Artemis – The Goddess of the Amazons

A long long time ago somewhere in the mountains of western Anatolia (today’s Turkey) and eastern Thrace (today’s Bulgaria) there once lived a group of strong and independent women. They were farmers, weavers, potters, mothers, daughters, priestesses, tamers of wild animals as well as formidable huntresses and warriors. Their horsewomanship and archery skills were legenday.

It is said that their foremothers migrated to the Anatolian / Thracian mountains from Libya in Africa via Canaan and Phoenicia.

The Greeks feared them, but also admired their strength, their spirit, their horsewomanship and their incredible fighting abilities.

Their story has remained with us to this day. We know them as Amazons. [1]

The Amazon women prayed to the Goddess Artemis:

The Lady of the Wild Beasts.
The Maiden of the Silver Bow.
The Protectress of Children and Women.
The Mighty Huntress.
The Untamed Virgin.
The Lady of Moutains and Woods
The Archeress

It is said that Artemis, the Maiden Goddess of the Moon, once was one with the Semitic Great Mother Goddess Astarte. That She was one with Leto, Her Mother, and Hekate, Her Crone self. That is most likely why She retained the Crone aspects of Midwifery, Wisdom and Prophesy.

Artemis was also worshiped on Crete and in Arcadia, a place that had retained much of the Old European ways. On Crete She was called Eileithyia, the Goddess of Birth and Life. In Arcadia Artemis was also known as Kallisto “The Most Beautiful” [2] or Agrotera “The Wild One”. Homer referred to Her as Potnia Theron “Lady of the Wild Animals” and “Stag Huntress”.

Artemis was known as Bendis in Thrace and Diana in Rome.

Artemis, the Lady of the Wild, is one with the bear, the stag, the wolf and the lioness.

She is linked to the butterfly and its associated symbol, the double labrys axe, as well as the matriarchal bee. Both show Her Neolithic roots and Her connection to the Minoan Goddess as regeneratrix.

She is Artemis-Pharthenos, the Virgin, in its original meaning:

Artemis is free, wild, adventurous, untamed and bound to no-one. She’s unmarried and protects and defends women who choose to also remain untied.

Artemis roams the mountains and woods with Her loyal nymphs who dwell in brooks, streams and flowers.

Artemis like Her zodiac sign Sagittarius is a truly free spirit.

She provides us with a glimpse of what the Amazons must have been like. It breaks my heart to think how those amazing women fought so fiercely for their freedom and their way of life, only to be eventually conquered and dominated.

O [Artemis] queen of the groves (regina nemorum),
thou who in solitude lovest thy mountain-haunts,
and who upon the solitary mountains art alone held holy.
- Seneca, Hercules Furens 406 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.)

NOTES

[1] The Berbers, a desert-dwelling poeple in North Africa, refer to themselves as “Amazigh” which means something like “free people”. Perhaps they are the last remaining descendants of the Libyan Amazons.

[2] Later Hellenic Mythology made Artemis the daugher of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis represented the Moon and Apollo the Sun.

The Classical Greeks described Her as being daddy’s girl who wanted to remain forever chaste. One time Kallisto, described as one of Artemis’ nymphs (who according to earlier Arcadian myths was Artemis’ own alter ego!) was seduced by Zeus and fell pregnant. Apparently Artemis was angry with Kallisto and turned her into a bear (Artemis-Kallisto’s own sacred animal!). Subsequently Zeus hid Kallisto in the sky to protect her from jealous Hera.

Again, I believe, this was a form of propaganda in order to help change the Greek worldview to a patriarchal one.

Firstly, the myth of Kallisto changes the meaning of Parthenos “virgin” from “being unbound” to “being chaste”. In order for patriarchy to work maidens must not lie with a man prior to marriage and must be faithful to their husbands thereafter. Based on Zeus’ and Hera’s character, husbands were allowed to play the field as it were, while wives were allowed to be jealous.

Secondly, through this particular myth Artemis-Kallisto is fractured into the chaste Artemis and the “slutty” Kallisto. Kallisto who represents Artemis’ baser nature is then banished to the back and beyond. Sadly this very split and the associated value judgement continue to affect women still today.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. darladiane
    Dec 16, 2012 @ 03:22:18

    I love what you share here. Thank you for giving voice on behalf of Goddess! I would only add that, as a personal devotee of Artemis, my sense is that as “the huntress” Artemis did/does not kill, and, as a Goddess certainly did/does not need to anyway. Rather, hers is the power of dispensation — allowing exemption from ‘thou shalt not kill’ and stepping in as intermediary between hunted and hunter for a swift and painless death — in the hunt. That, if it is necessary to take a life (a rare circumstance), pray to her and She may grant absolution to the one who deals death to a precious wild creature and/or an innocent of any species.
    Her prowess with the bow was for protection of the wild creatures.
    She is a Huntress of Souls, not hunting to kill but to renew, protect, save and inspire. Bright Blessings!

    Reply

  2. karpacz polen
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 10:57:00

    I was studying some of your content on this website and I think this site is very instructive! Continue putting up.

    Reply

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