Artemis the Hunter

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
© DURGA YAEL BERNHARD

Archery season begins here in the Catskill Mountains on October 1st, and continues until the beginning of rifle hunting season the third week of November.  You don’t see too many bowhunters out and about.  Hunting deer with a bow requires far more dedication and stealth than hunting with a rifle or shotgun.  Bowhunters know how to blend into their surroundings.  I was a bowhunter for fifteen years.

Out of that experience grew several paintings of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt.  I always admired Artemis as an archetype of feminine power, but it wasn’t until I read Mary Zeiss Stange’s book Woman the Hunter that I learned that Artemis prevails over more than just death.  Artemis goes by many names, and is known as the “luminous Maiden of the Silver Bow” and of the crescent moon. “. . . As a moon goddess, she is simultaneously ‘the goddess that roves by night’ and ‘a light-bearer’, who guides travelers toward their destinations. Like the moon, she is at once ‘enticing, romantic, and remote'”.

Artemis is also known as “She of the Child-Bed”, prevailing over women in labor – always accompanied by the threat of death.  She is the Lady of Wild Things, the Mistress of Animals, who stands at the door between life and death, ushering those who do not survive – whether a mother giving birth or an animal shot with an arrow – over the threshold with a swift demise.  Artemis is “not only the hunter but protector of all that is wild and vulnerable.” For life feeds on life, and death is part of life.

I found this fascinating, and strove to create a number of images that encompass both birth and death, and that express the feeling of participating directly in the cycle of life and death.  It is an inexhaustible subject.  In my last year of bowhunting, I had the rare opportunity to hunt while I was pregnant – a unique polarity which I imagine few people have experienced.  Though I did not shoot a deer that hunting season, the experience was still incredibly rich – and it gave birth to this painting.  I wrote about it in an essay titled “The Gift of Artemis” which was eventually published as a chapter in an anthology titled Heart Shots: Women Write About Hunting – edited and compiled by Mary Zeiss Stange – cover illustration by me.  If you would like to read this essay, let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

A good week to all!

 

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!

 

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