To trace the evolution of a myth is to discover anew the ambivalence of all archetypes. Though most of us know Medusa as the richly storied figure of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it turns out that to begin with she was simply a woman’s face painted on the shield of an archaic warrior. To look closely at the rich permutations this myth undergoes during the intervening eight centuries brings us face-to-face (with all that gets stirred up when we engage deeply with the theme of female power). She is mortal and immortal, vulnerable and powerful, ugly and beautiful, protective and destructive, victim and perpetrator. As we gaze at her, we find her gazing at us.
Christine Downing, Ph.D, has been teaching at Pacifica Graduate Institute since 1987, primarily in its Mythological Studies program. Before that for almost twenty years she taught in the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University (a good part of the time as Chair of the Department) and concurrently served as a member of the Core Faculty at the California School of Professional Psychology. Christine has also taught at the Jung Institute in Zurich and lectures frequently to Jungian groups both here and abroad and at American and European universities. Her many books include The Goddess, Journey through Menopause, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, Women's Mysteries, Gods In Our Midst, The Long Journey Home: Revisioning the Myth of Persephone and Demeter for Our Time, and Psyche’s Sisters: Re-Imagining the Meaning of Sisterhood.