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.
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.
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.
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