Recently I had been reading a bit about Shiva and Kali, two hindu gods that have been my favorite since childhood. These are also gods that I equate with Apollon and Artemis, a very long time connections for me from my renderings of Artemis from my youth with features of Kali (of course if you look at some of the gorgon-faced images of Artemis from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia…it doesn’t take a particular stretch of imagination, but that was long before I read of such things when I was only 14 or 15 years old). And this thinking of Shiva and Kali, wherein Kali acts as a principle of energy to Shiva’s domain, Artemis has something of a similar relationship to Apollon (though portrayed differently as a sibling relationship rather than a spousal…though his spouse Kyrene mirrors Artemis to a high degree).
There is much in the domain of Artemis that is just that…the energy drawing to action, towards progress. She is the huntress, and drives forth all living things. She is also the nurturing goddess, like a mother or wetnurse, who provides sustinance to nourish us and provide us the energy we need for growth. She is like a “terrible” mother, who aids our transition into life, cares for us, and then drives us forth with an almost terrifying clamor, as she slays with her arrows. Though this is as far as she goes to this end..she ends the movement of the energy through life, and the dead rest in the cemetaries which are governed over by Apollon who is caretaker of the soul for the thirty days before it departs with Hermes to its destination. Something quite appropriate if we consider that both gods are gods accredited with transitions, and such transitions would deal with all the pertinent ones that are demonstrated in life. In fact the Odyssey mentions a mythic island too where the people were said to never get old, but rather when their time to die came that they were shot down by the arrows of Apollon and Artemis. Thus we see a very real connection between the transitions of life as the boy whose birth (or actually survival seven days after birth) is praised to Apollon, so too does he sing for the god in his childhood that when he is grown he will marry and have a family, and so on and so forth. He is the god at the developmental boundaries that Artemis is pushing us all towards as both nurturer and huntress.
And they both, while they are honored in cities, and in homes and other venues, are gods that often dwell, or spend a great deal of time, far from human habitation. They may have their occassional divine companions: Artemis hunting with her nymphs and mother, Apollon secluded with some favorite now and again…but it is selected company. But they are never far from each other. I say that Apollon is the god of the roads, but this includes the game trails upon which his sister hunts…and it is necessary for this roads to exist to propel us towards where we need to be, just as Leto took the roads in her weary wandering before she arrived at her ultimate destination…again, far from all on an uninhabited island. So we find that Herakles has chased the golden deer of Artemis to the sacred lands of Apollon, Hyperborea, where he is able to seize the deer and bring it to stillness only to be confronted by both gods there. Hyperborea being as destination, the land beyond the most northern points in myth, and the deer of Artemis being the vehicle by which the hero was propelled there. He is confronted there and is permitted to take the deer with him, but also takes the olive from Hyperborea which he is said to have planted at Olympia when he established the Olympic games…something also that Artemis and Apollon (as Thermios) take great part as preservers of the games and the rules that pertain to them. And what are these games but competitions of those who have harnessed their energy and attained mastery of the self in order to compete for the best among them? Thus it is natural that the deer is sacred to Artemis but is often also depicted in the hand of Apollon. Artemis propels the deer foreward toward growth and maturation, but Apollon instructs mastery that should come hand in hand with such spiritual maturity. I have spoken of this before too when I wrote of Apollon’s role with music in my post on Sound, and the allegory of the competition of Marsyas as an illustration of attainment of mastery which allows evolution.
Therefore we end up seeing something of a paralleling running relationship in this fashion in which a very well established closeness is demonstrated (the only other goddess he really has this closeness to is Athena, which it amuses me that as I relate her to Durga…both Kali and Durga are believed to be manifestations of Shiva’s wife….which makes sense to me because Athena and Artemis opperate on very different levels with him and serve very different purposes, and yet together would make the most idea counterpart to Apollon! But this post is for Apollon and Artemis so I will temporarily shelve that thought for now, though I have written on it before in my blog and should be available in my catalogue here probably under both Apollon and Athena. In any case with Apollon and Artemis we have Apollon god of harbors and seastorms, and yet Artemis Soteira as savior of men at sea. We have Artemis utilizing the light of a torch in order to hunt in the depths of the night as the primal use of light, and we have Apollon who bears the torch of illumination and who has utter control of the light of his domain and bends it towards production (both agriculturally and otherwise) and enlightenment. Both gods carry bows, though tend to impliment them in different kinds of situations generally when they are not out slaying (such as they did in the myth I had mentioned above and in another myth of the children of Niobe). And the list really goes on and on. There is a completeness in nature that is carried out between the two, and which makes it reasonable that Aristophanes mentions them several times in his play of the mystery of Demeter. They are pertinent in the spiritual movement of the soul in the mystic play carried out in the sacred festivals of Demeter from what we can tell from Aristophanes. And it is these gods who so favor the mountains and far places who have such influence on cultivation of the self, for they are truly hekatois, and hekataia…shooters from afar. And even afar they are seen, and felt and their influence known.