This series of articles is about the female archetypes as Jean Shinoda Bolen described them through goddesses from Greek mythology. Each goddess represents a character structure with good qualities and pitfalls, its own shadow aspects and its own potential for personal growth. This time: Artemis
‘Who is not touched by pain’
The Artemis archetype is the archetypal pattern of the strong woman who struggles through all difficulties. The goddess Artemis was a hunter and warrior as well as a midwife. This remarkable pattern endows a woman with the quality of being both a fighter and a protector of life.
Women who are influenced by the Artemis archtype are often idealistic and have a high regard for nature and animal protection. In the time when man still lived in nature, Artemis must have been an important archetype. Artemis’ versatility, survival instinct, tendency to push boundaries, mental acuity and lack of self-pity have been very important to women.
The pattern of life
In mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and the goddess of the hunt. Artemis roamed the woods in the company of nymphs. She was the patroness of the wild animals and the newborns. Women who are passionate about horse riding, sports, travel, scouting and nature walks are influenced by the Artemis archetype.
Artemis prompts a woman to explore and push her boundaries. When a woman goes backpacking for a year, or quits her job to travel or set up an initiative in a developing country, you know Artemis is working.
An Artemis woman has a strong focus and a very clear idea of what she wants. In addition, she is very ambitious to achieve that goal and has a clear own vision about how she wants to approach it. The Artemis archetype gives a woman the drive, decisiveness and focus to push boundaries, undertake and set up new things, pioneer and break taboos.
She is not afraid to make herself unpopular and many Artemis women are on the frontline of social developments. They are therefore very progressive and often ahead of the crowd. Her urge to manifest is not so much aimed at a business or commercial success, but at realizing something that improves society or from which she personally gets a lot of satisfaction.
She needs adventure and variety, exercise and close contact with other women. Artemis females can roam all their lives. They don’t need a fixed base, are flexible and routine is not for them. They can devote their lives to a project and they don’t mind if it doesn’t make them rich or if they have to go abroad for it.
They can also be entrepreneurs and stand out because of their daring, originality and vision. A woman often retains her Artemis traits throughout her life. Feeling ageless, she doesn’t feel too old to go backpacking, start a startup, or go mountain hiking at 70 . Getting rickety is a drama for her.
How is the archetype activated?
The Artemis archetype is most active in a woman’s young adult years. Artemis is in my opinion the ‘ gap year’archetype. Between the life stages of a girl and mother and/or working woman is often a period of doing new things and having fun before the responsibilities begin. For example, many recent graduates travel for a year.
While it may seem superficially like just having fun, this is an important stage for a woman: she learns to define and pursue her passion, she learns to take responsibility for the choices she makes, she learns on her own to fall back and she learns the potential and the limits of her own strength. It is important for a woman to find and develop the ‘focus’ in her consciousness before the nurturing phase, when partner and children constantly want her attention. It will help her not to lose herself in motherhood.
In patriarchal cultures, this archetype has almost completely disappeared from the consciousness of women. Women married ‘from home’. As a result, women passed from one dependent relationship (child/daughter) to the next (subordinate wife). As a result, for centuries women grew up who had never learned to choose for themselves and bear the consequences of their actions.
Today, almost every woman sooner or later has to deal with this archetype, for example because she starts studying and living in rooms, or travels. Or when she lives alone in between relationships for a while and thus forms her autonomy and learns to determine what she herself wants.
The wild woman
An Artemis woman is a nature person. She loves nature intensely and is receptive to unity experiences in nature. In her worldview, man is not the crowning glory of creation but a part of it, not superior to other life forms. This natural spirituality forms its soft side and counterbalances its competitive qualities.
An Artemis woman likes hiking in nature, survival, camping back-to-basics and that sort of thing. She feels related to wild animals in the sense that they are free to go their own way. An Artemis woman, despite her love for animals, is not sentimental and accepts the ‘eat or be eaten’ aspect of nature completely.
An Artemis woman can be happy in a bizarre way when she has to survive in the wild. The rougher it gets, the better she likes it. Artemis can also suddenly reappear when on holiday ‘the switch is turned’ and women enjoy doing mountain trekking , going camping or going on survival trips.
Things they shouldn’t think about in daily life suddenly become a challenge. These experiences often serve as a kind of back-up to survive difficult times (‘if I can cross a 4500 m mountain pass with a full pack, I’m sure I will survive that bankruptcy too’). That is the power of Artemis and the Wild Woman: to know that you will always be able to maintain yourself.
Driven and competitive
Artemis women focus on their pursuits with a focus we associate with men rather than women. She is a hunting goddess for a reason: she sets her target with deadly precision and knows how to hit it flawlessly. So goal orientation is definitely not an exclusively male trait! For a woman, Artemis women are remarkably competitive. They are also sporty in this: they grant others their success and accept it if someone is their superior in any field as long as the battle was fair.
Artemis women stand out because they compete with men in sports. Where other women would think ‘a woman wouldn’t do that’ or let a man win to spare his ego, an Artemis woman wouldn’t shy away from throwing a man off the field if she’s the better one. ‘Participating is more important than winning’ is not for an Artemis woman. If you don’t want to win, you might as well not.
The archetype of the women’s movement
The women’s movement in the 1970s had a strong Artemis stamp. Women strove for autonomy (boss in their own belly), economic independence and sisterhood. It seems paradoxical that women with so many yang qualities tend to lean towards feminism, but in fact it is very logical: women with a highly developed yang side are hit hardest by the restrictions that a patriarchal culture imposes on women. They were therefore the first to oppose it. Despite (or perhaps because of) these yang qualities, Artemis women stand proudly behind their womanhood.
Artemis women are very sisterly. They support other women through thick and thin and feel solidarity with them. They will never put a woman down, gossip about her behind her back, or openly bitch about her. They have close, long-lasting friendships with other women and are also collegial and cooperative with other women in the workplace.
Although Artemis women are competitive, they can credit others for their success, unlike some competitive men who feel passed over when someone else is allowed to take the penalty. An Artemis woman links the masculine quality of the urge to score with the female awareness of being part of a larger whole and can therefore let her urge to score contribute to the collective.
Because of her yang qualities, an Artemis woman has a strongly dualistic, divisive, almost masculine way of looking at the world. Where most women will look for the similarities, an Artemis woman highlights the differences. It’s either this or that.
She likes to know everyone’s opinion and point out the differences in an issue so that she knows what the playing field looks like. The way she manages for that clarity can make others feel rather raw. She can ask for someone’s opinion right off the bat, where others will do so much more cautiously. She often has a strong opinion herself and is not afraid to express it.
An Artemis woman is hermaphroditic. She doesn’t understand gender roles. The feminist movement was initially skeptical about gender differences, believing that they were solely the result of upbringing. I think that had everything to do with the androgynous slant of the Artemis women who were leaders in it. Gender neutrality makes her feel calm. She’s not even asexual per se, but she often just doesn’t need it that much.
She has such a strong balance between yin and yang in her psyche that she is quite inert outwardly. The goddess Artemis was particularly proud and often perceived male attention as a violation of her dignity. An Artemis female can react quite aggressively to male advances and the line between attention and pushiness is thin with her.
She doesn’t see her masculine qualities as masculine at all, but as a human potential that women and men can tap into. She takes it as a compliment and as a sign of equality when a man dares to confront her. She can handle that confrontation without a doubt, because she is physically strong and mentally very focused.
She is not inferior to a man when it comes to masculine qualities. An Artemis woman sees herself as a strong woman. She is averse to popiness, dependence and temptation. In her eyes is a real woman, tough, strong, autonomous and independent. She uses her masculine qualities to develop herself and not to get higher.
An Artemis woman has a tremendous capacity for concentration and a need to take on challenges and pursue goals. Without it, she gets frustrated. Because she is so completely absorbed in what she does, she is often unavailable to those around her.
She often doesn’t even think about a relationship and when she has one, she likes it when her partner doesn’t cling to her too much and keeps some emotional distance. She often sticks to a lat relationship.
An Artemis woman can even be emotionally armored. Where more receptive women seek refuge in the relationship that will make their lives perfect when they are emotionally hurt, or can talk endlessly about their hurt feelings, an Artemis woman locks up her emotional vulnerability and throws herself into her pursuits.
Because she always has something to occupy her, she can become lonely unnoticed. She often only notices this at a later age, when everyone around her already has children and is married. Often, along with the realization of aging, she realizes that something essential in her life may have been missing: connection. When that realization falls, she will often have to confront her shadow aspects.
Scars as lesson
A beautiful quality of Artemis women is that they do not play the victim role when something painful happens to them, but that they accept their scars and see them as learning opportunities. She does not carry her past like a heavy burden on her back, but as baggage, part of the person she is.
She accepts that damage is part of life and can close a chapter and move on without remorse. She still sees herself as a person worth living when she’s made mistakes. And that’s a quality that someone who doesn’t shy away from anything and goes into everything completely, also needs.
Artemis in relationships
The Artemis archetype sometimes puts a woman in a split when it comes to relationships. And Artemis is often a nice archetype for a woman to have, leading her to live a fulfilling life and not miss anything at first. In addition, she is emotionally very inaccessible, so she may not dare to let someone in.
Because an Artemis woman is strongly androgynous, she does not know how to handle male/female dynamics in relationships. The only relationship that some Artemis women feel comfortable with is an equal, sexless relationship based on solidarity and friendship. And that goes for men and women. To be open to a romantic relationship, she needs the influence of Hera or Aphrodite.
Due to her masculine qualities, an Artemis woman will clash with a strongly masculine man. She will often attract men with strong feminine qualities, who admire her strength and may be proud of her decisiveness. It can also attract men who ‘didn’t make it’ socially and who are not attractive to more traditionally minded women.
He feels at home with the non-conformity of an Artemis woman and the fact that she makes no material demands on a partner. But while an Artemis woman doesn’t seek social success, she does seek spiritual strength, and if a man lacks it, the relationship will fail. Her personality is often well complemented by a mild man who appeals to her on her soft side and who sees the lovely in her through the sometimes hard facade.
But it only works if ‘mild’ is not ‘soft’. He must be strong enough to confront her with her sometimes unreasonable behavior and to be able to bend her straightness. And it often takes a long time before she dares to lower her emotional shield and be really close. There is a lid for every pot, but an Artemis woman and the kind of man who loves her are both no standard size.
Therefore, it often takes until middle age for an Artemis woman to get a partner. but an Artemis woman and the kind of man who loves her are both no standard size. Therefore, it often takes until middle age for an Artemis woman to get a partner. but an Artemis woman and the kind of man who loves her are both no standard size. Therefore, it often takes until middle age for an Artemis woman to get a partner.
She thinks it is important to exchange ideas with her partner on an equal basis about what she is doing, she likes to receive honest, well-founded and constructive feedback. She wants to be able to ‘spare’ with her partner: about the course of her company, the strategy of an NGO that she is committed to, or simply sports together, whereby a good-natured competition may well arise. She likes to have a fairly neutral relationship with her partner. A relationship with an Artemis woman lacks the ‘thorniness’ and having to meet never expressed expectations that can drive men to despair.
There is a certain peace in such a relationship. On the other hand, there will be little romance and she will not give a man room for a hero role. She feels offended when a man tries to protect her well-meaningly, which would go down well with a woman with especially vulnerable goddess archetypes. She is simply put together in such a way that she wants to do everything she can herself, and a man would do well to give that space.
Artemis as mother
The goddess Artemis was nicknamed ‘the bear’ and that typifies her mothering style very well. An Artemis mother does not pamper her children, but will defend and support them to the utmost. She is not a pet mother who is frightened when her child has fallen and runs towards her crying. She does not feel that she has failed as a mother.
In fact, she sees falling as a beneficial experience for her child because it teaches them to be careful. An Artemis woman is an adventurous, playful mother that a child can have a lot of fun with, but she is sometimes very hard on her children as she strives to prepare them for the world they have to live in. Some mothers believe that an Artemis mother is a lax, careless mother, but she just raises her children her way: she teaches them to survive.
She is often very sporty and finds it annoying if she is hindered by her pregnancy. She sometimes experiences her maternity period as a captivity due to the physical ailments, the hormonal fluctuations and the limited freedom of movement with a baby. She often only really enjoys motherhood from the moment she can do things with them.
An Artemis woman is very attached to the strength and flexibility of her young, strong body and suffers greatly if she has pelvic instability, for example. She may find breastfeeding uncomfortable at times. She can switch to bottle feeding because she has had enough. Other women shouldn’t judge that harshly, because her physical autonomy is really important to an Artemis woman.
An Artemis women do not automatically have children. She often loves children, but is not committed to the experience of bringing her own biological children into the world. She is often fine with becoming stepmothers of children from her partner’s previous relationship. If that saves her a pregnancy and childbirth, she thinks that’s actually okay.
The Dark Sides/The Repression
The shadow aspects of the Artemis archetype have to do with the dilemma between distance and proximity. An Artemis woman can find herself in a dilemma between her innate sweetness (which she sometimes rarely shows!), her love for life and the desire to feel one on the one hand, and her urge for autonomy and independence on the other.
What she has in common with men is that she can go too far in her yang qualities and as a result can become sullen or dominant, or find it difficult to put herself in the shoes of another person, as a result of which she can think too one-sided.
Tendency to black-and-white thinking and radical views
An Artemis woman tends to see things in black and white, right or wrong and that’s how she vents it. It can therefore in an unacceptable way hurt other people’s feelings, damage relationships or become a divisive object in an organization or collective. And precisely because she thinks right/wrong, she is convinced that she is morally right. Her tendency to think in black and white, in combination with the idealism inherent in Artemis, sometimes leads to the development of radical views.
While her moral outrage is well justified in its own right, an Artemis woman sometimes goes awry because she finds it difficult to see multiple sides to one issue and put herself in another’s shoes. She can become a voice crying in the wilderness or become a moral bully. Certainly if she surrounds herself exclusively with kindred spirits and constantly hears her own opinion being repeated, it can happen that she develops quite extreme ideas.
She definitely needs some resistance in this. She must learn to put herself into perspective and see herself as a person who is committed to a good cause and not as a savior who comes to bring salvation. It is important to surround herself with different characters so that she learns and appreciates different ways of reacting.
Another shadow trait of an Artemis woman is her tendency to explode in unreasonable rage when someone crosses a line in her eyes. When something touches her, she can react very emotionally, want nothing to do with anyone anymore, or make a decision on her own initiative that completely upsets the other party. She can make herself very unpopular with others or completely ruin her position.
She usually doesn’t see the problem herself because she thinks she’s getting the best morale. Of course it doesn’t work that way and with this trait an Artemis woman can do a lot of damage to relationships. The greatest damage she inflicts on others and not on herself, because at such moments she is emotionally totally armored, nothing can touch her, she is open to no argument and does not relent by pity.
If a relationship is damaged beyond repair, she may consider it “collateral damage” to charity and usually gets over it quite easily, telling herself she doesn’t need anyone. Only when she realizes that she is destroying other people and herself with that anger can she change. And the best way she can handle her anger is the same way she eliminates opponents: confront her “rage monster” without any self-pity. She must direct her ‘arrows of purpose’ to her own shortcomings.
Only then comes the realization that she is not invulnerable, that she is fallible and that she should be more careful with the people in her life. And that’s hard, because there an Artemis woman often has a blind spot. Only then can she see how shocking the ease with which she can waltz over people who disgrace her is to others.
An Artemis woman can play hard on the man when she is angry. Because she usually keeps her sensitive side hidden, people often don’t understand that she’s been emotionally hurt in proportion to this behavior. Because she is usually strong, decisive, assertive and acting, it is often not seen that she also has a very sensitive side.
That sensitive side is usually the engine behind what she does and she uses her innate fighting spirit to realize her ideals and she sometimes goes overboard. Her activities take place at the intersection between those two extremes, between passion and fighting spirit, which allows her to be both very driven and aggressive. It can help her if she learns to be vulnerable,
Opportunities for growth
Drop the armor
Only when she drops her armor can an Artemis woman be hit by others, soften and allow people in. Despite appearing untouchable, deep down she is very sensitive. Otherwise she would not be such a nature lover and not have such high ideals.
The problem is, she often doesn’t dare to show that side and arms herself with a big mouth, tantrums and an emotional shield. While she genuinely enjoys it, her many activities can also be a way of not really getting in touch with anyone.
The way to get through the armor is to hit her with a gentle gesture. When the other starts fighting, she fights back irrevocably and digs in emotionally and she can usually do that better than he can. However, when approached unarmed, she can, of her own accord, simply drop her own weapons and spontaneously show her vulnerability.
If this vulnerability is then accepted as a gift, such an experience can be an entrance to softening. An Artemis woman often unconsciously harbors the belief that the world is unsafe and that she must fight to survive. Only when a piece of safety is created, with someone who cares about her the way she is and with whom she can break a pot, does she dare to let the lovely part of herself be there.
Admitting her pain points
An Artemis woman can deal with her anger by analyzing her triggers and looking in the past (her disdain for weakness has often hidden all the pain) for the hurts that caused it. She also needs to examine her (sometimes entrenched, quite extreme) views that she uses to encapsulate the pain of the triggers and unleash the anger that diverts her attention from her inner self.
An Artemis woman is a loyal, idealistic, courageous woman of immeasurable strength and many positive qualities, but her tendency to repress and externalize can really make her break her own glasses if she doesn’t learn to contain her anger. She keeps getting angry for not feeling the pain inside. While she doesn’t seem to shy away from confrontation, in reality she avoids confrontation that really matters. She may learn that vulnerability is the entrance to personal growth.
Her ideals, however noble and progressive, are often a way of coping with her own pain. If she can separate her own issues from her motives for being active in the outside world, she will become much more successful in doing so because now love is the motivation instead of her anger.
Anyone who discovers a ‘masculine’ pattern in this has seen it right. An Artemis woman is a very androgynous woman with obvious yang qualities and, when it comes to her own inner self, can react in a stereotypically male way by avoiding confrontation with her inner self and externalizing problems and using anger as facade.
The Nymph and the Bear
An Artemis woman often has a dilemma between the ‘bear’ and the ‘nymph’ in her. Does she sacrifice the soft, sweet and loving part of herself to be tough and combative, or does she manage to have her inner nymph work side by side with the bear so that she can be powerful in vulnerability and her strong nature-spiritual ethic? becomes her motor instead of her moral indignation and anger?
Help from other goddesses
An Artemis woman can learn from Athena to examine her points of view with logic and be less carried away by her emotions. She can learn from Hestia to examine her own inner self so that old wounds no longer have to play such a big role in the present. She can learn from Hera to open up emotionally to another person and to establish a lasting connection.
She can learn from Demeter not to judge others and to approach everyone with an open heart. She can learn from Persephone that weakness is no shame and that sometimes you may need someone. She can learn from Aphrodite to be more “velvety” with other people and that a flirt is more effective than a sneer.
The pre-patriarchal primordial essence
The essence of the Artemis archetype is survival under all circumstances and that means being tough sometimes. This survival instinct is, however, linked to a reverence for life and the desire not to be needlessly cruel.
Artemis is the wild woman, the primal woman, who can survive in nature. Artemis is the patroness of the Amazons, the strong, hardened female warriors. Artemis watches over the energetic, autonomous, virginal and outward-looking in a woman, qualities that were highly regarded in prepatriarchal, matriarchal-oriented cultures.
The Patriarchal Wound
Since autonomy and achieving her own goals are most important, Artemis has been left with a major blow to the patriarchal past, although she seems to have retained her autonomy. She has, but at a price: emotional detachment. The Artemis adaptation to patriarchal cultures is: cut off contact with the establishment and do what you want.
As a result, she has become a loner who longs deep inside for sisterhood and brotherhood. Her cautious, inert, evasive and sometimes aggressive attitude towards men is the result of this. For an Artemis woman, showing her vulnerability to a man is the hardest thing there is. Her archetypal wound is a deep-seated mistrust of male power.
The Artemis archetype is a persona non grata in a patriarchal culture. I wonder how many women who say they don’t think women’s emancipation is such an important topic actually conform and have repressed their inner Artemis and don’t dare to open up that they are more than fed up with the cocky behavior on this planet . I believe that in every woman lives an Amazon who passionately defends the matriarchal principles.
What would the goddess Artemis like to give you?
“Enjoy the strength and mobility of your body, it is the most beautiful instrument you have. Push your limits, you can do more than you think. Don’t be afraid to fail or to fall short in the eyes of others.
Learn from your mistakes and use them to become strong. Make sure you can always rely on yourself, the only person you can ever really count on is yourself. Don’t be afraid to be different, every person is unique and special. Follow your unique path and don’t be afraid to leave behind a relationship that no longer serves you. Get out into nature. Experience the power of all of us Mother. Love the animals.
If everyone turns you down, they will be your friends because they are always honest. Care for those who are struggling, but accept that nature will replace anything that cannot thrive. Be proud of yourself as a woman you carry the whole world within you. The power of yin and yang, the feminine and the masculine, it’s all in you. Never pretend to be less than you are and believe in yourself as a woman. “