“At three, Artemis knew exactly what she wanted: a bow and arrows, a pack of hounds to hunt with, nymphs to accompany her, a tunic short enough to run in, mountains and wilderness as her special places and eternal chastity. Zeus granted her wishes, plus the privilege of making the selections herself. Artemis was granted autonomy and would never be violated or overpowered by male power.” Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses In Older Women.
This is the third time I’m writing this. With each draft, I get a little closer. This time, like a frying pan hitting me over the head, I got it. Diana, also known as Artemis, is the Goddess of the Hunt. She knows what she wants and goes out and gets it.
But what does this have to do with me, I wonder. Is the message that I’ve already gotten what I want, because in many ways I feel like I do have the life I want. And I did make it happen. Or is the message to become the hunter?
When I placed the piece of fabric with the stag on it to the right of the full moon, I knew this quilt was about Diana, or Artemis as she is known in Greek mythology. The Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon.
After that, as I continued to work on the quilt I had a strong urge to make a connection between the sky and the earth. There were two people who were interested in my quilt when it was mostly blue. But mostly blue wasn’t what the quilt wanted to be. The cold blues needed the balance of the warm earth tones.
The two needed to come together.
I’ve made art about Diana/Artemis before, but I know when a goddess appears to me in this way it’s for a reason. She has something to tell me that wasn’t true before or that I wasn’t ready to hear.
So I followed my instincts, adding the “constellation” animals to the top of the quilt and Carol Conklin’s line of trees, grounding it at the bottom. The rusty fern fabric that Sharon sent me even had the name, Fernwood printed on it. Fern Wood are the words I think of when walking a path in my neighbor’s woods which is bordered by ferns.
When I was done designing it, the quilt spoke to me of my place in the woods, where the earth, sky, and water come together. A place where I feel I belong.
Then I read about Diana/Artemis, in Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Goddesses In Older Women, and I saw something else.
I found that Diana/Artemis represented autonomous women who have a spiritual connection to the natural world. That they often work alone and challenge the norms of society, either by trying to change them or by living life differently than they dictate.
I see now that the Diana inside of me has been emerging slowly over my lifetime. She would show up making a subtle change, only to be squelched.
But now Diana’s message to me is clear.
This weekend, for the fourth time, I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House. Like the goddesses who keep coming back to me, this story returns to me again and again. But it’s only in reading it now that I see why. It’s about Eleanor Vance, the main character (along with the house itself) in the book.
In Eleanor’s fears and fantasies, I see clearly who I used to be.
Like Eleanor, I was always worried that I’d said the wrong thing and was terrified about what people really thought of me. Instead of taking people’s words at face value, I was always wondering or trying to decipher what they “really meant” And the running, I always wanted to be somewhere other than where I was. But most important, like Eleanor, I was looking outside of myself to be rescued. I was too afraid to look inward and rescue myself.
But I’m not like Eleanor anymore. I’m actually more like Diana.
Unlike Eleanor, I will get help when I need it, but I continue to look inward and know that only I can rescue myself. And like Diana, I make my own decisions and rules. I’m living my own true life, paying attention to the call of the natural world and listening to my inner voice.
But do I know what I want and am I willing to go get it, like a hunter would? As I said, I feel like I’ve done this already in some ways, but have I incorporated it into my everyday life? Has Diana come into my life to remind me of my own power? Is this a slap upside the head?
It seems my quilt is more of a question than an answer.
Maybe by the time I finish backing and tacking it, I’ll have some answers.