Friday, March 9, 2012


Artemis (Diana to the Romans) - goddess of hunters and wild things, childbirth, crossroads, and sometimes the moon.  She is the sixth most popular deity on my highly scientific poll (just scroll down and look to the right to vote).  She has also taken on new life recently in the Wiccan beliefs.  I'm not well versed in Wicca, but I'm sure that some of my readers can explain her role in a comment to this post.

I find it very interesting that she is a childbirth goddess since she never had children.  Despite this, many females in Greek and Roman times spent quite a bit of time worshiping her.  She was fiercely protective of her virginity and if you happened to say, look in the wrong direction, or try to deflower her, you would be lucky if she used one of her Hephaestus-special arrows to strike you down.  don't believe me?  Just ask Actaeon.  Oh yeah, you can't.  He's dead.

She's so serious about her virginity that she only hangs out with virgins and even asked her father (Zeus) for eternal virginity.  She was three at the time.  Some stories say that Orion tried to rape her and she created Scorpio to kill him.  That's why you'll never see Orion and Scorpio constellations in the sky at the same time.  Orion is still running from him even in death.

There's another story involving Orion.  This one says that Artemis and Orion fell in love.  She was spending too much time with him, so Apollo tricked her with an archery contest.  They kept picking targets farther and farther away until Apollo picked Orion swimming about a mile away.   Artemis did not know it was a person she was shooting at much less her beloved, so she let loose an arrow and killed him instantly.

Niobe bragged to Artemis' mother, Leto, about having more children than Leto did.  Leto complained to her children so Apollo went out and shot all of Niobe's sons and Artemis shot all the daughters.  You would think people would have learned to stop bragging to gods and such, but well...

Agamemnon ticked her off by killing a deer in a place sacred to her.  She punished him by stopping the winds from blowing when he wanted to sail off and attack Troy.  In order to get favorable winds, she said he woudl have to sacrifice his daughter.  Agamemnon, being a great dad and all, refused.  So... wait a minute...  Scratch that.  Agamemnon, being a dead beat dad, killed her and got the wind he needed to go play with the Trojans.

In Sparta, they held a festival in her honor.  Cheese would be placed on the altar and young boys would try to sneak up and steal the cheese.  When they did so, they would get whipped. Nobody knows why anymore and for some strange reason, we don't still celebrate it.  What a shame.  Sounds like fun (of course speaking from the adult side, and not young whipped boy side).

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