Goddess of the Hunt & Moon: How to Work with Artemis
Artemis. Greek Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon. Protector of the forest and virgins. Lady of the Wild Mountains and protector of the womb. Many people find themselves drawn to the ancient Greek Goddess Artemis and with good reason. Here we explore who Artemis is AND how to work with and honor her in your spiritual practice.
Who is Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt?
When I think of the wild woman archetype, Artemis always pops into my mind first. She’s wild in more than one way – a forest-dweller and hunter who lives outside the monotonous laws of society. But not only is she wild in this way – she’s also known as the eternal virgin – chaste from any man or god’s physical touch. Impenetrable. She couldn’t be captured, wed, or tamed. A TRUE role model for the modern woman!
Artemis’ Ancient Origins
Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Hunt, was a daughter of Zeus and Leto. Twin sister of the Greek god Apollo. It is possible and likely that Artemis is even older than the Olympian gods and was absorbed into the pantheon as it rose to power. She’s one of the most ancient deities of Greece and her earliest manifestation was the bear. Her name – Artemis – confirms her link to the bear. Art means bear (similar to the Celtic Goddess of bears named Artio AND King Arthur of Camelot!) What animal is more wild than the bear?
The Goddess of the Hunt AND Childbirth?
Does it seem funny to you that Artemis isn’t just the Goddess of the Hunt AND the eternal virgin BUT she’s also a goddess of childbirth? With many ancient goddesses, these paradoxes arise to test and stretch our minds and hearts. The myth goes that Artemis aided her mother Leto in birthing her twin brother Apollo (it was apparently a difficult delivery). Because of this act, Artemis was called upon during many deliveries in ancient Greece and today. She is a fierce protector of mothers and children. At the same time, Artemis spins the wheel of fate for laboring mothers – she decides who lives and who dies (yes, another paradox – life and death).
Artemis’ Sexual Power and Sovereignty
Another of Artemis’ paradoxes is her rule over sexual energy. In myth, Artemis asks to remain un-wed, to remain faithful only to herself. The idea she’s an eternal virgin may be a misunderstanding through the years OR reflect physical virginity ONLY. What do I mean by physical virginity only? In many of Artemis’ sacred temples and feast-days, the ancient Greeks celebrated and honored her with sexual acts. So, in fact, Artemis may be a physical virgin in the modern sense but in the esoteric sense she uses her sexuality to “birth” into existence her intentions and powers. She is independent of a man and she decides who she shares her power with – be it physical, mental or spiritual. In this sense, she is most empowering to the modern woman who chooses herself over the desires of a man.
Artemis and Apollo: Twin Power
If you choose to work with Artemis in your spiritual practice, consider exploring her counterpart and twin. Apollo was born with Artemis of their Titaness mother Leto. They are alike yet completely different in many ways. Artemis rules over the night, the moon, and women. Therefore Apollo rules over the opposite – the day, the sun, and men. They may be opposites, but Apollo was also a god of the hunt and of healing. In addition, Apollo and Artemis are deities closely linked with wolves, psychics, and philosophers.
The Goddess of the Hunt’s Magical Associations:
- Names: Artemis, The Beautiful One, She of the Wild, Artamos, Mistress of the Hunt, Lady of the Wolves, Mistress of Animals, Eternal Virgin
- Gods and Goddesses: Apollo, Diana, Leto, Nymphs, Hecate
- Places: Arcadia, Leros, Selos, in addition forests, wild groves, and bodies of fresh water
- Plants: artemisia plants (mugwort, wormwood, tarragon), cedar, myrtle, oak, fig, bay, walnut, willow, fir
- Stones: moonstone, amethyst, quartz, moss agate, diamond, silver, pearl
- Animals: bear, wolf, stag, hound, fish, quail, bee, boar, dolphin, goat, cat (she is truly the Lady of Beasts so all animals are technically sacred to her!)
- Offerings: artemisia plants (made into oils, incense, etc.), round honey cakes, offerings left at the crossroads, boar’s tusks, bow and arrow (or representations of), bark or fruits from her sacred trees, any donation or care of forests and wild animals made in her name, erotic dance
A Ritual to Invoke Artemis
What You’ll Need:
- White candle and lighter/matches
- A handful of loose leaf artemisia herb (choose one or all of the following: mugwort, wormwood, tarragon)
- Olive oil
- Moonstone pendant or stone to carry/wear on person
- Shamanic drumming music OR ancient greek music
What to Do:
This ritual is to invite the powerful, wild energy of Artemis into your body and mind. It is a powerful ritual and should be taken seriously. You are essentially giving yourself over to the Goddess of the Hunt’s wildness.
- First, perform a cleansing ritual bath to cleanse yourself of any impurities. Remember – Artemis was “chaste” and pure.
- Next, cleanse your space by SMOKE-CLEANSING or whatever method you choose.
- Turn down the lights, light incense, light candles, set the mood. This ritual is best done at night AND on a Waxing or Full Moon.
- Gather your supplies.
- (OPTIONAL but recommended) Cast a circle.
- Turn on the shamanic drumming music. Breathe and relax.
- Listen to the music for awhile and allow yourself to drift off to another place and time – to an ancient wild forest in ancient Greece. SEE with your mind’s eye the old, gnarled trees. Hear the quiet wildness of the forest around you. See the crescent or full moon above you through the canopy of trees.
- Now, take the olive oil and anoint the white candle with your hands from bottom to top. As you’re anointing the candle, say a prayer to dedicate the candle to the wild purity of the Goddess of the Hunt Artemis. Light it. Dedicate the flame to her passion and ferocity.
- Next, take more of the olive oil and begin anointing yourself from feet all the way to your head. As you do this, invoke the spirit of Artemis by saying, “Artemis, Great Lady of the Forest, Beautiful Wild Protector of Virgins and Women. I invoke your independence, your sovereignty, your strength, your wildness. I ask that you make me a pure and chaste vessel of the same divine energy that courses through you. May I be a protector of the forests, of women and children, and of all of those who need defense. I dedicate my body, mind and spirit in your service, if only for a time. Let it be.”
- Following the anointing process, sprinkle the herb(s) over your body and around the candle in Artemis’ name.
- Anoint the moonstone pendant and place it around your neck OR put it in your pocket. You need to wear it as it is your physical connection to the goddess of the moon.
- Close your eyes, get on your feet, and dance like no one is watching. The more erotic and free, the better. You’re dancing in honor of Artemis’ and as the ancients did in her name.
- When you can’t dance anymore, fall on the floor and lay quietly, feeling the energy moving through and around you.
- Sit up and when you’re ready, release the circle (if you cast one), and ground and center.
- The rest of the white candle and herbs can be added to your altar for Artemis.
More Ways to Work with Artemis:
- Set up a small altar with her statue or representation, a white pillar candle(s), an offering bowl and a representation of her sacred animals and/or trees
- Give regular offerings to her and pray to her as often as you’d like: burn incense, light candles, talk to her, make creative offerings to honor her
- Read as much as you can about Artemis
- Study the habits of wolves and bears
- Take hikes through local forests and visit local fresh bodies of water to re-wild yourself and feel this goddess’ presence there
- Grow and work with herbs in the artemisia family: mugwort, tarragon, wormwood, etc.
- Wear crystals and stones linked to Artemis
- Wear moons on your clothing and jewelry
- Try your hand at archery
- Make decisions that are good for YOU as an individual and take care of yourself as a form of rebellion and wildness in a society that celebrates conformity
- Study midwifery as a career path OR just for fun!
- Take belly dancing or erotic dance classes in honor of Artemis
- Gaze up at the moon and thank Artemis as much as possible
- Be a fierce protector of animals, wildlife, the forest, women and children