The Meaning Behind A Medusa Tattoo

Aphrodite, Pegasus, Zeus, Hercules –- many of the characters in Greek mythology have long stood as familiar archetypes in our subconscious minds. Most are likely familiar with Medusa, the snake-haired ancient being whose gaze could turn an onlooker into stone. She is a well-known figure of Greek Mythology, and depending on which depiction of her story you come across, she was either an evil monster or a beautiful priestess (via Britannica).

According to the myths, Medusa was desired by the god of the sea, Poseidon. As the story goes, either the two had an affair — or he raped her. This humiliated Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom. She could not take revenge on powerful Poseidon, so she cursed Medusa with the hair of snakes (via Parade), and Perseus then beheaded Medusa. Essentially, she was punished for her victimhood — which has something to do with the recent trending of Medusa tattoos on TikTok.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

To some, Medusa tattoos represent survival and strength

There are a few interpretations of the Medusa tattoo, and one of them is a reclamation of the narrative around the ancient priestess, symbolizing the survival of sexual assault. The once-scorned Medusa has recently become the face of the survivor who should not be shamed for the crimes committed against her (via Parade).

But this isn't necessarily the meaning attached to all depictions of Medusa, tattooed or otherwise. The MET Museum says, "the most common interpretation of Medusa suggests she is an apotropaic symbol used to protect and ward off the negative, much like the modern evil eye."

So, while some may choose a tattoo of Medusa to bring awareness and strength to survivors of sexual assault, others may use her powerful imagery for different reasons. The MET Museum also says of Medusa, "She represents a dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil."

Different Medusa tattoo styles to consider

If you're drawn to the idea of powerful, feminine tattoos, Medusa might be just right. Strength, survival, protection, transformation, the sacred feminine — the list of symbolism goes on and on. And according to TheTrendSpotter, there are several different artistic styles and placements that can beautifully capture Medusa in her power and mysticism.

If you're looking for something a bit softer, try a small, finer Medusa tattoo. This delicate style encapsulates the Greek priestess in a gorgeous light, and there's a lot of flexibility when it comes to placement. A traditional tattoo might be your best bet if you're after something bold and stunning –- just like Medusa. Colorful tattoos like these make a loud declaration of power and strength, which are pretty spot-on for Medusa's story. Another option when choosing a Medusa tattoo is if you'd like to depict her as a lively figure or a statue. If you're a Greek mythology aficionado, a tattoo of Medusa as she has been shown in ancient history (a statue) may be perfect for you.

However you decide to personalize Medusa, the message of her ancient strength and beauty will shine through, and it seems this tattoo trend won't be dying down anytime soon.