Coronis - maiden of the woods

Updated: May 7

Art by Jessica Velasquez


I don’t buy bad news. I don’t buy bad news. I don’t buy bad news but I will heed a good story….read on, this is my interpretation of the story of Asclepius, son of Coronis, in honor of mothers day.


In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the son of god, Apollo & nymph, Coronis (nymph’s are mythological spirits of nature imagined as a beautiful maiden inhabiting rivers, woods & other locations // not to be confused with, at least for now, nymphomania. More on that below)


Coronis resided in Thessaly. It was there that the Olympian god Apollo seduced her and impregnated her. Apollo left her in Thessaly and, expecting her faithfulness, kept a white raven behind to watch over her. Alone, pregnant and waiting, Coronis fell in love with a visitor from Arcadia. The raven reported this news to Apollo and he became so enraged, he turned the raven black and ordered his sister, Artemis to go to Thessaly and kill her.


When Coronis lay dying, Apollo took pity on her and chose to save the unborn child by splitting her tummy open - performing a cesarian - thus Asclepius, who’s name means ‘cut open,' came to be. He grew to learn medicine from Cheiron who was a centaur (half man/half horse). Asclepius learned so much from him that he was able to bring one of his patients back from the dead. As a result, healing centers all around the ancient world were created using this symbol of a rod and snake.


Historians have postulated that the snake represents everything from worm theory to the biblical story of Moses. Others believe that because the snake can shed its skin that it's a symbol of birth and rejuvenation. Some believe the snake represents life & death since its venom can both kill and be used therapeutically. Cool and all... but what happened to Coronis?


Seduced, left alone and pregnant, accused and berated, cut open and killed, a child un-mothered - goes on to do great things and she's, well, forgotten. Her legacy becomes one of infidelity and ignorance while her babe goes on to inspire the world over little of which it actually understands. Not to mention the root of her own nature gets morphed from mythical goddess, maiden of the woods to a medical term we use today to describe sex addiction in women - thus nymphomania. Nymphomania's staying power as a term is due to the image of the nymph and her mythic ambiguity, as both victim and threat. I know this is a myth but language carries weight. I can't help but see a resemblance of the patriarchy we're so blindly adherent.

Do we know what we're saying let alone seeing?

We glorify and glamorize the aftermath of a tragedy and forget where and who we come from. I wonder if Coronis felt misunderstood?

Thus, we all come from somewhere. We all have a mother whether or not she still lives today. Whether or not she held you well, warmly, tightly. She carried you, she made you, she gave you your potential, whether it’s been tapped or not.

Thank her. Thank your mother. Touch down, look up. She’s everywhere….that's why a disconnect from nature is a disconnect from ourselves, I believe. I want to take a moment to put our medals, our prizes, our trophies aside - since that is what we seem to be so focused on attaining - and consider those who metaphorically rip themselves open in the name of satisfying societal expectancy. The hope & the risk. We give, it takes. I wonder what would change if we sought to honor these roots, these stories, this homage? Maybe our prizes would be more felt. Maybe we'd be more satisfied.


... or we can just call our mom and wish her a happy mothers day.

…xo Katie

#mothersday #coronis #greekmythology #asclepius #feminism

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