Book Review: Re-Visioning Medusa: from Monster to Divine Wisdom 

    Not one piece in this anthology was what I was expecting. I opened the covers of this book thinking to find a simplified way of seeing Medusa as Goddess instead of Monster. I originally thought this to be a children’s book based on the Girl God’s previous publishing. Far from it. 

    From the depths of mythology and the subconscious, the writings of these authors and contributors reach their hands deep down and pull forth snakes that wreath with unsterile wisdom and potent humanity, staring with eyes of stones that seem to mirror ones own story. And that seems to be the main tenant of Medusa’s cult. Read your own story, own it, and stop building walls. 

   Coming from many different backgrounds filled with triumph and trials, trauma and transformation, the authors guide us through Her myths and magics, while occasionally singing the musing songs of Medusa through the many poems scattered between the covers. The musings and hearts of these authors slither through the pages of this book, much like the beautiful artwork entrances one into the contemplation of healing and power. 

   Medusa shows in many myths through out Greek mythology. The one in particular that stood out for me was the story of Her being raped in the temple of Athena by Poseidon, which shows a couple of times throughout the book. Having been offended, Athena transformed Medusa’s hair into serpents and her face because horrible to look at, so much so that all onlookers were turned to stone. 

    I feel this myth is the one that shows Medusa’s authentic beauty and power. Athena (Wisdom) in reaction to the action of rape, turns Medusa into everything womanly that is feared by man and those that see through the glass ceiling of Patriarchy. Her face becomes hideous as to show the true pain and power that dance within her, the inner force that can cut nations off at the knees. Her serpent hair whispers of strength and sexuality and trauma in the town square of  misogyny. Her gaze sends patriarchy and men running, fumbling to keep their stance amid the falling towers of sexism and expectation. 

    It is here that Medusa’s own stone walls fell. It is there that Medusa was re-modeled in the divine furnance into a guardian of deep, authentic transformation and magic. Here is how Medusa teaches us to build mirrors instead of walls. If everyone could face their own pain, stand proudly among their own fears, and swim through their past traumas then no one would feel the need to lash out against those of others. 

   Some folks may talk a big talk, but at the end of the day they’re far worse then they seem. At night they tuck themselves into bed amongst the nightmares and thorns of their past. They keep behind their walls so as not to be blinded by the power of Medusa. Their own darkness and weakness is all they’ve ever known. 

   This book has done more for me than just showing Medusa as Goddess instead of Monster. It offers to break down walls, evaporate the chains of traumatic pasts, and strikes blade into the hearts of our demons and pains. I highly recommend this for those who come from a not-so-sunny background and are seeking transformation or healing. This book has offered me more than just a different view of Medusa; it has introduced me to a part of myself I never knew. This book was Medusa knocking on my hearts door and I’m glad I answered it.


Author: Jake Richards

Jake (Dr. Henny) follows family practice as a Yarb Doctor and Conjure man in the Appalachian Folk Magic tradition. He follows the legacy of his mother (a seventh daughter), that left behind by his grandfather, a baptist preacher who was a blood stopper, wort doctor, and thrush doctor; his grandmother, who was a knowledgeable woman in these works before Alzheimer’s set in; his great, great grandfather who witched for water in Washington County and his great grandmother who taught and worked from her roost at the foot of Devil’s Nest Mountain. Jake is the author of Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia, available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound. When he's not writing, blogging, reading the bones or trying for clients: he is either traveling, gardening, sewing, book binding, reading, or sculpting. For questions, readings, recommendations for future posts, interviews and the like, you are welcome to email him below:

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