Silence. Only the sound of my breathing breaks it.
Stillness. Only my fidgeting disturbs it.
No stars are visible tonight. The moon covers its face with a tattered curtain of cloud. Ah there it is, flashing briefly in the distance. Wrapping velvety blackness around me like a cloak, I step out into the night & begin to walk. I am one shadow amongst many, & yet… isolated.
I glance upward again. This time I fail to find it. I feel as far away from my goddess of choice as I do the hiding moon. I’ve been a self-dedicated priestess of artemis since roughly 2005. It should be easy for me to speak of Her;I feel odd that it isn’t.
I don’t claim to have a complete understanding of the Athenian calendar system, but I try my best to incorporate as much of it into my spiritual life as I’m able & is meaningful for me. I’m aware of a couple of feast-days which honour artemis falling in the Month of April. On the 8th She is celebrated as an embodiment of all that’s feminine in Nature & protectress of women. On or around the 18th there’s a day which honours Her as an embodiment of the moon. I suppose it’s natural, then, for my thoughts to turn to Her at this time.
I can’t help but notice a certain sense of duality in Her nature. This is shown from Her birth. Her parents are the Olympian Zeus & the Titan Leto. Her brother is Apollo, god of prophecy, healing, & music. As He took on some of the duties of the solar deity Helios, so did artemis take on traits of the lunar Selene. Sharing a bond closer than most siblings, the twins form 2 sides of the same coin.
I am not a mother yet & I find it difficult to relate to this aspect of Her. I find it somewhat ironic that a virgin goddess preside over matters pertaining to childbirth & pregnancy. As artemis Kourotrophos She’s the ‘upbringer of young children’. As Lochia She becomes the patroness of pregnant women. One might think that artemis got an early start in these roles. Her arrows might bring death to Her prey, yet She is equally capable of creating life. A jealous Hera cursed Leto, saying that no land would shelter her when her time came. Zeus raised the island of Delos for her. artemis was born 1st & was able to assist Her mother giving birth to Her twin.
artemis favours mountains & wild places. As much as She seems to value Her solitude, She is also deeply loyal to those She cares about. artemis & Apollo slew the children of Niobe, wife of the King of Thebes. Once she boasted to to Leto, the divine twins’ mum, that even as a mere mortal she had bore more children & therefore was superior than the Titan. Apollo heard of this & became violently insulted. He told artemis, who helped him hunt down all Niobe’s children. Apollo shot & killed all the males; artemis took down all the females.
She has always strongly defended Her sense of self & principles. She is fiercely protective of Her virgin status. Spare a thought for the hunter Aktaion’s tragedy. He has the misfortune to accidental stumble across the goddess bathing in a river. A snarling Artemis immediately transformed him into a stag, which was ripped apart by his own dogs. Harsh! However, this isn’t to say She’s entirely without compassion for men. Although immune to the goddess of love Aphrodite’s charms, Artemis came to greatly admire the hunter Orion. Orion was also seeing goddess of the dawn Eos on the side. Apollo grew concerned that His sister’s chastity was in danger & that She would be used as Eos was. In the end the archer god sent a giant scorpion after him. Orion attempted to swim to the island sanctuary of Eos in hopes that She’s protect him. In one version of the myth Apollo conned Artemis into an archery contest, betting that She couldn’t hit that little speck on the horizon. Never one to refuse a challenge, She hit Her mark & put an end to Orion & the threat he posed to Her virtue.
artemis possesses the surety of the arrow. Her sight is true. Her aim is steadfast. She challenges each of us to stay true to our core selves & to demand nothing less than the right keep to our ideals & goals. Remember Her dual nature, though. Balance temper or stubborn pursuit with compassion, passion with reason. Above all, seek Her. Look for artemis in green & silent places. Ask that She bless you with Her presence & let you walk beside Her for a time.