image from Arnold Böcklin
In the Greek myth, those who looked directly into Medusa's eyes were promptly turned to stone....frozen in time. Before setting out to vanquish this snake-haired demon, Perseus sought council from Athena. Her advice to him was simple; under no circumstances look directly at the Gorgon. Taking Athena's advise to heart, Perseus used the shield on his arm to reflect the image of Medusa and was then able to cut off her head without being turned to stone. If trauma is to be healed, we must learn not to confront it directly. This can be a hard lesson to learn. If we make the mistake of confronting trauma head on, then Medusa will do to us what Medusas do. True to her nature, she will turn us to stone. Like the Chinese finger traps we all played with as kids, the more we struggle with trauma, the greater will be her grip upon us....... The reflection of Medusa we must perceive and respond to in order to vanquish and transform her vast energies is mirrored in our instinctual natures. Once in touch with this primordial wisdom, we will be able to be present in our own organisms as well as with those of another. This innate wisdom allows us to not only master trauma, but to experience ourselves and others fully. Without it, confusion or over-control will rule all of our relationships. –from Nature's Lessons in Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.