Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Medusa Touch - Part 3

The Medusa Touch (part 3), continued from part 2.

Continuing on the theme of deities that I think are similar to Medusa, here are a couple more of interest. Here is the goddess Kali as her associated god Durga:

Kālī is the feminine of kāla "black, dark coloured." ... The homonymous kāla "appointed time", which depending on context can mean "death", is distinct from kāla "black", but became associated through popular etymology. The association is seen in a passage from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals. She is called kālarātri (which Thomas Coburn, a historian of Sanskrit Goddess literature, translates as "night of death") and also kālī (which, as Coburn notes, can be read here either as a proper name or as a description "the black one"). Kali's association with blackness stands in contrast to her consort, Shiva, whose body is covered by the white ashes of the cremation ground (Sanskrit: śmaśāna) in which he meditates, and with which Kali is also associated, as śmaśāna-kālī.

In the above picture Kali/Durga is seen with the typical dishevled hair of other Medusa related figures. Durga is translated as "the invincible," which is interesting when considering that although Medusa was mortal, her sister Gorgons were invincible.

This is a more telling picture of Kali. Here she is more blue than black, but we can also see the parallels to Medusa more clearly. Kali holds the severed head of a slain warrior, which she decapitated with her sword. This should remind anyone familiar with the Medusa tale that Medusa was decapitated by Perseus, shown here in a very similar pose (with an identical sword).

Kali holds the Trident, the weapon of choice for Neptune who is the Roman version of Medusa's 'lover' (and/or rapist), Poseiden. She is sticking out her tongue, has four arms to Medusas four wings, and snakes are seen on the ground around Shiva. More importantly her pitch black and wild hair is eclipsing the sun. Even more telling is the crescent moon (a shared symbol with Sin) on her crown which is placed over the sun as well. Kali, who becomes drunk on the blood of her victims on the battlefield, dances with destructive frenzy. Blood drinking seems to be part of each of the deities I've presented, except oddly enough Medusa herself.
In Greek mythology, blood taken from the right side of a Gorgon could bring the dead back to life, yet blood taken from the left side was an instantly fatal poison.

Moving on the South America, here is an Incan figure (with "Medusa" face) with an inset picture of an eclispe to compare to the drawings on it's face. During the time that the Nazca Lines were being scratched out in the martian surface of Peru there were many total eclipses visible in that region. It is thought that the Inca viewed the eclispe as the eye of God and drew the pictures to appease him. Just for fun, here is a famous Nazca drawing, a monkey with a labyrinth spiral tail. (Hmm a primate and a stargate, why does that seem familiar?)

Medusa the Gorgon.
According to Ovid (Metamorphoses), Medusa alone had serpents in her hair, and this was due to Athena (Roman Minerva) cursing her. Medusa had copulated with Poseidon (Roman Neptune), who was aroused by the golden color of Medusa's hair, in a temple of Athena. Athena therefore changed the enticing golden locks into serpents. Aeschylus says that the three Gorgons had only one tooth and one eye among them, which they had to swap among themselves.
Medusa was a stunning blond bombshell until Athena got a hold of her. Reminds me of the old movie about cavemen tribes. The “good” cavemen were all blond and the “evil” cavemen all had dark hair. Anyways, the single eye is quite provocative (as is the single TooTH but I’ll skip that), as single eye’d deities are quite common. Usually a single eye'd god is... well is God. Associated with the single orb of the Sun, his bright eye, and having some story as to why the Moon isn’t quite as bright; having been lost or pecked out or donated to a fountain of wisdom, etc. Focusing on Medusa, it’s quite fortuitous that after having written about single eyed figures so many times I find that Medusa is one as well. Anyways the hair turning from light to dark, and the single eye basically clinches the moon symbolism for me.

But the moon and sun are quite similar, and even overlap in the awsome display of an eclipse. Being able to predict the cycle of eclipses would be a show of power for any society, who could then claim to be able to predict the future. Once they figured out the moons orbit, and the sometimes erratic eclispe cycle, they could use the portent in the sky to amaze their subjects; similar to Apocalypto where the eclispe (which was almost certainly known in advance) was ended when the god was appeased with blood sacrifice. One such famous calendar from South America is the Aztec Sun Stone, or Aztec Calendar.

Historically, the Aztec name for the huge basaltic monolith is Cuauhxicalli Eagle Bowl, but it is universally known as the Aztec Calendar or Sun Stone. It was during the reign of the 6th Aztec monarch in 1479 that this stone was carved and dedicated to the principal Aztec deity: the sun. The stone has both mythological and astronomical significance. It weighs almost 25 tons, has a diameter of just under 12 feet, and a thickness of 3 feet.
This calendar is basically the same as the famous Mayan calendar. By now you should be able to pick out all the familiar symbols. There's the face with wide-open eyes, and the open mouth showing the teeth with the tongue sticking out. "The tongue, stuck out is the form of an obsidian knife, indicates that the diety demands to be fed with blood and human hearts." This head has golden hair, as it is the sun god's face, Tonatiuh, or Lord of Heaven. On either side of the bodyless head is what appears to be two serpents. Described as the "claws of the sun god which are suspended in space," these beings have a single eye and eyebrow and a human heart in their teeth/claws. Instead of the four wings of Medusa or the four arms of Kali, there are the four Suns of the four previous epochs around the face.

Continued in the last article, part 4.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Medusa Touch - Part 2

Before I get to Medusa, perhaps I should speak more about her opposite, which I have already symbolized with the element of Gold. The illuminating light of life/god/etc is also personified as various personalites, and just for the heck of it, I’ll introduce Shamash. Shamash means "Sun," so it doesn’t get quite more literal than that. The central candle in a Hebrew candelabra, which is used to light the rest, is called Shamash. If you are familiar with “illuminati” symbolism then you may know that the cheif deity in their symbolism is often the Moon (or related symbols such as a left eye, thoth, a goddess, or even a severed head.). The temple at the top of the Tower of Babel ziggurat was dedicated to the moon god of the Babylonians, Sin/Nanna; whose name means Illuminator. The forces which we refer to as the “illuminati” use the powers of “darkness,” or secrecy, to conduct their great work. The moon, as the premire night-time star is obviously easily associated with the night/darkness/underworld or other force which overcomes the sun temporarily. Shamash (the sun) is actually spawned from Sin (the moon) in ancient mythology, and is dependent on the moon for his power. It seems contridictory, but as Wikipedia points out, the moon cults did precede sun cults. Another interesting factoid which will come up later when I talk about Venus briefly, is that Sin (the Moon) was depicted as an old man with a beard and was associated with the planet Venus. (Off topic: notice the moon was seen as a male deity? Strange and counter intuitive, as the sun and moon are usually seen as the symbolic king and queen. Here we have two kings, or perhaps two ‘queens.’)

Note Shamash has a ‘crown of thorns’ or rays of light symbolizing his connection to sun light, as well as the eagles which are akin to winged sun-disc symbols which basically mean that the sun is part of the above and is carried aloft through the heavens. If you take a look at the Medusa picture from the last post you will notice wings by her head. And as already stated, she was basically a mask, or a head, with a body later appended. Therefore her head is apparently some object which flys through the heavens, and/or symbolizes a force connected with the above.

Check out this picture of Medusa. Notice that she is usually depicted as very manly with lots of facial hair and bigger legs than male figures. She is always wide-eyed with her mouth open and is sticking her tongue out. Most of the time she is shown with 4 wings. A few sculptures and lots of more recent Medusa inspired artwork shows a young attractive woman, as the mythology sometimes has her as being young and attractive before Athena punished her with uglyness and snake hair as punishment for being raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. That would piss anyone off: get raped and then get punished for it! Many of these traits are held by various other gods and demigods around the world. Here are a few which I found:

This is Tlaltecuhtli,
... a chthonic sea monster who dwelled in the ocean after the fourth Great Flood, an embodiment of the raging chaos before creation. Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, in the form of serpents, tore her in half, throwing half upwards to create the sky and stars and leaving the other half to become the land of the earth. She remained alive, however, and demanded human blood.
This deity has a male name, but is depicted as a female, usually in a birthing position. Tlaltecuhtli has some great characteristics which I think are very much connected to the archetypal symbology of Medusa. Medusa is a woman with very manly features, quite similar to Tlaltecuhtli as a woman with a man's name. Another thing that stands out is that Tlaltecuhtli was torn in half by two serpents.

In this picture of Medusa, which I saved to my computer as a image file named "Gorgon_and_two_snakes_pulling_her_apart," we can see the two snakes usually depicted flanking Medusa's head; and damned if it doesn't look like they're pulling her apart. Tlaltecuhtli:
...was thought to swallow the sun every night and regurgitate it back out in the morning. She was also thought to swallow the hearts of victims sacrificed to her, so it was common to carve images of her on the bottom of stone boxes in which the hearts and blood of sacrificial victims where placed after being ripped from their bodies.
She has interesting vampiritic life-sucking traits which extends to the swallowing of the life-giving sun its self. She is also equivalent of Tiamat, a "monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos," and "personified as a goddess," as well as being seen as the constellation Cetus, a sea-monster.

Here is a Tzitzimitl, who represents "skeletal female figures wearing skirts often with skull and crossbone designs." There's no need to explain what a skull & crossed bones represents, as the Tzitzimitl are ancestor spirits who were honored on Las Dias de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. They were "worshipped by midwives and parturient women," which parellels Tlaltecuhtli who is usually depicted in the position of giving birth.
The Tzitzimimeh were also associated with the stars and especially the stars that can be seen around the sun during a solar eclipse. This was interpreted as the Tzitzimimeh attacking the sun, this caused the belief that during a solar eclipse, the tzitzimime would descend to the earth and devour human beings.

Immanuel Velikovsky in his much maligned work Worlds in Collision suggests that Venus may have at one time (in human hisory) been a comet which was then trapped by the sun's gravity. He asserts that the old names for the planet meant "bearded" or "having a mane of hair," which are a result of it's cometary tail; and as such was associated with dragons/serpents. Regardless of how Venus came to be, Velikovsky connects the serpent to the eclipse:
In fact, no stretch at all is needed to establish the equation of flowing mane and serpent-dragon or chaos monster. The Aztec Tzonte-Mocque, identified with the planet Venus, and whose name Brasseur translated as "mane," was depicted as a dragon-like monster approaching the Earth in periods of eclipse or universal darkness. A counterpart of this chaos- or eclipse-demon is the Aztec Tzitzimitl, with "madly disheveled hair," descending upon a darkened world.
The phrase "madly disheveled hair" sounds quite reminicent of Medusa's slithering locks.

The MEdusa Touch is continued in Part 3.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Medusa Touch

The Medusa Touch: "Psychological thriller about a novelist, a telekinetic, who causes disasters simply by thinking about them."
Plot Summary from Wikipedia:
A French detective, Brunel (Ventura), is on an exchange scheme in London. He is assigned to investigate the murder of novelist John Morlar (Burton). As they examine the crime scene, the policemen find that the victim is actually still alive in spite of his heavy injuries and have him rushed to hospital.

With the help of Morlar's journals and Dr Zonfeld (Remick), a psychiatrist whom the author had started visiting, Brunel reconstructs Morlar's past life, which (seen in flashback) is full of inexplicable catastrophes, including the tragic deaths of people he disliked or who offended him.

Morlar is, in fact, a psychic with powerful telekinetic abilities. Disgusted at the world (in his 1988 book Nightmare Movies, Kim Newman described Morlar's dialogue as "incredibly misanthropic"), Morlar has caused two recent disasters: an airliner crash and the loss of a manned spacecraft.

From his hospital bed he manages to bring down a cathedral on the "unworthy heads" of a VIP congregation giving thanks for the building's preservation; and he seems able to keep himself alive by sheer willpower. An enraged Brunel himself tries in vain to finish Morlar off and fails. The man has written on a pad the name of his next target - the nuclear power station at Windscale.

Medusa represents the archetypal chthonic entity of darkness and chaos which comes when the sun loses it’s power, or alternatively when a person is drained of their life force and ‘turned to stone.’ Most Medusa mythology seems to have just been interpreted by people who really had no complete understanding for what she was, and she probably started off as a very simple symbol:
Jane Ellen Harrison argues that "her potency only begins when her head is severed, and that potency resides in the head; she is in a word a mask with a body later appended... the basis of the Gorgoneion is a cultus object, a ritual mask misunderstood." (Harrison 1922:187). In Odyssey xi, Homer does not specifically mention the Gorgon Medusa,
"lest for my daring Persephone the dread :From Hades should send up an awful monster's grizzly head"
Harrison's translation states "the Gorgon was made out of the terror, not the terror out of the Gorgon (Harrison 1922: 187, note 3).
I’m sure there are many more equally interesting interpretations of the Gorgon, but let us ignore what other people think and just focus on my own extrapolations.

If the Medusa Touch (or rather gaze) can bring chaos, destruction and death (as symbolic darkness), then the opposite must exist. This would be the golden touch of Midas, which could make any object achieve the alchemical state of Gold. Strangely enough, King Midas is said to have discovered lead, which alchemically represents the first state of whatever it is that needs to be elevated to a golden state. There’s some other interesting tid-bits such as Midas having a prized rose garden and a daughter named Zoe ("life"). Midas recieved his "golden touch" as a gift from Dionysus. King Midas soon learned that if everything he touched turned to gold, he couldn’t really eat or drink; and he even accidentally turned his own daughter into a statue. (statue - sounds like the Medusa effect) If Medusa could touch the whole world, there would be only death, stillness, and darkness. Without the animating effect of the struggle between opposites, the universe would cease to exist; as it will one day when the temperature is evenly distributed accross the entire universe, no temperature difference = no reactions. The same is true for Midas and his golden touch. If everything were to be brought to a state of perfection - there would be no need (or even ability) for the universe to continue to function. As much as we would like everything to be perfect (a veritable garden of eden), it can never be that way. As Agent Smith said in the first Matrix movie: the first attempt at the Matrix was perfect - a perfect failure. Humans need suffering to define their existance. For as any dominatrix can tell you: you can’t know pleasure without pain.

Midas, and Medusa, could tap into an object or persons Quintessence; the life force, fifth element, chi, kundalini, prana, pneuma and rauch. Issac Newton wrote: "The quintessence is a thing that is spiritual, penetrating, tingeing, and incorruptable, which emerged anew from the Four Elements when the are bound together."
The Quintessence is the fifth element with which the alchemists could work. It was the essential presence of something or someone, the living thing itself that animated or gave something its deepest characteristics. The Quintessence partakes of both the Above and the Below, the mental as well as the material. It can be thought of as the ethereal embodiment of the life force that we encounter in dreams and altered states of consciousness. It is the purest individual essence of something that we must unveil and understand in order to transform it.
The quintessence was also known as Aether/Ether. "Plato and Aristotle referred to Aether as 'Idea,' and in this sense, it may be regarded as that which exists outside the material world (i.e. thought processes, mathematical algorithms, etc.)." An interesting note which I just noticed on Wikipedia is that Aether was associated with the most important and secret Platonic Solid - the Dodecahedron. This shape was also associated with the Universe. And on an interesting twist, the universe my actually have this shape:
An infinite Universe would contain waves of all sizes. The WMAP did not see any very large waves. This points to space being finite - for the same reasons that you don't see breakers in your bathtub.

The best explanation for these observations is that the cosmos is a Poincaré dodecahedral space, says a team led by Jeffrey Weeks, an independent mathematician based in Canton, New York. Mathematical models of a spherical, solid Universe edged by 12 curved pentagons produce the patterns seen in the background radiation without any special fine-tuning. "It fits the data surprisingly well," says Weeks.

This is also apparently what Salvador Dali thought:

There, now I’ve gone and got sidetracked as usual! Anyways, where was I... In an unusual stroke of clarity, Wikipedia’s author for the Aether section notes:
In the world of cyberspace, the term ethernet is often widely used to describe a network that runs over physical connections. Thus even though the connections and connectors, such as an ethernet jack are made of solid matter ("Earth"), the concept of ethernet and cyberspace transcends the physical world of matter (solid, liquid, gas, and plasma), making necessary a fifth element beyond the material world.
Thus it is via this shared quintessence which I transmit my thoughts and hopefully manifest a higher level of thought about Medusa and her symbolism. Alas, it is bedtime for me. I'll have to continue on another night, possibly tomarrow, but no promises!

The Medusa Touch series continues in Part 2.


What are you saving up to be.. Jewish?