I don’t typically work with a particular Goddess in my spiritual practice. Whether I’m meditating, doing a spell, or creating a ceremony to commemorate something, I’m the type of practitioner that always skips over the invocation of the goddess/god. Since I believe that my spirituality comes from within, not without, I don’t feel like a deity needs to be present for me to work.
I also don’t even believe in them in the literal sense that they are separate persons. I approach divine individuals as archetypes from which to draw inspiration, not as real personalities. I’m closer to an agnostic than a theist, with my definition of the Divine falling somewhere along the lines of the Doctor’s definition of time.
I was surprised, then, when I suddenly found my practice invaded by Artemis. I say invaded because I didn’t seek her out or decide to study her. She wasn’t even on my radar. As much as I love moon Goddesses, I’ve never paid an ounce of attention to Artemis because I like Diana more (shh, don’t tell Artemis I just said that!).
She invited herself in while I was reading an essay “Artemis: The Goddess Who Comes From Afar” by Christine Downing. It was one of several essays in Weaving Visions on the topic of naming the sacred, and I almost skipped over it.
I read it because I wanted to keep reading the chapters in succession rather than jumping around, a strange impulse considering I’d already jumped around in the book quite a bit. Through the tiniest glimpse into her love of chaos and her work as a midwife, she decided to take up residence in my life.
I felt her arrive and didn’t feel her leave when I finished the essay. When I finally realized she wouldn’t be leaving for a while, I began searching for more resources to help me understand what this Goddess may have to teach me. I figured I would learn from her the way I had learned from Inanna, by reading her mythology and some of the commentary on it . . . but Artemis had other plans.
As soon as I started to research her more, I felt as if she were laughing at me, mocking me for thinking that anything that had been written about her would be able to define or contain her.
Her energy felt like the energy of the Page of Wands, the energy that just said “Dive in and see what happens”. . . but I wanted the energy of the Knight of Pentacles, methodical and slow and entrenched in books. Such a fiercely independent energy was terrifying to me. It felt as though I would be shredded trying to keep up.
Still Artemis called, taunting my fear, enticing me to feel the intoxication of chaos.
So I put my books down, shut my computer, and pulled out my yoga mat.
Suddenly, Artemis wasn’t wild and intimidating anymore.
She was beside me, inside me—her strength flowing through me. The wild wasn’t wild like it seemed to be. It was almost peaceful in its activity.
Movement, action, feeling—these were her mediums of teaching. Her physical energy was surprisingly gentle in its unbridled way. Even though it felt like she could easily take off and drag me on a run through the wild, she stayed with my pace once I was willing to go along for the ride.
I’ve realized she’s not the type of Goddess that likes to come around for a chat and a cup of tea. Downing describes how Artemis assisted her in a symbolic birth. It’s strange that I would feel a connection to that aspect of Artemis since I neither have nor want children, yet Artemis’ arrival has been like the arrival of a midwife right as my soul goes into labor.
She’s also not one to coddle. She teaches where she lives, in the wild. As a guide, she’s willing to get lost with me, but she’s not going to read my compass for me. She doesn’t try to prevent me from scraping my knees. Falling is part of the process.
She asks, “Where does your strength lie?”
If I know, she tells me to use it. If I don’t, she tells me to find it.
Yet, she’s not unkind either. Her kindness lies in knowing that the process ends faster when the discomfort is embraced fully; fighting her lessons isn’t really fighting her but fighting my own spiritual birth pangs.
Artemis has already taught me much. She challenges me to reassess how I view independence and connection, and reminds me of the beauty of embracing chaos.
She has facilitated my return to physical exercise better than anything else since my injury. Whereas before, I practiced yoga limitedly as I struggled to regain my strength, now she guides me through full-length practices, teaching me to find the balance of pushing, but not pushing so far that I reinjure myself. The physical activity has brought back an aspect to meditation that I had forgotten was missing.
She’s not the type of Goddess I would have associated with a yogic practice, but I can feel that she’s the companion I need for the time being. I don’t know how long she plans to stay or what the main thrust of her teaching will be, so I will be doing yoga with Artemis until I birth this new aspect of my soul.
I may not have invoked the Goddess, but I’m sure as hell not going to snub her either. Agnostic though I may be, I’m honored and excited to have her in my life.