Honoring Artemis

A friend of mine contacted me yesterday to ask about appropriate ways to honor Artemis.  Rather than respond to her privately, I decided to share my thoughts in case anyone else finds them useful.  Do be aware that while I venerate Artemis regularly, I am not one of Her devotees.  This is the older blog of a devotee/priest(ess) of Artemis that I know and trust, and this is the newer one.  You should also try reading this book and this one, and visit this online shrine for Artemis.

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my shrine for Artemis, December 2016

When I want to get to know any god, the first thing that I do is set up a shrine space (even if it is temporary), make an offering, and pray.  If you have outdoor space, I would consider setting up an outdoor shrine for Artemis.  If not, an indoor shrine is ok, too.  I live in a third floor apartment, so my shrine for Artemis lives on top of a tall bookshelf.  I use a step ladder to climb up to it to make offerings.  An old roommate nicknamed this the “sacred stepladder” as we used it to climb to many of the shrines that I have here.

The shrine can be a very simple affair, and in fact, I suggest that it start out that way.  Shrines have a tendency to grow, so if you start out by purchasing a lot of things, you might get overwhelmed rather easily.  First, clean the surface of the area where you will build the shrine.  If you’re outdoors, it may be as simple as clearing away dirt and leaves from a tree stump or large rock.  If you’re indoors, clean it until it sparkles, or at least whoever is the cleanest person you know would be proud.  Then sprinkle khernips or barley onto the area.  A cloth is not required, though many of us use them.  For Artemis, I tend to choose colors that remind me of the forest, which is usually green or brown.  This book suggests green, and it is a good resource for beginners.  If you own a statue of Artemis, clean and place the statue.  If you don’t, don’t worry.  The right one will appear in your life at some point.  Mine was a gift from a friend who was updating her collection.  In lieu of a statue, you can use a prayer card, a painting, or even a print of a painting.  If you are artistically inclined, consider painting Her yourself.  If your budget is an issue, choose a photograph of a statue or a picture from the public domain and print out a copy.  Frame it so that it stands up, or affix it to the wall behind the surface where you are building the shrine.  Add a candle.  I use tea lights because I like to let them burn out completely, but you can use any candle.  Since I don’t light incense and scent is a big part of offerings to the gods, I tend to use scented candles.  Set out a bowl or a wine glass (or both) to receive the offerings.  If you are outside, you can pour the offering directly onto the shrine or altar.

Next, choose an offering.  This is a gift from you to Artemis, and it should be personal.  What feels right to you?  I’m going to give you a list of things that Artemis has been known to appreciate, but if none of them feel right or if you think She wants something specific from you, please make arrangements to consult a diviner.

Incense/Scented Candles/Essential Oils/Perfume  (You can burn a scent-based offering like a candle or an incense cone or stick, use a diffuser for a perfume or essential oil, or place the oil or perfume in a bowl or on a perfume bloom intended for this purpose.)

Suggested scents are cedar, frankincense, jasmine, and myrtle.

Food

If you are outdoors or have a fireplace, food offerings are ideally burned.  If you cannot burn the offering, place it in the prepared bowl or on another plate and leave it on the shrine for at least a day.

Suggestions are cookies shaped like animals, cupcakes, venison, goat, honey, or rabbit.

Flowers

A bouquet is a lovely gift.  If it is the right time of year where you live, consider collecting wildflowers for Her.  If not, buy white or yellow flowers.  You can burn them, place them in a vase on the shrine, or lay the flowers on the shrine to eventually dry out.

Votive Offerings (Votive offerings are durable and generally miniature icons representing other offerings – they can be made of a precious metal like silver or gold, they can be crafted from wood, or they can be sewn or knit.  These items can be burned immediately or saved on the shrine until you are able to burn them.)

Suggestions include hunting tools like a bow and arrows, a javelin or spear, a trap, a net, any animal sacred to Her, like deer, goats, dogs, or rabbits, or even artificial flowers or miniatures of appropriate food items.  I was recently given a tiny gold pin/brooch shaped like a boomerang.  As a boomerang was originally a hunting tool, I gave this to Artemis.  Also, while decorative, the artificial autumn leaves that you can see in the photo above can also be considered a votive offering.  While not technically a votive, actual hunting tools can be given in offering as well.

Libations (A libation is a beverage offering that is not drunk once it’s been poured out in offering.  If you wish to share some of the beverage, simply do not pour it out in its entirety.  You can pour the libation into the bowl or wine glass that you placed on the shrine earlier.)

Suggestions for libations for Artemis are red fruit juice, red wine, or spring water.

If you have created a space for Artemis (the shrine) and made an offering, the only thing left that is really required is the prayer or hymn.  They differ only slightly in structure, and you can use whichever you prefer.  It is preferable that you write this yourself or speak ex tempore.  There is a basic formula for a Hellenic prayer that you might choose to follow.  With your arms spread out in front of you with your palms up, invoke the god using Their name and any epithets* that you find relevant to the reason why you are calling on this god.  Next, remind the god of anything that you have done for Him or Her in the past – any offerings or sacrifices you’ve made or actions you’ve taken on Their behalf.  Third, if you have a request, this is the time to make it.  If you just want the opportunity to know this god better, ask for that.  This step can be skipped if you don’t need to ask for anything.  Most of the time, you shouldn’t be asking for anything.  Finally, thank the god and sit or stand still for a few moments.  The following is a short and simple example that I am writing right now without editing or forethought to illustrate how simple a prayer can be.

Khaire Artemis, Daughter of Leto
Sister of Apollon, whom I hold most dear,
Remember me, who makes offerings to you three times each month.
I praise your name, your skill, and your independence.
I wish to know you, to whatever degree You deem appropriate.
Please grace me with your presence.
Thank you, Goddess, for your light.

If you do not feel comfortable composing your own hymn or prayer, there are both modern and ancient prayers and hymns that you can use for inspiration, adapt to your purposes, or read aloud in their entirety.  My favorite modern writer of Hellenic prayers is Hearthstone.  You can search for prayers to Artemis by using the search bar on the top right of her blog.  For a more ancient source, you can try Homer.

You can perform this small ritual daily, weekly, monthly, or on your own schedule.  If you decide to do this weekly, I suggest Friday evenings or during the day on Saturdays.  Personally, I make offerings to Artemis at least three times a month, unless I am sick or unfit for some other reason.  I do this on Noumenia, the sixth of the lunar month, and the sixteenth of the lunar month.  Keep in mind that all Hellenic holidays (holy days) begin the evening before the date, so if you want to do this in the evening, do it the evening before the date listed rather than the evening of.  The next Noumenia is February 28th with the sixth falling on March 5th and the sixteenth falling on March 15th.

There are also festivals dedicated to Artemis that you might wish to celebrate.  Festivals are always a better experience if you can find people to share them with, but if you can’t, it is ok to celebrate by yourself.  The next festival dedicated to Artemis is Elaphebolia.  This holiday celebrates Artemis as the goddess of the hunt.  It will be celebrated on March 5 (in 2017 – due to the nature of a lunar calendar, the date changes every year).  If you are a hunter, this is a good time to dedicate that activity to Artemis and perhaps sacrifice a good portion of your prey to Her.  If you do not hunt but are interested in learning about it, taking lessons or some sort of classes (I really know nothing about hunting) would be a good idea.  If you do not hunt and do not wish to, that’s ok.  Not everyone needs to hunt anymore.  You can make cakes or cookies shaped like prey (deer, especially) and offer those to Artemis.

*Epithets – you knew we’d come back to that, didn’t you?  Artemis shares a lot of epithets with Her brother, Apollon.  I’d love it if someone (or many someones) would explore those epithets for the devotional.  Below is a short list of some of the epithets shared by Artemis and Apollon.  Apollon and Artemis have a very special connection, and I’d love it if someone(s) explored some of these epithets in how they relate to both deities.

Apollon Agraíos (Απολλων Ἀγραῖος) and Artemis Agroterê (Αρτεμις Αγροτερη), Hunter, Slayer

Apollon Daphnaios and Artemis Daphnaie, He/She To Whom the Laurel Is Sacred; laurel; of the laurel tree

Apollon Lykeios (Απολλών Λύκειος) and Artemis Lykeie (Αρτεμις Λυκειη), of the Wolf (Wolf-Slayer?); of the Wolves; of the Light (Light Bringer?); Destroyer; Protector from Wolves; Giver of Light; Wolf God; Deliverer from Wolves; Born of Light; Born in Lycia

Apóllon Phósphoros (Απόλλων Φώσφορος) and Artemis Phosphoros (Αρτεμις Φώσφορος), Light-Bearer; Light-Bringer

Apollon Soter (Απόλλων Σώτηρ) and Artemis Soteira (Αρτεμις Σωτειρα), the Savior

Apollon Aristaios and Artemis Ariste, Best

Apollon Patroios (Απόλλων Πατρώος) and Artemis Patroia (Αρτεμις Πατρωια), He/She of the Ancestors; Father; Protector of Families; Protector of the Ionians; of the Fathers; Ancestral

Apollon Latoios and Artemis Letois, Son/Daughter of Leto

Apollon Hekatebolos (Απόλλων Εκατηβόλος) and Artemis Hekatebolos (Αρτεμις Ἑκατηβολος), Who Strikes from  Afar; the Far Shooting; the Shooter from Afar

Apollon Hekaergos (Απόλλων Εκάεργος) and Artemis Hekaerge (Αρτεμις Ἑκαεργε), the Far-Shooting; student of Hekaergus; Working of His Own Free Will (Εχάεργος?); Working from Afar; Keeping Far Away; the One Who Works from Afar

Apollon Prostaterios and Artemis Prostateria, He/She Who Stands Before the Entrance; He/She Who Presides Over and Protects Houses; He/She Who Stands Before the House; Protector; Standing Before; Guardian

Artemis in Sicily

I visited Sicily during the summer of 2015, and it was an incredible experience.  I went alone, and I visited the village where my paternal grandfather’s family is from as well as many temples and sacred places.  I felt at home on this island in a way that I do in very few places.  I cannot wait to return.

In general, the eastern half of the island is more Greek (and also more lush and green), and the western half of the island is more Punic (and has a desert climate).  My family is from the northwest, so that is where I started my trip.  Greek ruins are far more prolific and protected than others on the island, and there are remnants of temples in the west as well as in the east.

Sicily is often called Persephone’s Island, but it is also sacred to Athena and Artemis.  When I visited Ortygia (an island connected to Syracusa by bridges), I found this to be truer than I had imagined.  The cathedral there is built not only on top of but also incorporating parts of a temple of Athena.  The walls of the cathedral were built into the columns of the temple.

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Duomo di Siracusa (dedicated to St. Lucy) – photo by me, August 2015

 

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inside walls of Duomo di Siracusa showing columns from the original Temple of Athena, photo by me, August 2015

Sicily is said to be sacred to these three goddesses because it is where They spent Their youths.  The three goddesses picked flowers to weave into a robe of spring for Zeus, and because of the time the goddesses spent together there, the island became sacred to them.  Each goddess was given a portion of the island as Her own.  The area of Himera (east of Palermo and west of Cefalu) is sacred to Athena, but I will have to make sure to visit this place on my next trip.  I ran out of time and missed the area of the coast between Catania and Palermo (the whole northeastern cape).

Syracusa, including Ortygia, is the area of the island sacred to Artemis, and when you visit, it is still obvious.  There is a beautiful fountain dedicated to Artemis on Ortygia.

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Artemis Fountain, Ortygia, photo by me, August 2015

In addition to this somewhat modern fountain, there is also the fountain of Arethusa that is sacred to Artemis.  The fish in this fountain are sacred to Artemis and not to be touched.  The story behind this fountain is that the nymph Arethusa went underground to escape an unwanted suitor (Alpheios) and traveled under the ground and under the sea until she came up on Ortygia.  She prayed to Artemis for help and was turned, by the goddess, into this fresh water spring.  Alpheios, however, was undeterred, and he went to her and mixed His salt water with her fresh water.

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Fonte Aretusa, Ortygia, taken by me, August 2015

I went swimming off the coast of Ortygia, and when I got back onto the boat, the driver of the boat asked me how the water was.  When I told him that it was cold but that every so often there would be a warm spot, he told me that the warm spots are Arethusa’s fresh water traveling to the fountain.

The final location that I want to show you from Artemis’s region is not actually on Ortygia but on the outskirts of Syracusa.  It is the Fiume Ciane, or the Cyane River.  After watching Persphone be abducted by Hades, the naiad Kyane was so distraught that she dissolved away and merged with her river.  This river is now a nature preserve because on its banks grow the only wild papyrus outside of Egypt.

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Fiume Ciane, Syracusa, taken by me, August 2015

I hope you enjoyed today’s trip to Syracusa.  I spent three days there, which was a long time for me to stay in one place on my trip.  There is so much more to see there and on the rest of the island of Sicily as well.  The gods are clearly remembered even if the population is predominantly Catholic.  Walking there is like living history and living in the footsteps of the gods.  The only other place I’ve ever been with a similar feeling is Iceland, but those are different gods for a different day.  Good night!

Deadline Extended – He Who Rules with Honey

I initially thought of this concept for a devotional several years before I put out the call for submissions.  I had never seen a devotional structured in this way, and it seemed like a really interesting way to both organize devotional material and to learn more about a god.  I knew, of course, that my first devotional would be for Apollon.  It was just a matter of when I’d build up the courage to take on a project like this.

I still think this devotional is a good idea.  I’ve gotten some absolutely gorgeous submissions of artwork, poetry, and prayers for Apollon.  I’ve learned something about Him from many of you.  I’ve also done quite a bit of writing myself – some good and some, well, you won’t see it.  I am completely aware that this is not a book I could write myself.  I don’t think any of us could, or if we did, we would not be able to do it well.  Apollon is so multifaceted that it just is not possible for any single devotee to know Him in all the ways that He exists.  One of us could write about Him personally and then do a lot of academic research, sure, but I don’t think such a volume would contain the spark of ecstasy that can be seen when many different devotees share what they know of Him in so many different ways.

I want this book to happen.  I have decided to extend the deadline until August 5, 2017.  That gives us all six months to write more, paint more, draw more, photograph more, teach more, and learn more.  Together, we can do this.

Please e-mail submissions to pythiomelissa at gmail dot com.  I am looking for artwork (please consider that print editions of the book will be in black and white, though one piece of art or photography will be chosen for the cover, and that will be in color), prayers, poetry, re-imagined/retellings of myths, essays about personal experiences, academic papers, investigations into the origins of epithets, investigations into epithets shared with other gods, investigations into the praxis of the worship of Apollon under a particular epithet, photography of statues or temples, and anything else that you can think of.

You may submit more than one piece.  You may submit pieces for more than one epithet.  If you would like an epithet assigned to you, please e-mail me.

The epithets that have received submissions are listed below.  As you can see, this list is not broad enough at this point.  Apollon has well over 100 epithets, and I won’t feel comfortable publishing this book until we can cover at least half of them.  Do not let this list intimidate you – if you’ve been working on something for one of the epithets listed, please still submit it.  If you’ve been working on a piece for an epithet not listed, then I especially want to see it.  Together, I think we can create a volume to truly honor Apollon in His many shapes and forms.

  • Agyieus
  • Akesios
  • Agyrotoxos
  • Alexikakos
  • Astybeliktos
  • Belenos
  • Delphios
  • Erythibios
  • Hyperboreos
  • Karneios
  • Klarios
  • Lykeios
  • Mantikos
  • Nomios
  • Noumenios
  • Phoibos
  • Pythios