Medusa, the Weeping Angels, and Mary’s Fairy Godmother

Last night I was in the middle of reading Sally a book of Greek mythology when she stopped me. She was excited and wanted to tell me something. She pointed to a picture of Medusa.

“That’s an angel,” Sally said.

“What? Are you sure?” I responded, surprised. How could she think that monster was an angel?

“Yes. That’s an angel.” She was sure.

And then I suddenly it all made sense and I understood not only why Sally identified Medusa as “an angel” but also why she identified the angel who appeared to Mary as “Mary’s fairy godmother.” Let me explain.

First of all, this is a Weeping Angel. The Weeping Angels are introduced in what is probably the best Doctor Who episode ever, Blink. They turn to stone when you are looking at them, but when you’re not looking at them, they spring to life again. And if they touch you, they feed off of your time energy and send you back in time.

Sally absolutely loves Doctor Who, and has watched Blink several times through. Furthermore, the Weeping Angels have played a role in a decent number of episodes since that first one. By now, Sally knows them quite well. So when Sally looked at Medusa, she saw a Weeping Angel.

As I thought about it, I realized that the Weeping Angels were Sally’s introduction to the entire concept of angels. So when I read Sally the Christmas story in December and told her that an angel had visited Mary, well, it’s no wonder she was confused. And it’s no wonder that in rereading the story to her baby brother, she substituted the word “angel” for a term she felt better described the character: “Mary’s fairy godmother.” Fairy godmothers, after all, show up mysteriously to speak to young women and help them out when they’re in trouble. Angels, in contrast, are scary monsters.

What I think I find most fascinating here is Sally’s ability to move back and forth between these different mythical and fictional stories and universes and recognize parallels. The connections she makes are fascinating.

Also, please, whatever you do, don’t tell Sally she has her own guardian angel. I’d really like her to continue sleeping through the night.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • John Small Berries

    “As I thought about it, I realized that the Weeping Angels were Sally’s introduction to the entire concept of angels. So when I read Sally the Christmas story in December and told her that an angel had visited Mary, well, it’s no wonder she was confused. “

    Thou shalt not blink. If thou dost blink, thou shalt surely die. Turn thou not away; avert not thy gaze. Blink not, and good luck.

  • Pam

    You might want to take a look at this book

    The Pop Culture Grimoire: A Pop Culture Magic Anthology
    http://www.thegreenwolf.com/PCG.html

    It’s a Wiccan book, I don’t know if thats a turn off. I haven’t read it. (Grad school – the fun killer) but I have read some of Lupa’s other books which I do like

    -Pam

    • Little Magpie

      Off (the main) topic, but OMG I think I may have to buy this. :)

  • Glia

    Well, at least now we know why angels always have to start with “Fear not…”

    • baal

      I always thought the “fear not” was a written representation of the hand position “fear not” you see in so much of the statuary (iconography) of religious figures from the middle east in antiquity. It’s a sign from a divinity that you should listen to them (as opposed to your natural inclination which is to fall down in awe and grovel – or something).

      • Glia

        Well, sure, if you want to be all serious about it. :)

        I’m just entertaining myself with picturing, say, disciples coming on a Weeping Angel at the tomb. Or hosts of them singing carols. Actually, that would be an awesome episode.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    I wonder what she would make of witches.

  • Peasles

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on.

    How old is Sally?

    Because I watched Blink when I was 22 and I had to stop halfway through the episode to go buy candy.

    Basically, your daughter is braver than me.

    • Watry

      Small kids don’t respond to narrative cues the same way older kids and adults do–they don’t realize they’re supposed to be scared. Plus, I remember being three and four years old and not being able to comprehend plot beyond a very basic level.

      Basically, Sally is braver than all of us by virtue of NOT being 22. :)
      (This is all completely unsupported, so I’m pretty open to being told I’m full of it here.)

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        There’s also if you are “sensitised”. I could watch any kind of horror movie when I was 14, fast-forward to 16 onwards and I’ve turned into an scaredy cat by virtue of not watching any for a long while and then having a boyfriend who would warn me if something scary was going to happen and tell it to me so I could cover my eyes. It’s sad that even films I’ve already seen and was not much scared of, I’m now terrified watching them T_T

        BTW, Blink is my fave episode too, I loved it so muhc that I made all my friends watch it XP

    • http://complicatedfeelingsabout.wordpress.com Katherine

      My older sister is 30, and she WILL NOT watch any weeping angels episode unless I am there to hold her hand and make her a stiff drink.

    • vianne

      Don’t feel bad; I’m 28 and can’t watch “Blink,” in my own home, with other people. Cannot. Do. It.

      I’m a bit perplexed by Sally not being frightened by “Blink” or other episodes; even though I’m so much older than her, I still get creeped out even though I know what I’m watching isn’t real; does she still think that everything she watches is real, e.g. is “Blink” a documentary of weeping angels? Or does she know that it’s all just pretend?

      • Monika

        I don’t know about Sally but my girl is about the same age I think (3.5) and she has a very well developed sense of what is and is not pretend. She understand that most of TV stories are pretend.

        This has led to some fascinating questions like “Mummy, there are no bad people in the real world are there?” Boy was it sad to answer that one truthfully. And she disbelieved me that mermaids were not real for a while. She said she was going to grow up to be one. I love talking to my child. Like Libby Anne was saying the connections and logic are really interesting.

    • Monika

      This is why our daughter (3.5) has watched many many Dr Who episodes and loved them but we have not shown her Blink. It is one of my favourite episodes but it has given me minor nightmares! I was saving it up for when she got older. Perhaps I will rethink that.

    • Lauren F

      I watched the whole episode hanging on to my husband’s arm for dear life.

      (We haven’t watched the second one, because we liked the first one so much we’re afraid the second one will ruin it – we were getting a bit frustrated with the recycling and fanservice and seriously-how-can-the-Doctor-still-pretend-the-Daleks-are-a-threat-anymore.)

  • Katherine A.

    Angels in the bible were very weird looking. Cherubim are described as having 4 faces (human, lion, ox and eagle), 4 wings, straight feet with calf’s soles and hands under their wings. (Ezekiel 1:5-10)
    This Cracked article talks about that and more.

    • Kate

      Seraphim are absolutely terrifying, in my opinion. Even weeping angels don’t look as scary to me.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

    You know, that makes an odd kind of sense. Stare at Medusa, turn to stone, yeah? Well if you look at a Weeping Angel for too long, you turn into one of them, because anything that holds the image of an angel can be infected and turned. (“Forest of the Dead”) As of “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Weeping Angels are able to inhabit/possess/infect any statue at all.

    Crap.

    BRB, destroying statues.

    • BabyRaptor

      I’ve never even watched Dr. Who and that thought process terrifies me, based just on the provided picture.

    • Rae

      Actually, it was the images shown with the Doctor’s voiceover at the end of Blink that initially implied that *any* humanoid statue could be an angel.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

        Er… thanks, seem to have missed that part.

      • Rae

        No problem – that bit of it was actually part of what scared me the most about the episode! So my irrational fear was not limited to stone statues of angels, but any statues of humans, and I’ve had more than a few discussions about statues of people on horses and whether they’d just dismount the horse part or the horse would also sneak up behind you… my friends and I have wayyyy too much time on our hands :-)

    • Monika

      So perhaps the Afghanistan Taliban Muslims destroying Bamiyan Buddha statues was not a horrible act of vandalism but really the salvation of all mankind?

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ Jarred H

    The way children think about and perceive things sure can be fascinating.

  • Jen

    She sounds like a pretty bright, clever kid!

  • Caravelle

    Also, please, whatever you do, don’t tell Sally she has her own guardian angel. I’d really like her to continue sleeping through the night.
    I love that line xD

    You know that schoolyard game where someone is counting against a wall, others are supposed to walk up to them and freeze whenever the person turns around to look at them, whoever’s caught moving loses and whoever gets to the end wins ?

    I played it with a bunch of kindergartners after watching too many Weeping Angel episodes and it creeped me out.

    • http://salami-orchids.blogspot.com PlumJo

      Red Light, Green Light!

  • A Reader

    I need to go watch Blink now.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    The most malevolent life form evolution ever produced. In fact, they are so evil, they can completely distract me from work by making me read this whole discussion. :)

  • Niemand

    Random thought about this episode: It occurred to me that angels are particularly terrifying for much the same reason that clowns are: Because a being that goes through that much trouble to look benevolent and helpful must have some really, really terrible plans. In other words, it demonstrates malevolence aforethought: They’re specifically trying to lure people in by looking like “good” beings.


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