Medusan Monday Musing
Updated: Feb 10
“By purpose I mean the relational fields that beckon our imaginations and erotic passion to conspire ongoingly with the world.” [An excerpt from my essay "Apokalyptic Possibilities"]
Though Medusa is commonly seen as an apotropaic symbol meant to ward off evil with her stone-turning gaze, I’m going to re-vision this ancient story whose life-blood courses through my ancestral veins. Not as a suggestion that this is what the Greeks intended. Rather, to breathe life into the mattering force of this ancient story. To demonstrate how stories are living presences that find manifestation and (re)expression through our entangled, animal bodies.
I present stories here as intersubjective fields filled with agentic contributions from both human and more-than-human creatures, alike. In that, they have the capacity to evolve and shapeshift because the world evolves and shapeshifts. And though stories might seem fixed (partly a consequence of the short amount of time humanity has been a contributing species of this world) they are filled with bifurcation events. Moments that undermine the notion of linearity and change as something gradual. Moments that are biological and energetic places of adaptation, divergence, and hybridization. And, I dare say, Medusa is quite the hybrid.
With her serpentine hair and piercing, moonlit eyes, Medusa is not so much a fix-ing force (as one might associate with being turned to stone) as she is an unruly, change-making agent of mortal and monstrous proportion. A tentacular creature whose gaze replenishes the fecund soil from which life springs, and feeds the humatic womb that composts bodies promising the renewal of life.
Not to mention a worlding force for hoofed and pawed ones. I imagine goats, jackals, and porcupines are very grateful for her ocular capacities as they traverse mountainsides and call rock faces home.
Stone (or rock) has an expiration date - a moment where its out-breath (though slow by comparison to most mammals) conjures new shapes. It does not remain in one form, forever. It moves through passages of transformation.
Sedimentary rock becomes metamorphic rock, and metamorphic rock melts and becomes magma, and magma can either crystalize or consolidate. And once pressed out through those volcanic chambers (post-cooling and solidification) it entangles with all manner of weathering agents: water, ice, acids, plants, animals, fluxing temperatures, mycelium. Helped along by those very weathering agents, part of a rocks shapeshifting life-cycle involves becoming a member of the soil.
Soil is an underground habitat for organisms whose very lives help the soil to breathe because they are beings who respire. As an assemblage of co-collaborative, multi-specied agents, soil births erotic imaginings that conspire with the worlds on-going-ness.
To conspire is, at its root, "to breathe together" (con-spirare), and breath (pneuma/spirit) is an animating force. With every inspiration and expiration, life articulates an inter-dependent dance of generation and destruction. A dance made possible by the untamed forces of the Earth. By chthonic agents such as Medusa gifting the world with her sight. A sight that shapes and re-shapes the land.
Medusa's gaze does not promise eternal fixings. Rather, it beckons the onlooker into the humus of transformation. A kind of transformation that roots you more deeply into the purpose of your entangled existence.
Picture by my beloved Matt of me being "inspired" by the land.