Goddess Artemis – Huntress, Sister, Protector
Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, the moon, and the natural world. She is also a healer who protects pregnant women and relieves them of pain during childbirth. As a virgin goddess who gave up a life of love in favor of a life in service, she hunts the forests with her female companions; her bow and arrow unwavering. Artemis is often depicted with a torch in hand, illuminating the darkness, and blazing a path through the unknown with courage and fortitude. While fiercely independent, she was a compassionate goddess, and a natural born leader.
Artemis was very connected to her animal companions and the animal spirits living in the wilderness she roamed in. One myth recalls the king Agamemnon killing one of Artemis’s sacred stags and bragging that he was a better hunter than her. In revenge for his transgression, (something quite common for this strong-willed goddess to do), Artemis halted Agamemnon’s ships at sea, on their way to fight in the war at Troy. His ships were then stuck in the ocean with no wind to propel them. Artemis demanded that Agamemnon kill his own daughter if he wanted to continue his seaward journey. Some versions of this myth say that he in fact did sacrifice his own daughter, and other myths suggest that Artemis saved her in the end.
When she was a young woman, Artemis asked her father Zeus to grant her wish for 80 virgin nymphs to always accompany her always, and he did so to appease her. Artemis was always surrounded by this epic troupe of ladies. Her feminine companions followed her through hunt, battle, and even dancing and bathing together. In this, we can learn about the energies of sisterhood and female bonding that Artemis cultivated. The powerful, warrioress energy was strong in her, and she rarely ever had male companions, except her twin brother, Apollo. Another myth tells of the hunter Actaeon watching Artemis bathe with her entourage, and being dumbstruck with the sight of all the women bathing in the river. Artemis had no patience for his staring, so she turned him into a stag and made his own dogs attack and kill him.
Artemis took great pride in her independence, and never had any love affairs, except one. The mortal Orion was the only one ever known to have captured the goddess’s heart. Artemis was positively in love with him. However, when Apollo realized that his beloved twin no longer wanted to spend as much time with him because of these affections, he became incredibly jealous. One day when Orion was swimming in the ocean, Apollo made a bet with Artemis that she couldn’t hit the distant object on the horizon with her bow and arrow.
Artemis, being the cunning and competitive archer she was, couldn’t stand being challenged, and proudly drew her bow and shot the swimmer. Once she won, though, she realized that the object she shot was actually her true love. In overwhelming grief, the goddess turned Orion into various stars and shot him up into the night sky, making him a constellation for eternity.
We exalt Artemis’s free spirit and her light, active, and cunning energy during our March Full Moon Ritual. You can find a set of tools aligned to Artemis’ energy here, and don’t forget to join me on March 23rd online or here at SGHQ when we meet for our ritual. We will honor the divine feminine strength and energy she exudes, and the bonds of sisterhood and female bonding that she sustained.