their own opinions, and I am delighted to hear them, that we may grow in enlightenment together.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A Greek Sets Medusa's Story Straight With New York

I'm astounded at the idiocy. That was my conclusion when I saw the latest political and social statue to be unveiled in Manhattan recently, sparking news coverage from the New York Post and other outlets. A statue dubbed Medusa was erected, with a sword in one hand and the severed head of a man in the other, dubbed Perseus. This design, apparently, was done to represent the Me Too movement. 

As there are those of us, many of us, who still worship the Greek Gods and follow ancient Greek religion, this story naturally made its way around online Hellenic groups for all to see, including myself. At first, I thought about ignoring it, but later realized that something so outrageous in so many ways, warrants a response from a Hellenist as well as an American man.

I've done posts on the story of Medusa in the past, mainly concerning the idea of the vilified rape victim she is often portrayed as, pointing out that so many people don't realize that this version of the story isn't Greek at all, but Roman. It was not said that she was turned into a Gorgon. It says she was born among the Gorgons, of which there were three. They were winged spirits. 

In Hesiod (the Greek version), it never says she was raped by Poseidon, or raped at all. It never even says the sex took place in a temple, which was said by Romans to be the reason for her punishment. It says in the Greek Theogony that Poseidon laid with her in the spring flowers. That's it. Then it immediately talks about her destruction by Perseus. There is not a single word of rape, a temple, or being unjustly punished for it. 

Again, I will say, Medusa was NOT a rape victim in Greek myth, which by the artist's own admission, is what the statue is based on in Manhattan. I would also like to add that Gorgons aren't always portrayed as destructive or chaotic in Greek religion. Their images are used as well for protection. Alexander the Great wore one on His armor. 

The second issue concerning this new statue is the obvious hatred it's trying to raise toward men and causing division instead of unity, which is something we don't need more of right now. I find the statue's image to be a promotion of sexism, just the other way around, especially since the victim was clearly killed on the basis of gender and Medusa was not. 

The artist claims the statue was built and placed in this area to honor the destruction of the sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. So the question begs, why not his head in her hand instead of Perseus or a man in general? Essentially saying that men are monsters is the product of simpleton ignorance, and not a productive way to address the gender and sex issues our society faces. This is unfortunately what has happened with this statue whether the creator intended it or not. I can only imagine the outrage if the genders of the statue were reversed. 

The bottom line is that it will only make people into enemies and spread resentment based on sex, which again, is the continuance of sexism in our society. While there was and is certainly a major problem with the way women are viewed and treated in our country, we must realize that each person is an individual in America. Generalization is dangerous, and has been the cause of every form of discrimination and oppression.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.