There exist many different variations of the Medusa myth. Some portray her as a vain human who was punished and became a hideous and violent monster. Some tell a tale of a pawn who got swept up in godly affairs and was chewed up and spat out by an unsympathetic patriarchy. I choose to tell the tale of a woman who encountered many of the things my clients see: jealousy, greed, lust, invasion of privacy, and entitlement.
In all the stories, Medusa starts life as human. Her parents, Phorcys and Ceto, were both sea gods. Her sisters were immortal and were always monsters. In fact, Medusa was the only mortal in her family (1). Things must have been difficult for her from the start.
Medusa grew into a beautiful woman. She was the high priestess of the goddess Athena who coveted her beauty. The god Poseidon found her attractive and pursued Medusa, wishing to have sex with her. When she refused, he took her by force in Athena’s temple. Athena, fuelled by jealousy, flew into a rage. She cursed Medusa, turning her into the gorgon we know today (2).
After the two attacks, Medusa retreated with her sisters to a remote Greek island. They secluded themselves there, only showing violence towards the men who invaded their privacy to kill them. Then Perseus came and chopped the pregnant Medusa’s head off to take back to King Polydectes. He was tasked with the mission having been arrogant and boastful towards the king (3).
Even in death Medusa was far from the evil monster some tales will have us believe. When she died, her two sons were born: The winged horse Pegasus, and the human warrior Chrysaor. Her head was used by Perseus to defeat his enemies by turning them to stone and her blood formed the corals of the Red Sea. When he was finished with the head, Perseus gave it to Athena who put it on a shield that she used in battle (4). Even in death Medusa was used by the gods for protection.