Showing posts with label Kali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kali. Show all posts

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Designing Women

"The Baron has little waxed tips of hair under his nose, like the short antennae of an insect. These quivered with amusement as he listened, and he finally broke into a gentle chuckle. 

" 'Excuse my amusement, Mr. Holmes,' said he, 'but it is really funny to see you trying to play a hand with no cards in it. I don't think anyone could do it better, but it is rather pathetic all the same. Not a colour card there, Mr. Holmes, nothing but the smallest of the small.' 

" 'So you think.' 

" 'So I know. Iet me make the thing clear to you, for my own hand is so strong that I can afford to show it. I have been fortunate enough to win the entire affection of this lady. This was given to me in spite of the fact that I told her very clearly of all the unhappy incidents in my past life. I also told her that certain wicked and designing persons -- I hope you recognize yourself -- would come to her and tell her these things. and I warned her how to treat them. You have heard of post-hypnotic suggestion. Mr. Holmes ' Well you will see how it works for a man of personality can use hypnotism without any vulgar passes or tomfoolery. So she is ready for you and, I have no doubt, would give you an appointment, for she is quite amenable to her father's will -- save only in the one little matter.' 

"Well, Watson, there seemed to be no more to say, so I took my leave with as much cold dignity as I could summon, but, as I had my hand on the door-handle, he stopped me.

" 'By the way, Mr. Holmes,' said he, 'did you know Le Brun, the French agent?' 

" 'Yes,' said I. 

" 'Do you know what befell him?' 

"'I heard that he was beaten by some Apaches in the Montmartre district and crippled for life.' 

" 'Quite true, Mr. Holmes. By a curious coincidence he had been inquiring into my affairs only a week before. Don't do it, Mr. Holmes; it's not a lucky thing to do. Several have found that out. My last word to you is, go your own way and let me go mine. Good-bye!' 

"So there you are, Watson. You are up to date now." 

"The fellow seems dangerous."

"Mighty dangerous. I disregard the blusterer, but this is the sort of man who says rather less than he means." 

"Must you interfere? Does it really matter if he marries the girl?" 

"Considering that he undoubtedly murdered his last wife, I should say it mattered very much. Besides, the client! Well, well, we need not discuss that. When you have finished your coffee you had best come home with me, for the blithe Shinwell will be there with his report." 

We found him sure enough, a huge, coarse, red-faced, scorbutic man, with a pair of vivid black eyes which were the only external sign of the very cunning mind within. It seems that he had dived down into what was peculiarly his kingdom, and beside him on the settee was a brand which he had brought up in the shape of a slim, flame-like young woman with a pale, intense face, youthful, and yet so worn with s v½ in and sorrow that one read the terrible years which had left their leprous mark upon her. 

"This is Miss Kitty Winter," said Shinwell Johnson, waving his fat hand as an introduction. "What she don't know -- well, there, she'll speak for herself. Put my hand right on her, Mr. Holmes, within an hour of your message." 

"I'm easy to find," said the young woman. "Hell, London, gets me every time. Same address for Porky Shinwell. We're old mates, Porky, you and I. But, by cripes! there is another wht to be down in a lower hell than we if there was any justice in the world! That is the man you are after, Mr. Holmes."

Holmes smiled. "I gather we have your good wishes, Miss Winter." 

"If I can help to put him where he belongs, I'm yours to the rattle," said our visitor with fierce energy. There was an intensity of hatred in her white, set face and her blazing eyes such as woman seldom and man never can attain. 

"You needn't go into my past, Mr. Holmes. That's neither here nor there. But what I am Adelbert Gruner made me. If I could pull him down!" She clutched frantically with her hands into the air. "Oh, if I could only pull him into the pit where he has pushed so many!" 

"You know how the matter stands?" 

"Porky Shinwell has been telling me. He's after some other poor fool and wants to marry her this time. You want to stop it. Well, you surely know enough about this devil to prevent any decent girl in her senses wanting to be in the same parish with him." 

"She is not in her senses. She is madly in love. She has been told all about him. She cares nothing."

"Told about the murder?"


"My Lord, she must have a nerve!" 

"She puts them all down as slanders." 

"Couldn't you lay proofs before her silly eyes?" 

"Well, can you help us do so?" 

"Ain't I a proof myself? If I stood before her and told her how he used me --" 

"Would you do this?"

"Would I? Would I not!"

"Well, it might be worth trying. But he has told her most of his sins and had pardon from her, and I understand she will not reopen the question." 

"I'll lay he didn't tell her all," said Miss Winter. "I caught a glimpse of one or two murders besides the one that made such a fuss. He would speak of someone in his velvet way and then look at me with a steady eye and say: 'He died within a month.' It wasn't hot air, either. But I took little notice -you see, I loved him myself at that time. Whatever he did went with me, same as with this poor fool! There was just one thing that shook me. Yes, by cripes! if it had not been for his poisonous, lying tongue that explains and soothes. I'd have left him that very night. It's a book he has -- a brown leather book with a lock, and his arms in gold on the outside. I think he was a bit drunk that night, or he would not have shown it to me."

"What was it, then?"

"I tell you. Mr. Holmes. this man collects women, and takes a pride in his collection. as some men collect moths or butterflies. He had it all in that book. Snapshot photographs. names, details, everything about them. It was a beastly book -- a book no man, even if he had come from the gutter, could have put together. But it was Adelbert Gruner's book all the same. 'Souls I have ruined.' He could have put that on the outside if he had been so minded. However, that's neither here nor there, for the book would not serve you, and, if it would, you can't get it." 

"Where is it?" 

"How can I tell you where it is now? It's more than a year since I left him. I know where he kept it then. He's a precise, tidy cat of a man in many of his ways, so maybe it is still in the pigeon-hole of the old bureau in the inner study. Do you know his house?" 

"I've been in the study," said Holmes. 

"Have you. though? You haven't been slow on the job if you only started this morning. Maybe dear Adelbert has met his match this time. The outer study is the one with the Chinese crockery in it -- big glass cupboard between the windows. Then behind his desk is the door that leads to the inner study -- a small room where he keeps papers and things." 

"Is he not afraid of burglars?"

"Adelbert is no coward. His worst enemy couldn't say that of him. He can look after himself. There's a burglar alarm at night. Besides, what is there for a burglar -- unless they got away with all this fancy crockery?" 

"No good," said Shinwell Johnson with the decided voice of the expert. "No fence wants stuff of that sort that you can neither melt nor sell." 

"Quite so," said Holmes. "Well, now, Miss Winter. if you would call here tomorrow evening at five. I would consider in the meanwhile whether your suggestion of seeing this lady personally may not be arranged. I am exceedingly obliged to you lor vour cooperation. I need not say that my clients will consider liberally --" 

"None of that, Mr. Holmes," cried the young woman. "I am not out for money. Let me see this man in the mud, and I've got all I've worked for -- in the mud with my foot on his cursed face. That's my price. I'm with you tomorrow or any other day so long as you are on his track. Porky here can tell you always where to find me." 

I did not see Holmes again until the following evening when we dined once more at our Strand restaurant. He shrugged his shoulders when I asked him what luck he had had in his interview. Then he told the story, which I would repeat in this way. His hard, dry statement needs some little editing to soften it into the terms of real life. 

"There was no difficulty at all about the appointment," said Holmes, "for the girl glories in showing abject filial obedience in all secondary things in an attempt to atone for her flagrant breach of it in her engagement. The General phoned that all was ready, and the fiery Miss W. turned up according to schedule, so that at half-past five a cab deposited us outside 104 Berkeley Square, where the old soldier resides -- one of those awful gray London castles which would make a church seem frivolous. A footman showed us into a great yellow-curtained drawing-room, and there was the lady awaiting us, demure, pale, self-contained, as inflexible and remote as a snow image on a mountain.

"I don't quite know how to make her clear to you, Watson. Perhaps you may meet her before we are through, and you can use your own gift of words. She is beautiful, but with the ethereal other-world beauty of some fanatic whose thoughts are set on high. I have seen such faces in the pictures of the old masters of the Middle Ages. How a beastman could have laid his vile paws upon such a being of the beyond I cannot imagine. You may have noticed how extremes call to each other, the spiritual to the animal, the cave-man to the angel. You never saw a worse case than this. 

"She knew what we had come for, of course -- that villain had lost no time in poisoning her mind against us. Miss Winter's advent rather amazed her, I think, but she waved us into our respective chairs like a reverend abbess receiving two rather leprous mendicants. If your head is inclined to swell. my dear Watson, take a course of Miss Violet de Merville. 

" 'Well, sir,' said she in a voice like the wind from an iceberg, 'your name is familiar to me. You have called. as I understand, to malign my fiance, Baron Gruner. It is only by my father's request that I see you at all, and I warn you in advance that anything you can say could not possibly have the slightest effect upon my mind.' 

"I was sorry for her, Watson. I thought of her for the moment as I would have thought of a daughter of my own. I am not often eloquent. I use my head, not my heart. But I really did plead with her with all the warmth of words that I could find in my nature. I pictured to her the awful position of the woman who only wakes to a man's character after she is his wife -- a woman who has to submit to be caressed by bloody hands and lecherous lips. I spared her nothing -- the shame, the fear, the agony, the hopelessness of it all. All my hot words could not bring one tinge of colour to those ivory cheeks or one gleam of emotion to those abstracted eyes. I thought of what the rascal had said about a post-hypnotic influence. One could really believe that she was living above the earth in some ecstatic dream. Yet there was nothing indefinite in her replies. 

" 'I have listened to you with patience, Mr. Holmes,' said she. 'The effect upon my mind is exactly as predicted. I am aware that Adelbert, that my fiance, has had a stormy life in which he has incurred bitter hatreds and most unjust aspersions. You are only the last of a series who have brought their slanders before me. Possibly you mean well, though I learn that you are a paid agent who would have been equally willing to act for the Baron as against him. But in any case I wish you to understand once for all that I love him and that he loves me, and that the opinion of all the world is no more to me than the twitter of those birds outside the window. If his noble nature has ever for an instant fallen, it may be that I have been specially sent to raise it to its true and lofty level. I am not clear' -- here she turned eyes upon my companion -- 'who this young lady may be.' 

"I was about to answer when the girl broke in like a whirlwind. If ever you saw flame and ice face to face, it was those two women. 

" 'I'll tell you who I am,' she cried, springing out of her chair, her mouth all twisted with passion -- 'I am his last mistress. I am one of a hundred that he has tempted and used and ruined and thrown into the refuse heap, as he will you also. Your refuse heap is more likely to be a grave, and maybe that's the best. I tell you, you foolish woman, if you marry this man he'll be the death of you. It may be a broken heart or it may be a broken neck, but he'll have you one way or the other. It's not out of love for you I'm speaking. I don't care a tinker's curse whether you live or die. It's out of hate for him and to spite him and to get back on him for what he did to me. But it's all the same, and you needn't look at me like that, my fine lady, for you may be lower than I am before you are through with it.

" 'I should prefer not to discuss such matters,' said Miss de Merville coldly. 'Let me say once for all that I am aware of three passages in my fiance's life in which he became entangled with designing women, and that I am assured of his hearty repentance for any evil that he may have done.' 

" 'Three passages!' screamed my companion. 'You fool! You unutterable fool!' 

" 'Mr. Holmes, I beg that you will bring this interview to an end,' said the icy voice. 'I have obeyed my father's wish in seeing you, but I am not compelled to listen to the ravings of this person.' 

"With an oath Miss Winter darted forward, and if I had not caught her wrist she would have clutched this maddening woman by the hair. I dragged her towards the door and was lucky to get her back into the cab without a public scene, for she was beside herself with rage. In a cold way I felt pretty furious myself, Watson, for there was something indescribably annoying in the calm aloofness and supreme self-complaisance of the woman whom we were trying to save. So now once again you know exactly how we stand, and it is clear that I must plan some fresh opening move, for this gambit won't work. I'll keep in touch with you, Watson, for it is more than likely that you will have your part to play, though it is just possible that the next move may lie with them rather than with us." 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

All Sacrifice is Self-Sacrifice

When I met you [You were afraid] 
When I met you [She stole your heart] 
I was The Walking Dead [She tore you down] 
I was kicked in the head [She tore you down] 
It was such a time [When I met you] 
It was such a time [When I met you] 
I was crushed inside [When I met you] 
I was torn inside 
When I met you 
When I met you 
I was too insane 
Could not trust a thing 
I was off my head 
I was filled with Truth 
It was not God's Truth 
Before I met you 

"It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men's pain that I carried my cross."

If you experience fear, and palpable existential terror whilst viewing and participating in the below scene, you are experiencing sacrifice.

To empathise with the victim of human sacrifice, to know his sense of terror and experience the horror of his death is to become the victim;

One cannot sacrifice The Other - only that which is of The Self.

Hence, the mass human sacrifices of the latter Aztec Empire did not work - they were trying to sacrifice other people to save themselves, rather than a volunteer or willing participant to the sacrifice, entered into with Fully Informed Consent.

" Very few readers of the Golden Bough have pierced Sir Prof. Dr. Frazer's veil of euphemism and surmised the exact method used by Isis in restoring life to Osiris, although this is shown quite clearly in extant Egyptian frescoes. 

Those who are acquainted with this simple technique of resurrecting the dead (which is at least partially successful in all cases and totally successful in most) will have no trouble in skrying the esoteric connotations of the Sacred Chao— or of the Taoist yin-yang or the astrological sign of Cancer. 

The method almost completely reverses that of the pentagrams, right or left, and it can even be said that in a certain sense it was not Osiris himself but his brother, Set, symbolically understood, who was the object of Isis's magical workings. 

In every case, without exception, a magical or mystical symbol always refers to one of the very few* variations of the same, very special variety of human sacrifice: the "one eye opening" or the "one hand clapping"; and this sacrifice cannot be partial— it must culminate in death if it is to be efficacious. 

The literalmindedness of the Saures, in the novel, caused them to become a menace to life on earth; the reader should bear this in mind. 

The sacrifice is not simple. It is a species of cowardice, epidemic in AngloSaxon nations for more than three centuries, which causes most who seek success in this field to stop short before the death of the victim. 

Anything less than death—that is, complete oblivion—simply will not work.** 

(One will find more clarity on this crucial point in the poetry of John Donne than in most treatises alleging to explain the secrets of magick.) 

* Fewer than seventy, according to a classical enumeration. 

 ** The magician must always identify fully with the victim, and share every agonized contortion to the utmost. 

Any attitude of standing aside and watching, as in a theatrical performance, or any intellectualization during the moments when the sword is doing its brutal but necessary work, or any squeamishness or guilt or revulsion, creates the twomindedness against which Hagbard so vehemently warns in Never Whistle While You're Pissing. 

In a sense, only the mind dies.

Monday, 30 January 2017


The magician wishing for a manifestation of Pan will not only invoke Pan directly and verbally, create Panlike conditions in his temple, reinforce Pan associations in every gesture and every article of furniture, use the colors and perfumes associated with Pan, etc.; he will also banish other gods verbally, banish them by removing their associated furnitures and colors and perfumes, and banish them in every other way. 

The Behavior Therapist calls this "negative reinforcement," and in treating a patient who is afraid of elevators he will not only reinforce (reward) every instance in which the patient rides an elevator without terror, but will also negatively reinforce (punish) each indication of terror shown by the patient. 

The Christian Scientist, of course, uses a mantra or spell which both reinforces health and negatively reinforces (banishes) illness.* Similarly, a commercial not only motivates the listener toward the sponsor's product but discourages interest in all "false gods"- by subsuming them under the rubric of the despised and contemptible Brand X.

The basic Christian Science mantra, known as "The Scientific Statement of Being," no less, is as follows: "There is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in matter. All is infinite mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is all in all, Spirit is immortal truth: matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material, he is spiritual." The fact that these statements are, in terms of the scientific criteria, "meaningless," "non-operational," and "footless" is actually totally irrelevant. They work. Try them and see. As Aleister Crowley, no friend of Mrs. Eddy's, wrote, "Enough of Because! May he be damned for a dog!"

The importance of symbols— images— as the link between word and primordial energy demonstrates the unity between magick and yoga. Both magick and yoga— we reiterate—are methods of self-programming employing synchronistically connected chains of word, image, and bio-energy.

Thus, rationalists, who are all puritans, have never considered the fact that disbelief in magick is found only in puritanical societies. The reason for this is simple: Puritans are incapable of guessing what magick is essentially all about. It can even be surely ventured that only those who have experienced true love, in the classic Albigensian or troubadour sense of that expression, are equipped to understand even the most clear-cut exposition of the mysteries.*

The eye in the triangle; for instance, is not primarily a symbol of the Christian Trinity, as the gullible assume— except insofar as the Christian Trinity is itself a visual (or verbal) elaboration on a much older meaning. 

Nor is this symbol representative of the Eye of Osiris or even of the Eye of Horus, as some have ventured; it is venerated, for instance, among the Cao Dai sect in Vietnam, who never heard of Osiris or Horus. 

The eye's meaning can be found quite simply by meditating on Tarot Trump XV, the Devil, which corresponds, on the Tree of Life, to the Hebrew letter ayin, the eye. The reader who realizes that "The Devil" is only a late rendering of the Great God Pan has already solved the mystery of the eye, and the triangle has its usual meaning. 

The two together are the union of Yod, the father, with He, the Mother, as in Yod-He-Vau-He, the holy unspeakable name of God. Vau, the Holy Ghost, is the result of their union, and final He is the divine ecstasy which follows. One might even venture that one who contemplates this key to the identities of Pan, the Devil, the Great Father, and the Great Mother will eventually come to a new, more complete understanding of the Christian Trinity itself, and especially of its most mysterious member, Vau, the elusive Holy Ghost.**

* This book has stated it as clearly as possible in a number of places, but some readers are still wondering what we are holding back.

** This being has more in common with the ordinary nocturnal visitor, sometimes called a "ghost," than is immediately evident to the uninitiated. Cf. the well-documented association of poltergeist disturbances with adolescents.

Friday, 20 January 2017

There are Heroes on Both Sides. Evil is Everywhere.

There are Heroes on Both Sides. 
Evil is Everywhere.

"The Techno Union Army eeeeng ooooogn uuuuuugn iiiiing eeeeng is at your disposal Count"

"The Banking Clan will sign your treaty" 

He is The Chosen One.

He will bring Balance.

Do you know what the trouble is? 


The trouble is Earth. 


On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. 
You look out the window of Starfleet headquarters and you see paradise. 
Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. 
Out there in the Demilitarised zone, all the problems haven't been solved yet. 

Out there, there are no saints, just people. 
Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive whether it meets with Federation approval or not. 

Makes sense to me. 

I'm glad someone understands. 

 Mister Eddington. I have just one question. Why? 

EDDINGTON [on monitor]: 
Will knowing my personal motivation change anything at this point? 

No, I don't suppose it will. 

EDDINGTON [on monitor]: 
Then let's table that for now. The only reason I've contacted you is to ask you to leave us alone. Our quarrel is with the Cardassians, not the Federation. Leave us alone and I can promise you you'll never hear from the Maquis again. 

Unless you see another shipment you want to hijack. 

EDDINGTON [on monitor]: 
You keep sending replicators to Cardassia and you're going to have a lot more to worry about than hijackings. 

I don't respond well to threats. I thought you would know that by now. But I'm beginning to see that you don't know me at all. 

[on monitor]: 
I know you. 
I was like you once, but then I opened my eyes. 
Open your eyes, Captain. 

Why is the Federation so obsessed about the Maquis? 
We've never harmed you, and yet we're constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. 
Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. 


 Because we've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. 

Nobody leaves paradise. 

Everyone should want to be in the Federation. 

Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. 

You're only sending them replicators because one day they can take their rightful place on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways you're worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You're more insidious. You assimilate people and they don't even know it. 

You know what, Mister Eddington? 
I don't give a damn what you think of the Federation, the Maquis, or anything else. 

All I know is that you betrayed your oath, your duty, and me. 

And if it takes me the rest of my life, I will see you standing before a court-martial that'll break you and send you to a penal colony, where you will spend the rest of your days growing old and wondering whether a ship full of replicators was really worth it.

Les Miserables.

You know it?

I can't stand Victor Hugo. 
I tried reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but I couldn't get through it. 
It was so melodramatic and his heroines are so two dimensional.

Eddington compares me to one of the characters, Inspector Javert. A policeman who relentlessly pursues a man named Valjean, guilty of a trivial offence, and in the end Javert's own inflexibility destroys him. He commits suicide.

You can't believe that description fits you. Eddington is just trying to get under your skin.

He did that eight months ago. What strikes me about this book is that Eddington said that it's one of his favourites.

There's no accounting for taste.

Let's think about it.
A Starfleet security officer is fascinated by a nineteenth century French melodrama, and now he's a leader of the Maquis, a resistance group fighting the noble battle against the evil Cardassians.

It sounds like he's living out his own fantasy.

Exactly. And you know what?
 Les Miserables isn't about the policeman.
It's about Valjean, the victim of a monstrous injustice who spends his entire life helping people, making noble sacrifices for others. That's how Eddington sees himself. He's Valjean, he's Robin Hood, he's a romantic, dashing figure, fighting the good fight against insurmountable odds.

The secret life of Michael Eddington.
How does it help us?

Eddington is the hero of his own story. That makes me the villain. And what is it that every hero wants to do?

Kill the bad guy.

That's part of it. 
Heroes only kill when they have to.
Eddington could have killed me back in the refugee camp or when he disabled the Defiant, but in the best melodramas the villain creates a situation where the hero is forced to sacrifice himself for the people, for the cause. 
One final grand gesture.

What are you getting at, Benjamin?

I think it's time for me to become the villain.

There are Heroes on Both Sides. 
Evil is Everywhere.

But think about those people you saw in the caves, huddled and starving. 
They didn't attack the Malinche.

You should have thought about that before you attacked a Federation starship. 

(Sisko turns his back on the Eddington hologram

(Transmission ends)

Captain's log, supplemental. 

Resettlement efforts in the DMZ are underway. The Cardassian and Maquis colonists who were forced to abandon their homes will make new lives for themselves on the planets their counterparts evacuated. 

The balance in the region will be restored, though the situation remains far from stable.

He is The Chosen One.

He will bring Balance.

Are you all right? 

I talked with Worf.
 He doesn't want to have anything to do with me. 

Perhaps I should have a talk with him. 

Absolutely not. You intimidate him. 


Don't tell him I told you. 

I intimidate Worf, huh? 

You like that, don't you? 

Of course not. 

Come on. I've been a man, I know. 

"Now I am Become Death, The Eater of Worlds."


" We knew the world would not be the same. 
A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. 

I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; 

Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 

"Now I am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds." 

I suppose we all thought that, one way or another. "

And people wonder why "Duty" is such an unfashionable word...
(outside of Gilbert and Sullivan)

Oppenheimer is quoting from the 1944 Prabhavananda and Isherwood translation of the Bhagavad Gita

The line quoted is spoken by Krishna, one of the major avatars of Vishnu
some assert that the passage would be better translated 

"I am become Time, The Destroyer of Worlds." 

'Medusa herself is only a shadow'

A British tar is a soaring soul
As free as a mountain bird!
His energetic fist should be ready to resist
A dictatorial word;
His nose should pant and his lip should curl!
His cheeks should flame and his brow should fur!
His bosom should heave and his heart should glow!
And his fist be ever ready for a knock-down blow!!

His eyes should flash with an inborn fire
His brow with scorn be wrung
He never should bow down to a domineering frown
Or the tang of a tyrant tongue
His foot should stamp and his throat should growl
His hair should curl and his face should scowl
His eyes should flash and his breast protrude
And this should be his customary attitude

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Thug Life

'Medusa herself is only a shadow'

...the remoteness of desire degenerates into dangerous enjoyment. 

This partly explains Tournier’s condemnation of image and photography in La Goutte d'Or (1985). He explicitly links their power to Medusa's petrifying fascination and contrasts them with the art of writing which is the art of education and the route to wisdom 'par excellence'.

It would seem that the fear experienced at the sight of Medusa's head is the terror of 
discovering the secret behind the representation of the image.
From Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes, and Archetypes. Ed. Pierre Brunel., 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Routledge

" Do you understand,  
I had to call my wife up, and  apologise  to her for raping her, 
because I didn't know  that when you're married to somebody, 
that didn't allow you permission to just take The Pussy... 

I didn't know that.

Nobody had taught me that. "

- Bro. Dick Gregory

" There are those who theorize that Hecate is as old as the early Egyptians.  She possibly evolved from the Egyptian midwife goddess know as Hequit, Heket or Hekat, a goddess with Nubian roots.  It is said that this goddess took her attributes from the "heq" ("heka") or tribal matriarch of pre-dynastic Egypt.  This wise woman was believed to command the "hekau" or "(M)other's Words of Power", giving power to the sacred word.
"....  - for the emanations of Hek Ka, the mighty 
energies of a million hearts, are contained within her...."


The goddess Hekat birthed the sun each morning and was called the "most lovely one" - a title of the moon.  Her totems was the frog, a symbol of the fetus

"....  Oldest of the Old, amphibian being that swims in the 
water, yet walks upon the dry land...."

This goddess, in turn, was connected to the goddess Nut.  She was the sky and the heaven and was invoked with many names.  The Great Deep,  The Starry One,  Cow Goddess,  Mother of the Gods,  Mother of the Sun,  Protector of the Dead,  Guardian of the Celestial Vault.  These titles all relate to Hecate in her association with the moon, the night sky and the underworld.

The worship of Hecate may also have passed through the fertile crescent of the Israelites and Sumerians.  Hecate may have been related to the Sumerian Goddess of Death and Magic.  

She may have influenced or been influenced by the legends of Lilith, the first wife of Adam who was demonized as "the accursed huntress" and the dark phase of the moon - also attributes of Hecate.

Hecate had elements in common with other female manifestatitions/elements of this region.  The feminine spirit of knowledge, Sophia, has been depicted with three heads as was Hecate who as the Crone is considered the Wise Woman.  Hecate has even been linked to the Virgin Mary through Mary's indirect link to Lilith (as the second Eve) and through the association of both with the holy day of August 15.  This is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin when Mary is petitioned to avert storms so that the fields can ripen.  A festival for Hecate was held on August 13.  She too was invoked for help in preventing storms so that the harvest could be gathered.

In Greek Myth
medusa1.jpg (59124 bytes)Medusa, one of the three Gorgons, daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. She was the only one of the Gorgons who was subject to mortality. She is celebrated for her personal charms and the beauty of her locks. Neptune became enamoured of her, and obtained her favours in the temple of Minerva. This violation of the sanctity of the temple provoked Minerva, and she changed the beautiful locks of Medusa, which had inspired Neptune’s love to serpents. According to Apollodorus, Medusa and her sisters came into the world with snakes on their heads, instead of hair, with yellow wings and brazen hands. Their bodies were also covered with impenetrable scales, and their very looks had the power of killing or turning to stones. Perseus rendered his name immortal by his conquest of Medusa. He cut off her head, and the blood that dropped from the wound produced the innumerable serpents that infest Africa. The conqueror placed Medusa's head on the shield of Minerva, which he had used in his expedition. The head still retained the same petrifying power as before, as it was fatally known in the court of Cepheus. . . . Some suppose that the Gorgons were a nation of women, whom Perseus conquered. 
From Lempriére’s Classical Dictionary of Proper names mentioned in Ancient Authors Writ Large. Ed. J. Lempriére and F.A. Wright. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Camille Dumoulié

Medusa's head, an apparently simple motif linked to the myth of Perseus, was freed through being severed and cut loose from its 'moorings' by the hero in the remote depths of the world. There is something paradoxical about the story since the monster was all the more indestructible because it had been killed. Indeed, the figure of Medusa is characterized by paradox, both in terms of the actual mythical stare, which turned men to stone, and in the interpretations that have been given to it. The fascination that she exerts arises from a combination of beauty and horror. Her head was used, in Ancient times, as an apotropaic mask -- a sort of talisman which both killed and redeemed.

As well as being the very symbol of ambiguity, Medusa's head is also one of the most archaic mythical figures, perhaps an echo of the demon Humbaba who was decapitated by Gilgamesh. Everything implies that it is a 'representation' of the most meaningful aspect of the sacred. Insofar as it is the role of literature to assume responsibility for the sacred, each era, when confronted with the mystery of the 'origins', has re-examined Medusa's head with its mesmerizing stare as something which conceals the secret of the sacred.

If ambiguity is the hallmark of the sacred, the role of myths, as René Gerard purports in his La Violence et le Sacré (1972) is to generate differences and contrasts, to distinguish between the two faces of the sacred. Therefore, from the viewpoint of the oldest texts which are true to the spirit of the myth, Medusa is a representation of the Other by virtue of her absolute and terrifying difference. At first sight, her monstrous ugliness and her petrifying stare certainly bear this out.

In La Mort dans les Yeux (1985), Vernant demonstrates that, for the Greeks, Medusa represented the face of the warrior possessed by battle frenzy. In The Shield of Heracles (232-3), Hesiod describes the wide-open mouth, the fearsome hair and the Gorgons' shrill cries which conjure up her terrifying aspect. Thus Medusa's mask frequently appears within the context of amedusa2.jpg (56438 bytes) battle. It is present in the Iliad on the shields of Athena (V, 738) and Agamemnon (XI, 36), and also during the Renaissance, e.g. on Bellona's helmet described by Ronsard in the 'Ode á Michel de l'Hospital' (Premier Livre des Odes, 1560). The Gorgon also represents what cannot be represented, i.e. death, which it is impossible to see or to look at, like Hades itself. In Hesiod's Theogony (275 et seq.) and in the Odyssey (XI, 633-5), Medusa is the guardian of terrifying places, either the nocturnal borders of the world or the Underworld. She reappears in this role in Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, IX, 55-7) and Milton's Paradise Lost (II, 611). Guarding the doorway to the world of the dead, she prevents the living from entering.

In Christian symbolism, Medusa represents the dreaded enemy and death, and thus becomes an embodiment of the Devil. She appears in this guise in a passage in the Book of Arthur which belongs to the cycle of the Holy Grail (Vulgate version of Arthurian romances, Vol. VII, Washington, 1913). In fact, this is a female monster, the 'Ugly Semblance', who lives at the bottom of a river. She does not exercise her powers by turning people to stone, but by causing the waters to swallow them up. 

Similarly, a play by Calderón, which tells of the adventures of Andromeda and Perseus (Fortunas de Andromeda y Perseo), has the hero, a new incarnation of the Saviour, defeating Medusa who is the personification of Death and Sin.

At first glance, therefore, Medusa's head is very much a representation of the terrifying Other, of absolute negativity. She continues to fulfil this function in the twentieth-century trilogy by the Greek writer Pandelis Prevelakis, The Ways of Creation, which comprises The Sun of Death (Athens, 1959; Paris, 1965), The Head of the Medusa (Athens, 1963) and The Bread of the Angels (Athens, 1966). In the trilogy, the Gorgon represents both 'Nietzschian nihilism' and the foreign ideologies which threaten Hellenism. The hero sets out to free Greece once again from the monster, but he fails and realizes that there is no longer a single piece of untaited land in his country. Everything points to the fact that the malady specific to modern Greece, and the country's inability to accommodate, change, have provoked this monstrous 'representation' of the Other. Medusa's head does indeed seem to be a mask which serves to justify her absolute and evil strangeness.

The fact that Medusa is a mask and that this mask hides a more human face, is borne out by the way in which her portrayal is developed from the pre-Classical era to the Hellenistic period. There is a dual transformation i.e. the disappearance of both facial quality and ugliness (see Images de la Gorgone, Bibliothéque Nationale, 1985). Beneath the mask lies what could be called Medusa's 'tragic beauty'.

Many elements of the myth suggest, through its basic ambiguity, the tragic nature of Medusa. One of the most revealing of these is the gift from Athena to Asclepius of two drops of the Gorgon's blood, one of which has the power to cure and even resurrect, while the other is a deadly poison. Medusa's blood is therefore the epitome of the 'pharmakon', while she herself -- as is shown by the apotropaic function of her mask -- is a 'pharmakos'. As has been demonstrated by René Girard, the 'pharmakos' is the scapegoat whose sacrifice establishes the dual nature of the sacred and reinforces the separation of the monster and the god. However, it is for literature and the arts to reveal the close relationship between opposites and the 'innocence' of the victim. In this respect, the myth of Medusa is revealing. In his study The Mirror of Medusa (1983), Tobin Siebers has identified the importance of two elements, i.e. the rivalry between Athena and the Gorgon, and the mirror motif.

According to Ovid (Metamorphoses, IV. 779ff), the reason for the dispute lay in Poseidon's rape of Medusa inside the temple of the virgin goddess. The goddess is supposed to have punished Medusa by transforming her face, which therefore made Medusa an innocent victim for the second time. 

However, another tradition, used by Mallarmé in Les Dieux antiques (1880), stressed a more personal rivalry: Medusa had boasted that she was more beautiful than Athena. Everything points to the face that the goddess found it necessary to set herself apart from her negative double in order to assert her 'own' identity. Common features are numerous. For example, snakes are the attribute of Athena, as illustrated by the famous statue of Phidias and indicated by certain Orphic poems which refer to her as 'la Serpentine'. Moreover, the hypnotic stare is one of the features of the goddess 'with blue-green eyes', whose bird is the owl, depicted with an unblinking gaze. Finally, because she has affixed Medusa's head to her shield, in battle or in anger she assumes the terrifying appearance of the monster. Thus, in the Aeneid (11, 171), she expresses her wrath by making flames shoot forth from her eyes. These observations are intended to show that Athena and Medusa are the two indissociable aspects of the same sacred power.

A similar claim could be made in respect of Perseus, who retains traces of his association with his monstrous double, Medusa. Using her decapitated head to turn his enemies to stone, he spreads death around him. And when he flies over Africa with his trophy in a bag, through some sort of negligence, drops of blood fall to earth and are changed into poisonous snakes which reduce Medusa's lethal power (Ovid, op. cit., IV. 618). Two famous paintings illustrate this close connection between the hero and the monster. Cellini's Perseus resembles the head he is holding in his hand (as demonstrated by Siebers) and Paul Klee's L’esprit a combattu le mal (1904) portrays a complete reversal of roles -- Perseus is painted full face with a terrible countenance, while Medusa turns aside.

In this interplay of doubles, the theme of reflection is fundamental. It explains the process of victimization to which Medusa was subjected, and which falls within the province of the superstition of the 'evil eye'. The way to respond to the 'evil eye' is either to use a third eye -- the one that Perseus threw at the Graiae - or to deflect the evil spell by using a mirror. Ovid, in particular, stressed the significance of the shield in which Perseus was able to see the Gorgon without being turned to stone, and which was given to him by Athena. 

Everything indicates that the mirror was the real weapon. 

It was interpreted thus by Calderón and Prevelakis, and also by Roger Caillois in Méduse et Cie (1960).

Ovid was responsible for establishing the link with Narcissus, a myth that he made famous. It seems that the same process of victimization is at work here. The individual is considered to have been the victim of his own reflection, which absolves the victimizer (Perseus, the group) from all blame. This association of the two myths (and also the intention of apportioning blame) appears in a passage in Desportes' Amours d’Hyppolite (1573) where the poet tells his lady that she is in danger of seeing herself changed 'into some hard rock' by her 'Medusa's eye'. Even more revealing is Gautier's story Jettatura (1857) in which the hero, accused of having the 'evil eye', eventually believes it to be true and watches the monstrous transformation of his face in the mirror: 'Imagine Medusa looking at her horrible, hypnotic face in the lurid reflection of the bronze shield.'

Medusa's head is both a mirror and a mask. It is the mirror of collective violence which leaves the Devil's mark on the individual, as well as being the image of death for those who look at it. Both these themes -- violence rendered sacred and death by petrifaction -- are found in Das Corgonenhaupt (Berlin, 1972), a work by Walter Krüger about the nuclear threat.

However, when considered in terms of archetypal structures, Medusa's mask still retains its secret. What is the reason for the viperine hair, the wide-open mouth with the lolling tongue, and, in particular, why is Medusa female? What relationship is there between violence, holy terror and woman?


Robert Graves (Greek Myths, 1958) believes that the myth of Perseus preserves the memory of the conflicts which occurred between men and women in the transition from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society. In fact the function of the Gorgon's mask was to keep men at a safe distance from the sacred ceremonies and mysteries reserved for women, i.e. those which celebrated the Triple Goddess, the Moon. Graves reminds us that the Orphic poems referred to the full moon as the 'Gorgon's head'. 

The mask was also worn by young maidens to ward off male lust. The episode of Perseus' victory over Medusa represents the end of female ascendancy and the taking over of the temples by men, who had become the masters of the divine which Medusa's head had concealed from them.

Although it may have become less intense, the battle of the sexes was not resolved. The feminine continued to remain a source of fear for men, and the association of women with Medusa, evoked an aspect of the sex which was both fascinating and dangerous. Medusa often appeared in Renaissance poetry, e.g. Ronsard's Second Livre des Amours (S. 79, 1555), but the stare which turned men to stone was often only a conventional metaphor for the lover's 'coup de foudre'. The comparison took on a deeper meaning during the nineteenth century. Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) and 'decadent' literature such as Lorrain's M. de Phocas (1901), provide illustrations of the dangerous fascination exerted by woman, with her deadly stare and mysterious hair. But it was Goethe's Faust Part I (1808) which supplied the real significance of this connection. During the 'Walpurgis night,’ Faust thinks he sees Margarita but Mephistopheles warns him that it is Medusa and explains that 'magic deludes every man into believing that he has found his beloved in her'.

This terrible woman, the paragon of all women, whom every man simultaneously fears and seeks and for whom Medusa is the mask, is in fact the mother, i.e. the great Goddess Mother whose rites were concealed by the Gorgon's face. Countless texts illustrate Medusa's affinity with the depths of the sea and the terrible power of nature, e.g. Hugo's Les Travailleurs de la Mer (1864), Lautrémont's Chants de Maldoror (1869) and Pierre Louÿs' Aphrodite (1896), but the most explicit example is probably the text written by Freud in 1922: Das Medusenhaupt -- 'Medusa's Head'. He presents her as the supreme talisman who provides the image of castration -- associated in the child's mind with the discovery of maternal sexuality -- and its denial. The snakes are multiple phalluses and petrifaction represents the comforting erection.

From this point onwards, the myth of Perseus takes on a new psychological meaning. It tells of the exploit of the hero who, because he has conquered ‘castrating' woman and armed himself with the talisman of Medusa's head (seen here in its comforting, phallic role), is able to conquer Andromeda, the terrifying virgin, and kill the sea monster which represents the evil aspect of woman. This motif is also found in the Christian legend of St George (Jacques de Voragine, La Légende dorée, (1264) as well as in the anthropological legends concerning the fear of the 'dentate vagina'. A 'sacred' man must perform the first sexual act with a woman.

Two texts illustrate this aspect of the myth. One is, the Book of Arthur (op. cit). in the passage devoted to the 'Ugly Semblance'. The monster occupies the lands of a maiden who not only asks the king for the assistance of a knight but also for a husband whom she describes as though he had always been intended for her. The task that he performs seems to have been the necessary requirement for his union with the Virgin. The story stresses the association of the monster with the element of water and, in particular, with the sea into which it has to be driven back. The second text is a short story by Döblin, Der Ritter Blaubart -- the 'Knight with the Blue Beard' (1911). Because the hero has had mysterious and intimate relations with a primitive monster -- a giant medusa -- he is forced to either kill all the women he loves or allow them to be killed. However, one of them, because of her purity, confronts the monster in the secret chamber where it lurks. In this last example, the character seems to have been unable to free himself from the maternal influence and fear of the feminine.

Finally, this association of Medusa with castrating woman is very evident in a passage in Chêne et Chien (1952) by Queneau: 'Severed head, evil woman/ Medusa with her lolling tongue/So it was you who would have castrated me?' However, the myth reveals -- and this seems to be obscured by the Freudian interpretation -- that woman's 'castration' is a result of the violence imposed on her by the original hero. Woman only appears in the story divided by separative decapitation, casting off the feminine in the remote depths of the world. Cast down, the feminine remains unrecognized within its innermost recess and it is this 'abject' void which maintains the theatre of the world and the logic of the talisman. In this theatre, woman occupies the two opposite extremes of evil (castration, sorcery) and their cure (the phallus, the Virgin), i.e. of the abyss and the Ideal. That is why, despite her terrifying power, she is fascinating. 'Fascinum' means 'charm' and 'evil spell', but also 'virile member'. Between the 'emptiness' and the Idol represented by the division of woman, yawns the gulf of male Desire. This persistent ambiguity can be found in the classification of the creature called the medusa. It owes its name to its resemblance to Medusa's head (Apollinaire, Bestiaire, 1920), but is included in the Acephelan category. Medusa keeps her secret behind the ambiguous mask. Although she is 'representable', she is never 'presentable' and even Perseus only sees her reflected in his shield.

She is the hidden presence, absent from the world, which enables the scene to be played out. In his 'heroic comedy' Le Naufrage de Méduse (1986), Ristat shows Perseus searching for the Gorgons and meeting Hermes, the 'Guardian of Resemblances', who proves to the terrified hero that 'Medusa herself is only a shadow'.

However, the hero remains trapped in the interplay of images and the logic of the talisman, just as he remains fascinated by the Gorgon mask. Thus Medusa's head becomes, for the man who takes possession of it after severing it from the terrifying woman, and in accordance with the principle of the 'pharmakon', the complete opposite, i.e. the 'skeptron' -- the sun.

In the same way that there is a hidden similarity between Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and Medusa, a similarity also exists between the sun, symbol of the Ideal and the Gorgon's mask. Although they are both objects of desire, Athena and the sun are unapproachable and terrifying for those who come too close. This danger is illustrated by the Platonic myth of Phaedrus (247-8e) in which the downfall of souls is brought about by an overpowering desire to see the sun. Certain structural elements from the myth of Medusa also reappear in the myth of the Cave (The Republic, 514-7a), i.e. fascination, averted eyes, violence inflicted on the philosopher, etc.

In his poem (op. cit.), Queneau maintains that the sun, like the Gorgon, is fearsome and castrating: 'The sun: O monster, O Gorgon, O Medusa/O sun'. In this way, Medusa herself can become an incarnation of the Ideal, i.e. of Virtue (Du Bellay, Epithalame, 1559), of Beauty (Baudelaire, op. cit., 'La Beauté') and of Truth (Kosmas Politis, Eroica, Athens, 1938). Surely the sun itself is the severed head that, like the head of St John the Baptist, only soars in the zenith: 'In triumphant flights/from that scythe' (Mallarmé, Hérodiade, 'Cantique de saint Jean', 1913). Whoever seeks Athena, finds Medusa's head. Whoever approaches too close to the sun discovers its castrating and castrated monstrousness (Bataille, L’Anus Solaire, 1931).

Although Nietzsche had embarked upon the destruction of all idols, he too, in this way, recognized the desire for death inherent in the desire for truth at any cost. The philosopher who wants to examine all things 'in depth', discovers the petrifying abyss. The destiny of the man whom Nietzsche refers to as 'the Don Juan of knowledge' will be paralyzed as if by Medusa, and will himself be 'changed into a guest of stone' (Morgenröte i.e. the Dawn of Day, 327, 1881). This is also the destiny of the 'lover of truth' who, in the Dionysos Dithyramben (1888) appears to be 'changed into a statue/into a sacred column'. Nietzsche, who was aware of the necessity 'for the philosopher' to live within the 'closed circuit of representation' (Derrida), to seek the truth even if he no longer believes in it, without ever being able to attain it, devised his own version of the 'truth', his Medusa's head, the Eternal Return: 'Great thought is like Medusa's head: all the world's features harden, a deadly, ice-cold battle' (Posthumous Fragments, Winter 1884-5).

All thinkers who reflect upon the nature of representation, as well as on thought which pursues the 'eidos' are in danger of confronting Medusa's head. Thus, Aristotle, in The Politics (VIII) differentiates between instructive and cathartic music which is associated with Bacchic trances, whose instrument is the flute and which should be avoided. To prove his point, he refers to the myth of Athena. When she played the flute, her face became so distorted that she abandoned the instrument. It was in fact she who had invented the flute to imitate an unknown sound, virtually unrepresentable, i.e. the hissing of the snakes on Medusa's head as she was decapitated (Pindar, The Pythian Odes, XII, 2-3). As she played, she noticed in a spring that her features were becoming distorted and assuming the appearance of the Gorgon's mask. This once more introduces the Narcissistic theme and the blurring of the difference between Athena and her rival, which here arises from tragic art. Therefore, in terms of philosophy, art should remain in the service of the 'eidos' by continuing to represent the image that arouses desire for the Object.

But it is also condemned if it presents the object in such an obvious manner that the remoteness of desire degenerates into dangerous enjoyment. This partly explains Tournier’s condemnation of image and photography in La Goutte d'Or (1985). He explicitly links their power to Medusa's petrifying fascination and contrasts them with the art of writing which is the art of education and the route to wisdom 'par excellence'.

It would seem that the fear experienced at the sight of Medusa's head is the terror of discovering the secret behind the representation of the image.
From Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes, and Archetypes. Ed. Pierre Brunel. Routledge, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Routledge