Sunday, November 29, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Artemis

Continuing my series on learning from the Greek Gods, today's entry is about Artemis. Without any doubt whatsoever, Artemis is one of the most popular, worshiped and revered Goddesses ever in the history of the world, and remains so in the hearts and practices of modern Hellenists and many general Pagans. As with the other Gods of the Dodekatheon (the Olympians and highest-ruling Gods), She encompasses numerous epithets, but some of Her most popular have to do with the natural wild world. She's Goddess of the Hunt and the Mistress of Animals. She presides over forests and general wild lands and comes to humans personally as a Goddess of Childbirth and a protector of infants and children. She loves dearly Earth's animals and young ones. Some also call Her Goddess of the Moon, while some sources disagree with that epithet. However, She is a Light Goddess beyond all doubt, and the moon is the largest form of natural light on the Earth beside of the sun, which is ruled by Apollon, Her Brother and fellow member of the Dodekatheon, who is also a Light God. So it's very reasonable, to my mind, to worship Her as the supreme Goddess of the Moon while Apollon stands as the supreme God of the Sun.

However, there is more to Hellenism than just worshiping the Gods. There is also a great emphasis on their teachings and learning from them, so what can we learn from Artemis? Being the Goddess of the Hunt and Mistress of Animals, She adores nature, while also understanding the need for survival that it provides for all living creatures. She's the Huntress, and therefore, She hunts down the stag and slays it. Hunting encompasses the act of killing for food, in the case of humans. Nature provides us what we need to live, but I also think Artemis wishes us to be caring and compassionate with nature, using only what we need, respecting the animals we must kill, and giving them proper respect by using all of their parts instead of just killing for sport. I believe killing for sport would be a high offense against Her, and in my personal belief, I believe deer to be exclusively sacred to Her, and therefore I don't kill or eat them at all myself. But some do, and that's fine within reason. So as She loves and cares for nature, so should we, for how can we honor the Gods without loving and respecting what they also love and respect? And this is true in every case. 

Artemis is also the protector of children, and very few things hold more virtue than being a good parent and treating the weakest and most vulnerable among us with love, care, compassion and protection. As She gives these things to children, so should we if we are to call ourselves Her followers and worshipers.We don't serve Artemis best in this field by giving fancy speeches on how something needs to be done to help children. We serve Her best when we actually get out there and do it, making the difference ourselves and being the change, by helping to feed, house, educate and care for children in all the ways they must be. And also, by treating them with love and care and never causing them physical or emotional harm or torment.

There are many great things we can learn from Artemis to help us live better lives and make our world a better place, and these are among the ways we can begin that wonderful journey in our Hellenic lives.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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