Artemis: Archetype and Goddess of the Hunt and Moon
Artemis: Greek Goddess of the Hunt and Moon
Artemis Loves Archery and Animals
Artemis was known as both the goddess of the hunt and the goddess of the moon. She is one of the most beloved Greek goddesses—honored in art and songs and in rituals and invocations that live on until even our generation. She was included in a group of goddesses described as, “the virgin goddesses," according to Jungian analyst Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen's system of identifying The Goddess in Every Woman. This does not mean a virgin goddess never had a sexual relationship, but that she felt complete in herself and did not need to be part of a couple to feel fulfilled in life. This is also true of Virgo people in the astrological world.
Artemis was an independent spirit who enjoyed wandering through the woods, along with her band of nymphs and silver hunting bow. She had good archery skills and a great love of wildlife, so was continually surrounded by a group of hunting dogs and assorted animals.The Greeks felt that although Artemis hunted, she never did so with cruelty. She hunted for food to sustain life, especially the difficult one she chose to live in the wilderness. Artemis hunted down those who tried to kill pregnant animals, because that would interfere with Earth's replenishment. Animals are also associated with Artemis as her symbols or familiars. Although she did much to protect them, the deer and the bear were very dear to her.
Since the bear is known to be the fiercest mother, this animal seems a good symbol for a goddess who protected women so well. Dogs were also depicted as her sacred animals. As she hunted and ran about the woods, Artemis was always surrounded by her merry packs of hounds. Once Artemis decided on a goal, she focused on it with great intensity, as if it were the intended target of her crossbow. She felt strongly about any causes that aroused her interest, and worked hard to create changes to benefit her favorite interests. Artemis was secure in herself and goals, a strong competitor used to success. She may have had problems with a mother who wanted to have a “girly girl” when younger. She was a natural competitor, with a great love of outdoor sports and usually held the title of team captain.
Artemis needed freedom and did not like being told what to do. She could be a hard worker, but the work must have personal meaning to her and she would be likely to choose a career that is untraditional for women. Artemis does not work for monetary security, competition drives her actions. Artemis women have good relationships with other women, and will act in behalf of friends to build them up and help them up the career ladder when possible. An "Artemis" in our culture today would be the alpha girl or head cheerleader, the most popular girl in high school and head of the clique of most popular girls. Artemis was the goddess who protected other women. She worked hard to keep pregnant and laboring women healthy and safe. As goddess of the woodland nymphs, she kept her own virginity safe, as well as keeping other women safe from male predators. She was the goddess of girlhood, and many young women danced before her wearing yellow robes, in one of her most famous rituals.
Artemis Does Not Need to Be in a Relationship With a Man
Artemis likes men, and although she sometimes involves herself in sexual relationships, her comprehension of the dating process is like trying out a new interest or adventure. Artemis cares more about her work and hobbies than about relationships. She is not in a hurry to marry anyone and likes to play the field. Her interest in men is often more friendly and brotherly than passionate. Artemis had a twin brother, Apollo, the god of the Sun. His domain was the city, as hers was the wilderness.
This twin model is a key to the way she relates to men, more as a sister or intellectual equal. She does not want any man to be the center of her life, though she may enjoy his companionship. She did as little as possible with men. Although she was the twin sister of Apollo, they did not spend much time together. In later legends, she is associated with the Moon, and he is associated with the Sun, so they didn't even take sky journeys together.
Of all the Greek goddesses, Artemis is the most closely associated with women, and her mythology suggests that men can only get her attention by paying close attention to her boundaries and limits, and by respecting a woman's need for privacy and seclusion. If Artemis does have a deep and meaningful sexual partnership with a man, she will have some influences from the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, or from Hera, the goddess of marriage, who only feels complete when she is someone’s wife. Most women have characteristics from several of the goddess archetypes, and the ones discussed here in this article will be in the age bracket of about eighteen to forty-nine.
Artemis: Greek Goddess of the Hunt and Moon
Artemis Has No Maternal Instinct
An Artemis woman is not the motherly type, having a boyish, athletic and graceful figure. But if she chooses to become a parent, she will be very protective of her children, much like a mother bear. She will raise children to be independent at an early age, as she was, and will enjoy them more when they are older and she can relate to them better. The bow, arrow and quiver are familiar symbols of this goddess, and many Greek and Roman sculptures show her wearing only a short garment called a chiton, a sort of "mini dress," tied at the waist, worn casually with one breast bare. As myth shows, her arrows flew quickly if she or any other women were treated disrespectfully!
Anyone who has been in the woods during the full moon has seen the shining light, or the "Artemis" effect of turning her light on her beloved animals. Dogs, coyotes, and wolves howl in this phase of the moon, their songs being heard all night. Humans feel the effects of the moon just as humans do, and Artemisian revels on nights of the full moon have a wild energy. During daylight things get back to normal.
An Artemis woman approaching midlife will have a difficult time of it if she has not cultivated some other goddesses in herself. She is so used to being an independent and goal driven person, she may have accomplished many goals she set for herself in her younger years, and reached a plateau. This may be a time where she becomes more inner directed and takes time to explore her spirituality, psychological and psychic abilities. Her youthful attitude will remain the same and she will always be young at heart. She will still travel and enjoy her environmental activities as long as she is able to continue them.
The older Artemis always needs to be challenged in her body and mind, or she will become frustrated and depressed. Although she enjoys men, once they seem vulnerable to her or she thinks she has “won” the prize, she may back off and not want to be tied down to anyone. She keeps an emotional distance from people and focuses on her own interests with extreme intensity. Artemis needs to learn how to develop a more relationship oriented personality and to work on her nurturing skills.
If she becomes more vulnerable and develops traits of other goddesses as she gets older, she may actually slow down her interests for a man who loves her, or have a child if it is not too late. But she may be too old to begin a family by the time she decides she has completed enough goals, or the thrill of the chase has worn off!
Bolen, Jean Shinoda, M.D. 1984 Goddesses In Everywoman, Powerful Archetypes in of Women's Lives Publisher Harper Collins, New York Chapter 4 Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, Competitor and Sister pgs. 46-74
Monaghan, Patricia 1999 The Goddess Path Llewellyn Worldwide Woodbury, MN Artemis: Protection, Myths and Meanings of Artemis pgs.-125-134
Questions & Answers
Can someone who is in her mid-50's still have the attributes of Artemis? Especially if she hates being told what to do?
Artemis is usually younger, in her 20's or 30's. She isn't one of the "mature" Goddesses as they are called. This isn't really about maturity; it's about age. But if you love independence, the outdoors, and don't care if you have male companionship unless it's as friends, that would mean you WERE an Artemis type and probably still have some of those traits in you. When I first wrote these, most women wrote back to say they saw themselves as having the makeup of two or three of the Greek Goddesses in them. So, I'd say yes, if it's working for you!
What is the myth that describes Artemis's relationship with Zeus?
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, although there is little mention of her relationship with her mother. She is also the twin sister of Apollo, and the Twins were Zeus's favorites. Artemis is such a free spirit.
© 2011 Jean Bakula