Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Artemis archetype: a deeper look

Artemis possesses an extroverted and independent temperament (polar opposite to Athena)--represents the goddess of Nature--concerned with matters of the outdoors, animals, environmental protection, women’s communities--she is practical, adventurous, athletic and preferring solitude. She symbolizes regenerative earth power over all living things. Both Artemis and Athena bore arms as protectress goddesses. Historically, Artemis was born quickly by her mother, Leto. However, due to a curse from Hera, Artemis was the one who, immediately following her own birth, assisted her mother’s delivery of her brother in a long and difficult labor. She became known as the patroness of childbirth.

Artemis, armed with bow and arrow, possesses the power to inflict plagues and death or to heal. She is known as the protectress of little children, baby animals and, yet, she also loves the hunt.

Artemis is one of the ‘virgin’ androgynous goddesses. Due to her well-integrated masculine energy and independence, Artemis does not possess much need for a man to complete her. Her awareness is focused. A predominately Artemis type woman may enjoy a companion who will work along side her sharing her practical pursuits--parallel relatedness in shared activities, yet, each one retaining their strong and distinct identities in their fairly separate lives. They may come together enjoying a deep, intuitive connection with minimal ‘chatter’. Artemis, the goddess, was known to shun men.

The ancient Olympian Goddesses - a deeper look

Artemis - represents the feminine archetype of Nature & the Wilds--virgin, pure, primitive-- of wild places--Mother of Creatures. The function of virgins was to dispense the Mother’s grace to heal, to prophesy, to perform sacred dances, to wail for the dead. Artemis' image at Ephesus depicts a torso covered with breasts conveying her as the fertile nurturer of all living things. She was also the Huntress, killer/destroyer of the very creatures she brought forth--demonstrating the light and dark side of the goddess.

Psychologically, Artemis belongs to the category of ‘virgin’ goddess--self-directed, autonomous, focused consciousness.

    * To the Romans, Artemis was known as Diana.
    * Her ‘masculine’ energy can be deeply transformed or sublimated in highly creative ways.
    * Androgynous nature--containing both feminine and masculine energies--complete, whole in and of herself - her true relationship is with herself.
    * Androgynous energy contained within converts to visions, mystical experiences, and a deep, enduring compassion for all of Nature.
    * Lover of animals and the serenity found in Nature, on the one hand
    * And, destroyer, Artemis-goddess leads the nocturnal hunt deep in the forest.
    * Similar to Athena, psychologically--youthful, boyish, independent, strong, autonomous, energetic, born with strong masculine qualities in her nature and, particularly for Artemis, an intense love of freedom.
    * Disposed to gender-role confusion
    * Solitary nature teaching her self-sufficiency & independence--prophesy, poetry, music, magic and healing
    * Artemis women allow Nature to frequently replace human relations--requiring solitary retreat whereby the ego is free from external stimulation.
    * Artemis women find that the non-stop presence of others hinders her presence to herself, therefore, requiring retreat into the solitude of natural world and offering reconnection to her inner self.
    * Many Artemis women, who would prefer living closer to Nature, are displaced in cities
    * Disinclined by their true nature toward role of wife/motherhood or for the values of conventional society - Artemis types may prefer companionship of women who share her sense of presence of self and self-sufficiency

Mythological history

          o Artemis’ mother was Leto, a nature deity who bore Artemis without pain. Artemis’ father was Zeus.
          o Artemis, directly following her own birth--a newborn, herself, Artemis assisted as midwife to her mother, Leto, throughout a very difficult birth to her twin brother, Apollo. Artemis was subsequently considered a goddess of childbirth.
          o Artemis, the protectress, on many occasions ‘rescued’ her own mother.
          o At Ephesus, Artemis was worshiped as the many-breasted Great Mother.
          o Classic Greek historians, on the other hand, depict her as a virgin who never mothers a child of her own, shunning men and living in the forest on the fringe of the inhabited world.
          o Artemis - the patroness of midwives -- Mother of Birth and of Death/Huntress and taker of life - representing both the Light and the Dark side of the goddess’ nature.
          o Artemis, who is every bit as beautiful as Aphrodite, makes sacred--solitude, natural and primitive living--she is not flattered by or interested in male suitors.
          o Artemis severely punishes any man who lays eyes on her naked body - she turned one spying man into a deer and his hunting dogs, no longer recognizing him, tore him apart.
          o Artemis possesses deep sympathy for the Earth and all it’s living beings and employs the role of protectress--she is enraged by the exploitation of nature and powerless creatures.
          o Artemis is Apollo’s twin sister - Dionysus is the dark brother of Apollo.
          o Artemis may have, early on, prior to later Greek patriarchal manipulation, been the Great Mother, triple in her power as Maiden, Mother and Crone. Artemis may likely be one of the oldest of all the Greek goddesses--belonging to the most ancient layer of human memory.

Challenges facing Artemis

          o She tends to avoid her vulnerability in relation to others--hiding her emotional needs, even to herself.
          o Artemis tends toward emotional distancing--difficulty trusting relationship.
          o Growth for Artemis type woman is in developing her less conscious, human relationship side of herself.
          o Artemis type needs rewarding and challenging goals toward which to strive, if Artemis is unable to find fulfilling self-expression in her life she will feel increasingly frustrated and depressed.

Artemis’ dark side

Primitive power of her bloodlust, ‘righteous rage’ - Artemis woman’s task is to confront her ‘inner wild boar’ - while sacrificing her ‘righteous and avenging’ goddess. She does this by humbly accepting her own flaws and mistakes as a human woman, compassionate with herself, first, then she may hold compassion towards others.

Artemis’ wound

Self-esteem issues involving intimate relationship resulting from early isolation from other girls and, later, sense of rejection/exclusion by boys.

Artemis’ gifts

Ability to focus, set goals and reach them; autonomy/independence, ability to develop meaningful connection with other women.

 Artemis’ personality

          o As a child & adolescent:
                + Strong, tom-boyish body, keenly instinctual connection with her body.
                + She rejects the culturally prescribed behavior & interests of little girls as charming and compliant pleasers - may be criticized for appearing unfeminine.
                + Athletic, competitive, persevering
                + She may have her own horse, or at least love to ride horses.
                + She is an animal lover, determined to become a veterinarian.
                + She loves the woods-exploring plants, forests, streams, wild creatures, an adventurer

          o As an adult woman:
                + Strong adolescent persona persists even as an adult
                + Non-traditional in her interests and approach to life
                + Usually chooses her field of work as a result of her passion--sportswoman, biologist, veterinarian, geologist, environmental advocate, healer, herbalogist, shaman or other solitary professions
                + Holds feminist views and sisterly affiliations with other women
                + Sexual expression leans more toward recreational sport or excitement of a new experience more so than for emotional intimacy - In later life sexuality shifts to following her interests which possess personal meaning to her
                + A woman in whom Artemis archetype predominates will require a good degree of freedom and independence. Like her Athenian sister, she needs to direct her own life in a way that gives her personal fulfillment/accomplishment rather than by meeting the expectations of others.
                + She needs Nature; if she does not adequately feed herself good doses of the ‘natural’ world, she will find herself feeling out-of-sorts, irritable or depressed.
                + As a mother, if she chooses this path, she is most likely fiercely protective of her children’s well-being while giving them plenty of freedom to experience

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