Marble Statue of Artemis, circa 1st century AD, in the Louvre
I have been contemplating the concept of identity lately. My new name became legal this week. I have changed my first name from Anne to Artemis. What part of my identity is caught up in my name? If I change my name, does my image of myself change?
I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I meditate for a variety of reasons, but I particularly wish to transcend the small s “self” to experience the “Self” – that which is connected to all things, to the universe, to all energy/Spirit. The human mind convinces us that we are separate, that we are alone. We identify with our culture, our race, our position in society. We express that identity in our clothing, homes, jobs, words, and actions. We limit ourselves because of our identity. We limit others because of our identity. Sometimes, the small s “self” the “ego” justifies rejecting others because they are different from us. This world view creates competition for resources, struggles for power, greed, racism, and xenophobia. I believe that to glimpse the larger Self, to feel that connection with another human beings and animals, the plants, the earth, the universe, is to view a new way of being in this world – one of connection, generosity, immortality of the spirit, and great love.
So, if I believe that the purpose in life is to transcend the self and the ego, and become aware of the Self and the connection to all in the universe, to the spirit, why change my name? Before I submitted the name change papers to my county courthouse, I thought about why I wanted to change my name. Was it ego driven? Was it because it was different, and more fun that my name?
In 2007, I attended a training to be a Life Coach. In our first guided meditation, we met our “future self”, our higher self. She told me her name was Artemis. In the years that followed, I would “visit”her to ask questions when I was having difficulties making decisions in my life. This method works well to access our inner intuition, bypassing the mind which may over think a situation. Artemis was a source of innate wisdom for me. As I overcome challenges in my own life, I felt that I was becoming her, that I was growing into my “wise woman” stage of my life. While I don’t consider myself truly wise, I do know that I have gained so much more understanding of myself and my life over the last few years. Life lessons learned have helped me to grow as a spiritual being and as a human. I felt it was time to take on her name.
Many other factors contributed to my decision. Three people: my niece, a friend, and an artist I admire, all changed their names, and I saw how they have changed because of this. I also believe that we are in a transition of the collective consciousness of humanity, one in which we are moving from a patriarchal dichotomy of opposites, to one of harmony – a rise of the feminine principles of cooperation, compassion, and intuition. (Keep in mind that feminine and masculine qualities are found in both sexes.) The rise of the feminine as sacred, as necessary to sustaining life on earth, is helping to change the creative collective consciousness of humans.
Why did my “future self” give her name as Artemis? This I cannot completely answer. Artemis, the Greek goddess is protectress of women and children, and of the environment. She is affiliated with the moon and with deer and the forest. These are all ring true for me. Jean Shinoda Bolen has authored an interesting book “Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman”. The Artemis archetype has an indomitable spirit: incapable of being tamed or subdued. Bolen has other books on the goddess archetypes, which I have also read. Earlier in my life, Persephone, Hera, and Demeter (daughter, wife, and mother) were more dominant. I gave in to others wishes because I was afraid to upset people, afraid to create trouble. Now, like many women around the world, I am fed up with the patriarchal status quo. Woman in many places still have no rights over their work, their bodies, their words. Women in the U.S. face a potential reversal of some of our rights. The rise in the activism, for women’s rights and for the health of our planet, reflects a rise in the Artemis archetype.
I also feel a special connection to these words by Bolen “Artemis is a goddess of the moon, which is an affinity for mystical and meditative experiences, a sensing of subtle energies, a capacity for inner reflection.” I believe so much change happens at this level. Yes, activism and resistance on a large scale is important to changing our society, but it must come from our own individual inner change. This change is brought about by going inward, becoming more aware of our thoughts, our words, our actions. This leads to intentional action, rather than reaction.
I care about the well-being of all humans. I care about the health of the water, the air, the plants and animals of our planet. I care about creating a society in which cooperation replaces competition, compassion replaces greed, and love replaces hate. I care about creating a world where the land and water and air are sacred and we are filled with joy simply to exist.
I am Artemis.