sacred menstruation

Artemis: Goddess of the Woods by daughter, Jessica

Gate Five
Sound Chakra


Chant to Artemis

Original Chant created by CathyMoon

This candle I dedicate to thee

Light the way so I might see

Your presence I do call

Mother, nurturer to us all

Hail Goddess Artemis


I dream of leaving the city one day to live a solitary life in cabin, in the woods.  I hunger for silence, for enough quite to hear the music of the birds.  I long for the scent of wet leaves, that brush across my skin and open my pores to misty green air.  I want to feel the dark fertile ground beneath my feet and live in harmony with the natural world.  

I imagine that I would live simply.  I would grow a garden.  The dirt underneath my fingernails would fall into the cracks of my keyboard as I poured out my inspirations upon paper and piano--both creations of the wood the Goddess rules. 

I hunger for privacy, for a sacred place to listen deeply to the seasons, for time to know in my bones the wisdom of the wind and the fierceness of the crow.  

I ache for space to rest when my moon cycle appears.  To swap secrets with women who demand time to self care and grow wise together.  

I long to establish myself in life independent from a man.  I want to discover my own strength. I want to know how to stand on my own two feet, not just hanging at his side or constantly cheering for his success (and hoping some of it trickles back to me someday).  I want to sharpen my own skills and figure out how to kick ass at being me.  

The wild feminine calls women to discover the power of their own nature in a realm apart from the world of men.  This is the energy of the Goddess Artemis.

Artemis is one of the most famous of all the Greek Goddesses.  At times she is also personified as Mother Earth or Gaia herself.  She rules over three essential phases in a woman's life and guides young girls through vital transitions.  Artemis is the Goddess of virginity, menstruation and childbirth.

Artemis is the eternal virgin.  As a virgin, the Goddess is one in herself.  No one else completes her.  As a young girl Artemis asked her father Zeus for this gift, and to rule over the natural fields, mountains and woods beyond the city.  She doesn't want a man, she doesn't need one. She penetrates the world just fine with her swift arrows.  As Artemis can be cold towards men, she can be cold in general to humans as she prefers her solitude in nature to their constant drama.

Imagine little girls 5-10 years old dressings up like bears and dancing wildly in the temple of Artemis. Young girls participated in these celebrations "to get the wild out" before settling down in marriage.  

Before a marriage, young women gifted their chastity belts to Artemis.  Girls would also offer their beloved childhood toys and blankets to the Goddess before their first sexual encounter as a recognition that they were leaving the Goddess' virginal realm as they entered marriage (ruled by the Goddess Hera).

Legends say that after Artemis was born, she helped her mother, Leto give birth to her twin brother, Apollo. For this reason, Artemis is also the tender midwife who helps women through the wild journey of childbirth.

Artemis enjoys her solitude and her single life.  Her creative introverted energy is often found in women writers, painters, and poets.  Her powerful hunting and defending aspects are found in many female athletes, ecologists, feminists, and lesbians.  You won't find Artemis at the center of politics, or maneuvering upon the world stage-- there you would find instead her counterpart, the more extroverted strategist, Athena.  

As an interior wild Goddess, Artemis rules over menstruation, and the sacred solitude that women need throughout their lives to reconnect with their own inner wisdom and natural rhythms.

Artemis reminds us (as did Hecate) that the Goddess has a dark side.  In a jealous rage Artemis slaughtered the daughters of a woman who dared to boast she had more children than her mother, Leto.  The Goddess is paradoxical in her nature (as is God in the Old and New Testaments) as she mothers new born infants, young girls and small animals, and she also hunts game and she kills her favorite male companion, Orion.  

The story of Artemis and Orion may reveal to to us an ancient violation of feminine power. The two became great friends and hunting companions.  Apollo her brother grew jealous of the two (after a tryst with Orion) and suspicious that Orion had tempted his sister away from her eternal chastity.  He sent a scorpion to chase Orion to the sea  and then told Artemis that one of her beloved nymphs had been raped.  When Artemis vowed to slay the attacker, Apollo pointed to Orion fleeing from the scorpion in the sea.  Artemis swiftly directs her arrows towards Orion and kills him.  Artemis rushes off to comfort her nymph and then discovers the truth.  Her brother lied to her and betrayed her and caused her to kill her friend. Grief stricken, the Goddess finds Orion's body and tries everything she knows to revive him.  When all is lost, she sets him in the stars, with the scorpion at his feet.  

Apollo is the beloved light bearer, the dashing intellect who can rapt us all with his wit and charm. As much as Artemis is all wild instinct, her brother Apollo is all in his head (and all in his ego).  He uses his divine powers to sever the Goddess from her joy out of his deep insecurity.  We see this in action today wherever our intelligence or our collective common senses are co-opted to serve that which destroys the earth, our innocence, our children and ultimately our love.  There are many crafty insecure ones in the world who use their power to incite drama, betraying even their own family members to grasp for power they can't ever seem to posses without the integration of the instincts and the wildness of love.  

This ancient betrayal lives on today in the severing that our culture has done in keeping women from sharing in sacred menstruation, the medical industry's unnecessarily over-controlling of the birthing process (sterilized healthcare vs. wild women's instinctual wisdom, the demonizing of midwifes in ages past...), pollution of the natural world, and societies where women's rites of passages have been forgotten and little girls have lost the safe spaces of childhood by being raped or forced to to grow up too fast and marry too young.

A vulnerable aspect of the masculine fears the fact that this Goddess does not need him. (How many feminists must justify:  "I don't hate men...I just want equality..."?) I think many men work so hard in order to feel valued.  I'm guessing that there is an essential aspect of the masculine psyche that needs to be needed.  And it's this deep vulnerability within all of us that keeps us cutting ourselves off from our beloved-- We are so insecure that we don't really trust the beloved or the solitude and companionship that our beloved is calling us to.  Like Artemis, we swiftly kill before seeking out all sides of the story.  We betray our beloved because we are unwilling to behold the true heart of love and our own bruised egos.  

In another variation of the story, Orion is walking with Artemis through the woods when he boasts, "Someday I will kill every living thing."  The tale goes one of two ways, either Artemis kills him or Gaia herself sends a scorpion to kill him. Both versions of the story reveal a violation the sacred private feminine realm by the masculine who is often willing to destroy life at any cost.   

At the same time, we know the dark side of the Goddess and we fear her swift (sometimes irrational) wrath.  We long for the beautiful and gentle mothering aspects of the Goddess and dread her cold silent treatment shadows.  But Mother Nature will not allow us to cut her in two and take the parts of Her we like and throw away the parts we don't.  The Goddess asks us to behold all of her children, to see the light and the dark of all of Her creation and to pursue Her sacred symmetry and discover how it all fits together into Her one sacred creation.  

The grief of Artemis reminds us how we have all participated in betraying the Goddesses' realms of earth, birth, childhood, and the sacredness of women's blood.  This feminine wound is why at times the Goddess lashes out with her arrows in irrational vengeance.  But her passion calls us to remember the ways of our wild instinctual soul and to honor her realms again.  Her strength teaches us the impenetrable safety of the womb and a seed before life blooms.  She protects the vulnerable before their time has come.  Artemis touches our hearts with her innocence. And this is a gift that we do not need to grasp for with power and manipulation.  Innocence is gifted to those who live in right relationship to the truth about their mistakes and act with compassion towards their own tender shoots.