Artemis is the Greek goddess of hunting, animals, and wilderness. She is also linked to chastity, independence, fertility, childbirth, and the moon. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, twin sister of Apollo. In Roman mythology, she is known as Diana.
When Zeus had an affair with Leto, in order to cover up his infidelity from Hera, he transformed Leto into a quail. And so, Leto gave birth to Artemis as a quail — through hatching an egg, which is far less painful than human labor. And so, Artemis became associated with easy childbirth. As she grew up, she declared that it was her destiny to become a midwife.
Artemis took a vow of chastity. It is said that she promised to remain a “virgin” for her entire life — there are different interpretations of this meaning because the word “virgin” has changed in modern times (and when I say modern, I mean past several hundred years…) Today, this word means abstaining from sexual relations, in more ancient times, it simply meant an unmarried woman.
If you take the modern interpretation of the word, you could either say that Artemis was “asexual” in that she was disinterested in lust, or you could say that this was a promise she made for her own, moral purposes. You could also say that she was only attracted to women, as ancient Greco-Roman societies did not recognize physical relations between two females.
In my opinion, I think her sexuality is irrelevant, and that her promise of virginity was about choosing to remain unmarried. I think that any interpretation is possible — asexuality, homosexuality, or heterosexuality — regardless, this is about a woman choosing to take control of her fate and hold onto her independence.
Being strongly connected to wildness, I cannot see Artemis choosing to stray away from her own desires for the sake of self-discipline. Rather, it makes more sense to see that Artemis was a free spirit who could not be bound by the human laws of marriage.
Artemis never made romance a priority. She has always been passionate about hunting, along with singing and dancing. Although she is best known for hunting animals, she is actually a huge animal-lover herself. Artemis often brings other animals along with her to go hunting, such as dogs and birds. I would imagine her to be an ethical hunter, someone who uses each part of the animal for food and clothing, rather than a trophy hunter.
There are many stories of different gods who fell for Artemis and tried winning her heart. In some stories, she disguises herself in order to get away from them, in other stories she resorts to killing them! There are several gods and men who Artemis becomes friends with, some who she teaches how to hunt, and that is all.
There is a famous myth in which Aphrodite and Persephone fight over Adonis. In the story, Aphrodite goes hunting with Adonis — which is very uncharacteristic of Aphrodite. However, Adonis is an avid hunter, and Aphrodite wants to impress him. At the end of the story, Adonis is killed by a boar and Aphrodite gives him his last kiss. It is said that Artemis is the one who sent the boar to kill him — not for romantic reasons, but because Adonis claimed to be a better hunter than her!
The closest Artemis came to romance is her love for Orion. It is said that he was the only god she loved and that she planned on marrying him. Tragically, Orion ends up dying — there are different versions, one of them including Artemis accidentally shooting him. Upon his death, Artemis transformed him into the constellation of Orion.
Artemis is connected to the moon, while her twin brother Apollo is connected to the sun. However, they are not to be confused with Selene (Luna), personification of the moon, and Helios (Sol), personification of the sun. Artemis is not the moon itself, but she carries traits of the moon — dark, secluded, isolated, mysterious, emotional, intuitive, etc.
Artemis shows us strength and bravery. She teaches us the importance of remaining connected to one’s own wildness. She spent her days doing what made her happy and was glad to teach others her skills. She befriended the gods and goddesses, the demi’s and nymphs, the humans, and the animals. She reminds us that there is more to life than romance — there is friendship, sport, and play. And although she vowed a life of independence, she still opened her heart to the right one who came along (Orion).
Like all deities, Artemis had her flaws — her quick temper, vengefulness, and violent behavior. It was smart of her to channel this anger towards hunting, however, she still ended up killing many innocent souls — purposefully or not! Accidentally shooting Orion dead was her ultimate karma for her destructive ways.
I believe that Artemis is connected to painless childbirth, beyond her origin birth story, because she reminds women of their strength. The war-like energy she brings is what’s necessary for a woman to push through an excruciating labor, to keep in mind how powerful she is.
Call upon Artemis, not only for assisting childbirth, but for determination and bravery. Artemis will show you how to march down the path less taken, when society is demanding that you follow everyone else’s lead. Artemis reminds you that you are a wild animal, a free spirit, a courageous soul. You were not born to please others, to tiptoe through life, to fit into someone else’s mold. Get your hands dirty, walk barefoot through the mud, dance in the rain, aim your bow and arrow, and let your heart be your compass!