Showing posts with label Artemis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Artemis. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Challenge To Champion ~ When Gods Knock Us Down

I find myself intrigued when the Gods send Heroism disguised as disaster. Last night, I was reading the myth of Meleager and the Kalydonian Boar. The basic idea of the story was that Artemis became upset with the fact that Her worship was being neglected in Kalydon, a City in the Greek region of Aetolia, and so She sent a powerful, gigantic boar to ravage the land and prevent people from carrying on their daily lives. At least, this is the beast's origin that this particular myth provides. Meleager and some other local hunters including the woman Atalanta, took up the job of tracking down and killing the beast once and for all, which they successfully did at the hands of Atalanta and Meleager who led the party and delivered the final blow. 

Meleager became a venerated Hero after His death, not just because of killing the boar, but because of his unusual termination. At the time of His birth, the Fate Atropos connected His life with the wood that was burning on the hearth, presumably in His home, and said that His life would end once the wood was burned up. His mother preserved the wood for as long as She could, but after the Kalydonian Boar hunt, She realized that her two brothers, who had also joined the hunt, had been killed by Meleager. He originally wanted to give the victory of the hunt to Atalanta because She first struck the beast, thus weakening it, but the brothers violently contested on the basis of gender, forcing Meleager to take their lives in defense. Nevertheless, His mother wasn't having it. She burned up the last of the wood, bringing His life to an end. Overcome with grief after realizing what she had done, she committed suicide, which is another moral common in Greek myth; don't be hasty or act out of emotion.

But what I got to thinking about last night was not the Heroic status of Meleager itself, or the hunt for the boar generally. My philosophies were on the intentions of Artemis during this time. She sent the boar, knowing that men and women would assemble to save their people and region from it. She knew they would come together to do something great or beyond everyday human feats. Artemis didn't have to let them kill the creature, but She did provided that they could. In fact, She could have struck down all the hunters, and for that matter, all of the civilization with a single shot from Her bow. There's no real contest between Gods and men. Yet, She allowed the boar and the people it impacted to do battle with one another, knowing that the humans would come out on top and realize that they had reached yet another great achievement in their existence. 

Perhaps sometimes the curses that the Gods send, aren't curses at all, but opportunities. Or maybe there are times when we have to face being challenged, disfavored, or thrown to the bottom of the totem before we find the humility and motivation inside of us to pull ourselves back up to the Gods and human greatness again. It is possible that all of us, at some point, will have our own Kalydonian Boar in our lives, for many different reasons. The only choice is: slay or pay? We're not meant to sit at home and grow old, having nothing in our wake. We're destined to do all that we are capable of, to be as great as we can. And sometimes, the Gods move us off our butts so that it can happen.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How To Build An Outside Sanctuary That Will Withstand The Elements

For 2.5 years, my Sanctuary of Artemis has stood completely unmoved without cement, glue or nails, despite the fact that the area gets heavy snow and ice in the winter, and hard and powerful rain and wind storms in the spring and summer. You too can build these kinds of natural worship areas with little labor and low cost. All you need is a little land and personal drive.

Step One: In ancient Greece, sanctuaries were sometimes built in caves, which no doubt provided amazing protection. This did not go unnoticed by me when I built my own sanctuary. I chose sturdy terrain and surrounding buildings. As you can see from the first picture on the left, the sanctuary is basically in a cave-like area. The only fully open direction is the front, or the entrance where the sunlight mostly penetrates. The back, left and right are all cut off by bigger, stronger structures, like my house on the right, my concrete carport behind, and another building on the left that isn't my own. It sits on other property, but is still close enough to protect the smaller structures around it. The sanctuary has no doubt been spared natural destruction in its past because of these factors. The other nice thing is that it provides you with a good level of privacy when you want to go there to worship, pray, sacrifice, or just be alone for a while. So step one is to surround the sanctuary with naturally stronger things. These can be as complex as buildings, or as simple as large trees. Something that is left completely out in the open, is going to get hit by everything around.

Step Two: I employed the soil of Earth Herself to help me stand the structures of the sanctuary. The column in the center that holds the statue of Artemis is actually nothing but a hard and hollow plastic, very light weight. So how does it stay in place without cement or something extremely heavy on top? Answer: soil. In the picture on the right, you will notice the base of the column. The very bottom platform of the column is completely buried by dirt and mud. When the soil was loose and wet, I dug a hole big enough to place the base of the column in, then I packed it extremely with the surrounding mud. Once it dried and hardened, the column basically became part of the ground itself. It's hard to move the ground unless there's an earthquake.

Step Three: Simply put, make sure the vital structures are made for outside, or can at least hold up in such natural conditions. My statue of Artemis is made of pure bronze, and while that may sound expensive and toilsome to carry, it's not at all. I believe the statue was a little over $100 when I bought it, and it's not anymore than 5 or 6 pounds, I'm certain. Yet it's heavy enough to not be moved easily, and strong enough to not be broken down by natural weather. Combine this with the natural footings and the protections of a cave, and you have an amazingly strong sanctuary. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
and Blessings to you all, my friends,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Artemis Is Not A Vegetarian, An Abortionist, or A Man-Hater

Some people in the modern Pagan community (though not the norm), are ripe with their own versions of the ancient Gods, which in itself isn't a bad thing. But when they basically create their own Gods and give them ancient names and images, that's when I find myself compelled to say something. One of the most common of these has to do with Artemis. She's one of the most commonly-adopted Deities by Neo-Pagans and Wiccans. While these people are a minority in the community, there are still Pagans who want to start a culture, gender or race war within Paganism. Therefore, being a historical Hellenist and someone who has worshiped and studied Artemis since 2009, I want to set the record straight about the Goddess. These are not opinions, these are facts of religious and cultural Greek history.

Claim #1 - Artemis Is Against Hunting
The argument that Artemis is against hunting or meat eating should, in and of itself, be an obvious ridiculousness from the start. She's the Goddess of the Hunt. The first sentence of the Homeric Hymn to Artemis calls Her the "slayer of stags," and talks about her chasing and striking down the wild beasts. To say that Artemis rebukes hunting or opposes the consumption of game that was killed in ancient times specifically for eating, is a blatant historical falsehood.

Claim #2 - Artemis Supports Abortion
Whatever your views on abortion are, that's not the concern here. Not everyone has the same beliefs on the issue. Some are pro-life, some are pro-choice, and some are moderate; I understand that. But to say that Artemis revels in abortion, is simply not supported by anything other than someone's own personal theory. Artemis is the Goddess of childbirth and the protector of infants and children. She carries no historical epithet that refers to Her as an abortive Goddess whatsoever. She fiercely protected the weak and vulnerable. When Atalanta's father threw Her away at birth, it was Artemis who came and saved Her life. Another manifestation of Artemis is the legendary Artemis of Ephesus, which is a multi-breasted form to symbolize Her as "the Great Mother." The ancient Greek religion, in many cases, took a stance against abortion itself in some of its main cultural declarations. For example, the famous physician's Hippocratic Oath, which swears before "all the Gods and Goddesses" to not give an abortion. People in ancient Greek myth who harmed children were also dealt with very severely by the Gods. A good example would be Lycaon, who dismembered a young boy and tried to offer the remains to Zeus, who was so repulsed and offended that He wiped out the entire Bronze Age of Greece.

The historical fact of the matter is simply that Artemis never possessed a title, epithet or function even remotely similar to abortion. Quite the opposite, actually. 

Claim #3 - Artemis Is A Matriarch Who Hates Men
This idea mainly comes from a misunderstanding about Her refusal to take a husband and the death of Actaeon. While She did not marry, She always remained in recognition of the Supremacy of Zeus, the King of all the Gods. In fact, She sought His permission to remain chaste. She did not take it upon Herself to make the decision without Him. She also never decided that She was going to run everything. Zeus was always Her dear Father and the Ultimate Authority. All of the Gods, male and female, called Zeus the King. It wasn't as if the male Gods weren't expected to revere Zeus. The King was the King because He was King. It's that simple. While women worshipers today can find a great deal of independence in Her Divinity, She does not think of Herself as the ultimate ruler, or that She has a natural right to be at the top of the rule because of her gender, as a Matriarch would. The fallacy that people have here is the idea that one must be a gender-supremacist in order to be free, strong and independent. Nothing could be more untrue. One can be those things without crushing the opposite sex. Artemis is strong, powerful, wise, free and independent, but She doesn't try to usurp Zeus as we would think a Matriarch would, nor does She feel that He is a threat to Her own greatness or Her own rule over Her domains. There is no competition or war. To call Artemis a Matriarch, is to basically call Her a sexist, and the Gods are far above such human pettiness. 

As far as the man-hating label She routinely gets tagged with, this comes from the myth that the hunter Actaeon secretly spied on Artemis naked in the forest, and after She spotted him, turned the hunter into a stag and his hounds attacked and killed him. This probably had a far broader ancient meaning. Artemis didn't like sex, and therefore, did not want to be sexualized, and sexualization in those days was largely portrayed between male and female. But Artemis had and still has many male worshipers who show Her proper respects and don't end up on Her bad side. In fact, I built a sanctuary to Her in my yard and She was one of the main Gods I prayed to for help in saving my son's life when he was born prematurely. I am doing fine and so is my boy. I don't think we need to get so caught up in gender that we make everything about gender or sexism. Why can't we be great together?

Conclusion
There's nothing wrong with having UPG in your own private religious life, but to make it a universal declaration of the religion or the Deity, is quite another matter. In closing on this issue, I think back to something Susan B. Anthony once said. "I distrust those who know so well what God wants, because it's always the same as their own desires."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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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