[The following is an excerpt from Minoan Messages On The Gaia Path.]
IS IT COINCIDENCE THAT I AM STAYING at a hotel named after Artemis? Artemis who has long been another resonant Goddess for me? Artemis who exemplifies the independent stage of life I went through after my divorce and before I met Ron? Artemis in her Maidenhood, her independence and empowerment, her strength and intimate relationship to the wilds, the woods, nature, her pack of hounds called the Alani? The Alani of which I became one?
I’ve read books and articles about Artemis, and relate to much of what’s written, yet I also know Her differently in some ways.
Goddess of the Hunt is one of Her appellations. However, as a devotee of Artemis, my sense is that as “the huntress” Artemis did/does not advocate killing. Rather, Hers is the power of dispensation and for stepping in as intermediary between hunted and hunter for a swift and painless death. In other words, if it is necessary to take a life for survival, invoke and invite her guidance and She may grant absolution to the one who deals death to a precious wild creature and/or an innocent of any species. Her bestowing of prowess with the bow—in her association with that tool—was for protection of the wild creatures, and to prevent suffering. Ultimately, Artemis is a Huntress of Souls, not hunting to kill in our mundane perceptions but to renew, protect, guide, save and inspire the wild and innocent beings.
In her other guises and energies, and at other points in time, Artemis is also known by a variety of names. For instance, on Crete, She is associated with Britomartis, Goddess of Mountains, and Eileithyia, Goddess of Birth and thus also of Death.
My own energy is connected to Artemis in some interesting ways. A zodiac sign associated with Artemis is Taurus, which is my birth sign. I have a strong attachment to not only the wild and untamed mountains of myriad landscapes, but also to woodlands, trees, and especially pine trees; Artemis, Goddess of the Wilderness, has been known to hold a “pine cone tipped wand,” and is a tree goddess. My given middle name is Diane, a form of Diana which is the Roman name for Artemis. She is Moon Goddess and Lady of the Beasts; I am most content at night or in caves, and have always lived with multiple dogs. The moment I ‘met’ Artemis, we were in resonance.
She has, however, been tainted by aggression, enslaved by the will of the oppressors, and made into an image of death-wielder or hunter of those She actually protects. There is a deep chasm stretching between Artemis-primordial and what they—the violent ones—seek to make Her. Her archetype has not the desire to kill or to destroy. She is the waxing moon of growth, the crescent moon is Her silver bow and Her discerning, protective gaze flies sure and true as an arrow from that bow. She is the Great Mother Bear, marking the trees to show all who come into the forest that this is sacred space. Who were the Amazons when Artemis led them into healing groves and fields of herbs where the animals showed ignorant human hands how to know blessed plants that could turn fear into peace, hate into love, and still the pains of birth and death?
How can we see Artemis clearly if we look through the eyes of patriarchy and those who dominated even themselves, restraining any semblance of kindness? Harsh times rode in on horses disregarded except as vehicles, long forgotten as the wings upon earthly rhythms pounding freedom across the land. Can we close our eyes and feel the origin? Imagine one of the first faces of She Who Runs With the Wolves for they are Her friends, her kin.
I am stricken and saddened by how easily we forget to look before the onslaught of oppression, look into the forest mists of the times when harmony reigned and all of Great Mother’s creature beings were honored, each life taken a great sacrifice for which we gave thanks, asking beforehand for a volunteer … the wounded, the weak, the old. Grace is given for their life to be taken quickly, offered as sustenance in the cycle. The vibrational patterns of life, the energetic threads of relationality became snarled and were tangled, so that we forgot Her truth, Her Divine gift of interconnected honoring into harmony.
Under the light of the waxing moon, She cast shadows to protect the wild beings, to create equality—challenge and illusion—so they would not be taken too easily, would not be slaughtered without asking forgiveness, without prayer and invocation of Divine guidance to lead them to balance of sacrifice and nurturance.
There is tremendous strength in standing firm, in holding fast, in celebrating birth and death as equally vital in our human forms walking the manifest world. Artemis is the exhilaration, the growing light in the sacred dark, glorying in the soft shadows of night and the cool recesses of the cave, and the womb of renewal and joy of youthful vigor.
She has been tarnished and stained, contorted by aggressors who cannot possibly understand Her complexities, for taking a life is a mighty responsibility and the life taken is then to be honored in a way that reveres all life be it plants, animals or the unknown mysteries of the unseen realms that guide and direct us into opportunities for greater inter-relationship.
Her stories were told and written down by men who could not comprehend Her. Artemis is one who guides us to look within, in the dark, to discover whether we need to take a life or sacrifice our own or even to simply allow a flow of compassion into the relating of all life. She guides us into the paths of our souls, pointing with her arrows to that which needs to be removed or transformed.
The Amazon legends, like the stories of Artemis, were recorded by men; we must seek within our own hearts to find the truth between the lines of the self-reflected, ego-dictated aggression of patriarchy to locate pure source. Maybe the Amazons were indeed wild women of the forests who supplemented their gatherer diets with the occasional meat sacrifice. But I sense that whenever a kill was necessary, it would have been a grave undertaking, not a revelry of joy and laughter with fierce cries of jubilation and pounding upon the chest in dominance. There would have been no joy in the kill.
Artemis vibrates with protection, defense when necessary, and survival with a distinctive grace and reverence for all life. Humans have the will and the intellect to choose how we live, and Artemis will guide us through the dark if we open to Her power.