There Was A Little Girl…..

August 20, 2010

There was a little girl,
     Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
     When she was good,
     She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Princess Beatrice, April 2011


The monstrous Medusa is one of a large number of images of the Terrible Mother that occurs in myth and religion all over the world. Greek religion had long since ceased to give power to the Terrible Mother by the time of the ascendency of Athens. So, figures like the Medusa, the Furies, and the Gorgon became deadly enemies of the heroic patriarchal religion that Pallas Athena represented.

Having slain the Medusa, the goddess Athena seems to assimilate some of her power, since she wears her terrible face upon her sheild.

Psychologically we could say that Athena consciousness, which is aligned more with patriarchy and the spirit, is in conflict with an even deeper layer of the matriarchal psyche than Demeter/Metis, givers of life. Athena consciousness, from the evidence of the Perseus and Orestes stories, is also at war with the Terrible Mother, who, as the goddess of death, carries the opposite but complementary side of Demeter.

The tragic irony of the Athena women’s fight against tyranny and victimization is that the more she fights it, the more she manifests the feminine archetype of death and destruction in her own defensive psychic armor. As Jung once remarked, “You always become the thing you fight the most.”.

And by projecting this energy outward through her “persona”, or public self, the wounded Athena women perpetually fails to integrate it inwardly. The images of the victim and persecutor face opposite directions in her psychic makeup: as the hurt victim, her wound is turned inward and kept hidden; but as the angry, righteous persecutor, it is turned outward, obsessively seeking battle, revenge, retribution, on behalf of certain lofty principles.

from The Goddess Within: A Guide to the Eternal Myths that Shape Women’s Lives, Jennifer Barker Woolger and Roger J Woolger.

 Blink herefor a confronting take on the chthonic dynamic of the Good Girl/Bad Girl archetype.



  1. Another view is that Medusa is the shadow of Athena, that which Athena represses in order to be a Goddess of the patriarchy. To be whole, the patriarchal woman needs to integrate the anger and feminine power of the ancient Divine Feminine. And on a lighter note — love the baby’s Medusa hat!

  2. Medusa is a very rich archetype. I enjoyed Demetra George’s essay on Medusa being Sovereign Feminine Wisdom.
    Have you read that? This is the link http://www.shedrums.com/Medusa.htm

  3. FASCINATING stuff! It’s so much to take in and fully absorb, not to say anything of all the internal restructuring and reorganizing of schemas. And when did the Greeks suddenly become so prominent in my life??

    I should have had one of those hats as a kid (and an adult), to go with my “Death Look” 😀

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