Artemis. Keeping us wild.

Go out in the woods, go out. If you don't go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.
- Clarisa Pinkola Estes


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My daughter has been raised in the woods, or the forest as it stands over here in the Pacific Northwest. There has never been a season where she hasn't wandered into the thickness of this rain forest, through it's darkness and it's fractured light, on top of it's damp floor and also it's against it's summer thirst. She has found a home here, in this forest, but born through relationship with me, if that makes sense. It's been me that has connected her to it, as her mother, I have always brought her there.

When she asked me to take photos of her as Artemis, the above quote by CPE came to mind and I thought, it's time for her to go into the woods. Not as my daughter, listening to my ideas about what we will do or what we will gather or when we will go and how long we will stay and what she has to wear to keep her warm. But instead it was about her::  "Mama, it's my time to go into the woods. It's my time to begin." I think the request was part about fun, but also an invitation for me to see her. And validation for her to recognize that yes, indeed... she is her most true, brave and independent self.

She just turned 11. And it feels different. 11 just feels like somthing completly new is happening, like we just finally met after knowing each other for lifetimes. It's like looking at her in the face of birth again and me saying "who is this? i know i love this person... but i don't quite know her, and yet i know her like my own blood".

She's my first born so I am both surprised at this newness but also in love with it. I am being asked to show up as a different kind of mother, the kind that cannot get offended by being pushed away. The kind that breathes in whole all the moments when she still crawls into bed with us in the middle of night, wrapping her feet around my own {and noticing they are the same size}. The kind of mother that stands in authority and leads.  And also the kind that steps fully out of the way softly, quietly, subtly. The kind that is sensitive and looks at her daughter with tears in her eyes, and the kind that knows when to walk away and cry quietly in the bedroom alone. The kind that tries not to hold on too tight to what was and to open my heart with a passion fire for what's next- for my daughter and for me too.  She is showing up more wholly as and for herself, dailed into her elevated self-creation powers, dialed into whatever mystery is calling her out.  And she is teaching me to do the same, or to re-remember what I always have known.

This past year she is emobodying the Artemis, the wild huntress who doesn't live In Need. Who is free from all that binds her. Who knows herself as Whole-  needing nobody else to feel complete. Who is connecting to the moon in different ways, noticing her moods and the moon are in a dance, sometimes a slam and sometimes a sway.  It's a beginning for her and she is loudly claiming a new kind of wildness, not that of the little child, but that of the young girl/maiden. She carries her bow everywhere, she is on the hunt for what is next. She's is hungry for choice and for voice. And she knows how to find the food that fulfills her and the echo that will carry her sound.  

And she needs me still. Mother is important to her, I am comforting, and there is still open space for me to fiercly protect all that she is, all that is wild in her, all that comes from the dirt, all that stirs in her new, practically fertile ground.  I fiercely protect her wild. And always will. Because that's the Artemis in me. 

And so we went to the forest, one of the many spots we have learned to love as much as we could love anything, covered in moss and ferns and guardian evergreens, close enough to the water that salt clings to the air.  And I made her a headband, braided the leather and added moss agate and some other stones I don't know the names of, one in the shape of a crescent moon. And wove in some raven feathers, too.  And she had a wooden long bow and long legs and an agile body. And I told her to be who she was, and I would make memories of it, as best as I could for her, for me, to pass on. Because these are things we do for our daughters. These are the things. 

We see them as they are.

 

I can write about Artemis and her archetype and list the myths and stories about who she is, and about how each of us embody her in our psyche. But really? What's the truth? The truth is our stories. I decided to ask my daughter, Mia, to explain to me what Artemis means to her, what becoming Artemis means and how Artemis can be a part of all our lives.

Why do you love Artemis so much? 

Because she's wild. She's like a wolf. A wolf doesn't have to be anything it doesn't want to be. It just gets to hunt and live under the moon. And Artemis *is* a wolf, really. She can shapeshift into a wolf any time she wants. That's the best thing to be able to do. We all need to learn this skill.
 


What does Artemis make you feel like?

Strong. And free. She's very free and isn't scared to hunt or be alone.  She can feed herself and make shelter for herself. She doesn't need anyone. She makes me feel really free to run and try things and not be scared to try things or do things by myself.


 
What does freedom mean for you?

 Getting to be what I want to be. To just be myself. And not always have to do what everyone says.

How did it feel to get out in the forest and become Artemis?

Well I am always a little bit Artemis, that's what my third name is going to be now. Mia Rose Artemis.

Well, that's cool. I like it. So, how did it *feel* to do it?

 But it was fun. It was a little cold. But once I got running around it got warm. It felt like I was playing because I was. Echo and Sula were kind of annoying me but it was fun and it felt wild, really wild. 

 

Why is wild important?

Mom. We have to have the wild. If we didn't all life would die.