The Greek Goddess Artemis (also known as Diana to the Romans) is a lunar deity of the hunt, chastity, childbirth, archery, and the wilds.
She is a patroness and protector of women and young children, and, in modern times, often viewed as a patroness of lesbians and asexual people. She swore to never marry and preferred to roam the woods with an entourage of hounds and nymphs.
It may seem strange for a goddess of chastity to also be associated with childbirth, but the circumstances of Artemis’ own birth were anything but normal.
She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and Zeus was known for his extramarital shenanigans. When Hera, his wife, found out that Leto was pregnant, she forbade her from giving birth anywhere on land.
The island of Delos (near Mykonos) took pity on Leto and allowed her ashore to have her children. Artemis was born first and subsequently assisted her mother in giving birth to her twin brother, Apollo.
Artemis never had any desire to marry or lose her virginity, and Aphrodite’s powers of lust had no effect on her.
When a mortal hunter, Actaeon, spied on Artemis when she was bathing, the Goddess turned him into a stag for his insolence. His own dogs, not recognizing their master, turned on him and tore him to pieces.
Actaeon isn’t the only male figure to have crossed Artemis in this way. Siproites also saw her bathing, so she transformed him into a woman. The river god Alpheus fell in love with her and decided to capture her, so she covered herself in mud to avoid detection.
Bouphagos, the son of the titan Japetus, thought of raping Artemis and was stricken down by her. Broteas, a powerful hunter, boasted about his strength and refused to honor Artemis. She punished him by driving him so mad, he walked into a fire and died.
The Aloadae giants decided to try to kidnap her for their own, so she turned herself into a deer and darted between them. Each giant threw his spear at the same time, and they accidentally missed the deer and stabbed each other instead.
Not all of Artemis’ experiences with men ended in violence and anger, however. Daphnis, a son of Hermes, was accepted into her entourage and entertained her with his music. She also taught a young man named Scamandrius how to be exceedingly skillful with a bow and arrow.
Artemis also didn’t appear to have a very high opinion of those in her entourage who gave up their chastity. Callisto, a member of Artemis’ group who took a vow of chastity, broke her vow with Zeus. When Artemis found out, she’s said to have either driven the girl away, or turned her into a bear.
In some versions of the legend, a furious Hera is the one to turn Callisto into a bear. Zeus, taking pity on his former lover, set her in the sky as the constellation Ursa Major.
One of Artemis’ connections with lesbianism comes from this incident. According to Ovid, Zeus took the form of Artemis in order to seduce Callisto. By the time Callisto realized that the person seducing her wasn’t Artemis, it was too late, and Zeus was able to overpower her.
Gerard van Honthorst, a Dutch Golden Age painter, created the painting Jupiter in the Guise of Diana Seducing Callisto to depict the event.
Artemis was one of the most highly venerated deities in antiquity. The Artemision, of Temple of Artemis, was a vast temple dedicated to her at Ephesus. It was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but had tragically been destroyed by 401 CE.
Symbols & Associations
Artemis is associated with hounds, deer, bears, boars, and all creatures of the forest, as well as menstruation, virginity, and childbirth.
She’s also symbolized by the moon, bows and arrows, guinea fowl, and stags.
Artemis shares many of the same powers as other Greek deities, to wit:
- Shapeshifting. Artemis once transformed herself into a deer.
- Transformation. She was known to transform people who displeased her, as well as those she sought to protect. One story involves Artemis turning a girl into a spring to protect her from Zeus.
- Bringing disease or madness.
- Striking mortals dead.
She also has power over childbirth (as demonstrated when she helped her mother birth Apollo), animals, and hunting. She’s said to be supernaturally skilled at archery.
The best offerings for Artemis are:
- Bows and arrows, or representations thereof.
- Images of Artemis.
- Game meat.
- Amphiphontes, which are round cakes topped with tiny torches. These are likely a reference to the full moon. White-frosted cupcakes with white or silver candles may be a suitable substitute.
- Cakes, cookies, or pastries shaped like animals, particularly deer.
- Red wine.
- Red grape, pomegranate, or cranberry juice.
- Luxurious clothing.
- Wild flowers. In the story of Persephone’s abduction, Artemis was said to be with her while she was flower-picking.
- Crystals associated with the moon.
Signs Artemis is Calling You
Artemis may be calling you if you feel drawn to the woods, the moon, or wild animals. This can be as simple as the desire to spend more time in the woods, out at night, or around animals, or as deep as the desire forage or hunt for your food.
The repeated appearance of stags, boars, hounds, bears, or their related imagery may also be a subtle call from her.
If you dream of hunting, roaming the woods, being in Artemis’ company, or even being one of her sacred animals, she may be trying to reach you. These images can also appear during meditation, deep concentration, or vision work.
Artemis’ call may also take the form of a loss of interest in sex and relationships. (This can also be signs of a physical problem, so any sudden changes should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out a potentially serious illness.)
If you feel the urge to turn away from relationships with others and focus on your own inner development or rewilding, that can be a clear sign from Artemis.
Crystals Associated with Artemis
Other stones associated with this goddess include:
Herbs Associated with Artemis
Artemise is connected to several different plants. To forge a stronger bond with her, you may wish to work with:
- Various nuts or nut trees.
- Night-blooming flowers.
Working with Artemis
Working with Artemis means focusing on the things she holds dear. She is emblematic of our wild natures and the aspects of ourselves that we keep hidden.
You may want to start by learning how to rewild yourself and create a deeper connection with nature. Take courses in foraging, hunting, or survival skills.
If you have outdoor space to do it, you may want to create a moon garden. Plant night-blooming flowers, members of the Artemisia genus, and plants with silvery foliage.
See article: Full Moon Herbs & Essential Oils.
Decorate it with a birdbath or fountain, images of stags or bears, and a reproduction of one of the ancient statues of Artemis.
You can also create an indoor or outdoor altar to her featuring white, green, or silver candles, an offering bowl, and a vessel of water. Decorate it with images of Artemis, animals, or the moon.
You may also want to devote some time to a cause aligned with Artemis. Clean up forest trails, beaches, or streams, either by yourself or with a group. Donate money to environmental causes, those that fight cruelty to animals, or those that help fight complications or death during childbirth.
Create and donate care packages for mothers in need or donate your time to read to or care for young children. Support efforts to protect a person’s right to choose when, how, and if they give birth, just as Artemis was free to choose how she wished to live her life.
Artemis is a very active goddess, and she appreciates action. Artemis, like the moon, is contradictory.
She is a female deity who lived happily outside of all feminine norms, and a virgin goddess of childbirth.
She represents the moon in every aspect, from full brightness to total darkness, and she can help us discover strength and talents that we don’t even know we have.