Family Deities: Artemis

Thanks for joining us for another Families’ Deity! We’re exploring deities that tie into families and family values, or who are important to the family unit or children in some way.

Can you believe we’ve done a whole alphabet’s worth of deities associated with families or children? You can go right back to the start and read about Apollo here, or you can watch our video about him here.

This month, we are exploring the unparalleled god, Artemis.

Now we’re back at the letter “A”, and this time we’re talking about Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt. This creates a nice synergy within our series, as Artemis is actually Apollo’s twin, and they are both children of Zeus and the Titan Leto.

The Artemis of Ephesus, 2nd century AD (Ephesus Archaeological Museum) by Blcksprt via Wikimedia Commons, shared with permission under this license

Who is Artemis?

Artemis is classed as an Olympian deity, one of 12 who lives on Mount Olympus. However, Artemis wasn’t solely worshipped by the Ancient Greeks, as many people assume. The Lydians, an ancient people who lived in what is now Turkey, also worshipped Artemis or Artimus, as did the people of Ephesus before them. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and though it was destroyed in 262 CE (common era), the site still exists near the Turkish town of Selçuk. Artemis of Ephesus is even mentioned in the bible.

Later, the Romans worshipped Diana, whose origins and mythology match those of Artemis almost exactly.

Artemis is a hunter and Goddess of hunting, and as such linked to animals, forests, and nature.

Why is Artemis associated with families?

Artemis is heavily associated with fertility and children, even in Her earliest incarnations in Ephesus. Like Apollo, She claims the epithet kourotrophos, which means nurturer or protector of children. Artemis is linked to healing, midwifery, and childbirth, but in Her mythology, never marries or takes a partner herself.

Artemis is also a very complex Goddess. Her stories include outbursts of great temper, including causing pain or even death to those who break vows to Her or anger Her in some way. One tale tells of a hunter who dared look upon Her while She was bathing in the woods. She transformed him into a deer and his hunting dogs ate him. Yet She is also seen to show mercy, especially to children, and provides aid and support to those She sides with.

Honouring Artemis

Artemis is still honoured and worshipped to this day. Organizations are named after Her, including Children of Artemis, a modern witchcraft, Wicca, and pagan community. Excitingly, the new NASA project to go back to the moon is called Artemis 1, the twin of the Apollo missions that started back in the 1960s.

Modern Hellenic practice (Hellenic simply meaning Greek or Greek-inspired) sometimes involves honouring deities by working towards goals that are associated with them in some way. For Artemis, this could mean volunteering for a charity or organisation that helps nature, such as those involved with the protection of woodlands and forests, or other types of conservation.

Artemis encourages you to honour yourself – as a hunter and patron of hunters, She is the goddess of going for what you want, while protecting those around you including your family, chosen family, and friends.

Artemis Correspondences

Deer (both does and stags)

Bow and arrows
Knives, especially hunting knives
Lyre (a stringed musical instrument similar to a small harp)

Astrological imagery – the Ephesian Artemis has the Zodiac across her chest
The cypress tree
Forest or woodland scenes
The moon, particularly the crescent moon

Bookmark our blog to follow our series on Families’ deities and share your own experiences or insights into Artemis on our Children and Families Facebook group!