Sunday, October 23, 2016

Powerful and Wild: Artemis

Last week for the Shadow Work October challenge on Instagram, the host, Mnomquah, asked us to think of a childhood idol and use that person (deity, character, etc.) as the focal point of a spread. I didn't do it initially because after thinking and pondering and considering for quite some time, I couldn't come up with anything at all. I don't recall ever having an "idol" that I looked up to.

Several days later I found myself still ruminating on the topic when -

- Artemis came to my mind.

When I was about 15 years old I studied the Greek gods and goddesses as part of high school humanities, and I'm sure that I drank it up more heavily than would have been expected of me as a student at the time. I was immediately drawn to Artemis. I saw so many aspects of myself in her: Artemis of the wild wood, the archer, fierce and independent.

So nearly two weeks later I sat down to pull some cards.
1. Core desire: The things that drive my idol.
2. Strategy: My idol's ways of achieving goals.
3. My idol's greatest fear.
4. Weakness.
5. Strength/Talent.
6. Me as a result: Summary of how my idol influenced who I am today.
Pagan Otherworlds Tarot
I was extremely moved and fascinated by the results of the draw. Not only did moon images appear in two places within the main reading, the "shadow" card at the bottom of the deck was also one of the Luna cards from the Pagan Otherworlds deck. This was particularly fitting considering Artemis' connection with this celestial body.

1. Core desire: 8 of Cups

Visually, this card brings to mind following the moon across wild and shadowy landscapes, which of course is a perfect backdrop for Artemis. Metaphorically it connects to going beyond quotidian life and searching for deeper meaning. It is about exploring the unknown, and discovering what ultimately satisfies and invigorates the spirit. I see Artemis in all of that.

One of the things that I loved about her when I was a teen was that she did not conform to a "traditional" goddess archetype of love, or marriage, or "tender of the hearth fire." Artemis was a free spirit. Though she did have relationships, and she was connected to the very feminine experience of pregnancy and childbirth, she had no desire to settle into a prescribed lifestyle of domesticity, and as such became such a beautiful symbol of female power and independence.*

2. Strategy: Queen of Pentacles

Wow. Yes. Artemis is known to not only be profoundly connected to the wild and natural world as a patron and protector, but also as a tireless supporter of women. Myth says that immediately after her own birth, she helped her mother Leto labor with her twin brother Apollo. Thus, despite being a virgin goddess, she was connected to childbirth. All of these reside within the domain of this Queen.

3. My idol's greatest fear: Sun reversed

This card brought a few thoughts to my mind: a fear of losing power and independence; a desire not to be overshadowed by her brother, Apollo, a sun god; a fear of either not having space to shine brightly enough, or of being subject to the dominating egos of others.

4. Weakness: Half moon.

This says to me: black and white. And this is how Artemis tended to view the world. She had a very strict sense of morality, and was unforgiving if she perceived a breach in her code.

5. Strength/Talent: 9 of Pentacles

Seriously, though. I often refer to this as the "strong, successful, independent woman card". I actually laughed when I pulled this one.

6. Me as a result: 2 of Cups

Artemis taught me to love myself and in turn to receive love. To truly bring the disparate elements of my being into harmony, to fully honor myself, has meant that I was able to enter into a strong marriage that never required me to limit or compromise myself in order to fit a particular mold. Artemis showed me that independence and strength are not incompatible with partnership - in fact they are prerequisites to healthy union.

And after all these years, I am still wild on the inside.

*As an adult I have a far more complex and dynamic understanding (and experience) of "female power and independence" which fully includes partnership and "traditional" roles of women under its umbrella.


  1. Wow perfect reading for you and Artemis. I love the last card. What a profound lesson this is!! We are so much a like. When I was 14 I studied Greek Mythology in school. I drank it like nectar and the goddess I felt related to back then was Athena, independent and free from marriage and children: "a free spirit" too :D

    1. I love to hear that, Ellen! Athena is incredibly powerful and fierce. I love that the Greeks had a goddess of war and wisdom. Yes, I was really moved by that last card, too! It was a really interesting read. Many hugs to you!!

  2. This is such a beautiful reading! You had me from the start - I've always related to Artemis, too, as a wild and powerful female figure who was active and dynamic, and a supporter of other women. I couldn't get my head around Demeter at all, in comparison. And as you say, as I've matured and had my own children, I see wildness and independence in a different light, yet I still honour the idea of running free, being my own person and not "just" a mother or wife. That Two of Cups is perfect - we are not "the other half", we are a full person, who chooses to relate to other full people :D

    1. Thank you, Chloe :) Yeah, the 2 of Cups was a really sweet and powerful way to conclude!

  3. i refer to the 9 of pentacles the same way :) and i quite identify with the artemis archetype as well. thanks for sharing!

  4. i refer to the 9 of pentacles the same way :) and i quite identify with the artemis archetype as well. thanks for sharing!