Goddesses in the Dirt: A Tale of Subterranean Medusas
Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time...
It's eerie, I have to admit. When I came upon this sculpture I had to ask myself - why is it lying sideways, submerged in water.......and underground? But this is what I happened upon, one searing hot day, deep beneath the streets of downtown Istanbul...
Who would ever think, that under such magnificent buildings such as this
.......lay this....an ancient subterranean basilica...
Built in 532 B.C. by the Emperor Justinian, this structure was used as a reservoir for water storage, and during the Ottoman period was used to water the grounds of the famous Topkapi Palace.
Strolling along this vast underworld
we came upon this mysterious sign
leading to this......so why were two heads of the mythological character the Medusa placed down here?
Supposedly the sculptures were taken from another site by the Christian builders who did not want to honor a pagan god, so they were placed sideways and upside down. Additional theories suggest the unusual placement was done to ward off evil, or to negate the power of the Medusa's gaze.
Who was Medusa?
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Head of Medusa, marble, ca. 1640
Medusa's ultimate demise came when Perseus, the son of Zeus, attempted to rescue his mother Danae from King Polydectes. In order to do so, he needed to retrieve the head of Medusa, whose blood was said to be all-powerful, and could be used to reanimate the dead. With the help of Athena and Hermes, the messenger god, he accomplished his mission by using the gifts he was given: a shield which reflected the Medusa's deadly glance and a curved sword to sever her head.
|Benevenuto Cellini, Perseus and Medusa, bronze, 1545-54|
Photos courtesy of author and Google images