Artemis is Calling: Women, Respond! Part 3: Activating Artemis
This is the third post of a series, Artemis is Calling: Women Respond! The series introduces the goddess and the archetype, Artemis, and explains why she’s important for us now.
In Part 1: Are You Hearing the Call? – She Wants Us to Protect the Girls – Where Did All the Goddesses Go? Artemis in Our Collective Unconscious -The Disenthronement and Dismemberment of the Great Goddess
In Part 2: Born to Be Wild and Divine – Divine Genealogy and the Power of the Goddess Archetypes – Hestia: What Happens When We Demote the Deity? – Artemis: Born to Be Wild and Divine – Never Mess with an Angry Goddess – Working with Archetypes: Befriending the Shadow, Embracing the Light
Here in Part 3: Activating Artemis – Artemis the Goddess, Archetype and Woman: Beyond Freud and Jung – Artemis: The Goddess For Now – Artemis Rising: Harnessing the Emotion, Directing the Anger, Creating the Space – Living Out the Myth of Artemis – Activating Atemis: Invocation, Imagination, Embodiment – Invoking Artemis for the Greater Good – Stepping Up as Big Sisters
A quick review from Part 1: In the beginning there was Chaos, from which came Gaea (Earth), Tarturus (the Underworld) and Eros (Love). Mother Earth Gaea gave birth to Uranus (Heaven) and then mated with him. Their offspring were the Titans. The Titans gave birth to the Olympians. And after, or from, the Olympians came Christianity…
Part 3: Activating Artemis for the Greater Good
Artemis was the Goddess of the Moon. She was the huntress whose aim never failed. She roamed the wilderness with her band of nymphs and adored all wild creatures. She was a midwife to her mother. She protected women and girls from rape, abduction and disrespect.
As one of the three Virgin Goddesses of antiquity, Artemis was autonomous, strong and self realized. She focused on what mattered to her. She was oblivious to the male gaze, undeterred by sexual passion, unconcerned with marriage and not drawn to maternity. She embodied a questing spirit and sought the competitive edge.
Artemis the Goddess, the Archetype and the Woman: Beyond Freud and Jung
Artemis was infuriated by the abuses of the patriarchy against women. She punished the perpetrators of abduction, rape, harassment and disrespect. Had she lived during the 20th century, she would have had shot down both Freud and Jung with a single arrow, Freud for insisting that her most powerful qualities were “unnatural” for a woman, and Jung for diminishing her innate talents as an unconscious expression of the male animus, when in fact they were very self-consciously her own. As women, we’re still struggling to be released from cultural stereotypes and as such, Artemis is as significant and as relevant today as she has ever been.
When goddesses are seen as patterns of normal feminine behaviour, a woman… is appreciated as being her feminine self when she is active, objective in her assessments, and achievement-oriented. She is being true to form, like the particular goddess she most resembles. She is not suffering from a masculinity complex, as Freud would diagnose, and is not animus-identified and masculine as Jung would suggest.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman.
Artemis was never “less than” or “male identified”. Of the Sun and the Moon, she was the first born. Zeus, her father, the 3rd patriarch, granted her all that she wished. And through the power of her particular femininity, she chose her own path.
Artemis: The Goddess For Now
This series opened with the premise that, as adults, we’re concerned about the future of our young people. We’re worried about escalating mental health issues, about the medicalisation of “growing pains” and about the abuse of prescription drugs. We’re worried about the impact of Social Media upon issues of self confidence and identity. And, because we’re women, we know from experience that we process emotions in particular ways, and for this reason we’re very concerned about our young girls.
Artemis can help.
- As the moon goddess, she can illuminate the shadows.
- As a guide, she can lead us through the wilderness.
- As an activist, she can incite our fighting spirit.
- As a protector, she can defend us.
- As a hunter, she can direct our focus and steady our aim.
- As a midwife, she can help us give birth to our projects.
And as an archetype, she’s always a part of us and ready to serve.
Artemis Rising: Harnessing the Emotion, Directing the Anger, Creating the Space
In the last post, we looked at the “biography” of Artemis, her birth, childhood and life. As an archetype in the psyche of women today, all of her key characteristics can be translated into our own experiences, and the main events of her mythology show how we might best respond to our current concerns.
As Bolen has observed through her work spanning decades, viewing life through the lens of a goddess archetype can be motivating, enriching and empowering.
“When a woman senses that there is a mythic dimension to something she is undertaking, that knowledge touches and inspires deep creative centres in her.”
Here are some of the ways that we can activate and assimilate the qualities of Artemis and learn from her example.
Living Out the Myth of Artemis
- The relationship between Artemis and Leto confirms that women best support other women through major rites of passage. Their relationship can also be seen as the need for us to heal the Motherwound, and do the work of generational healing that past generations simply weren’t able to do.
- The relationship between Artemis and her nymphs reflects the need for young girls to have a Big Sister, older women who can guide them through the wild terrain.
- Artemis and her nymphs, roaming the wilderness alone, exemplifies the need for women to have their own space, their own community and their own activities where they can be free to explore their autonomy, free from the male gaze and the limitations placed upon them by the partriarchy.
- Artemis as protector of women and girls legitimizes our right to feel angry when we’re disrespected and abused.
- Artemis as protector of the wilderness infuses us with the need to be reciprocally and lovingly connected with Nature.
- Her autonomy and self sufficiency is encouragement to travel and seek adventure on our own.
- The relationship between Artemis and Apollo reflects our desire for men to be our twin brothers, our equals and friends.
- Her relationship with Zeus reflects our need for the patriarchy recognise us for all of our strengths and characteristics, and to gift us with the resources and the environment through which we can grow and express our highest potential.
Befriending the Shadow
As noted in the last post, the shadow side of Artemis was uncontained rage and she was ruthless in her punishments. As human women and not mythological goddesses, we can avoid causing harm. Rather than giving free reign to extremes of emotion, we can learn how to recognise our triggers before we fire, harness the energy and direct it towards beneficial targets.
Activating Atemis: Invocation, Imagination, Embodiment
The ancient Greeks knew how to invoke the Goddesses. Through reciting Homeric hymns they would retell the stories, visualise the scenes, create an image of the character and understand intimately her characteristics. By first imagining and then calling upon her, they would invite her in and embody her power.
Some 3,000 years later, Carl Jung instigated a practice which seems to be more or less the same thing.
Actively imagining goddesses can help a woman know the archetypes active in her psyche. She might visualize a goddess, and then, once she has a vivid image in her mind, see if she can have a conversation with the visualized figure. Using “active imagination” - as this process that was discovered by Jung - is called, she may find that she can ask questions and get answers.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman
As modern women, we can breathe new life into the practices of our ancient Greek sister ancestors. Through our spiritual inheritance, the goddesses are alive and present in our collective unconscious, ready to be reimagined, recreated and invoked.
Invoking Artemis for the Greater Good
Since the mid seventies, feminist movements have been invoking and embodying the Artemis archetype.
Artemis represents qualities idealized by the women’s movement - achievement and competence, independence from men and male opinions, and concern for victimized, powerless women and the young. Artemis the goddess aided her mother Leto in childbirth, rescued Leto and Arethusa from rape, and punished the would-be-rapist Tityus and the intrusive hunter, Actaeon. She was the protectress of the young, especially of preadolescent girls.
These concerns of Artemis parallel the concerns of the women’s movement that have led to the organisation of rape clinics, self-protection classes, help for sexually harassed women, and shelters for battered women. The women’s movement has emphasized safe childbirth and midwifery, has been concerned about incest and pornography, and is motivated by a desire to prevent harm to women and children and to punish those who do such harm.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman
Bolen first published these words in 1984, almost 40 years ago. And yet, when we look at the current global situation with regards to women’s rights, safety, security, autonomy and self confidence, it’s fair to question how much has been achieved, and how much is being eroded away. One thing we know for certain: we need to keep doing, and doing, and doing.
When it comes to protecting and guiding our girls, we can certainly lead by example. But I wonder if we can do more.
Stepping Up as Big Sisters
Can we be inspired by Artemis in her role as Big Sister? Can we create safe, sacred and wild spaces in which girls can explore the vast, powerful and colourful panaroma of femininity? At the same time can we guide them through the undergrowth of identity, confidence and authenticity? Show them that they can grow beyond the current craze of victimhood and entitlement? Support them as they learn to stand proud in their unique expression of being female?
Social Media and other forces seem to be whittling away self confidence and creating confusion around identity. We need to remind ourselves and teach our girls that, as Bolen writes, “there is a potential heroine in everywoman” and that “a psychology that supports individual women to make their own choices and see themselves as protagonists in their own life story changes them. And this has a ripple effect across the globe.”
If we can ignite and stoke the fire of Artemis rising within us, what impact might we have upon the world?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you haven’t already read Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, I highly encourage you to do so. You’ll not only deepen your awareness of Artemis, but you’ll meet the six other predominant goddess archetypes that can be found playing out their roles in our psyche.