Greek Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon. Protector of the forest and virgins. Lady of the Wild Mountains and protector of the womb. Artemis has become quite a popular deity worldwide in modern times among pagans and witches alike. Many people find themselves drawn to her and for good reason. Here we explore who Artemis is AND how to work with and honor her in your spiritual practice.
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, 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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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