The Goddess of the Hunt

Divinatory Meaning

    Artemis -- Reversed
  • Focusing exclusively on survival needs
  • Inability to handle practical or mundane details
  • Opposites in conflict
  • Dependence on others
  • Unhealthy isolation

When you draw Artemis in a reading:

Consider how you deal with responsibility. Are there any areas of your life for which you have not taken responsibility? Are there any responsibilities you've taken on which aren't yours? True independence arises from willingness to take responsibility for your actions and your needs, regardless of what others around you are doing. Artemis upright indicates that you have achieved a balance between your responsibilities to others and your responsibilities to yourself. When you see Artemis reversed, consider how your needs are being met. What can you realistically do for yourself? What must you depend on others to do for you? What areas of your life might you have relinquished responsibility for?

Artemis was the Huntress, described by Homer as "she whose pleasure is in arrows." Also called Lady of the Beasts, she is the goddess of untamed nature. Artemis was also a virgin: a woman who retains complete control of her sexuality and remains independent of male authority. The original meaning of the Greek word that we translate as "virgin" (parthenos) was "unmarried" and carried no connotations of chastity.

Artemis' independence is the source of her power, and many of the other Olympians found her wildness unnerving. She is best known for her execution of Actaeon, the hunter who was said to have surprised her while she was bathing in the forest. Artemis turned Actaeon into a deer, and caused him to be torn apart by his own hounds. (Some versions of this myth state that Actaeon was not merely a peeping tom, but that he approached the goddess with the intention of raping her.)

Artemis was not always hostile to male company: she often hunted with her brother, Apollo, and with the mortal Orion, who is said, in some of the oldest stories, to have been her lover as well as her hunting companion. Artemis did not avoid men; she simply chose not to bind herself to any particular man, preferring to remain independent of male authority.

Artemis is often portrayed as a woman with masculine attributes: her softer side is not often discussed. According to Homer, however, this forest goddess returns to Apollo's house, arranges a chorus of Muses and Graces, dresses herself beautifully, and dances. Because Artemis exists outside both the masculine and feminine realms, she is free to move between then. Artemis demonstrates the ability to reconcile the hard with the soft, the light with the dar, the physical with the spiritual.

The crescent moon is associated with the arc of the drawn bow, representing Artemis in her huntress aspect and that part of the psyche which refuses to be tamed.

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