ARTEMIS PART III: HER INDOMNITABLE SPIRIT

As we make our way an auspicious summer solstice full moon, our journey with Artemis finds its timely conclusion. Full moons mark a time of completion and magical fecundity, while the summer solstice being the longest day of the year is celebrated for its verility and growth as a time of taking pause to appreciate all that we have to be grateful for. A time for revisiting and honoring our own inherent wildness.

Litha (Summer Solstice) Is the longest day of the year. The day when the Sun God is at the peak of his virility and the Sun Goddess is with child. It’s the time of year when crops are growing heartily and the Earth is fertile and happy. 

As we move into the sun sign of Cancer (ruled by the moon) on the Summer Solstice we return to the temple of the Sun and the Moon. The divine union of our two most influential celestial bodies and family reunion of the titanic twin siblings ~ Artemis and Apollo. An ideal time for communing with nature spirits, welcoming illuminating insights, pausing to be present with the shifting cycle, celebrating love, fortifying our magic, protection, focusing on healing and attracting abundance.

This is prime time to head out into nature and enjoy a gathering with friends and community to revel in the beauty of mother earth while the Sun and Full Moon bless us with their enchanting beams ~ blessing us with an illuminated crescendo to this powerful year of the Dragon.

The Dance of Artemis was written to venerate her at the time of year (spring into summer) which corresponds with the waxing to fullness phase of the lunar cycle. It is a poetic interpretation of her cultivated wildness and haunting reminder of the aspects of the goddess that have been cast aside by the patriarchy for obvious reasons::: May the beauty and power of her indomitable spirt live on through us.

RITUALS OF WILDNESS:

The cult of Artemis Brauronia had two sanctuaries: one at the ancient site of Brauron (from which the goddess derieves her name), and the other in the heart of Athens on the Acropolis. Pisistratus, the sixth-century BCE tyrant of Athens was originally from Brauron and is credited with setting up the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia on the Acropolis and thereby changing this community from a local to a state cult. After that, a procession was held every 4 years – from the Temple of Artemis Brauronia on the Athenian Acropolis to Brauron – in honor of the goddess and her priestess Iphigenia. Artemis of Brauron, also known as the Taurian Artemis, is mystical and her worship was ogriastic and connected in early times with human sacrifice. According to Greek legend, there was in ATauris a goddess whom the Greeks identified with their own Artemis, to whom all strangers what were thrown off the coas of Tauris were sacrificed. It is this worship at Brauron that exposes the significance of Artemis in Greek life. 

The rituals a Brauron are said to be initiation rituals for young gils that werte though of as arktoi – “she bears.” The cycle of bears and their behaviours and the similarities with man were stidied in ancient times by Aristotle, Theosphrastus and Pliny. However archaological evidence for the image of a bear as mother goes back to the Neolithic period. This neolithic image portrays the “notable tenderness of the mother beast for her cub as an image for human mothering.” Historians across the board agree that the bear is the oldest sacred animal of them all. THese images are linked to the Brauron initiations into womanhood and motherhood, as well as the suggestion that Artemis is a derivative of an ancient bear goddess. Scholars note that the bear is “the oldest animal hunted for food in the northern hemisphere and also the oldest animal whose remains have been given a ritual significance. This complex imagery of the bear as caregiver but also as a large violent animal, is in many ways an anthropomorphic representation of the goddess herself. Under her care, young women are protected in the transition from child to adult; however there is also an animalistic character to this ritual. In order to be transformed from girl to woman, the young girl must shed the uninhibitedness of her childhood and offer it as sacrifice to Artemis,

This is a ritual of “wildness.” When girls who were coming of age were see as being especially hormonal, they were said to be in the grip of the wild, independent goddess herself. By performing these rituals, it was believed that the goddess would guide the girls to maturity. Here we see her again as a Goddess of adaptation. A guide through earthly transitions who can be looked to as a supportive influence as we navigate our own wild natures, ever deepening  maturity, wisdom and autonomy. 

Artemis is one of the three Greek goddesses of the moon, along with Selene and Hekate. Each represents a phase in life: Artemis symbolizes the waxing, or young and growing, crescent moon; Selene is  the full moon: Hekate is the waning crescent moon and New Moon. The phases of the moon are often seen as reflections of the three phases of women’s lives – as maiden, mother and crone. These are also the three phases of the pre-patriarchal Great Goddess or Triple Goddess, who was worshipped in her three aspects. However, Selene as the full moon is full in herself and is not a mother goddess. She symbolizes the reality that maturity and motherhood are not the same, but rather separate aspects of a woman in her prime. Hekate as the waning moon is the archetype of the crone, the mysterious one who phases into the dark of the moon.

For millennia, divinity was seen as the Great Mother and earth was regarded as sacred. Indigenous humans lived in a sacred world (which they still do). In pre-patriarchal Old Europe, successive waves of invaders imposed powerful male divinities upon the goddess-worshiping people. Female divinities were either diminished or incorporated, becoming consorts or daughters for the new gods. Greek mythology tells about the struggle for power among the gods. Zeus prevailed and established himself as chief god on Mount Olympus. Under the Romans, the mythology remained similar, although many of the names of divinities were changed. 

The Western world was pagan and patriarchal; male gods and men ruled. With the ascendency of Christianity under the Roman Emperor Constantine, pagan divinities were replaced by monotheism – by one male god – although Christianity has a mystical Trinity of father, son and holy spirit and Catholics venerate the Virgin Mary. In medieval times, rulers claimed they had been given the divine right to rule over others from God. Only men could be priests, because they were created in the image of God. The theologians not only upheld male superiority; but they also maintained for many centuries that men had souls and women did not. 

It is relevant to the status of women to learn that, prior to patriarchal religions, humans worshipped the Great Goddess, mother goddesses, and the sacred feminine, although by many different names. The function of men and sperm in procreation was not known. What was known was that all life came through female bodies and that women were embodiments of the goddess in bringing forth new life. Pregnant women became initiates into the mystery and dangers of childbirth, aided by midwives, older women who recognized the stages of labor. The sick also turned to midwives for their knowledge of remedies to ease pain, lower fevers and heal wounds. They could see signs of recover and know when a person was getting close to death. They were respected and possibly feared b3ecasue of their proximity to the great mysteries of birth and death. These wise women, midwives and healers who were the first to be burned at the stake during the Inquisition as witches, expressed the archetype of Hekate. 

Where there was reverence for the sacred feminine, the relationship between a woman’s cycles and the moon were clear and the stages in women’s lives honored. The first menstruation and its cessation were important, and there were rituals to honor the onset of these new stages. Our language still reflects the connection between women and the moon: mens means “moon” in Latin. Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause reflect the three stages of the moon and the three phases of the Great Goddess as maiden, mother and crone. 

A girl became a maiden when she first began to bleed and came into her “moon time.” in North American indigenous traditions, women retreated into the moon lodge with other menstruating women, as women who live together and are exposed to moonlight menstruate at the same time. This was a powerful time for dreams, especially for archetypal rather than personal dreams. Women continued to have their monthly menses, until they became pregnant and nursed a childe, after which they resumed menstruation until they either became pregnant again or entered menopause. It was thought that menstrual blood was retained either to make a baby or to make milk. At menopause, when monthly bleeding stopped, it was thought that the blood was retained in the body, this time to make wisdom. 

Historically, Artemis – the much overlooked goddess of antiquity transformed the Mediterranean world. She absorbed many previous goddess cults and subsumed them under her huge umbrella of attributes and forms. She transcended cultures, uniting worshippers in one religious tradition across many nations without tying them down to a rigid belief system. The worship of Artemis was an international religion. Her theology was fluid and elastic, and this enabled her to embrace various ways of thinking about the divine feminine without commanding orthodoxy or creedal formulations. Above all, she was a goddess of human transitions, offering people a way to understand and celebrate key periods of change throughout their lives, from birth to death and beyond. 

Artemis is a steadfast protectress and we see this in the story of her very birth bringing protection to her mother Leto. As a fundamental part of her own myth of origin, we are told that Artemis was born first and then assisted her mother in giving birth to her twin Apollo. It is no surprise that a child should defend her mother, especially a daughter. Artemis is the daughter who never leaves her mother. When compared to other mother/daughter relationships in the pantheon (like Demeter & Persephone for example) the relationship between Artemis and her mother is unique, and the position that Artemis takes as bodyguard/protector/defender is clear in the numerous stories in which anyone who hurts or offends her mother is harshly dispatched. Artemis is not just a daughter, but the epitome of daughters. She sets the bar of familial loyalty and is judge and executioner of anyone, man or woman, who attempts to violate or insult her parent or family. 

Leto (Artemis’ mother) had a hard time finding a place to rest and give birth to the twins. On some level, this story of looking for a safe space to birth two saviour gods is echoed later in the story of the Virgin Mary looking for shelter to give birth to her saviour son, Jesus. In her search, Leto is continually pursued by a giant dragon-serpent, Python of Phocis. He was known for being the guardian of Delphi, and this myth is a patriarchal attempt to destroy the relationship between the divine feminine and the serpents in the same way this relationship is permanently severed in the biblical story of Adam and Eve. After their birth, Artemis and her twin exact revenge on the serpent by slaying the monster with their arrows. Most versions however, say that it was Apollo alone who slew the beast, which is no surprise when we contextualize this myth as patriarchal propaganda. 

SHE WHO HUNTS AND KILLS:

Most of the male hunters killed by Artemis are caught in the act of either an attempt at sexual assault or an act of violation., such as sneaking up on the naked goddess in the woods or seducing her nymphs and priestesses. Other men boast or challenge her hunting skills and always, absolutely always find themselves on the wrong side of her golden arrows. Once an attempted violation is made, Artemis has no forgiveness, and her punishment is gruesome and painful. Many hunters who cross her are torn to pieces by wild animals, transformed into wild animals themselves and then shot and killed by their own fellow hunters or dogs, or simply terminated on the spot by the goddess’s unforgiving weapon.

PUNISHABLE OFFENCES IN THE EYES OF ARTEMIS:

Violence towards or violations of Women and Mothers.

Consent and Intent – Much of Artemis’ wrath revolves around being defiled by the male gaze. 

Male Hunters and their Hubris – Other men, kings and hunters alike, faced retribution for offending the goddess with their arrogance or lack of honor. 

Women and Vanity – Artemis is equally harsh with women who over-indulge their vanity or who forget to keep their commitments to her principles. 

These are all things to keep in mind when working closely with Artemis or seeking her protection. 

Clearly – she is a vital ally for us during this time of late stage capitalism and the imminent crumbling of the disdainfully corrupted patriarchy. 

 

While different in their details, all of the various forms of Artemis worship practiced by the ancients are a testimony to her popularity and sustaining power throughout various cultures of the Mediterranean. She was the deity who united cultures and peoples around her divinity and worship. In a sense, Artemis was the first international goddess. She is the repository of all goddess attributes and images. 

The evolution of the religion of Artemis extends at least as far back as predynastic Egypt, through Minoan and Mycenaean culture and on into the Greek period. It is evident from this history that Artemis is the key figure through which goddess ritual, tradition and community worship is preserved and adapted across space and over time. By the Greek period, Artemis had likely become the most popular goddess of the Mediterranean. This popularity and the devotion of her followers is evident not only in her numerous titles and incarnations but particularly in the moments in which she is called upon or adored. Moments that begin with birth and move through life experiences of both Greek males and females. She is as equally responsible for a successful marriage as a successful battle and she participates in the final transition from dying to crossing into the mysteries of the afterlife. 

Artemis is a creature of margins, at home in the mountains and marshes and comfortable inside the city gates. If we consider the forests and mountains as a representation of childish abandon and wildness, and the economies and politics of cities as a representation of adulthood, then we can say that the setting of myth as well as the place of ritual is largely metaphorical. As a result of this metaphorical logic of myth, Artemis presides over the boundary between child and adult, and is often patroness of initiations. The initiations for both males and females that Artemis oversees with a severe discipline are fundamental to Greek life. The comin-of-age ritual is an event without which Greek citizens could not move forward and become successful in their respective responsibilities. Every ritual symbolizes and strengthens the community that it helps to connect. The specific content of the ritual further defines that community. The ritual authenticates the transition of the individual and allows the community to come together in the acceptance of the individual’s new identity. Clearly Artemis is the only goddess of the traditional Greek pantheon who can command both order and prestige in this practice. Her attributes, which encompass her nurturing, kindness and mercy, her discipline and chastity as well as her vengeful nature, assure the community that the rituals in which they participate are both familial and political.

 

She is a goddess of totality. In many spects she is the “Saviour” (Soteira), the “Bringer of Light” (Phosphorus), and “She Who Soothes” (Hemerasia). In others she is Agrotera (Huntress) and Iokheaira (Of Showering Arrows), who rigorously protects her chastity as “Maiden” (Parthenos) and even “Revered Virgin” (Aedoeus Parthenos). Most importantly, she Basileis (Royal Princess), a goddess “Of the First Throne” (Protothronia) who reigns unmatched throughout the Mediterranean as “Goddess Queen” (Potnia Thea). This multitude of titles, attributes and incarnations is a reflection of Artemis’ constant adaptation and provides more than sufficient evidence that Artemis is a goddess for all peoples in all places: Her cult worship is as varied as the people who devote themselves to her. This diversity reflects the goddess’ spere of influence as both the agent through which community history is inherited, as well as the medium through which community culture is maintained. Her devotees are not part of a uniform cult that is simply transported from one place to another, from one time to another; rather, an array of various forms of worship are embedded within each locality, and its unique cultural practices all fall under the aegis of Artemis. 

May Artemis both guard and guide us as we dance with intention and reverence through the potent portal that culminates with the conjoining of our celestial twins in the solstice temple of the sun and moon.

THE ARTEMIS PART III POWER PROMPTS ARE AVAILAVLE HERE:

ARTEMIS PART II: AIM YOUR ARROW TRUE

During this exciting lunation coming up of the Full Moon in Sagittarius ~ The Archer is literally in the moon. This Full moon is also conjunct Venus and Jupiter in their glorious alignment with both planets in a dignified state. 

Connecting with Artemis as a sovereign goddess of the hunt offers a potent portal for reclaiming our own autonomy within our lives as magicians of movement. How is the world speaking to you right now? How is the goddess showing up for you? Take notes… For the synchronicities are abound. This is also an ideal time to begin a manifestation journal. You will find some great journal prompts in the Artemis Part II Power Prompts for the month of May.

To work with Artemis closely, I encourage you to seek her out in the wilds. The great wilderness is her temple and under the light of this brilliant full moon, if you speak to her – she will listen… And respond. 

ACCESS THE ARTEMIS PART II POWER PROMPTS FOR THE VENUS / JUPITER FULL MOON IN SAGITTARIUS CONJUNCTION HERE:

LADY OF THE WILD THINGS: AN ILLUMINATING PERSPECTIVE

It is easy to romanticize Artemis as the goddess of nature and wilderness – a maiden of the hunt. Many artists over the centuries have done exactly that, sculpting or painting her in the innocence of youth, frolicking through forests with her pretty nymphs and young deer. But we must remember that not matter how hard the Greeks tried to force her under their patriarchal parameters of femininity and childishness, she remained a wild entity, often unpredictable, viscous and without remorse. As “Lady of the Wilderness” her association with animals is o surprise, but her connection to powerful beasts exemplifies the fierceness of her dominance and the reason why so many of her followers prayed for mercy and compassion.

As “Great Mother” the goddess nurtures and befriends all things being both animal and divine. Through her relationship with wild and often dangerous animals, she serves as a bridge linking humankind with the world of nature, for she transforms the fear we have of our animal drives and unites these untamed instincts with the expectations of our spiritual nature. The divine feminine has always been linked with animals; from the insect world as a bee, wasp or spider, to the domesticated cat, dog, horse and pig, onto the wild beasts of jungle and forest and into the mythical realm of dragons and unicorns, the sphinx, sirens and mermaids. As such, the mysteries of the environment have always resonated deeply with women and have connected them spiritual to a goddess that represents wilderness in the world. This association between the wilderness of nature, the untamed being outside patriarchal society, or what male historians have labeled “civilized” society, was a key aspect of women’s spiritual power. It was the mysteries of the mountains and forests, lakes and oceans, as well as the animals who lived free among them that allowed women to connect to the divine source of the goddess of the wilderness. Women have always used nature to subvert culture, and the wild woman archetype has always appealed to us, as wild women are entirely outside the patrilineal and patriarchal system. The Greek Artemis inherits a mantle of wilderness that is unlike any other deity in the Olympian pantheon. She is both huntress and protector, and her tools in myth and ritual are untamed beasts and sacred forests. 

This archetype of the wild woman has been referred to by some scholars as “the Artemis archetype.” The Artemis archetype is understood as a goddess of the wild who blends a healthy animality with a sense of balance of nature. This archetype proves the connection between Minoan and the Greek “Mistress of Animals.” She is associated with the orgiastic dance and the sacred bow, both prominent features of the Minoan cult, and she is the mistress of water, nature and of animals, which corresponds to the Minoan conception of the goddess of nature and animals depicted in surviving Minoan monuments. From this starting point, we may understand the two lines of development that lead on the one hand, to the “Great Mountain Mother” of Asia Minor, who roams the mountains accompanied by her entourage, and on the other, to the virgin “Huntress” of Classical Greece. In the former, her archaic origins as a nature goddess, with representations of dying and reviving nature, and consequently the ecstatic and orgiastic elements of her cult, were emphasized. The latter development blended into Greek Olympian traditions, where she remained the “Mistress of Animals” and, because she was a sovereign goddess, did not tolerate any male partner; she became the severe virgin “Huntress” goddess. The popular conception of Artemis, which is much nearer to her origins, explains why the Greeks identified the Ephesian Artemis with their own Artemis. For the latter originates in the Minoan goddess of nature and animals and has kept much of her old character in the popular and rustic cult. 

Her unrestricted movement in nature, without the presence of males or a male protector, allows Artemis a type of freedom for which many women who live their daily lives under the rules and whims of men yearn. Even more enticing is her opposition to male companionship and marriage, but especially her ability to defend herself from being forced into a patriarchal union. Although the Greeks often tried to associate her worship and stories to her “twin” Apollo, Artemis’ connection to nature, to the wild impulse of being like a dee and running free, allows her to step outside the boundaries of gender expectations in a way that none of her fellow goddesses were able to do. While Athena is a virgin goddess of war and wisdom, she is often to be found in patriarchal spaces governed by law, and rules, and male-centered civic duty. Aphrodite is not a virgin, but she is trapped under the category of “love goddess,” constantly chasing vanity, sexuality and male consorts. Hera is forcibly married to a charlatan, while Demeter is shoved so deeply into a maternal role that she cannot think of anything else but her daughter Persephone for six months of the year. It is only Artemis, weather by coincidence or design, who remains free to wander through the forests, spend her time among nymphs and she-bears, and take her vengeance whenever and however she desires. She is untamed in a way that is not connected to her body or her chastity. She is untamed in the same way a wild animal is untamed, without responsibility or the construction of divine duty. She moves according to her own whims and participates in mythic story on her own terms. This is evident when we consider the liberty of her priestesses: “The virginity of the priestesses who served her, and of the adolescent girls attending her shrine at Brauron, is that of women who retained the right to choose what to do with their bodies, whether to roam at will, or stay at home, whether to practice celibacy, or make love.” This autonomy afforded to women over their own bodies is revolutionary in a patriarchal system of control. One could argue that the priestesses of Artemis had more freedom over their own reproduction choices than women in many parts of the world have today. As Pomeroy points out, “either way as mother goddess or as virgin, Artemis retains control over herself; her lack of permanent connection to a male figure in a monogamous relationship is the keystone of her independence.”

Historically, scholars have treated wild women as slaves to rituals of untamed ecstasy and violence. Stories of the rituals of maenads in the cults of Dionysus, for example, have long been both exaggerated and exploited for voyeuristic consumption among male historians and myth writers. In this ecstatic ritual, which involved women dancing naked in the woods while wearing frightening masks depicting animals or gogons, the god Dionysus himself is torn apart by his female followers drunk on wine and other hallucinogens. Through this act of dance and drink and song, the ecstacy of the wilderness and nature is experienced in its more orgiastic form. According to ancient historians and playwrights such as Herodotus and Aeschylus, this and similar rituals are not for the faint of heart, and their practice have deep conections to pre-Greek rituals of celebration and offerings that benefir the entire community. Yet this type of femae drunkeness and aggression was both feared and frowned upon, despite the fact that the death and rebirth of the androgynous Dionysus was a mandatory act in an agricultural society that largely depended on the benevolence of a resurrected god. While Dionysus and Artemis are gods of the wild and closely linked both in worship an ritual, they type of wild experience and liberties Artemis offers her gfolloers is less about mind-altering substances and the drunken ecstasy of maenads, and more about the use of nature as a tool through which choice over body and civic duty can be made with a clear mind and the scure knowledge that whatever choice is made by her supplicants is under the full protection of a fearsome divinity. Artemis fearlessly defends the choices of her followers in the sacerd space she creates in the forests and mountains over which she rules. As Pratt writes, “The wild women inhabit a free zone closely impinging upon culture, a zone of partially repressed paganism which can easily rupture the patriarchal pie. The urge to marry or join the wild women in the woods is constant in European folklore, where escaping culture for the wildwood and patriarchal matrimony for Diana (Artemis) is as likely to lead to empowerment as death.”

TAKE TO THE WILDS AND SEEK HER OUT UNDER THE LIGHT OF THE SAGITTARIUS FULL MOON – IF YOU DON’T FIND HER, SHE WILL FIND YOU.

ARTEMIS PART I: ILLUMINATING THE PATH

For the next 3 months we will be in hot pursuit of our dreams with Artemis as we make our way through the vibrancy of Spring and on to the culmination of the Summer Solstice. Through the guidance and companionship of Artemis, we will practice our cunning and skillset towards alignment and manifestation for attaining our goals and aiming our arrows towards our clarified visions.

Under the light of this potent pink full moon in Scorpio, we are granted the opportunity to welcome the illuminating qualities of the moon and wisdom of Artemis into our lives as we prepare to embark upon our journey with her over the next few lunar cycles. Beginning with the first full moon of Spring, we can integrate what we have learned from eclipse season while grounding into our self-awareness and relationship with Artemis. The following lunar cycles will involve some hot magic for intention setting and calling in what we are ready to claim. All of this will culminate with the fruition of the Summer Solstice Full moon. We are drawing very close to the ripest time of the entire year for speaking our intentions into the fires of creative force and weaving them into the fabric of becoming by reclaiming our indomitable feminine spirit and embodying the noble archetype that is Artemis. 

Indomitable spirit is an attribute in women who have Artemis as an active archetype. In mythology, Artemis is the Greek Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, known as Diana to the Romans. She was the firs-born twin sister to Apollo the God of the Sun. As the goddess of the hunt, she roamed the wilderness, armed with a bow and quiver of arrows, accompanied by her hunting dogs, either alone or with her chosen nymph companions. Artemis came to the rescue of her mother, and was the protector of pre-pubescent girls and your animals. Pregnant women prayed to her to relieve them from pain. (Artemisia – the herb that bears her name, is used by midwives for this very reason). She reacted swiftly to help those under her protection and to punish those who would harm them or disrespect her. Artemis is an archetypal predisposition toward egalitarian-brotherly relationships with men, a sense of sisterhood with women, the ability to aim for a distant target or rise to a challenge, and a preference to be in nature rather than cities. 

As the goddess of wildlife, Artemis has many undomesticated animals as symbols that reflect her qualities; The stag, doe, hare and quail all share her elusive qualities; the lioness displays her regality and prowess as a hunter, the fierce boar shows her destructive aspect. The mother bear is the totem animal for her role as protector of the young. One derivation of the name Artemis is thought to be related to the bear. Where there were wild horses that roamed with companions, as Artemis did with her nymphs, the wild horse became another one of her symbols. 

In her mythology, Artemis is the daughter of Leto and Zeus, a lineage of Titan nature divinities on her mother’s side with her father the chief god of Mount Olympus. She is the firs-born twin sister of Apollo, the God of the Sun. She is the only goddess who comes to the aid of her mother, which she does in several myths, even from the moment of her own birth. Artemis is appealed to for help by women in childbirth, or birthing new creations, rescue from pillagers, and as the protector of the young, especially pre-adolescent girls. She is accompanied by a band of nymphs, minor feminine nature deities who are associated with woods, mountains, glades, lakes and meadows. Artemis is the archetype of the sister, with brotherly feelings of equality with men and feelings of sisterhood with women. The mythology of Artemis the goddess and the concerns of women in whom “she” is the archetype reflect those of contemporary feminists.

WILDERNESS AS METAPHOR

The loss of anything significant, be that a relationship, death, estrangement, rejection, betrayal, or loss of a position, financial security, or reputation; or of trust, innocence, or faith; or of health that creates a risk of dying can take the person who suffers the loss into a psychological wilderness or underworld where there are no longer defined paths to walk or landmarks to follow. Similar to the story of Persephone’s abduction or Inanna’s descent in their respective myths. There is ordinary life before the diagnosis and a very different world after it. What was important before is no longer so, and you find yourself for a time not knowing what to do or which direction to take. In either the metaphoric wilderness or the underworld, there is a loss of your usual bearings and a need for reorientation to a new and scary time and place. You are at a crossroads, and what you do matters. 

The entire world is in this wilderness right now and everyone is experiencing a personal rite of passage towards paving entirely new pathways for ourselves in some form or another. As we emerge from the aftermath of eclipse season with mercury preparing to station direct, this full moon illuminates our own individual and collective crossroads, while offering us loud messages from Pluto – the God of the Underworld.

To find yourself psychologically in a metaphoric wilderness or underworld is to cross into your own interior world – a world that may contain painful memories you have put aside and feelings you have suppressed. When bad things happen to you, there is a danger of seeing yourself as a victim, of becoming depressed and stuck, or full of blame and rage. Better to explore this new terrain, to see what is there, than to give up. In the metaphoric wilderness, there are vast unexplored regions. In the underworld, there are buried riches. These are your own undeveloped talents and archetypes. Qualities that were not approved of or valued by others that can become sources of meaning. The good and bad, gold and dross, that are found can contribute to the next stage of your life, enabling you to become more of who you really are and can be. 

Like Artemis, we are all on our own in some form or another, and have past experience and survival skills to call on – psychological and spiritual, as well as practical, knowledge – we may experience hardship and loneliness, but we can trust that this is part of our soul path that gives it meaning. And this makes all the difference. When we are in the midst of a wilderness or a dark wood and trust that this is terrain we must go through, it will have meaning. It may feel like a maze full of dead ends, but it will turn out to be a labyrithine path full of U-turns. It reflects the I-Ching book of changes which observes that change is the only certainty. To be discerning about what to do next and maintain hope is essential. 

Hope is an orientation of spirit; 

Hope is an orientation of the heart.

It is not the certainty that something will turn out well,

it is the conviction that something makes sense no matter how it turns out.

MOVING THROUGH THE WILDERNESS

Most women who identify with the Artemis archetype are not susceptible to prolonged wanderings in the wilderness of depression or obsessions brough on by deep personal loss. This archetype predisposes people to independence and autonomy, which lessens the impact of the loss that has been experienced. Once you are on your own, once you can’t return to who you were and who you were with, once you are in a new landscape – in a place and among people who are new to you, and you new to them – then who you used to be no longer defines you. There is no beaten path or broad well-traveled road to follow. In this new wilderness of mind and reality, if you follow your own instincts – which may be a strong impulse, intuition, or curiosity – you can make a path where there is no path, one that becomes truly your own.

In our lives, two forces shape who we become: outer expectations that are conventional and often limiting that we succeed (or not) at meeting, and traits of character and instinct that are ingrained or archetypal. When circumstances bring you into uncharted terrain, what is in you is tested. Once you are in the wilderness, there are questions whose answers you can only find through living the experience. How will you respond? Are you resilient? Will you have the courage to follow what feels true or right for you? Will you be able to say “no” to what others would have you do or be? Can you wait until you become clear about what you will do next? Will you trust that you will recognize a whole-hearted yes?

Another metaphoric wilderness resides in your own creativity, where thoughts, feelings, and images are stirred into new forms or expressed in new ways, which can lead to discoveries and creative works. Any artist, writer, musician, creative thinker, or researcher whose creative process takes them into virgin territory is in this wilderness. This often requires moving away from institutions and the usual crowd of like-minded people, to find different eyes with which to go and see. 

We can all find foresight, strength and personal resolve through the integration of meaning within our lives guided by the powerful archetype and essence that is Artemis.

THE VIRGIN GODDESS ARCHETYPE

Artemis, Athena and Hestia are the three virgin goddesses of Greek mythology. The virgin goddess archetype represents that part of a woman that is unowned by a man, untouched by a need for him or a need to be validated by him. It is that part of her that exists separate from a man, and from masculine collective opinion. The virgin is the inner woman who is on-in-herself, who can live in the privacy of a woman’s inner life. Each of the three Greek virgin goddesses is different from the others in her qualities and values, but they all personify the independent and impersonal aspects of women’s psychology. In this context, “virgin” means that there is a significant part of each that remains psychologically virginal, not that she is physically virginal.

“A woman who is virgin, one-in-herself, does what she does – not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of ay desire to gain power over another, to catch his interest or love, but because what she does is true. Her actions may indeed be unconventional. She may have to say no, when it would be easier, as well as more adapted conventionally speaking to say yes. But as a virgin she is not influenced by the considerations that make the non-virgin woman, weather married or not, trim her sails and adapt herself to expediency. I say married or not, for using the term virgin in it’s psychological connotation refers not to external circumstances but to an inner attitude.”

 ~ Jungian analyst M. Esther Harding.

ARTEMIS

As the Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, she is portrayed as a tall lovely goddess, often in a short tunic holding a quiver of arrows and a bow, with a crescent moon and stars crowning her head. She prefers the wilderness and roams through virgin forests, meadows, mountains and glades with nymph companions and hunting dogs. 

Artemis is the archer with unerring aim, in pursuit of her own chosen quarry or target. A strong quality of women of this archetype is the ability to concentrate intensely on whatever is important to them, undistracted by the needs or judgment of others. Focus and perseverance are qualities of the archetype that make it possible to aim for and hit a self-chosen goal or mark. With her moonlight vision, Artemis as goddess of the Moon, can roam through woods, mountains and meadows touched by the mystery and beauty that moonlight brings to the landscape. Seeing the universe through the lens of this archetype, the universe and every element easily become part of a vast oneness; reverence and respect for all of nature and for indigenous spirituality comes naturally as well.

Let us look to the wisdom and essence of Artemis as protectress, guardian, guide and midwife to this next new phase of our lives, all that we dare to call in and aim our arrows of intention towards with unwavering conviction.

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