Artemis is the Greek Goddess of the hunt and of the moon. She is also one of the twelve Olympians. Known as Diana to the Romans, she is the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin of Apollo. She is often depicted with one of her hounds, a stag, or a bow and arrow. Although she is a huntress, she is also a protector of animals. She is often shown with a crescent moon over her brow and identified with the Greek Moon Goddess, Selene.
Artemis was born on the island of Ortygia, and almost immediately after her birth, she helped her mother to cross the straits over to Delos, where she then delivered Apollo. Thus, she began her role as guardian of young children and patron of women in childbirth. She was the protectress of women in labor, but it was said that the arrows of Artemis brought them sudden death while giving birth. Artemis was a divinity of healing, like her brother.
At an early age, Artemis asked her father to grant her eternal virginity. She asked that all her companions were virgins. Artemis was very protective of her purity, and gave grave punishment to any man who attempted to dishonor her in any form. While out hunting, Actaeon accidentally came upon Artemis and her nymphs bathing naked in a pool of water. Stunned, Actaeon stopped and gazed at them. Artemis saw him ogling them. And in her anger, she transformed him into a stag and set his own hounds upon him. They killed him, thinking he was just another stag. It is said that Orion, a giant and a great hunter, tried to rape the virgin goddess, so killed him with her bow and arrows. He then became a constellation. Artemis was enraged when one of her nymphs, Callisto, allowed Zeus to seduce her. The young nymph was unwittingly tricked when Zues came to her in disguise. She gave birth to Arcas, the ancestor of the Arcadians, Artemis showed no mercy and transformed her into a bear who she then shot and killed. As Orion, she was sent up to the heavens, and became the the Great Bear constellation (also known as the Plough).
Modern Artemis worshipers connect her highly to the woods. More than Pan, she has become a deity of wooded areas. Certain worshipers regard her as the goddess of Appalachia, a mountainous region in the eastern United States.
However most laypeople don't hunt, and some aren't close enough to the woods for this to be an immersive part of their practice. If you live in a suburban area, urban area, or just somewhere with less trees, you can worship this goddess through:
- Libations (offerings of wine or water poured out)
- Volunteer for wildlife organizations, humane societies, parks, and animal preserves
- Help clean up pollution or trash
- Support, honor, and protect mothers and young girls