Myth & Movie: Antisocial Artemis and The Walking Dead
I guess I need to note that an article titled “Antisocial Artemis and The Walking Dead” will have spoilers for “The Walking Dead.” There—I’ve done it. Now no whining when you see a spoiler.
So it turns out I’m not a particularly friendly person.
It’s not that I’m actively rude to people. I’m nice enough. It isn’t even that I don’t like people. It’s just that I find it difficult to connect with people in ways that feel meaningful to me. So what winds up happening is my attachments can feel shallow. And since I’m not really into extended small talk, I wind up letting go of people or just ignoring them after awhile.
It sure can make me seem like a cold bitch sometimes.
I’ve come to terms with that.
This aloofness, aloneness, and preference to be apart from people is a big part of the Artemis archetype.
I’ve written a lot about Artemis. She’s a very popular archetype right now. One reason why is because she’s a badass feminist. She represents the strong, feminine spirit that connects with nature, does her own thing, provides for herself, doesn’t take shit. She’s taking our attention right now because feminine energy is rising in the world. She’s done standing a step below her brothers.
But Artemis herself doesn’t partner up with men.
She enjoys the company of women and children, but she doesn’t really partner up very well with any of them either.
She doesn’t actually partner up with anyone. She’s what Jean Shinoda Bolen called a “virginal goddess,” which doesn’t refer to her celibacy as much as it refers to the way she withholds from relationships; the way she is self-defined rather than defined by her interactions with others.
It’s not that she hates people. She just doesn’t really get them. She doesn’t speak their language. She’s better at grunting and howling, like the animals whose company she prefers. She relies on instinct over logic.
She is more than independent—she’s a loner.
We see this aspect of Artemis reflected a lot in our stories today.
For example, she’s present in Michonne from The Walking Dead.
Michonne is the strong, silent type. She’s good at moving through the post-apocalyptic zombified world and keeping herself alive. She doesn’t have much to say, but she’s always watching, listening, and using her intuition to find—or create—a safe path.
In season three, Michonne and her friend Andrea are taken in from the wild zombielands by the Governor at Woodbury. Andrea thinks they’ve found a real safe haven in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Logically, it would seem so. Woodbury’s a nice place. They’ve got booze and running water and happy people wearing khakis and milling about in the street like they’re filming a Gap commercial in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.
Andrea is a pretty capable woman herself, and she relies on her judgment and comes to the conclusion that this is a safe place.
Michonne, though, does not rely on logic. She looks around and sees this Stepford-esque community, and her gut tells her something is wrong. She trusts her gut so much that she’d rather be alone in the wild with the zombies, where at least she knows what she’s dealing with and how to survive, than inside the walls of Woodbury.
That’s Artemis. She does better in the wild than in a city. She does not care what her logic tells her. She will follow her gut every time.
Michonne’s gut is proven right when the Governor turns out to be a fascist psychopath.
Later, Michonne joins the group of main characters, led by Rick Grimes.
She doesn’t speak to them or mingle with them for a little while, so they don’t trust her for a little while. She’s like a feral dog that might attack at any moment, and she still likes to go off on her own for long periods of time.
And she often comes back with candy, which she shares with Rick’s son Carl.
Because surprisingly, Michonne bonds great with children. How can someone so antisocial and defensive bond so easily with kids?
That’s another aspect of Artemis. She’s a goddess protectress of children and babies. I think the same part of Artemis that is wild and a little feral is also innocent. It seems like a paradox. She’s violent and vicious and defensive, but also playful and protective. She’s like a mama bear playing with her cubs. (Except, they wouldn’t be her cubs, because Artemis doesn’t have her own children.)
It’s a kind of undomesticated happiness. She’s completely unimpressed with civilization and everything men have built—the way they all behave and the way they expect her to behave. It strikes her as a lie. It’s all so fake.
But kids? Kids are authentic. Artemis can do that.
And so can Michonne in The Walking Dead. Michonne and little Carl get along great. She actually opens up to Carl, and tells him things about herself that she doesn’t share with anyone else.
I can’t personally relate to the badass aspect of Artemis. If I were a character in The Walking Dead, I would not be Michonne—I’d be dead. I’d be zombified and stabbed in the head in season one.
I do, however, relate to the strong Artemis preference for being alone in the wild. (I even lived in the woods for a month in my car.) And to the pronounced lack of interest in communicating and connecting with other people. Very often, it all just seemed like a waste of time.
I didn’t used to place a lot of value on most personal relationships (even though I thought I did). What I placed value on was what I wanted those relationships to be—not what they were.
The reason for that was because I had not learned to be myself as I moved through the world. I was trying to fit in, to connect with people while being inauthentic, and that led to false connections.
I was in a state where I felt completely untethered from everyone (“untethered” was the word I used when trying to describe my feelings to a friend). It led me to feel cold, cruel, and antisocial.
“Artemis’s emotional detachment, and even cruelty, appears in numerous myths,” say authors Harris and Platzner in their book Classical Mythology: Images & Insights.
How far can this aspect of the Artemis archetype take us before we need to grow out of her? And how can we grow out of her?
Michonne herself realizes that she might—just maybe—want to connect more with the people around her.
In season four of The Walking Dead, Michonne has been with Rick and the group of main characters for awhile. She’s kind of starting to feel like they’re her family—especially young Carl.
Then, because it’s The Walking Dead, the zombies attack, the main characters get separated, and Michonne finds herself out on her own again. At first she tries to do things like she did before—wandering alone in the wild zombielands, doing what she has to. But soon she begins to feel that being so alone and closed off is like being cold and dead. She even notices a zombie who looks disturbingly like herself.
Artemis is a smart animal. She does like to be alone. But she also needs a pack.
As soon as Michonne realizes what she needs, she changes her direction and goes toward it. She uses her wilderness skills to track Rick and Carl, and when she finds them, she weeps for relief and love.
I know that for some Artemis people, connection with others can seem more than difficult—it can seem futile, as though everything is shallow, fake, or gets lost in translation.
Both Artemis and her brother Apollo have great advice for this state.
Artemis would say Follow Thy Gut.
Apollo would say Know Thyself.
If you don’t know yourself and you can’t sense what your gut is saying, follow that groundless feeling and go out into the woods. Be alone and stop listening to anyone else’s voice until you start to hear your own. The loner aspect of Artemis can lead you through this process.
It’s going to be scary, because being alone is scary. But come on—you’ve been alone a long time anyway, right? All you’re doing now is stopping the pretending.
Follow Thy Gut and Know Thyself, and you’ll eventually find your voice, and you’ll get so fed up with meaningless bullshit that you’ll start being who you really are—saying what you really think, going after what you’re really hungry for.
This isn’t for the faint of heart. You might have to drop all your friends. You might have to move to another country. Or quit your job.
Screw whoever gets upset. If you know yourself and act from that place, it won’t matter who doesn’t “get you.” You’ll attract the people who do. You’ll stop making meaningless connections. You’ll stop having shallow conversations.
That’s how you form your true pack.
I’m not saying you can’t ever go live in the woods by yourself for a few months. I will always want to go live in the woods by myself for a few months. But it’s so much better when you have a pack to come back to, so you actually want to come out of the woods again.
That’s my take on what the antisocial aspect of Artemis has to offer.
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