Certain life changes and events prepare an opportunity for worship one’s god in different groupings. Although I have been a mother for 13 years, the expectation of a new baby that is growing within me has prompted a focus on these three goddesses who are particularly important in terms of preparing for birth, and the process of birth itself.
With my first pregnancy I was quite a devout follower of Artemis but was young (19 years old) and still slowly learning about the gods, however, naturally I followed inclination and historical knowledge regarding Artemis’ role in childbirth and honored her thusly during the months that lead up to the birth, silently prayed to her during the labor and birth, and after the birth. I was confident that my years of devotion (and fulfilling a personal pledge of virginity until the age of 18…which also had the side effect of not ever being asked during my highschool years apparently lol) that Artemis would bestow upon me an easy and complication free birth. When I had pledged my years of virginity to her service I had said that if it pleased her any child born from my body could be a girl child and would be raised honoring her. And it passed, by coincidence perhaps, that my first child was a girl. And this child has been raised honoring Artemis (although Artemis is not one of the deities most favored by her) as I vowed. Now after 13 years, after two failed attempts at marriage, and a rather small handful of brief affairs, I find myself pregnant by chance just when I had already figured that I was likely not going to have any more children. This child, conceived during a brief affair (which the father wants nothing to do with….which may really be more of a blessing since that means no interference in raising my child the way I see fit in accordance to my beliefs) is reminding me of the blessings that Artemis brings in these matters. With my first child, aside from several months of acute morning sickness I had no other symptoms that accompanies pregnancy. And aside from issues with my water not breaking quickly enough which led to a prolonged period before real labor hit, the labor itself was uneventful and fast. Despite the exhaustion that flooded me from the hours before labor while I was contracting, I was flooded with strength to deliver her quickly and without too great of pain.
Of course 13 years later, with my body less youthful I am not as confident that such will be the case this time. But I give worship with prayers in hope for such a good birth this time around. And while I know scientifically what determines the sex of the baby, I am still curious to see here in a few months if my words in youth at the age of 14 are going to bear out for another girl in favor of Artemis. If it is a girl I will be bestowing my daughter with the name Artemisia for a middle name to honor her (if a boy the middle name will be Apollonios in honor of Apollon). This time I am considerably more of a polytheist and therefore have extended such worship to include two other goddesses included in the process of birth: Hera and her daughter Eileithyia. Although Hera technically presides over the birth of children of married couples (which is not the case here) and it is dubious that I would be able to have a table for her in the birthing room at the hospital, I am still including worship to her as a goddess of beneficial favor for childbirth. Likewise Eileithyia, the goddess of the labor and birth is an important goddess to give prayers and offerings to.
In Krete Eileithyia and Artemis were conceived of as sisters, daughters of Hera. Eileithyia as the goddess who aided the birth of new life, and Artemis as the goddess who acted as nurse to the newborn. Thus, with their mother Hera, these three goddesses are valuable to give collective worship to by the new mother (or ideally the new parents if both parents are involved in the pregnancy). A temporary shrine can be erected to the three goddesses. In my case I am making a shrine plaque that will represent the three goddesses together. This shrine will be sustained long after the birth to in which I plan on giving offerings to these goddesses on the birthdays of my children (something which sadly never occurred to me before in all 13 years of my daughter’s life). I have already composed a hymn for them for the Hera Anthology, and so the construction of this shrine is the next step for which I will give regular offering and prayer for the next several months.
Hail to the goddesses who continue the life of the oikos.