Many of us have heard the legend of Medusa and Perseus, the snake-haired monster who was slain by the iconic Greek hero… but there’s another side to this particular tale. Check out Mystic Self’s retelling of Ovid’s classic story, told from the perspective of Medusa (and look out for reference to your favorite gemstones along the way!):
“I’d never met a god before. My day had started normally, I ate barley bread and figs for breakfast, I went to the white temple before noon, and then I took the fated path down to the beach. The salt cedar trees shivered in the wind, the blue sapphire waves stretched out towards the thin strip of horizon in the distance. I was sitting praying, or at least thinking about praying, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Poseidon. His long hair stirred in the sea breeze, his eyes glinted like garnet, as black as a storm. He didn’t have his trident, but I knew it was him, I knew it right down to my bones. My first thought was that, perhaps, he had come to answer my prayers. My suitors were numerous, and pressure was mounting to select a future husband so that I could secure a prosperous life for myself, and for my family. But I was young, beautiful, I didn’t want to waste my mortal years with a husband who was dull or old or stupid. Little did I know, Poseidon had come to present himself as a suitor, one that I could not refuse.
Though we honor the gods, it rarely does well to be singled out by them. They are immortal, reckless – red with the touch of Bacchus – they have no care for the consequences of their actions. I would have been wise to say no, I could have sought favor from another member of the divinity to avoid the wrath of the sea god. But Poseidon was so far from a storm, he had a caressing voice and a soft smile; I found his presence as soothing as cool waves on a hot day. In the brief time we shared, the future was a mere frivolity, silly, not something worth thinking about. My heart became full, my love burning like red-orange carnelian flames.
Little did I know, that just as the tide must come in, so it must go out. He left, and the pain of a first heartbreak rattled through me like a sickness. I drank too much wine and attended the temple too little. Often, I’d sneak out in the night and walk to the wall overlooking the sea. I liked to feel the burn of salt in my nostrils, see the way the wind combed my long hair so that it danced about my head, shining like crystal quartz in the moonlight.
The goddess Minerva had seen all that had passed between Poseidon and me. Not only had I neglected her temple, I had gone against her wishes; she had hoped I would reject each of my suitors, and become a wise maiden like her. But instead I had taken the worst path: a romance with her greatest foe.
As goddess of war and strategy, Minerva’s punishments were as cruel as they were smart. She wanted me to feel the embittered venom that she had felt and so it was that I awoke one morning to the sound of hissing. My hair, no longer mine, had become a halo of snakes, they bobbed like waves around my head. They bit my face, sinking their venom into my skin until I became monstrous and unrecognizable. When my terrified maid turned to stone, I knew I had no choice but to flee.
So now I wait, and I pray, and I wait. I hope that time might soften Minerva’s rage or bring Poseidon to my aid. I have made a new home in a cave – inside it is as dark as black spinel, and its entrance is obscured to the naked eye – it’s better that nobody finds me, better that I am alone.
I’ve been having bad dreams of late. The snakes, at night, they whisper to me: Persssseussss. That one name, over and over. Persssseussss. Friend or foe? I cannot tell. But for now, all I can do is sit, hope and remember the good times before.”