Early on in my path, Artemis was my matron goddess. I listened to her teachings for years and, when she had showed me everything I needed to see in that time of my life, she left me on my own. It was unnerving, to be without that connection to the Goddess that I had had for so long. Another matron wouldn't call me for years. I have a new and different relationship with the Goddess now, with a new matron who is teaching me so much more. (I'm about to run off on a tangent here describing my view of the gods and how I may use different names but It is still One, like sometimes I need my mother to be my mother and sometimes I need her to be my friend, but that's a subject for another time.)
Something has come up in my life (that I am not yet ready to share on the vast interwebs) that reminded me of an aspect of Artemis I had forgotten, and I suddenly had a need to beseech her for support. Those of you who know me well know I don't "pray" in my practice though, the truth is, I do. I may get hung up on the word, but that is exactly what I do when I commune with the Divine. So, for lack of a better word, I prayed to Artemis. It was like reconnecting with an old friend - the one you haven't spoken to in years but, when you get together, it's like no time has passed at all.
The thing about asking for things (support, intervention, whatever) from the Divine is that It doesn't just give. There must be an exchange, there always must be an exchange of energy to keep balance. Artemis heard what I needed and told me exactly what I needed to do for her and for me.
Last year, I acquired a beautiful, handmade longbow. It didn't get any use, though I intend to set up some targets when the weather is more conducive to it. And, since we built a pell (that's a post for sword training) to practice with our ceremonial wedding swords, an archery target will fit right in. Anyway, I'm supposed to oil that longbow monthly to keep it pliant. I have the oil that the maker recommends, but I haven't actually done it. What Artemis asked of me in return was simple: oil my bow.
And I promised.
This word is important. I made a promise in that moment. I promised the Goddess I would do what she asked of me, and I promised myself. How many times have we made those promises and not followed through? Something little, like promising the cats I would trim their claws tomorrow and just felt too lazy to do it when the time came. This isn't the first time I promised myself I would oil my bow either. I take my word to others seriously, but my word to myself is less reliable. Why in the world is that? I will honor others before I honor myself. But myself is the one that is always here with me. How many times have you let yourself down? Made a promise - even a simple, seemingly meaningless promise - to yourself and not done it? Stop doing that. Hold yourself to your word, it is just as valuable to you as it is to the people around you when you give it to them. This is important. The moment I thought it, I knew that was also something She asked of me. It's time to keep my word to everyone, even me.
Yesterday was the day. I promised I would oil my bow and I promised when. It struck me that this wasn't just a thing I was doing, it was a thing I promised the Goddess I would do. That meant it wasn't a matter of just grabbing a cloth and doing it, it needed ritual. I brought the supplies to my altar, lit my candles and incense, and cast my circle, like you do for ritual, and I oiled my bow - deliberately, purposefully, and in sacred space. And it wasn't about what I had asked Artemis to do for me, it was about fulfilling a promise. There was something so satisfying in that moment, sitting before my altar doing this simple, otherwise non-magical act.
It had been so long since I actually sat at my altar (planning to but not actually doing, I suppose another of those promises to myself I didn't keep) that I stayed there for some time after the task was done. I started working on a charm that was waiting for the right moon phase (surprise, we're in it!). I added some decorations to the front of my table I had been planning for weeks. That little corner of the house that has been dedicated my sacred space hasn't been used for a while and I needed it.
|Leaves on the altar!|
At the risk of throwing something in here that needs its own post, it is not correct to say my altar and the sacred space around it has been entirely unused for a while. I did start something that I hope to continue. Communion with the Divine should not just be asking for something. I know there are things in my life that the Divine sent to me that I did not expressly ask for. I have started leaving offerings. It is usually burning incense, thanking the Lord and Lady for their presence in my life, and going about my day. Not asking for anything from them, but giving back. Some might ask exactly how burning incense is an offering to the gods. In part, it is the thing that is consumed, but a larger part of it is the action. The very act of lighting a stick or cone or charcoal and expressing gratitude is the offering. This is something I will continue to do as it is also extremely satisfying to come before my gods not as a supplicant but in tribute. But, again, that's not why I'm writing today.
The reason I wrote about this is to urge you to consider your promises and how often you break them. The little ones, the promises to yourself, they are just as important as the promises you make to others. Think about that as you go through your days.