I see Her there, seated upon the exposed root of a great and aged tree, its leaves turning the colors of blood and fire. She is in Her element, upon Her throne, a visage of civilization still apparent, yet noticeably porous; the act during the feast.
Her host, Her court, all make wide circles within their crowded space, trying to come ever closer to Her, but She is the distance between the stars, and none can traverse the few steps separating them from Her.
In that area, Her Son stands vigil, staring the crowd into submission. He will not allow any to draw near, and delights in the power to instill fear within those who love Her.
She laughs, having been brought to joy by the appearance of Her Daughter, wild and freely dancing with the forest nymphs. They circle Her, and the great tree with hands clasped together.
And Her Son turns to look upon them all, to smile in that sincere way that would cause a mortal heart to stop. And His Sister dares Him with Her haughty eyes.
With one graceful wave of Her delicate arm, the Mother, the Enthroned One, compels the crowd to stillness, while simultaneously inviting Her Son to rule the dance.
And when He takes up His lyre, the forest falls into silence. When He plucks the strings, all the nymphs and spirits swoon. When His voice carries over the tree canopy, all those gathered are entranced.
And She, upon Her throne, is pleased; served sweet water by the creatures of the forest, while nymphs adorn Her golden hair with night-blooming flowers, each as white as the snows which soon will fall.
This is the court of the Dark Mother, this is the feast of the wild things which dwell in the night. This is the host which follows Her over the threshold between Seasons. And this is the stark beauty of life.
Hail to You, Leto, Glorious Mother, and Mistress of Winter’s long nights.
— Columbine [Aegletia, Day 4]
I have to be honest. Artemis terrifies me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really tried to have a relationship with Her and I feel like that may cause Her to dislike me. I know that She looks at me harshly sometimes, but that’s on me. There are many things which I could improve upon just to satisfy Her Brother more, and She knows that, and probably would rather I change my behavior than continue on not doing what I should to please Him. But that’s only one possible reason.
In my youth, I spent a lot of time with Hekate, but none at all with Artemis. I know that many of Their attributes intersect, and I wonder if the things I could have been learning from Artemis at that time were actually being taught by Hekate. It could be, though I do recall having sort of a passing interest in Her, that was due mainly to the general Pagan scene in my area, which was very much rooted in Goddess Spirituality. Artemis was always very popular in those communities. However, it never really went anywhere. I probably just didn’t know enough about the authentic Artemis for Her to be interested, especially since I was so thoroughly steered away from Reconstructionism at the time.
[I am not a Reconstructionist now, by the way, and I never have been. But, if I had not been so put off by the (probably exaggerated) stories I’d heard from other Pagans, it probably wouldn’t have taken so long for me to find my way to Polytheism.]
But what excuse do I have now? Well, none actually. I get a little shaky and apprehensive when I acknowledge that fact, because it means I have to do something to initiate and maintain a relationship with Her. And She’s still terrifying, but you know, when it comes right down to it, all the Gods and Goddesses are terrifying. So, what exactly is it that keeps me from delving into Her lore as readily as I delved into Apollon’s, or Dionysos’, or Zeus’?
I don’t have an answer yet for that. When I remember my younger years, especially those before I became a teenager, I can clearly see similarities between myself and Her. I was wild thing, at least in my own mind. I had a very strict mother, who didn’t put up with many of the things my sister had gotten away with before me. But deep in my heart, I felt more like some beast living its life free in the mountains. Oh, how I wanted to live a life like that! To be alone, and to roam one’s habitat without any expectation other than that of survival…
Of course, looking back on it from the perspective of an adult, I can see how terribly naive I was. I wouldn’t have lasted an hour, let alone a day, trying to subsist by myself in any fashion, anywhere. And indeed, Artemis is not alone. She may be free, She may be Her own Person, She may never, ever have to depend upon Anyone, but She is far from alone. And I doubt She would even want to be.
All of this is what’s been churning in my mind today, as we welcome Artemis into our homes for the third day of Aegletia. I know She has arrived here, because I very much feel like these thoughts were not instigated by me. Up until I awoke this morning, I hadn’t given all that much thought on how I would personally try to relate to Her today.
Certainly I’d devised some activities to share with my daughter, but that’s about as far as it went. There were no elaborate offerings planned, just some nice words and a quick prayer as I crawled out of bed. There was no desire for meditating on Her nature, because as I’ve said before, She’s terrifying, and She’d already been too close for comfort by having haunted my dreams last night. But, that could never be enough, could it? No. I don’t think so.
And that is why I have written the following brief prayer to show Her honor. Though I doubt I will have any kind of deep interaction with Her in the near future, what with my wimpiness when it comes to Her energy, I can begin to scratch at the surface of things unsaid, and things undone.
Brave Artemis, who did not shy away, even as the pangs of childbirth swept over Her Mother, I honor You, who with deft hands only just born, delivered the Light of the World into the world.
Confident Artemis, so sure of Her prowess, who did ask Her Father to sanction Her enviable freedom, I honor You, who roams the wild woman spaces, collecting the free maidens and keeping them free.
Loyal Artemis, who loves Her Brother beyond knowing, I honor you, who by some versions released the arrow which pierced the heart of unfaithful Koronis, thus protecting the Bright One’s honor.
Fierce Artemis, who, along with Her Brother, destroyed an entire clan for their offensive insult toward Their Mother, I honor you and the drive to mete out justice.
Artemis, I thank you for all that you do to keep the Cosmic Order. I thank you for the strength that you provide to women in need; all those who seek for your guidance. I thank you for the protection of the young, those like my own child, who know you well. And I thank you kindly for the light which you reflect, that of your dear Brother, shining magnificently upon this world.
Hail to you, Beloved Artemis! Hail and Praise!
— Columbine [Aegletia, Day 3]