Acquainting with Artemis

I’ve become a bit of a deer hunter in recent year, if by “deer hunter” you mean “person who kills deer that leap in front of his vehicle.”  Or maybe my car has a thirst for Cervidae blood, and exudes pheromones that lure them in.  Although I have never been injured, it’s a painful experience, and one that I’d prefer to stop repeating.

A statue of the goddess Artemis, holding a bow and arrow and carrying a quiver, with a small deer behind her.
My statue of Artemis, repaired.

Perhaps two years ago a wise friend of mine suggested that there might be a lesson in these fatal collisions, and I listened.  I have focused on altering my behavior behind the wheel to minimize the chance of deer death:  it began with tearing my eyes away from even glancing at that stupid phone, but I have striven to become more cognizant of anything that took my attention from the road ahead, no matter how small.

Among those distractions, however, are things like looking in the mirrors behind, and the one or two seconds lost to such defensive driving techniques can prove fatal.  With no large predators (human or otherwise) culling their numbers in a meaningful way, driving mountain roads can always prove dangerous.  My own behavior can reduce the risks, but not eliminate them.

Over this same period of time, I have considered whether or not this is a not-so-subtle message from Artemis that I should be heeding something she’s trying to tell me.  This is not a goddess I have built much kharis with, so it seemed like it was worth a try to do something to please her.  I purchased a statue of the goddess and identified a place to put it, but my Artemis statue arrived broken, and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I seasoned my concern for awhile.

The Hellenic tradition I learned teaches that a particular deity may take an interest in your life for the span of a month, with divination being used to determine who that might be.  For the month of Poseideon, Hephaistos took the lead, which gave me the courage to fix my broken goddess.  My hands are not generally so nimble as to make delicate work such as that possible, but over the course of several days I made her whole.  First I straightened her golden arrow, then I replaced the fletching on the ones in her quiver.  The deer’s tail was restored, and lastly I placed the bow back in her hand.

Artemis’ day in the Athenian calendar was the sixth of the month, which will fall on January 7, more or less.  I will then make this statue a gift to her, and have a place to pour her libations.  May she never again see fit to put a deer in my path.

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