This is the first article for this new monthly series. The intention is to explore their myth’s, symbols and sacred objects, and other interesting information addressing an individual Goddess each month.
Since this is the first of this series I decided to start with Artemis: Goddess of Light and Protector of the Vulnerable. I have been drawn to Artemis for years, and have been fortunate enough to have received her assistance.
In Greek mythology Artemis was the daughter of Zeus, ruler of the Olympian gods. The first story we hear of Artemis is that her mother, Leto, gave birth to her after a short and painless labor, but as her labor continued with Artemis’s twin brother Apollo, Leto began to have difficulty. Moved to compassion, the infant goddess Artemis, only a few minutes old, became her mother’s midwife and delivered Apollo. It would seem that Artemis was naturally born to serve as a nurturer and protector. Due to the fact that she caused her mother no pain during childbirth, and successfully served as midwife during her brother’s birth, she naturally became the patron of childbirth, protector of children, and the goddess who especially heard the appeals of women.
Artemis was always responsive to the needs of the vulnerable and suffering, and was quick to defend the powerless against unjust treatment. It is not a surprise that Artemis would come to be thought of as the “feminist” goddess.
Artemis’ association with the natural world , the wilderness, symbolizes her own untamed spirit. The most independent of the goddesses, she roamed the forests as a huntress with her pack of hunting dogs. She was famous for her hunting skills, her unerring aim. She was known as a fearless and responsible hunter, able to bring down any beast.
Artemis was especially fierce in her protection of the young and gentle animals. In spite of this side of her she could also be vengeful and impulsive. When she discovered that Callisto, one of the nymphs in her band of companions, had violated her vow of chastity and become pregnant as the result of an affair with Zeus, she changed her into a bear without a moment’s hesitation. Had Zeus not intervened and placed her in the stars as the constellation Callisto (The Bear) she would have died quickly as a victim of the hunt.
Artemis was often associated with the moon, especially the new moon. One of the many names she was also known by was Phoebe which means light or bright one. As “Goddess of light” she had the divine duty of illuminating the darkness. Artemis was often depicted carrying a candle or a torch, lighting the way for others.
In Greek mythology Artemis is depicted as one of the compassionate, healing goddesses, in spite of her fierce independence.
The Greek Goddess Artemis gives us courage. Like her counterpart, the Roman goddess Diana, she illuminates those places that frighten us, and lends us the strength to bring us safely through our fears.
Goddess Symbols and Sacred Objects of Artemis
General: Crescent moon (new moon), bow and arrow, clouds, 3 pillars, blue sky
Animals: Dogs, guinea fowl, horses, bear, dove, deer, and bee
Plants: Anemones, flowering almond, hazel, ranunculus, honeysuckle, thistle, laurel
Scents: Jasmine, aloe, ginseng, lemon verbena, and camphor
Gems: Moonstone, pearl, quartz, diamonds, turquoise, crystal
Metals: Silver, aluminum, and iron
Colors: Silver, white, red, green, and turquoise
I have found Artemis of great help in protection spells for children and dogs. I have had quite a few “heart to heart’s” with this goddess and she has been of assistance to me on more than one occasion. Call to her in meditations where you seek self assurance, courage, helping you to be fair and honest with others. She is definitely a Goddess of compassion, but don’t forget that she can also be impulsive so be sure to leave her an offering of thanks whenever you call upon her.