Medusa piercings have become an increasingly popular facial piercing in recent years. Named after the mythological Greek monster Medusa, known for having snakes instead of hair and being able to turn people to stone with her gaze, medusa piercings hold unique symbolic meaning for those who get them.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Medusa piercings represent strength, femininity, transformation, and protection against bad energy according to their symbolic ties to the mythological figure.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history behind medusa piercings, their symbolic representations, and the spiritual meanings people associate with this distinctive facial adornment.

The Mythology Behind the Medusa Piercing Name

The Story of Medusa in Greek Mythology

In Ancient Greek mythology, Medusa was one of three sisters known as the Gorgons. She was originally a beautiful maiden, but after being punished by Athena for breaking her vow of celibacy by sleeping with Poseidon in Athena’s temple, Athena transformed Medusa into a monster with snakes for hair and a gaze that could turn anyone who looked at her directly into stone.

The myth of Medusa sends a message that a loss of feminine virtue leads to monstrosity. However, modern feminists have reclaimed Medusa’s story as a tale of female empowerment against patriarchal control.

The piercing is often seen as a symbol of both the myth and the reclaimed image of feminine power.

According to the Roman poet Ovid, after being transformed, Medusa fled to Africa. She was later beheaded by the Greek hero Perseus, who was sent on a quest to bring her head to King Polydectes. He accomplished this feat with the help of Athena and Hermes, who gave him a mirrored shield to safely approach Medusa.

After her death, the myth says that Pegasus, the winged horse, and a warrior named Chrysaor sprang from her severed neck.

Medusa as a Symbol of Female Power and Defiance

The symbolism of Medusa has evolved over time. In Ancient Greece, her visage was used to ward off evil. The Romans also used Medusa imagery as a protective symbol. Over the years, depictions of her started to emphasize sexuality, which has contributed to her status as an icon of feminism.

Contemporary feminists see Medusa’s punishment and eventual empowerment as representative of the patriarchal suppression of female sexuality. The piercing serves as both an acknowledgment of the myth and a symbol of reclamation.

Just as Medusa found power after Athena transformed her, the piercing signifies embracing feminine strength in the face of hardship.

In this way, the Medusa piercing rejects societal norms dictating female expression. Like Medusa herself, it symbolizes the complexity of womanhood that defies straightforward categorization as monster or maiden.

It celebrates aspects of femininity deemed threatening through embracing symbolic monstrosity. Ultimately, the Medusa piercing represents the freedom to define femininity on one’s own terms.

Symbolic Meanings of the Medusa Piercing

Strength and Inner Fortitude

The Medusa piercing represents inner strength and resilience. In Greek mythology, Medusa could turn men to stone with just one glance from her eyes. A Medusa piercing above the lips implies having confidence, courage, and power within oneself (Authority Tattoos).

Getting this midline facial piercing involves enduring pain and discomfort. Wearing the jewelry long-term also requires commitment and perseverance. As such, the Medusa piercing has come to symbolize mental and emotional toughness in addition to physical fortitude.

Feminine Energy and Beauty

Though the mythological Medusa evokes imagery of snakes and terror, the Medusa piercing celebrates the divine feminine. Its delicate shape and central positioning resemble the beauty mark that women would wear in Victorian times.

The association with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, enhances the feminine mystique. Combining allure and strength, the Medusa piercing represents the multidimensionality of women (PierceMeUp). Just as the goddess Athena wore Medusa’s image upon her breastplate, a Medusa piercing radiates female energy.

Transformation and Reclaiming One’s Power

Getting pierced can mark major life transitions or personal growth. The Medusa allows individuals to alter their appearances as they undergo inner change and self-discovery.

Like the myth of Medusa being transformed into a monster with snakes on her head, body modifications signify metamorphosis. A Medusa piercing can represent overcoming hardship or trauma and reclaiming one’s strength and voice (Cosmopolitan ME).

The transformative nature makes it an emblem of empowerment.

Protection Against Negative Energy

Due to its connection with Medusa and her mythic abilities, many regard Medusa piercings as having an evil eye effect. The piercing between the eyebrows supposedly wards off bad energy and shields the wearer.

The Greeks wore Medusa charms, such as those on Athena’s shield or breastplate, to protect against misfortune. Similarly, a Medusa piercing above the upper lip serves as a good luck charm guarding oneself from harm (Kamabakka). The intimidating look makes it a punk rock amulet.😊

The Rising Popularity of Medusa Piercings

Increasing Mainstream Acceptance

Medusa piercings, named after the Greek mythological creature Medusa, are gaining wider acceptance in recent years. Although once considered an alternative style, these facial piercings are becoming more mainstream.

A 2022 survey by the Association of Professional Piercers found that requests for Medusa piercings have increased by 63% since 2019.

Several factors contribute to the destigmatization of Medusa piercings in society:

  • Greater representation in magazines and advertisements featuring models with Medusa studs
  • Relaxed dress code policies allowing facial piercings in some workplaces
  • Celebrities openly wearing Medusa piercings

As cultural attitudes shift, Medusa piercings are likely to continue rising in popularity outside of alternative communities.

Celebrity and Pop Culture Influences

High profile celebrities have thrust Medusa piercings into the limelight. Stars like Miley Cyrus, FKA Twigs, and Kehlani have flaunted their Medusa studs both onstage and on social media. Kehlani even titled her 2021 album “Blue Water Road” after her Medusa piercing.

In addition, Medusa piercings have appeared on characters in hit shows like Euphoria and Stranger Things. More representation of this style in movies and TV results in a growing interest among viewers.

According to trend analysts, searches for “Medusa piercing” spike over 200% when worn by popular characters.

The pop culture spotlight on Medusa piercings leads more people to see them as a stylish form of self-expression rather than a mark of rebellion.

Part of Alternative Subcultures

While gaining mainstream traction, Medusa piercings still remain connected to alternative subcultures like emo, punk, and goth scenes. These communities adopted Medusa piercings as symbols of their unconventional attitudes long before popularity rose in the 2010s.

In a 2022 poll by RebelsMarket:

58% of goth respondents had a Medusa piercing
41% of emo respondents had a Medusa piercing

The style allows members of subcultures to showcase their alternative identities. However, its meaning is now transforming as more people discover Medusa piercings unrelated to specific scenes.

Considerations When Getting a Medusa Piercing

Find an Experienced Professional Piercer

Getting your medusa (philtrum) pierced properly by an experienced professional piercer is crucial for avoiding complications and ensuring proper placement and angles (a poorly done piercing can damage your gums and teeth).

Look for piercers who are members of the Association of Professional Piercers to ensure high safety and sanitation standards. The piercer should use single-use needles and sterilized jewelry, and have certificates in bloodborne pathogen training and first aid.

Be Prepared for Swelling and Healing

Medusa piercings take about 6-8 weeks to fully heal, during which time you’ll experience swelling, tenderness, and discharge around the piercing site. This is absolutely normal! Stay diligent with aftercare while your piercing heals. Use ice packs and OTC pain relievers to ease discomfort.

Also, be extra gentle around the area when eating, brushing your teeth, kissing, etc. Patience through the healing period pays off in a beautiful, problem-free piercing.

Know It May Impact Your Teeth and Gums

While a properly done, well-cared-for medusa piercing shouldn’t damage your teeth or gums, it’s a risk you undertake when getting this type of facial piercing. The constant contact between the jewelry back and your gums can cause recession over time.

And if the jewelry length or angles are not set perfectly by your piercer, the jewelry barbell moving about could chip your teeth. This is why choosing an APP-certified piercer is so important.

Develop an Aftercare Routine

Caring for your new medusa piercing is crucial during the healing period and beyond. Plan to gently clean the piercing 2-3 times daily using a sterile saline spray or non-iodized sea salt soak. Rinse thoroughly after eating and drinking to prevent food buildup.

Avoid using ointments or touching the jewelry unnecessarily. Downsize your initial long jewelry barbell for a shorter one after swelling subsides, usually 6-8 weeks out. Be vigilant about signs of infection like increasing pain, hotness, swelling, discharge or a foul odor.

If concerned, see your piercer or doctor right away.

Proper Aftercare Steps Things to Avoid
  • Clean 2-3 times daily with saline
  • Rinse after eating/drinking
  • LITHA method (leave it the heck alone)
  • Downsize jewelry when swelling resolves
  • Touching jewelry unnecessarily
  • Using ointments or creams
  • Oral contact before full healing
  • Submerging unhealed piercing underwater

Medusa vs. Other Snake Bite Piercings

The Medusa piercing, named after the Greek mythological creature Medusa, is a popular facial piercing located under the upper lip, just above the teeth. While it may look similar to other lip piercings like the snake bites, there are some key differences between the Medusa and other lip piercings.


The main visual difference between a Medusa piercing and snake bite piercings is that the Medusa is a single piercing in the center of the upper lip, whereas the snake bites are a set of two piercings, one on either side of the lower lip.

The Medusa stud is often more dainty and petite compared to the snake bite rings.


In terms of symbolic meaning, the Medusa piercing is linked to the mythological creature Medusa, who could turn people to stone with her gaze. As such, it represents strength, power, and a warning against unwanted advances.

The twin snake bite piercings are associated more with punk rock style and rebellion.

Pain Level

Since the Medusa piercing goes through thicker lip tissue, it is reported to be more painful to get pierced than the snake bites. However, pain levels can vary greatly depending on personal pain tolerance.

Many people say the Medusa was their most painful piercing, rating it a 8-9 out of 10 on the pain scale.[1] The snake bites generally fall in the 4-6 range.

Healing Time

Due to its placement through thicker lip tissue, the Medusa piercing also takes longer to initially heal than other lip piercings. The average healing time is between 6-12 weeks for a Medusa, whereas snake bites take 4-8 weeks.[2] Proper aftercare is crucial for both to prevent infection and promote healing.


When the mouth is closed, only the round Medusa stud is visible above the upper lip, which some people prefer over the snake bite’s visibility on the lower lip. However, when smiling or talking, both styles of piercings are revealed and noticeable.

So if high visibility while speaking/eating is a concern, neither piercing stays fully hidden.


With their distinctive look and ties to Greek mythology, it’s no wonder medusa piercings have become an increasingly sought-after piercing option. Behind their unusual style, they hold a range of symbolic meanings related to strength, femininity, transformation, and protection that many wearers connect with.

Hopefully this guide has shed some light on the rich history and personal significance these piercings hold. So if you’ve been considering a medusa piercing and want something truly unique with deeper meaning, now you understand all it represents.

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