Medusa - The roots of the Medusa legends go far aback into the prehistory of ancient Greece. Before the Titans and the Olympians, there was a race of gods called the Gorgons. The figure of the Medusa that has come down through history started out as a powerful female Gorgon deity.
She was a goddess of fertility, magic and reincarnation. Later, as the male gods pushed out and redefined the earlier female deities, the race of the Gorgons was discredited.
It was then that the idea of the Medusa as a hideous hag with snakes for hair was formed. Snakes were originally associated with the deity, but not in a negative way. The snake was a symbol of fertility and reincarnation, as well as a symbol of menstrual blood.
Menstrual blood was considered to be a substance of pure magic. For example, it was believed that if a woman held it in her body, it would form itself into a new human being.
Until the early 19th century, menstrual blood was thought to have medicinal powers. Both the traditional barber's pole and the symbol for medicine have their roots in this idea.
The red and white stripes of the barber's pole originally represented the thigh of a woman with blood coming down it in streaks. Since snakes could represent menstrual blood, it replaced the red color to become the Caduceus - the medical logo with the two snakes encircling a staff.
With this sculpture, I wanted to show a Medusa as what she originally was - not a hideous hag, but an Earthen Goddess of power and secret magics. Also, as a fertility goddess, she would most probably be very beautiful.
©2005 by Lisa Lichtenfels, All Rights Reserved.