• Caitlynn Abdow

Each Snake's Story In My Medusa Art

I love to paint and draw mythological themes (apparent in my Medusa art). The magic and intrigue they contain are endlessly inspiring. My illustrator’s mind sees pictures as soon as a combination is described: a mermaid in space, a goat-headed man, a woman with snakes for hair. If you can think it up and name it, I can picture it. That’s part of why I do what I do. I love the combinations and the challenge of trying to make a concept come to life. It's a challenge to check all the boxes while also being aesthetically pleasing.


Medusa Art Origins

Sometimes the mythological stories, like Medusa's, are rough to read and based on stereotypes. Personally, I’d prefer not to fuel with more repetition. There is a moral to the story with many folk and fairy tales. Sometimes the cautionary tale is still relevant today, helping us understand that the woods can be dangerous at night and that home shouldn’t be built out of something flimsy and impermanent. In Medusa’s case, I can’t parse the moral of the story in a way that’s useful to me. She had an affair with a sea god. Athena became so angry that she transformed her from a beautiful maiden with long flowing hair into a dangerous monster. I won’t get into concepts of beauty, ugliness, hag versus maiden, etc., but it’s not an encouraging story even without that. Who knows how much the account has been changed and transmuted through retellings, translations, and religious and historical overlays. Given the overall flavor of Greek mythology, however, I don’t have a tremendous amount of confidence that the story was about anything other than the lady getting blamed when it takes two to, you know.


So, here’s an alternative story about a relaxed, self-assured version of Medusa. The Medusa who just wants to hang out with her snake friends:


"Each Snake's Story" A Tale To My Medusa Art


Pt. I - The Setting

Medusa was sitting in her cave next to the craggy cliffs overlooking the sea. She had everything she needed. A warm fire was burning in the hearth she and her sisters built from coral, marble, and living rock. Above her head, dried herbs hung from the ceiling for tinctures, teas, and flavoring soup. The back of the cave held a cozy pile of blankets with books like buried treasure to discover when the fire died down and the stars came out to hear bedtime stories. Outside, the ocean was full of fish, and the garden held strawberries, tomatoes, and tiny green onions.

Medusa was lonely, however. Her sisters were away teaching humans philosophy and how to keep bees happy (sometimes the lessons were the same for both topics). Her horse was busy. He was always busy, and she wanted someone to talk to about the particular texture of the slate grey sky and how it mirrored the waves. This was important to her. Sometimes she thought she saw a man in the distance, but it always turned out to be a marble statue. She wondered vaguely about who kept bringing them.


She decided to go for a walk through the garden, kicking pebbles and letting her long, wavy hair flow out behind her like the curling slate grey clouds. Then she picked purple hellebore for luck in the afterlife while eating strawberries. As she bent down to pluck another strawberry from the garden, she heard a small voice say, “Please let me climb into your wavy hair, and I’ll tell you a story.” She looked closely at the ground and saw a little dust-colored snake tilting its head up at her. The snake looked harmless, not like the ones who tell other people’s secrets. She shrugged and carried the snake up to her shoulder, where it wound around a lock of hair, nestling its head near her ear.


Pt. II - What The Snake Said

The snake told her a story about a sea god, an angry goddess, and a woman caught in the middle. Medusa looked out at the slate grey sea and laughed. She asked the snake if he had any other stories because this one was ok, but it could have a better ending. He didn’t know any offhand but suggested she meet his sister, who also lived in the garden.


The first snake’s sister was small and green with dust-colored markings around her eyes. She wound into Medusa’s hair and whispered stories into her other ear. She told the story of the constellations and how they reflected in the slate grey sea on calm nights. Medusa loved the little snake’s stories but eventually wanted to hear others.


Some came to tell Medusa about their dreams, and some told her about her nightmares. Some slithered away in rebellion against snake expectations from snake parents, and some took refuge from jealous lovers. Eventually, there were so many snakes in Medusa’s hair that it looked like it was made from snakes, and the noise of the slithering and story whispers scared visitors away. Medusa didn’t care. She had the sea with its fish, the garden, her books, and her snake friends.


Eventually, her sisters returned to the cave on the edge of the cliffs. They were surprised about the snakes but quickly adjusted to their presence. Even they were curious about where all the marble statues came from, but didn’t worry about it too much. They used marble for useful things like hearths and garden walls.


Where To Purchase My Medusa Art

If you enjoyed this tale and would like to purchase my Medusa art as a way to say thank you, please feel free to do so below:

caitlynn abdow's medusa art


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