Artemis Mounykhia Congregation


My Life With Artemis by Nicole Mazza


It’s almost difficult to remember how I started on this path – a path holding the hand of Artemis. 


I can remember two things distinctly that seem to point to my first steps on the path.  First, was when a friend of mine’s father had a story that he was almost named Artemis.  I am not sure why at the time, but I remember the name resonated with me even then at about 13 years old (to the extent that I can still remember that conversation pretty vividly to this day).   Secondly, I often would sit in front of my window at night and pray to the Moon starting around the same age.   When I found out more information on Artemis in my early teens, I changed from generically praying to the Moon to specifically praying to Artemis herself.  That was the beginning of my relationship with Her.


I have always been interested in the religions of the world, even as a teenager.  Even though I always held Artemis close to my heart, I went on to try on many religions.  I began as Catholic from birth, but moved from there to a pretty eclectic worldview, on to Buddhist for many years, and then on to Stregheria. 


For Stregheria in particular, I had figured my link to Artemis might mesh with the very Diana-focused tradition (which, while I am not much of a syncretist, I figured it was worth a shot).  Unfortunately, I somewhat quickly began to feel it was not a good fit for me as something with it just didn’t “feel right” once I delved deeply into the religion. Still, it was a very distinct example of a period of my life where I was trying to fit Artemis into a spiritual path for myself.  This tinkering often led me into situations where it seemed as if I was trying to fit square blocks into circular holes.


Tides turned when my boyfriend Ben came into my life.  Being a Hellenic Polytheist himself, he introduced me to Modern Hellenic Paganism.  At the time, I had never met anyone of that religious disposition in the local pagan scene (just mostly people who were Wiccan and/or Celtic-oriented) and didn’t even know that such a spiritual path existed in modern times. At the time, I was still calling myself Strega (a follower of Stregheria), but, as I said, it was an ill-fit for me.  Hellenic Polytheism made perfect sense to me to look into as Artemis is already a part of that pantheon (no square blocks in circular holes here!), but I still had a few reservations. I have a bit of a rebellious, individualistic streak in me, so I was worried that people would think that I became Hellenic because my new boyfriend was. So, for several months, I stubbornly pushed it to the side and surprisingly went on seeking a different path to fit Artemis in.


Sometimes the Gods just need to knock you over the head to get you going on the right path.  As an often stubborn person myself, this is very true for me in this situation.  It was around this time when I started to get nudged more towards the Greek pantheon despite my protestations. It was like all of these coincidences were pushing me towards Them, things that were becoming increasingly difficult to deny.


It all culminated in April of 2005 when Ben and I traveled up to Boston to take part in our first Hellenic ritual with a Hellenion Demos (essentially a Hellenic church group) that used to be active up there. With himself being the only Hellenic Polytheist that he knew in the Atlanta-area (I was still in a bit of denial), it was important to him to participate in a Hellenic ritual with others on the same path.  Out of curiosity, I thought I would join him on his quest, especially since, ironically enough, it was a ritual celebrating the ancient Artemis-focused festival of Mounykhia.


I had no idea what I was getting into, but I think that Artemis certainly had plans for me at that ritual.  During a solitary moment in her temple at Cataleos (where the ritual was held), I had an experience with Her.  One by one, each participant had gone into the temple room alone to make our offerings of moon-colored cakes and libations of wine to Artemis. I remember that I was so nervous by myself in the temple space as I wasn't entirely sure what to do. I found myself muttering aloud that I was really nervous about what I was doing, that I was afraid of inadvertently doing anything offensive or wrong, etc.   As I offered my cake on the altar, I could hear a voice state firmly in my head, "Stand tall, child! Stand tall before me."  It was Artemis talking to me.  It was odd not only because I had actually heard a voice, but because I knew it wasn't an angry voice. It was just like She was saying firmly, "Put away your fears and stand before me," as well as also acknowledging the strength that was actually in me that I often hide from myself. At least that was how it felt. So, I stood before Her statue, proud and tall, crying a bit, until I stopped so that I could let the next person in.


That moment had a profound effect on me.  A seed had been planted and it seemed almost as if the floodgates opened.  I started getting these strong feelings, these epiphanies, that felt like they were coming from Artemis and they were pushing me to do certain things.  The biggest thing that she pushed me to do was to help “gather her children.”  


At the time, there seemed to be very few Hellenic Polytheists down in the South and the ones that were most active in the community were so spread out that we were all working separately. She wanted me to try and bring everyone in the surrounding area together despite this, first for discussion and then, hopefully, for ritual.  This was how the Southeastern Hellenes list and group were born.


Since that time, things have come together nicely both in the local Atlanta-area where I live as well as in the Southeast itself for Hellenic activity.  I can’t help but feel this has all been guided by both Artemis and the other gods.  That is why when I finally was able to create a local eranos and proto-demos, I named it in honor of Artemis Mounykhia, who has inspired it all.


It’s almost difficult to remember how I started on this path – a path holding the hand of Artemis.  Despite all this, I am so honored to have Her by my side after all of these years.



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