Medusa at Beltaine; Medusa at Bathtime

I have another etching for the 2014 calendar! Apologies for not getting round to posting the sketch for this one, which I have in fact been working on and off since Beltaine was suggested by Lily Wight. (thank you Lily! :-)) Beltaine seemed an excellent idea, and another mixing of legends / metaphors like the January picture. The scant research I did suggested the dancing around bonfires, the belief that on this night the ‘other’ world and its creatures was much closer to this world than usual, much nakedness and revelry, and of course, it suggested Celtic and Pagan deities, not Greek ones. In particularly Pan and Herne the Hunter spring to mind. Of course, the Romans had their horned god Bacchus, and the GreekΒ  equivalent Dionysus, god of wine and wild parties, is associated with satyrs who are kind of Pan-like and given to nightly cavorting, but their festivals seem to have been in March. Frankly I imagine that’s down to the weather. Cavorting round bonfires in March at this latitude? I think not!

Anyway, I soon realized that I had already a design that would work very well indeed, my Christmas card from last year:

Diabolical Dancing - the Christmas card for 2012
Diabolical Dancing – the Christmas card for 2012

…I just needed to ‘Pagan it up’ a bit! Of course it’s never that simple, in fact generally I find it more difficult to modify something than to start from scratch, because I always have in my mind the original image and I am always comparing the new one to that. Still, I got there, and here it is:

Medusa at Beltaine: the month of May
Medusa at Beltaine: the month of May

I had intended some kind of bonfire-effect behind the dancers when I started, but in the end I like the simplicity of the silhouette. Besides, I think they have been dancing through to the misty dawn.

There are ever-so-subtle outlines here, that can be seen better in the original etching than in a photo, but here is a close-up bit for the curious. I don’t think it matters if the outlines are really visible or not now, but at the time I thought I needed them:

detail: Medusa at Beltaine
detail: Medusa at Beltaine

And so onto February. I have long wanted to pair Medusa with a man, mostly because her turning-people-into-stone issues present an interesting challenge, and February does include Valentine’s day, but in the end, I felt I had covered that picture already once before with ‘Medusa and Oedipus’:

Medusa and Oedipus - painting in gouache, 2007
Medusa and Oedipus – painting in gouache, 2007

(For the full story Oedipus and why he was the most suitable man for Medusa, see this page on my website: )

So I went for a simple idea, albeit with rather complicated plumbing: It’s February, it’s dark, it’s bloody brass monkeys out there, what better opportunity to relax in a nice hot bath, with a good book and a glass or two?

sketch: Medusa in the bathtub
sketch: Medusa in the bathtub

Medusa, in the bath.


  1. Beverly Jones

    Can’t wait to see more!!!! Love it when you share your process.
    Beverly Jones
    Seattle, Washington U.S.A.

    1. Thank you Beverly, good to hear some people do, i think I go on a bit sometimes! πŸ˜€
      …more later…

  2. Mgon β™₯

    Medusa at Bathtime looks relaxing & fun! Love the serpentine tub legs and all those faucets. πŸ˜€

    1. Thank you Mgon πŸ™‚ ‘Faucets’… always makes me snigger! …round here we call ’em ‘Taps’

  3. […] Medusa at Beltaine; Medusa at Bathtime. […]

  4. Wonderful, Nancy! I love the way you’ve put a Graeco-Roman spin on the festival traditions, I’ll share your post around my social networks and see if I can send a few people your way x

    1. THank you Lily, glad you like it, and always appreciated, people spreading the word πŸ™‚ xx

  5. Nearly time for Three Wise Fairies! Soon be 1st March!

    1. Ah yes, I would be particularly careful around those three! πŸ™‚

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