Artemis, the Greek Goddess Who Kicks Butt

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Although I am an agnostic when it comes to the actual physical existence of any kind of God or divine power, I am drawn to pagan spirituality. I love their connection to the earth, seasons, and the cycles of nature. I also happen to love mythology, whether it be classic Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Native American, Eastern, Celtic, Norse, or whatever else there happens to be. I’m not sure if I could believe in the Gods/Goddesses of these belief systems as actual living beings, but I can certainly believe in the archetypes and types of universal energy they represent and the various facets of humanity they project.

Greek mythology is my favorite pantheon and has several Gods/Goddesses I adore. Hades will always be a favorite, as the cool ruler of the underworld. His wife Persephone is right up there as well. Athena is brilliant, and Hecate is dark and mysterious – two things I adore! But my favorite Goddess has to be Artemis (Diana in Roman mythology).

I always loved how Artemis was tough and tomboyish. She determined from her youth that she didn’t need no man! She could take care of herself and find happiness with her nymph friends and beloved animals. The other day I came across a bit of knowledge on GoddessGift.com I didn’t know about Artemis though, which made me love her even more:

“Artemis’ mother, Leto, gave birth to Artemis after a short and painless labor. But then Leto’s labor continued, with her contractions growing weak and painful. Moved to compassion, the infant goddess Artemis, born only a few minutes earlier, became her mother’s midwife and delivered her twin brother Apollo. You could say that, of all the Greek goddesses, the goddess Artemis was literally born to serve as a nurturer and protector!

The Greek goddess Artemis was frequently called upon to nurture her needy and somewhat ineffectual mother. All too often she felt compelled to come to her rescue even though Artemis received little from her mother in return. As a result of her having caused her mother no pain in childbirth, and her successful role as midwife in her brother’s birth, Artemis naturally became the patron saint of childbirth, the protector of children, and the goddess who especially heard the appeals of women.

The goddess Artemis was always responsive to the needs of the vulnerable and the suffering. She was quick to defend the powerless from unjust treatment at the hands of the Olympian patriarchy; it is not surprising that in current times Artemis is seen as the “feminist” goddess.”

What a kick ass Goddess! Right after she was born she helped deliver her baby brother Apollo? And like me, she had an ineffectual (probably narcissistic) mother that she had to take care of all her life? I can totally relate to having to come to a parent’s rescue time and time again, when you get little in return. And being a feminist in a time of overt patriarchy (especially with a philanderer like Zeus for a father)? Artemis, you rock!

 

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What I Believe, Do Not Believe, and Am Unsure About

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Like many others with Aspergers and OCD traits, I enjoy making lists and organizing my thoughts in a linear fashion on paper. While flipping through an old notebook, I found the following lists of “What I Believe”, “What I Do Not Believe”, and “What I Am Unsure Of”, and thought I would share it just for fun. Since I am not religious anymore, I made this list to try to figure out and pinpoint what I personally believe or no longer believe.

What I Believe

  • There is probably some kind of all-encompassing spirit or energy in the universe. Whether that energy is conscious and/or aware can be argued.
  • There is an inter-connectedness of all things.
  • I believe in the power and goodness of love, kindness, and forgiveness.
  • I believe in the power and strength of nature.

What I Do Not Believe

  • Any form of religious dogma. It is ALL man-made.
  • I do not believe that any human or religion has all the answers, no matter how much they think they do.
  • I do not believe in eternal punishment or “hell”.
  • I do not believe that everyone needs to or should follow the same path.

What I Am Unsure Of

  • Are there any Gods or Goddesses in any form?
  • Is there an afterlife? Are ghosts, hauntings, or reincarnation real?
  • Are there other “realms”? For example, do fairies, aliens, alternate realities, mythical monsters, etc. exist in this current reality or any other?
  • Is there such a thing as a personal soul? If so, do only humans have them, or all living beings? Can a non-organic being (like Artificial Intelligence) have or develop a “soul”?

I’m Not An Atheist

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Many people jump to the conclusion that I am an atheist because I am not religious anymore and can be very critical of organized religion. However, I am not an atheist. I do often listen to atheist podcasts and read atheist books, but I also sometimes listen to and read material from spiritual or religious sources (even the crazy ones, although I listen to them more for amusement). I find myself overall agreeing more with secular thought, but I do feel that differing points of view are essential for having a realistic, down-to-earth view of life.

If I had to choose a label for myself spiritually, it would be agnostic. I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’m not a deist, because I’m not positive that there is a greater being or consciousness, although I hope there is to an extent. I don’t believe in the specific gods of any earthly religions, but I wouldn’t mind if there were some wiser (and hopefully caring) beings, or at least some sort of a meaning to all that is.

Because of the state of the world and the suffering, abuse, and slaughter of the innocent, I find it hard to believe in an “all good” being in power, unless that being gave us a choice about being here and what we would face. If earth were some kind of “school” where we choose the lessons we want to learn or the experiences we want to have, then I could see how the powers that be could still be moral and have values. Otherwise, their absence and inaction in the face of so much injustice and pain speaks volumes.

I do not believe in “original sin”. I do not believe in a God who must spill innocent blood in order to be able to forgive someone else for doing something wrong (seriously, how is that even ok???) I do not believe in a being that has such a huge ego all they want is to be worshiped for all eternity (too Donald Trumpish for my taste). I do not believe that there is necessarily an afterlife or heaven/hell, but if there is I would not be shocked or upset unless there was some kind of tyrant running things. If there is some sort of being in charge of it all, I simply hope that they are just and kind, but not cruel or punitive.

The Spice Girls of Depression

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Last night my back pain got so bad that I may have accidentally overdosed on muscle relaxers. I was thinking my prescription allowed me to take up to 3 muscle relaxers at a time, but I was wrong, apparently it was only 2 at a time…and I took 4. I’m not sure if there is actually much danger in that, but I probably should be more careful.

Yesterday was also a horrible depression day for me. I think the combination of physical pain and the despair I feel sometimes about the seeming meaninglessness of life makes for a perfect storm. It probably didn’t help that I attended a group early in the day that talked about the sometimes apparent pointlessness of life when you are agnostic or atheist.

So, last night I was watching YouTube videos (trying to distract myself from the depression) when I watched a video about the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls. While I was watching it, I started thinking that my depression is kind of like the extremely popular but somewhat annoying 90’s girl group. Instead of Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary, and Ginger Spice, I have Paranoid Spice, Anxious Spice, Angry Spice, Sad Spice, and Hopeless Spice living in my head. Thinking about all these emotions personified in ridiculously dressed, cheesy girl group images did make me chuckle a bit. Imagine those dance routines!

Life is Pain

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Life is pain.

And I don’t mean that
in some philosophical
bullshit way…(or maybe I do?)

Life is pain, whether it
be physical, mental,
emotional, or existential.

The gentle yearning ache
of a heart perpetually unfulfilled…

The bittersweet bile of nostalgia
creeping up one’s throat…

The sharp bite of our
unreliably aging bones…

The mind-numbing weight
of each day survived intact…

The desperate call of a soul
that may or may not actually exist…

~ Maranda Russell

My Current Feelings on Religion

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For a few years, I was really pissed at religion. Not necessarily at religious people, I always understood that religious people are just like any other group of people, some are well-meaning and kind and others are power-hungry jerks. Most others fall somewhere in the middle, just like the rest of humanity. Of course, when you are angry at religion in general (or Christianity specifically in my case), those who believe in that religion tend to take whatever you say personally, as if you are attacking them rather than a belief system. I understand to an extent. When you are devoted to a religion, you struggle with any criticism of it because you find much of your identity within that belief system and you honestly believe that God himself will hold you accountable if you don’t defend him (that whole “whoever publicly acknowledges me before others” thing Jesus said).

So why was I mad at religion, and specifically Christianity? Mostly, a feeling of betrayal. I came to the conclusion through much biblical and historical study that the scriptures are not inerrant (and were somewhat put together by Rome for political purposes) and everything kind of crumbled after that. Without the belief in perfect scriptures, I found it impossible to believe much of anything because who knows which parts might be right and which are wrong? Logical questions also played a huge role in my de-conversion. For instance, why in the world would a being create a system where the only way he could forgive wrongs done against him was to send part of himself to earth in the form of his son and excruciatingly kill himself? Why the whole blood sacrifice thing? Isn’t that a bit barbaric and pagan actually? If God can do anything, why in the heck couldn’t he just forgive without something innocent having to be murdered? The more I thought things through, the more I felt betrayed because I had devoted so much of my life to these beliefs that now made no sense to me.

All these feelings haunted me and the more I concentrated on it, the angrier I felt and the more I felt duped all those years. I started listening to atheist voices (even though I was never an atheist, I consider myself an agnostic now). Some of these atheists I listened to were nuanced and considerate of at least some religious sensibilities, but some definitely were not. Through all this though, it is kind of funny, I still felt bad for some reason when Jesus was maligned. To this day I still nearly wince when awful things are said about Jesus. I guess old loyalties die hard. I still occasionally listened to my old Christian rock records too, just because I like them. I still prayed, sometimes desperately, just hoping if there was ANYTHING out there it would let me know. Unfortunately, no great revelation was made.

So that brings us to today…and how do I feel now? Rather unemotional actually. Yes, there are still parts of religion I dislike, especially when taken to a literal extreme. Yes, I still listen to Jars of Clay (my favorite Christian group) and still don’t really like Jesus being abused. I’ve come to the conclusion I just like the guy, whether he ever really existed or whether his story was greatly exaggerated, I still like the guy. I find that there are still lessons I learned in the church that apply and I’m glad I was a Christian for all those years. Without it, I doubt I would be as sensitive and caring about social issues and I simply wouldn’t be the same person. I cherish the relationships I made during those years and all the people I loved. I’m not angry anymore. I’m still firmly agnostic, but am always open if some greater force wants to contact me. You’ve got my number God, hit me up sometime.

Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.