Meet Artemis - my new soul sister
Did the B word all start with Artemis- Untamable Goddess of the Wild?
Artemis has been calling me lately. She's a Goddess I've been familiar with for quite while, but suddenly she is showing up as my new best friend, and favorite Goddess incarnation.
As I've been sharing, I'm going through a reclaiming of my Fierce Goddess, and she is a big key.
Recently I become really curious to understand the origin of the word "bitch" as an insult for unruly women. It seems like an insult that was invented specifically to prevent women from engaging their fierce goddess energy and keeping us in our "good girl" personae.
I had such an "aha" moment when I came across a source that theorized that it started with a disrespectful association to Artemis, the Huntress Goddess of the wild.
This was even more meaningful for me, as I discovered this during the same week I was waking up in the middle of the night, and seeing visions of arrows shooting through the sky, feeling myself as the arrow, feeling the firmness of arrow shooting from the bow in my hands with full force and direction, and I also saw the outside of my house encircled in protective bows and arrows (I was going through a period of protecting my home from some energetic boundary crossings by a male neighbor)
There I am in the middle of reclaiming my bitch, feeling the power of the arrow Goddess, and then I discover the connection!
Artemis is the greek Goddess who lives in the wild, in the forest with her band of female cohorts. She is completely self sufficient, independent of society, and of men. She fiercely protects her boundaries, protects her wildness, her purity, her untamable female heart. She is associated with the bow and arrow, the stag, the moon, and also child bearing even though she herself remains a virgin. I see her as a protectress and guide for women in their womb energy, for whatever they wish to birth in their life, be it a creative project, a business, or an actual child.
She represents the wild, free, and untamable feminine spirit, and our unwavering devotion to birthing our gifts into the world.
So, what does she have to do with the tradition of calling unruly women a bitch?
Well - Artemis was very often associated with her pack of dogs which accompanied her on her hunt. In some myths she was even said to take on the form of the dog in the midst of the hunt. It is believed by some, that when a woman acted unruly, and outside the societal niceties for behavior in ancient Greek times, that men would call her a female dog, although a different word than our "bitch", meaning she was as untamable as Artemis.
Hmmm. Maybe being a bitch is not such a bad thing after all? Is it possible that there is a way to reclaim this insult and actually pronounce ourselves "sacred bitches"?
The sexist slur not only implies a woman who is unruly but also as sexual as a female dog in heat. I think it's important acknowledge that there is a direct connection between women's sexual energy, and our independent, creative drive as well. The sacred bitch energy does combine our sexual energy and our forceful warrior energy. A true "sacred bitch" is a vital, charged, independent minded, fierce woman.
Over the years, the habit of calling women female dogs as a slur went in and out of fashion. There are some references in Shakespeare and other old english writings.
Interestingly the great resurgence of the use of the word came in the 1920s during the suffragist movement when women were taking to the streets to protest, and win the right to vote in this country. At this time Bitch returned to pop culture as a way to shame these unruly women.
In the 60s during the beginning of the feminist movement, there was another surge, and in this country women started to reclaim the word, most famously in the "Bitch Manifesto" by Jo Freeman.
Here is a quote: "Our society has defined humanity as male, and female as something other than male. In this way, females could be human only by living vicariously thru a male. To be able to live, a woman has to agree to serve, honor, and obey a man and what she gets in exchange is at best a shadow life. Bitches refuse to serve, honor or obey anyone. They demand to be fully functioning human beings, not just shadows. They want to be both female and human."
It sounds a little bit like she could be describing the Goddess Artemis when she was a little girl and sat on her father, Zeus's knee and asked to lead a life independent of any man, and to have a bow and arrow just like her brother Apollo.
The word bitch is still used currently to insult and demean women, especially noticeable in rap songs where it seems to be used as a way to describe a woman who is of little value.
When I hear these songs, I feel a deep sadness within, and can feel the violence and disrespect intended.
At the same time, I can feel an incredibly empowering heat rise within myself when I breathe into my belly and I own my inner bitch as a face of Artemis, as an expression of the wild and untamable feminine expression.
I can then perceive those angry and derogatory remarks for what they are, expressions from men who are misguided, fearful, and confused about the power of the feminine.
Let's all make a commitment to reeducate them. To take a stand for the independent, wild, sacred feminine spirit. To not be a victim of this slur, but to be a leader of a new paradigm.
Here are some interesting questions to reflect on:
- Does fear of being labeled a "Bitch" ever prevent you from your full expression?
- Can you think of a time when you were called a bitch and it really stung or hurt you?
- What happens when you feel into owning the bitch within yourself? Where do you feel this in your body?
- Is there any part of owning your "bitch" that feels good to you?
On Sep 2nd in the Temple of the Fierce Goddess we will connect with Artemis, and some of the other fierce and independent female Goddesses. Hope to see you there!