Medusa and Athena: Ancient Allies in Healing Women’s Trauma by Laura Shannon

‘Rather than being a bleeding image of female disempowerment, Medusa may be read as…one of the most ancient European symbols of women’s spiritual abilities… [and] an empowering image of feminine potential.’

–Patricia Monaghan, O Mother Sun! (1994:244)

The name Medusa means ‘sovereign female wisdom,’ ‘guardian / protrectress,’ ‘the one who knows’ or ‘the one who rules.’ It derives from the same Indo-European root as the Sanskrit Medha and the Greek Metis, meaning ‘wisdom’ and ‘intelligence.’ (1) Metis, ‘the clever one’, is Athena’s mother. Corretti identifies Athena, Metis, and Medusa as aspects of an ancient triple Goddess corresponding respectively to the new, full, and dark phases of the moon. (2) All three are Goddesses of wisdom, protection, and healing.

Athena with Gorgoneion in her heart. 5th C BCE.

Athena and Medusa are particularly linked: indeed, one may have been an aspect of the other, ‘two indissociable aspects of the same sacred power.’ (3) Their many common…

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