Saturday, January 21, 2012
Medea, Ancient Sorceress, Priestess of Hekate
Medea is one of the most well known ancient sorceresses there was. She was said to be a Priestess of the Goddess Hekate and had many different magical powers. She was the daughter of King Aeetes of Colchis, granddaughter to Helios, the Sun God, and niece to Circe who was a well known sorceress herself. The most famous myth involving Medea, is that of Jason and the Argonauts.
In the myth, Jason, who is seen as a heroic figure, comes to Colchis to claim his inheritance to the throne, and to claim the Golden Fleece. King Aeetes agreed to give him the fleece on the condition that he perform a few tasks first. When Medea saw Jason she immediately fell in love with him. She offered to help him with her magic to complete the impossible tasks her father laid out, only if he married her. Jason agreed and his first task began. He had to plow a field with fire breathing oxen, and Medea gave him an unguent in which he anointed himself with, so as to protect his body from any harm of the fire. He completed that task, but he still had two more to go, and Medea used her magical powers to help him each time. So when all was said and done, Jason kept his promise to Medea, took his golden fleece and fled Colchis with Medea. They married and lived happily in Corinth with their two children for a while.
Until one day, King Creon offered Jason his daughters hand in marriage. Eager to please the King, Jason accepted his offer and left Medea to marry Glauce, the Kings daughter. This enraged Medea and to seek revenge, she sent Glauce a beautiful bridal gown, covered in poison. The Kings daughter died and Medea then is said to kill her two children from Jason, and fled Corinth in a chariot led by dragons sent to her by her grandfather, Helios.
Later in the myth, she is said to have married Aegeus, an old king of Athens, and bore him a son Medus, who was in line to inherit the throne. Although Aegeus didnt realize that he had another son that he never knew of named, Theseus. Medea tried to poison Theseus when he came to fight for the throne, and when Aegeus realized he stopped it immediately. Medea then fled with her son Medus to a country in which Medus eventually became king, and that country was later called Media.
I believe that in this myth, Medea becomes the victim of unfortunate circumstance. Having fell deeply in love with Jason, and willingly sacrificed everything, including her entire family, to help him so he could complete the arduous tasks her father set out for him. Then fleeing her homeland to marry the man she loved and have children together, just to be betrayed and abandoned by him at the first mention of another woman. And as you can see from her actions earlier in the myth, Medea is no stranger to getting revenge and using her skills as a great sorceress and witch, even if it is for evil purposes. This shows her strong feminine and rebellious power.
Also something I find interesting, seeing that she is granddaughter to the Sun God Helios, and niece to Circe, a minor Goddess of magic, it would seem that maybe Medea would have some of that divine power within herself as well. Myth says that she practiced her magic under the guidance of the Goddess Hekate, some even speculate that she was the daughter of Hekate. But there really isn't any mythological evidence that this is true.
This is a quote from the myth in which Medea calls on Hekate for help in her magic, "By the goddess I worship most of all, my chosen helper Hecate, who dwells in the inner chamber of my house, none of them shall pain my heart and smile at it! Bitter will I make their marriage, bitter Creon's marriage-alliance, and bitter my banishment from the land!" (Euripides, Medea 400).
I hope you enjoyed learning the myth of Medea, Priestess of Hekate!
Photo courtesy of : Jason and Medea, John William Waterhouse
Posted by Tara at 10:28 AM