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Basic Information

The Gorgoneion is a protective device hailing from Ancient Greece. It's an image of Medusa, just her head and snake-y hair, with no attached body.

Pendants, masks, jewelry, and architecture bearing the face of the Gorgon were common in Classical Antiquity, and possibly go back as far back as 6000 BC. Doors and Mosaic floors would feature a Gorgoneion near the entrance to protect against intruders. Kilns in Attica had Gorgoneions on them to protect the craftsmen from accident or injury. The image of the head of the Gorgon was intended to ward off evil and thus bring good luck.

And really, who can blame an evil spirit or other intruder for fearing the Gorgoneion? Medusa's gaze could turn a man to stone even well after her head was severed. The Greek gods kept her head around as Weapon.

In general, the older the image of Medusa, the more horrifying it is. Really (really) old Gorgoneions have tusks, bulging eyes, and snakes that look deadly. Later gorgoneion give her a beautiful face and stylized serpent-hair. In some images, she actually looks like an orgiastic diety, and the gorgoneia may even represent facets of an ancient Mother Goddess cult. The head of medusa has remained a popular decorative and artistic device over the centuries. Today, it's used as a logo for the Gianni Versace company.

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Game and Story Use

  • A gorgoneion may serve as an amulet, holy symbol, elder sign, or magic weapon.
    • It may have true power of it's own, or the power may be psychosomatic, generated by the fears and belief of those who are confronted with it.
      • If the later, it may be of no avail against a foe who does not fear the Gorgons or the Gods.
    • The early, really scary images may have more or less power than the more abstracted images that follow.
  • In the Trail of Cthulhu campaign this Arcanist is currently running, a Mormo-worshiping Witch Cult crossed the line, transforming their high priestess into a sort of Gorgon/Moonbeast hybrid with some powers stemming from the Fourth Dimension. The solution involved the PC bravely confronting the beast with a Gorgoneion to contain it's power.
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