What Does Medusa Tattoo Symbolize?
If you’ve scrolled on your FYP in the last few months, you might have seen ambiguous TikToks that reference the meaning of the Medusa tattoo. “A lot of people didn’t realize the meaning of a Medusa tattoo. If you do, I am so sorry you went through this too.
You are so strong,” said TikTok user @r. bree. xo, showing her inking of the Gorgon. Videos of people showing their Medusa tattoos on the app are racking up hundreds of thousands of views, as many hint towards a deeper meaning.
Most will know Medusa for her head of snakes instead of hair and the power to turn anyone who looks at her into stone. Many will also be familiar with her most famous tale from mythology—being beheaded by Perseus. After severing her head using a bronze shield to protect his eyes, Perseus used Medusa’s head to defeat his enemies in battle.
Medusa became a sign of monstrous evil, but her backstory is far different. According to the main variation of her tale, Medusa was once a beautiful young woman. It was that beauty that caught the attention of sea god Poseidon, who is said to have raped her in Athena’s sacred temple.
Athena in response turned Medusa into the figure we recognize, with her snake curls and deathly stare. In the widely believed variation, the power put onto Medusa was a curse from Athena, who was furious at the tainting of her sacred temple. Other iterations of the myth however recognize it as a blessing, a way for Medusa to protect herself after being assaulted by Poseidon.
According to The Met Museum, Medusa is portrayed in most Greek art as an “apotropaic symbol used to protect and ward off the negative,” representing a “dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil.
” In modern tales of Gorgon though, she is a symbol of female rage. She was even used in feminist theorist Hélène Cixous’s 1975 manifesto The Laugh of the Medusa. Similarly, the TikTok tattoos reference Medusa as a victim rather than a villain. She is seen as a symbol of power after sexual assault and combatting the culture of victim-blaming as a woman made into a monster for her own rape. Stock image of a Medusa head. Videos of people showing their Medusa tattoos on TikTok are racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Getty Images UPDATE 01/18/22 6:54 a. ET: This article was updated to include new videos and picture and to modify the headline..
- 1 Is Medusa a symbol of protection?
- 2 Why is Medusa so popular?
- 3 What is Medusa the god of?
Is it disrespectful to get a Medusa tattoo?
There should be nothing offensive about getting a Medusa tattoo. She is a female monster from Ancient Greek mythology but is also seen as a victim. It is believed that she was cursed by the goddess Athena and that anyone who met her gaze turned to stone.
Is Medusa a symbol of protection?
Medusa. I am 99. 7% confident you have heard of this ‘word’ before but do you actually know who she was and the history behind her ‘image’!? As Medusa is one of the 5 incredible females in History that feature in our ‘Phenomenal Women’ collection of pendants we’re here to teach you a little more about why she’s so awesome and why she is now one of our best-selling pendants! From fighting off the evil, ultimate Protection’ powers and a head full of snake hair, keep reading to learn more on this legend of history. What is the story of Medusa? Medusa, whose name probably comes from the Ancient Greek word for ‘guardian’, was one of the three Gorgons and daughter of the sea gods Phorcys and Ceto. All of Medusa’s siblings were monsters by birth and, even though she wasn’t one herself, she had the misfortune of being turned into the most hideous of them all. It was written that Medusa’s face was so hideous and her gaze so piercing that the mere sight of her was sufficient to turn a man to stone….
- But it wasn’t always like that;
- Medusa was unique from her sisters in the fact that, unlike her sisters, she was born with a beautiful face;
- Her lush long hair was claimed to be the “most wonderful of all her charms;
” The great sea god Poseidon seemed to have shared this admiration because he couldn’t resist the temptation and managed to impregnate Medusa in the temple of Athena. Furious, the virgin goddess transformed Medusa’s enchanting hair into a coil of serpents, turning the youngest Gorgon into the monster described above.
- Soon after she was impregnated, Perseus was sent on a quest to ‘Fetch me the head of Medusa’ commanded by Polydectes With the help of Athena, Perseus reached the land of the Gorgons ready for his quest;
When he arrived, Medusa was asleep so Perseus using the reflection in Athena’s bronze shield (so as to not look directly at the Gorgons and be turned into stone), managed to cut off her head with his sickle – Hectic! Because Medusa was pregnant at the time of her death, her two unborn children, Chrysaor and Pegasus suddenly sprang from her neck.
The Gorgons (aka Medusa’s sisters) were awoken by the noise and did their best to avenge the death of her, but they could neither see or catch Perseus because he was wearing Hades’ Cap of Invisibility and Hermes’ winged sandals (Epic!) Now that Perseus had Medusa’s head in his bag, he went back to Seriphos.
However, while he was flying over Libya, drops of Medusa’s blood fell to the ground and instantly turned into snakes; it is because of this that, to this day, Libya is filled with serpents…. When Perseus arrived in Seriphos, he used Medusa’s head to turn Polydectes and the vicious islanders into stones; the island was well-known long after for its numerous rocks.
- Always the protector of heroes, Athena put aside a lock of Medusa’s hair for Heracles who ended up giving it to Cepheus’ daughter to use it to protect her hometown;
- Supposedly, even though it didn’t have the power of Medusa’s gaze, the lock could still cast terror into any enemy unfortunate enough to even accidentally behold it;
Does Medusa have any other names? Medusa was also called Gorgo and she was one of the three monstrous Gorgons sister called Medusa, Stheno and Euryale who were all often depicted together in Greek Mythology. Where did Medusa hail from? Medusa is apart of the huge intertwining stories of ancient Greek Mythology. What was Medusa most known for? Because Medusa’s head was placed on Athena’s shield and her blood was revealed to hold the power of both life and death, her head became a symbol of protection. In fact, Medusa’s head went on to inspire one of the most powerful talisman of it’s time – the Gorgoneion to which we have now created an amulet for! Whats up with the snakey curly hair of Medusa? Right!? Kind of cool though… ish? Her hair of snakes and reptilian skin are symbolic of the natural cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Snakes are used due to their shedding of skin, their rebirth to a new skin. This cycle is paralleled with women’s natural cycle of menstruation, which was believed to be synchronized with the cycles of the moon and tide (And we love the Moon & it’s effect here at Luna & Rose) Medusa’s ability to turn men into stone is an important facet of her feminine power.
This is the power over all life, the ability to return life back to the earth from which it came. This is the power which must be reigned in by the patriarchal Greek gods, for it represents a total control over the natural cycle. Where would one traditionally find a depiction of Medusa? Medusa, her sisters, and other Gorgons, have been featured in art and culture from the days of ancient Greece to present day through art, sculpture, writings, poetry and carvings.
- She has been variously portrayed as a monster, a protective symbol, a rallying symbol for liberty, and a sympathetic victim of rape and/or a curse;
- You will find paintings and carvings of her in history museums (mostly in Europe),a lot of history online and today, in one of our beautifully hand-carved pendants;
Why did we decide to made Medusa into a beautiful pendant? We love the story of Medusa and her powers to protect from and ward off negative energy. Our Medusa Pendant is a symbol of Protection, Strength, Femininity, Female Empowerment and the Natural World.
What does Medusa symbolize for woman?
The most common interpretation of Medusa suggests she is an apotropaic symbol used to protect from and ward off the negative, much like the modern evil eye. She represents a dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil.
What does Medusa symbolize feminism?
A Feminist Perspective on the Greek Gorgon – Detail from Medusa by Antonio Canova , 1804–06, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York T he stories of ancient Greek and Roman mythology have, over the years, been rediscovered, repurposed, and reinterpreted in more modern contexts. Often times, this has allowed us to garner some sort of fable-like lesson from the stories of the Illiad or Metamorphoses. The story of Medusa continues to provoke renewed perspectives on its symbolism — including through the lens of feminism and psychoanalysis.
From a feminist perspective, Medusa’s story seems a cautionary tale of the symbolic decapitation of women and a loss of one’s power. In order to unpack the feminist implication of the mythology, let’s begin with the narrative of her story.
Medusa was one of three daughters — born with extraordinary beauty and stunning hair. She becomes a priestess to her sister Athena and vows to her sister to remain pure. Athena grows jealous, as many men flock to her, only to glance at Medusa instead. Eventually, Medusa attracts the attention of Poseidon, who subsequently rapes her.
Although Athena had the power to prevent this, she chooses not to. Athena is one of Poseidon’s sworn enemies, and through raping her sister, he is able to take power from her. When Athena discovers that Posidon has raped Medusa, she chooses to blame her rather than him.
In order to punish her, Athena curses Medusa by replacing her beautiful hair with a head of venomous snakes and making it so anyone who looks into her eyes will be turned to stone. At this point, Medusa’s head became a desired trophy for many warriors who wanted to brave her fierce monster-like powers.
Many warriors are sent to kill her, including Perseus. It is only with help from all of the gods that Perseus is able to not only kill but fully decapitate her. Without the support of the gods, he would have been petrified like every other warrior.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Medusa’s story is that she was pregnant with Poseidon’s child when she was killed. From her severed neck, her child Pegasus is born. As we’ve mentioned, the myth of Medusa can be interpreted in various ways, but I think perhaps the most fascinating analysis is done through a feminist perspective because it unveils just how swift we are to circumvent female rage. turinboy/Flickr/CC BY 2. 0 D espite her origin story being one of purity and renowned beauty, Medusa has come to connote only malevolence and her role as a gorgon, or mythical monster. She is the opposite of what Michael Foucault called, ” docile bodies. ” A concept in which women are expected to conform and submit to the enforced codes and structures of a patriarchal society.
- During the late 20th century, feminists began to reassess the myth of Medusa;
- In the 1994 book, Female Rage: Unlocking Its Secrets, Claiming Its Power , the authors claimed that “when they asked women what female rage looked like to them, it was always Medusa…who came to mind…In one interview after another they were told that Medusa is ‘the most horrific woman in the world;
‘” None of the women they interview could remember the details of the myth, and perhaps, had they been able to, they would have had a different perspective. Our image of Medusa is one of pure evil, but in reality, she is raped and impregnated by her rapist.
She is then cast out and cursed by her own sister. Only to be stalked and haunted constantly by status-seeking men, and inevitably, murdered by Perseus. Then her ” severed head, capable of transfixion even in death, is carted away to help him defeat the villain of his story.
” There is a painful recognition in the fact that Medusa’s head — the center of her knowledge and power — is taken from her in order to empower a man and to fight his battles for him. She is the symbol of what female power looks like in the face of threatened male authority Ancient Greek artists originally portrayed Medusa ” as an almost comically hideous figure, with a lolling tongue, full beard, and bulging eyes.
- ” This image of Medusa began to shift when ” mustache stubble was replaced by smooth cheeks, and fangs concealed by shapely lips ,” as Classical artists began to feminize her once again;
- There are numerous images of Medusa in an almost angel-like state, or even once she had been cursed, images where the snakes in her hair function as more of an accessory rather than something fearsome;
Through these renditions of her visage, Medusa is painted into a half-human, half-animal monster. She is both feminine and monstrous. While she may be known for her monstrosity, her beauty remains just as dangerous. In ancient Greek society, which was ” a male-centered society, the feminization of monsters served to demonize women. Source: Damien Hirst and Science T his is exactly why the story of Medusa continues to captivate us — because she is a character that demands to be reimagined, she pushes back against the story that places Perseus at its center, who claims him to be blameless and heroic. Medusa is so alluring to us, because she is the ” image of intoxication, petrifaction, and luring attractiveness. ” She is seductive to us in her contemporary application and dimensionality. Medusa remains of temporal importance because she is the symbol of what female power looks like in the face of threatened male authority.
” Medusa is, in other words, the ultimate femme fatale. She is a woman who ” represents a conflicting view of femininity, one that is seemingly alluring but with a threatening or sinister underside. ” The femme fatale archetype has found permanence in our storytelling, and confirms to us that: to be both beautiful and fearsome — to be a woman who has bodily autonomy and anger — is not at all normative and that those women must be cast aside or have power taken from them.
As Elizabeth Johnston claims in her 2016 Atlantic essay, Medusa may be ” the original Nasty Woman. ” In 2020, it might be easy to chastise the women in the 90s who called Medusa “the most horrific woman,” but perhaps we would be better suited to remind ourselves just how recently things have begun to change.
- After all, we are in a post #MeToo moment, when we can clearly recognize Medusa’s myth as a rape narrative — one in which the victim is blamed and cast out by her community for crimes perpetrated against her;
In 1976, Hélène Cixous, a noteworthy French feminist theorist, wrote an essay called ” The Laugh of the Medusa ,” in which she unpacks this myth. She calls women to write and express themselves fully. Throughout the essay she encourages women to come closer in relation to “her sexuality, to her womanly being, giving her access to her native strength.
- ” She goes on to say that in doing so she will get “back her goods, her pleasure, her organs, her immense bodily territories;
- ” Cixous continues on, saying that for too long women’s bodies have been occupied and deemed guilty — “guilty of everything, guilty at every turn: for having desire, for not having any; for being frigid, for being ‘too hot’; for not being both at once,” perhaps even from being both woman and angry;
Cixous emphasizes the importance of the female voice, of women’s story, she urges women to urgently learn to speak; because after all “a woman without a body, dumb, blind, can’t possibly be a good fighter. ” Herein, we see Medusa’s head, cut from her body, being held up by Perseus, “she is reduced to being the servant of the militant male, his shadow.
” In what insidious ways are women made to be in a man’s shadow? How might women’s stories actually be centered around women? Throughout all of her work, Cixous decries phallocentric storytelling and histories — in which men and the psychoanalytic lens of phallic imagery are centered in women’s stories.
Of course, one must never mention psychoanalysis and phallic imagery without then mentioning Sigmund Freud, who, during the 20th century, wrote prolifically about the intersection of sexuality and psychology. In 1950 his uncompleted essay, “Medusa’s Head,” was posthumously published.
He poses the idea that ” to decapitate = to castrate. ” Through this framework, Freud posits that the female head is akin to her genitalia — keeping in mind that Medusa did in fact “give birth” to her child from her severed neck.
Within this context, it seems as if both the male genitalia and female head are their respective centers of power. Thereby, to castrate a man is to severe his most vital organ; and to decapitate a woman is to take her most vital source of power. SLAVA GERJ / WITR / SHUTTERSTOCK / ZAK BICKEL / THE ATLANTIC The incomplete essay becomes far more phallocentric as it continues — explaining how the sight of female genitalia instills fear of castration, how Medusa’s snake-like hair is (of course) a phallic symbol, and finally that Medusa’s ability to cause onlookers to become stiff, is a representation of an erection and therefore a confirmation of their manhood and of still having a penis — it is in essence, their final confirmation of manhood. From Freud’s telling, the entire story takes place through the perspective of the man in the story, reducing Medusa to something sub-human. Medusa’s beheading is the ultimate offense because it involves a complete dismemberment, a permanence within the male gaze, and a “double darkness.
” According to Hélène Cixous’ article “The Laugh of Medusa,” she claims that, The mythologically beheaded woman is seen (or at least partially seen) does not see; she is blinded and those who have beheaded her are blinded to her real nature.
She is transformed from a seeing subject to merely seen object, a demeaned and faceless body. Freud’s analysis of the Medusa myth is that she was decapitated because she represents castration anxiety through phallic symbolism. According to Freud, it is for this reason that Perseus must decapitate her.
Cixous disagrees with this analysis. She argues that decapitation is not a symbol of castration anxiety, but rather a result of it. In other words, symbolic decapitation, “is a symptom of the real dangers that women face in a culture that is anxious about the powers of masculinity.
” Cixous demonstrates these points by claiming Freud himself is reductive and neglects to address the female experience in the Medusa myth, thereby erasing her experience, or, symbolically decapitating her as well. In her book Put A Bag Over Her Head: Beheading Mythological Women , Wendy Doniger posits that — if men fear castration of the penis, then women fear decapitation of the head; therefore the penis and the head become the locus of power within the man and woman respectively.
Doniger claims that “beheading equals the release or termination of sexuality, male or female. ” Doniger submits that through the sexualization of the female head, (i. the mouth becoming the vagina) the woman, in essence, loses her voice, or rather she is denied of her voice.
If the sexualization of the female head causes subjectivity of the woman, then I argue that Freud’s analysis (i. the hair as a phallic symbol) is also a sexualization of the female head. If women venture to claim control over their heads, then they become a threat to the phallic, male-dominated structure.
- Because Medusa refuses a fate of silence and subjectivity, Perseus is left with no option but to decapitate Medusa for wielding her power;
- The myth of Medusa lies at the nexus of conversations about symbolism, feminity, rage, and the ways women are symbols of generativity, desire, and power;
There is an alluring nature to Medusa, as she is both siren and saint — she is the complicated woman we all understand and fear. The phallocentric understanding of Medusa that attempts to claim her as an erotic object denies her of her full power of speech, thought, and importance.
Her decapitation is in direct result of male anxiety about maintaining power and control. Google any famous woman’s name, perhaps Angela Merkel, Nancy Pelosi, or Hillary Clinton along with the word “Medusa.
” For centuries ” women in power (or fighting for power) have been compared to Medusa, from Marie Antoinette to the suffragettes. “It’s clear — in our society the sexually and intellectually independent woman is a fearsome sight to behold..
What does a Medusa tattoo mean TikTok?
Medusa tattoos are popping up all over TikTok. – Those familiar with Greek mythology likely know that Medusa was a mythic figure who was capable of turning a man to stone with just a look. Oh, and she had snakes for hair. All of this makes her sound rather unappealing, but it also speaks to the way men likely shaped many of the most famous stories told about women. Article continues below advertisement Although there are likely a million different reasons to get a Medusa tattoo, the most common one on TikTok right now is designed to invert the narrative that women should be punished or blamed in the wake of being sexually assaulted. In some tellings of Medusa’s story, she was raped by Poseidon, and then punished by Athena because of it. Now, women are reclaiming her as a figure of strength and empowerment. Historically, the figure of Medusa has been used to ward off evil. Medusa, who is often evil herself in these tellings, is used as an figure to repel other evil forces.
- Now, women are reclaiming that narrative for themselves;
- Now, many are claiming that Medusa is not an evil figure, but a strong person who had to overcome enormous pain and trauma;
- Although she never actually existed, her story is one that many women on TikTok have found themselves relating to;
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How does Medusa relate to today?
Medusa in Modern Culture – In modern culture, Medusa is seen as a powerful symbol of female intelligence and wisdom, related to the goddess Metis, who was a wife of Zeus. The snake-like head is a symbol of her cunning, a perversion of the matrifocal ancient goddess who the Greeks must destroy.
What does the story of Medusa teach us?
The Moral of the Story – The story of Perseus and Medusa is told to teach various life lessons. Perseus is cast out into the sea in a wooden chest with his unfaithful mother, yet they survive the rough seas by praying to Poseidon for the seas to be calm.
Once landing on the island of Serifos, Perseus grew into a strong man with noble character and great intelligence. As King Polydectes ordered the near-impossible task that Perseus bring him the head of Medusa, Perseus dedicated himself to fulfilling the demand to save his mother.
As the son of Zeus, Perseus had help from the gods during his journey to find Medusa. Perseus used these gifts to locate Medusa and behead her, but it was also his strength, courage, and intelligence that helped him succeed. His courage, strength, and intelligence was also the reason that Perseus saved Andromeda from the Cetus and returned home with her, slaying both Phineus and Polydectes with the head of Medusa by turning them into stone.
The story of Perseus and Medusa is a story of perseverance, bravery, and dignity. Perseus personifies the length one would go to in order to save the ones you love. Perseus shows the authenticity of his character when he rescues the helpless Andromeda from the Cetus and the attachment to the rock.
The bravery and courage of Perseus are shown as he beheads Medusa, as well as his defeat of Phineus and Polydectes..
Why is Medusa so popular?
From Renaissance times, Medusa’s power and femininity has made her an enticing subject for Western artists. Her beheading is portrayed as an act of heroism, as in Alexander Runciman’s Perseus and the Sleeping Medusa (1774).
What is Medusa known for?
Medusa © piotrwzk/Shutterstock. com Medusa , in Greek mythology , the most famous of the monster figures known as Gorgons. She was usually represented as a winged female creature having a head of hair consisting of snakes; unlike the Gorgons, she was sometimes represented as very beautiful.
- Medusa was the only Gorgon who was mortal; hence her slayer, Perseus , was able to kill her by cutting off her head;
- From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus , her two sons by Poseidon;
The severed head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, was given to Athena , who placed it in her shield; according to another account, Perseus buried it in the marketplace of Argos. Heracles (Hercules) is said to have obtained a lock of Medusa’s hair (which possessed the same powers as the head) from Athena and given it to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus, as a protection for the town of Tegea against attack; when exposed to view, the lock was supposed to bring on a storm, which put the enemy to flight. Britannica Quiz A Study of Greek and Roman Mythology Who led the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece? Who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Ares? From fruits to winged sandals, test your knowledge in this study of Greek and Roman mythology. In the British writer Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head (1961), the heroine is a Medusa figure. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn ..
What are signs of Medusa?
What is Medusa the god of?
Interesting Facts About Medusa –
- Born to the sea god Phorcys and Ceto (Phorcys’ wife and sister), Medusa (queen or ruler) was one of the three Gorgon sisters. The other two sisters were Stheno (strength) and Euryale (wide-leaping).
- Greek poet Hesiod wrote that Medusa lived close to the Hesperides in the Western Ocean near Sarpedon. Herodotus the historian said her home was Libya.
- Medusa’s sisters were immortal but she was mortal.
- Medusa wandered Africa for some time. Legend says while she was there baby snakes dropped from her head and this is why there are plenty of snakes in Africa.
- Many artists made Medusa into a work of art.
- Leonardo da Vinci did a painting of her using oil on canvas.
- She was made into marble and bronze sculptures.
- From c. 200 B. : In Pompeii’s House of the Faun, Medusa was on the breastplate of Alexander the Great in the Alexander Mosaic.
- The coat of arms of the Dohalice village from the Czech Republic depicts Medusa’s head.
- The flag and emblem of Sicily also features her head.
- Two species of snakes contain her name: the venomous pitviper Bothriopsis medusa and the nonvenomous snake called Atractus medusa.
- Medusa represents philosophy, beauty and art.
- The Medusa head is part of fashion designer Gianni Versace’s symbol.
- She has been featured in movies, books, cartoons and even video games.
- There are several versions of the Medusa myth.
- In almost every version of the Medusa myth, King Polydectes of Seriphus sent Perseus to return with her head so that Polydectes could marry his mother. The gods aided Perseus in his quest and he was sent golden winged sandals from Hermes , Hades’ helm of invisibility, a sword from Hephaestus and a mirrored shield from Athena.
- Perseus the hero slayed Medusa, the only mortal of the Gorgon sisters, by viewing her in the reflection of the mirrored shield of Athena. Perseus then beheaded her. At this moment Chrysaor , the giant with a golden sword, and the winged horse Pegasus sprang forth from her body. These are her two sons.
- In feminism Medusa is known as a symbol of rage even though she was originally exceedingly beautiful.
- A Roman cameo from the second or third century contains her head.
- A tepidarium from the Roman era has a mosaic floor with her head at the center.
- Her profile is engraved on coins of the reign of Seleceus I Nicator of Syria from 312-280 B.
- The Artemis temple in Corfu depicts Medusa in archaic form. She is a symbol of fertility dressed in a belt of intertwined snakes.
- A story says that Hercules acquired a lock of Medusa’s hair from Athena and gave it to the daughter of Cepheus, Sterope, to protect the town of Tegea from being attacked. Her hair held the same powers as her head so that when it was exposed it caused a storm which chased away the foes.
Medusa is one of the most famous characters of Greek mythology. This has been proven because she continues to be portrayed in pop culture. She is not only immortalized in stories but also in history. She is immediately recognizable, a classical figure and an exciting symbol of a monster.