Let me sing of the maiden of contradictions,
goddess of the wild chase
and the busy spindle.
In her myths, we see Artemis as a protector Goddess, one who defends women and (especially) girls, as well as any pregnant or laboring animal. By extension, too, she is guardian of the forests and wild places of the world. Thus Artemis is appropriately invoked when protection is sought for self or for the earth. Such a ritual could be seen as drawing up the Artemisian force from within as well as drawing it from a transcendent Goddess energy.
A question that needs to be addressed
with Artemis, as with no other Goddess, is the role of men in rituals of
women's spirituality . For Artemis is mythically depicted as occupying
woman-only space; no men are permitted to join her woodland band, nor to
observe the nymphs at the hunt or at play. Following this sacred
trail, women who worship only with other women often call themselves Dianic,
after the Roman woodland Goddess assimilated to powerful Artemis.
Dianics argue that women are sufficiently wounded by society that woman-only spaces are necessary for emotional and spiritual healing. In addition, some find that men are generally more adjusted to hierarchic structures and thus do not function well in the organized anarchy of women's circles, claiming more space and time than they should. Finally, some Dianic circles are lesbian and find no compelling reason for men's presence.
In honoring Artemis, the question of who should be involved in Her rituals is especially significant, for She is preeminently the Goddess of women.
In most cases, however, rituals to Artemis will be based on the Dianic model: women, celebrating together, calling on the bear mother to protect them. There are several historical Artemis rituals on which contemporary celebrations could be based. The Amazons-those women warriors-were said to worship Artemis by holding circle dances in Her honor, celebrated by shield-bearing women who clashed their weapons together like cymbals.
Such a ritual would most effectively be held out-of-doors, under a full moon if at all possible. Groves of trees that grow naturally in a rough circle are especially delightful spaces for such rituals.
Tambourines, bells, cymbals, and other sharp-tones hand-held percussion instruments are easier to handle than swords and shields, so prepare yourself or your group with such implements. Gather a circle, invoking the Goddess with on or both of the following prayers.
Let me sing of the maiden of contradictions,
Goddess of the wild chase and the busy spindle. An archer, a hunter,
she races through the mountain shadows and the windy hills, drawing her
bow and loosing her arrows of sadness. The mountains tremble, and
the forest resounds with the agony of animals. Earth and sea both
shudder as the strong-hearted one delights in her hunt. And then,
when she has had enough, she leaves the forest. Hanging up her bow
and quiver, she robes herself in splendor and goes forth to lead her maidens
in dance, smiling as they sing of her mother Leto, of how she bore such
a wonderful daughter.
Maiden goddess, holy one,
protector of hills and forest,
protector of mothers in labor,
protector of the buds of infancy,
triple goddess, I invoke you:
bless the trees around my home,
the ones that shade me
the ones that screen the wind,
the ones that perfume the air.
May they protect me as you do.
How will I thank you?
When I eat flesh, I will thank you.
When I eat fruit, I will thank you.
When I drink clear water, I will thank you.
Your trees will never lack for offerings
as long as I live and breathe,
as long as I live and breathe.
Then, clanging the instruments, dance around the circle. Call out the Goddesses name, drawing out the syllables so that it makes a sort of chant, ending in a long hiss. As you do so, imagine yourself with a shield.
If anyone in the circle has suffered an injury against her womanly spirit-especially rape or violence- the group can circle around her and, turning their backs to her, form a protective shield as she calls out for Artemis to give her the strength to fight back against her violator. Those invoking Artemis alone can similarly envision her wrapping her strong arms protectively around her daughter or warding off attackers with her sharp arrows.
After dancing into the energy of the Goddess, center again in silence and envision the world as a young woman being pursued by an attacker bent on violence. For that is, indeed, the situation of wild spaces today. No matter how vast and magnificent they may seem, ecological systems are fragile, easy to destroy. Imagine the Goddess reaching into her quiver, drawing an arrow, and placing it carefully in her bow. Imagine her drawing back on the taut bowstring and aiming.
Then stop to examine what part of your life Artemis might target in this way. For while it is easy to blame corporations for the degradation of the rainforest, there would be no profit in such exploration if we were not such willing customers. Notice what parts of your life most damage the wild spaces where Artemis lives, and make a solemn pledge to the Goddess that you will correct your deficiencies. Imagine her slowly releasing her grip on the bowstring, staring into your eyes as she does so, and letting you go to correct your deficiencies. Articulate that promise verbally to the group, calling on them to witness your intention to make the world a safer place for the goddess of wilderness. then when your ritual is over, keep your pledge-for Artemis is not a goddess you wish to find angry at you.
The Goddess Path