Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Artemis, Lady of the Mountains

Artemis is, it would seem above all other things, a Goddess of natural places and natural occurrences. The forest, the wooded mountain sides, the tidy holes animals hide in, caves, etc. But also, of moon lit nights, of growth, of hunting (a natural activity), and birth, and the dangers that come with it. She is a goddess of children and young mothers, and of the young animals who, often, require much protection in order to survive.

She is a protective goddess, but also a dangerous goddess, because in her pervue is also the death of birthing mothers, or the children they birth. Often seen as a horrible thing, one can also see these as a mercy, though to the families involved it will never seem that way. As a "nature goddess" I have much to be thankful to Artemis for. The beauty of the world and the shifting changes that are its most enduring characteristic, are something we all need be grateful for, even if it also means our aging, our disease, and our deaths.

But therein lies a problem for me, because I am very much a city man, and like most of us, I am rather disconnected to nature and her many many cycles. Yes, I am affected by time, by disease, by the changing seasons, but the effects I perceive in my life seem to be the grander shifts in natures moods. The weather, the sunrise, the seasons. But Artemis is also present in many of the other, smaller shifts in our day to day reality, which we who live in the cities, often neglect or never become truly aware of.

If I am understanding what I am feeling with regard to Artemis as I write this, then I must force myself to move beyond the metaphorical city walls. To allow myself to be exposed to natures smaller miracles so that I can come to, if not an understanding, than an experience of what it means to me as a living piece of nature. The goddess Artemis, Lady of the Mountains, is not the mountain, not the leaves on the trees, not the beasts that move among them, but she is there in the threat of predation, in the changes and little shifts that decide our fate, live or die, survive or fall prey. She is part of that instinctive fear that keeps us alive, but also the fearlessness that allows us to confront our prey, metaphorical or not, and come out the victors. 

Now, how do I embrace this? How do I plunge headlong into an experience of her and her power?

Monday, August 15, 2011


I move to a goddess who I actually have very little experience with. In my personal worship, she is usually linked to my morning candle lighting ritual, tied to the other two virgin goddesses of Olympus on my altar and invoked in this aspect. An aspect of protection, or purity, and of strength. Along with Athena she forms a kind of Virgin Trinity, though not in the Christian sense. She is here not so much Artemis the Great Olympian Goddess, but Artemis the spirit of youthful energy and divine movement, something I also tend to associate with Athena in this aspect of protective purity.


But anyone who has made even a cursory review of Artemis as a figure in ancient Greek religion knows that simplifying Artemis is not an easy thing to do, that she is, in fact, one of the most complex figures in the Greek pantheon of Gods. Seen by the ancients in a vast variety of ways, she was virgin huntress, moon goddess, protector of birthing mothers, sometimes killer of same, and with her brother Apollo, was associated with both healing and disease, though not to the same extent as he was. But across the Aegean, in the Eastern Greek world, she was also worshipped in ways one might find peculiar to a goddess so well known for her youthful virginity. She was a "Great Mother" type goddess, though we have to try and remember that this particular paradigm has been partially discredited. From little girl sitting at her father's knee to the goddess to whom blood was let by youths in Sparta. The breadth of her worship is one that can be daunting, and among the ancients it was not all encompassing, as it is not among those of us who believe in her existence today.


As with all the Gods, Artemis' many aspects do not actually have to be reconciled one with the other, but they must be reconciled with the worshipper if he or she is to properly give her honor and worship. As a worshipper, I must worship and accept the aspects of the Goddess that make sense to me, and I have to find which of those aspects seem to contradict my personal gnosis. When they do, I must either find a way to make them make sense, or relegate them to the cults of others. I found a long time ago that it is not necessary to worship the Gods in every aspect. It is only necessary to worship them in those aspects that touch me, to give thanks for those and if I feel I need, to call on those I need in my life.


With Artemis, it is a difficult road to take for me. I am no virgin. Boy am I not a virgin. I am no hunter, though I do not oppose hunting for food. I am not a healer, or a woman, or likely to ever give birth. I call on her for her protective power, and because part of me wants to protect what is left of my inner child so that I do not let myself get old and crotchety (some will argue it's too late for that) but I do not have many of the qualities in me for which ancient people often gave thanks to her. But these meditations I seek to make on the nature of the Gods and how they affect me are meant to help me to understand them and how they fit into my life better, and to explore and find those aspects of me that I have, perhaps, not allowed to come to the surface.


So, blessed Artemis, I am opening myself to you. Come! Show me! Teach me!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

And so, I move on...

With a lesson learned, but not implemented, I move on from Hephaestos and onto the next point in my meditation star.

It leads me now to Artemis, lady of the wilds, goddess of the hunt, goddess of the crescent moon, and great virgin goddess. Artemis may turn out to be a hard one for me. I am not a girl, I do not hunt, and while I have great respect for her, I have eschewed many of the human activities, like hunting and child rearing, that she is said to patronize. But there are aspects of this goddess that straddle a very important line in our myths, and it is one I hope to explore. What is that line? In due time...