Goddess of the hunt, lady of the wild beasts. Seek her in the mountains, the forests, the marshes; find her with a band of huntresses, young nymphs and maidens who happily forgo tradition in favor of the danger and freedom of the wild. At a time where women had very little control over their own lives, Artemis represented female empowerment and autonomy, encouraging girls to find and follow that which calls to them.
First born and minutes old, Artemis turned to her mother and helped deliver her twin, Apollo, discovering a natural talent in the process. Though she chose to never have children herself, Artemis became protectress of infants and young girls. While the goddesses Hera and Eileithyia appear during childbirth to watch over your mother, Artemis is there for you, drawing you into the world safely, sizing you up, passing her hand over your brow.
The cyclical nature of the goddess is natural, familiar: birth, maidenhood, death. As a girl, I felt a strong connection to Artemis in particular. I imagine little girls long ago felt this way, though no one dared put a pen in their hands to immortalize their thoughts. These girls honored the patron of maidens as protectress, and I thought perhaps she might accept me too.
A huntress is a self sufficient woman. A huntress can feed herself, fend for herself. She surrounds herself with trustworthy and capable women. She maintains a deep respect for her environment, and though she hunts the wilderness, she protects it, shows it kindness, and her impact is sustainable. She pays no attention to the unblinking eyes that scrutinize her from not far off. She draws her arrow and lets it fly, cool as a breath over a frozen lake.
A huntress doesn’t marry or have children, and she participates in traditionally masculine-coded activities. None of this makes her any less of a woman, just as marrying or having children doesn’t make one more. My feminism was born here, when I realized there is no right way to be a woman. We are not a homogenous group, and we do not all follow the same path.
Being a huntress, to me, means freedom, it means subverting traditional roles and forging a path that is shaped like you. Artemis knew who she was when she was a little maid on her father’s lap. I did not, but here I am still, choosing day by day what is right for me. I flourish in this wild precariousness, and I am grateful to rely on the brilliant women I surround myself with.
Turn to Artemis under the full moon, when the air is alive, humming with feminine energy. Draw your strength from the goddess, from yourself, and from your huntresses—we are stronger together.
Women have watched the patriarchal structures built. We will watch as those columns crumble and fall. We will become that which we sought to protect. We are torrential waterfalls and wildfire, unwavering, raging, laughing, dancing with dryads in abandoned places of worship. We choose the kind of women we want to be, and above all, we protect each other’s rights to do the same.