I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
The Hunting Lunar Virgin
Artemis is an Ancient Greek virgin Moon Goddess. She is Goddess of the hunt, wild animals, nature and chastity. Her twin is the Sun God Apollo. They are the children of Leto and Zeus. Artemis is the protectress of young women and female children, as well as being able to bring diseases to women and heal them of it. Even though she has sworn never to marry and remain a maiden, independent of any man, much like Athena and Hestia, she is the Goddess of childbirth and midwifery, the other being Eileithyia.
The name Artemis cannot be traced to a definite source and many varying suggestions have been made, all of which bear logic and a reference to her divine state. Because of this, I will not go further into the origins of the Goddess or her name. Suffice it to say that she is one of the oldest in Greek mythology and seems to have existed in earlier forms even before the classical Greek era. There have even been suggestions of shamanistic bear cults from times immemorial. What is certain, however, is that Artemis was a perfect shot at archery and would delight in it.
As with most mythological sources, accounts vary as to the birth of the divine twins, Artemis and Apollo. The common denominator is that their parents were Leto and Zeus. In some accounts, Zeus turned Leto into a quail in order for his wife Hera not to find out about his infidelity, which also had the added bonus that Leto gave birth with as little pain as a quail laying an egg. In the accounts in which Artemis was the firstborn, she helped her mother as midwife upon the birth of her brother.
During her childhood, Artemis is described as a daddy’s girl. She sits on her father’s lap and asks favours, which Zeus bestows upon her. The list varies in different accounts, but it is clear that, even as a child, Artemis knew already exactly what she wanted and her wishes were focused on those. She wished for a bow and arrows fashioned by the Cyclops, a giant with a single eye in the centre of his forehead, the best you could have as these weapons never missed their targets. She wanted to remain a virgin forever, which meant that she wanted to preserve her independence from any man and her mind and heart pure, rather than being physically untouched, which is a later patriarchal change in meaning of the word.
Hymn to Artemis
When she was still a little girl, sitting
on her father’s knee, she said to him,
“Papa, let me be a virgin forever
and give me so many names that Phoibos (Apollo)
will not challenge me.
And give me a bow and arrow,
from you father, I do not ask
for a grand bow and quiver.
The Kyklopes can start with crafting
slender arrows and a well curved bow.
“And let me be the Light Bringer,
and give me a chiton to wear
with a colored border down to the knee
for when I slay the beast of wild.
“And give me sixty of Okeanos’
daughters for dancing
all nine years old, all ungirdled girls
and twenty woodnymph waiting women
from Amnisadas, to tend my hunting boots
and care for my swift hounds
when I have finished shooting
arrows at lynx and stag.
“And give me all the mountains,
and as for cities, give whatever you feel
is best, for Artemis will rarely go into town.
I will live in the mountains, visiting
the cities of men, only when women
struck with painful labor, call to me for aid,
for the Fates have decided I am to be
a helper of women, because my own mother
had no pain when she gave birth to me.
I slipped easily from her womb.”
Saying this she reached her hands
up to her father’s beard, but try as she might,
she could not reach his whiskers.
Her father smiled, and laughing nodded,
patting her on the head, he said,
“When goddesses bear me children like this,
I hardly mind the jealous wrath of Hera.
Take everything you have asked for, child.
And Father will give you even more.
Along with your one city, I will give you thirty more.
Thirty more cities, which will exalt you alone.
Thirty more to call your own. Along with many more
to share with other gods, inland and island,
with groves and altars for you in every one.
“And you will be the guardian of highways and harbours.”
Having said these words,
he nodded his head,
and all was done.
Artemis and her brother Apollo are said to be more beautiful than any other deities but their father Zeus does not only adore his daughter Artemis for her pretty looks. To him, it is her spirit, her focus, her confidence and unwavering belief that she will get all she wants and knows exactly what that is. In this, Artemis teaches us that when we know exactly what we want and focus on it with a laser-sharp mind, not only knowing, but feeling that it is already there without being distracted and side-tracked by other influences, divine energy will bow to our will and all our wishes will manifest. After all, Artemis never misses her aim when directing an arrow at a target.
When we look at the different areas in which Artemis has a presence, it is also worth looking at each one individually when meditating and contemplating on this particular Goddess. Starting with nature, it is easy to see how connecting with nature benefits us. You don’t have to be spiritual to know that walks in nature are good for body, mind and spirit. Health benefits have been recorded in medical as well as psychological studies and many people will testify to feeling calmer, less stressed and more inspired in nature. You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to benefit, but that’s certainly an added bonus.
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Artemis doesn’t only hunt wild animals, but she protects them as well. In this, she protects the environment, plants, animals and the earth itself. She teaches us that connecting with nature and retreating into stillness will help sharpen your focus on what is really important in our lives. It eliminates distractions that a busy lifestyle in a world full of noise brings with it and helps us to centre ourselves and concentrate single-mindedly on our goals and aspirations. Therefore, Artemis is also a wonderful Goddess to work with in meditations. Her energies are clear and sharp and help you calm yourself and quieten your mind.
In ancient cultures, childbirth was not only a physical process but also a deeply spiritual and ritualised one. Midwives were also healers and shamans, having a special connection to the spirit world and the process of birthing and would often know intuitively what a woman in labour needed at any time or what was happening inside her body. It was a sacred process women celebrated and went through in a special setting, often in a special place as well. In some cultures, there were even temples for giving birth, in others, the women who attended the birth would come to the birthing woman’s home.
You can take this very literally as harnessing the energies of Artemis to help you go through the birth of a baby in the best, most sacred and least painful way possible. But there is also another dimension added to it. The process of giving birth can also be the birthing of a creative project or something you work on in a professional context. Having the archetypical energy of Artemis to help you in “birthing” this project, of creating something new and bring a new thing, thought, service or product into people’s lives will be beneficial and greatly ease and enhance the process, making it flow easily and effortlessly, as well as providing you with added insight and inspiration.
In her book Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Every Woman, Jean Bolen asserts that a woman governed by the Artemis’ archetype is psychologically virginal, free and untamed. She may love another person but she will never commit herself fully, for fear that her freedom will be at risk and she may lose her independence. Sex is a physical action, therefore, rather than an emotional expression and connection. Women living the archetype of the Goddess Artemis are afraid of being vulnerable and thus, seek safety in solitude, for when you are single, you cannot be wounded by a partner.
This is not to say that being single is always wrong or that there is something wrong with a woman being independent in herself. But this, like everything, is only healthy when it comes from a position of strength and confidence, not of fear or commitment and of vulnerability.
You can also be and remain independent in a committed romantic relationship and, in fact, in a healthy relationship of any kind, you do not feel like or are expected to give up your own identity, but rather, a safe space is created within which each partner is able to fully explore and express their true authentic selves and within which they can grow and expand to become an ever better version of themselves. Love means liberty, freedom. It is not a restriction, a business deal or a pair of shackles or noose around your neck.
In my romance novel The Navy Seal’s Nanny, the female MC Bailey comes to Coronado Island to find love. She has spent her life thus far pursuing her career as a bank manager, but has come to a point in life, when her cat dies, when she realises that she has been living a stale life, not out of independence and creativity, but out of fear to step outside the box. She has always played by the rules, but the men she has dated had never really stood a chance with her because she had not been able to open up to any of them fully.
When she finds herself taking a position as nanny to a US Navy Seal, she is left alone with the children, her charges, when father and uncle are deployed. In that moment, Bailey finds her inner strength and protects and nurtures the children with much love and dedication while keeping it together in the face of great unrest in the community. It is only when she steps into her own power as a truly independent and authentic woman that she is able to embrace romantic love. In this, Bailey is able to live her pure spirit in an empowered way that allows her to confidently enter into meaningful relationships, rather than run away from them.
In Artemis’ only romantic love to her hunting companion Orion, the latter is killed, either accidentally by the Goddess or by a scorpion’s sting. In her grief, Artemis turned him into stars and Apollo placed him beside the constellation of Scorpio from which he tilts away so that it seems he is forever trying to flee the lethal poison of the predatory arachnid.
In all her various roles, there is the common thread of her single-minded focus, her determination and commitment to her goals and her target. She does not merely take aim, she becomes one with the bow, the arrow and the target itself. In this melting into the being of that which she desires, she effortlessly manifests all she wishes. It is when you retreat into her silence and find this focus that all your desires are achieved.