Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Essay: The Wounded Twins: Apollo and Artemis

Relationship difficulties


Apollo and Artemis both have archetypal wounds related to emotional distance and lack of self-worth. In a society where the Twins are so influential, their wounds reflect in us.


Apollo and Artemis are the twins of Olympus.

Apollo is the god of logic, law, and order. He is the god of light, learning, culture, structure. Apollo represents the power of the intellect to shape reality. He’s the god of the sun, too.

Artemis is the goddess of animalistic intuition, wild places, and the hunt. She’s the goddess of the moon.

While Apollo lives in cities and builds societies, Artemis runs in the woods and roams the mountains. Apollo stands in courtrooms arguing his case and winning people to his side because nobody can out-logic Apollo. Artemis doesn’t speak so much as howl, and her howl calls wild things and other women to her side.

So we have these two archetypes. They exist within a single human being—the intellect and the intuition. And they exist within a society (or collective consciousness) as a whole.


They’re polar opposites, but they also mirror one another in a lot of ways.

The twins are both very goal oriented, and people who identify strongly with one of these two archetypes tend to be focused on achievement or completely taken up with some pursuit (especially Artemis people). Apollo and Artemis are both archers, which symbolizes the ability to aim for a far-off goal and hit the target, an ability to provide for themselves (as in hunting game), and the ability to take down their enemies without getting involved in any up close and personal conflict.

Apollo and Artemis are both also known for retreating from society. They both have the nickname “The Far-Distant One.” Artemis disappears into the wilderness where nobody can find her for months on end. Apollo was said to disappear for months on end to the distant land of the Hyperboreans, where I guess he chilled out and wrote law books for fun or something.

In addition to shunning society in general, they especially tend to shun the opposite gender. Artemis is a hardcore feminist who prefers to hang out with women, and Apollo would rather spend most of his time with men.

In everyday people terms, this tendency to withdraw and shun others—especially others of the opposite gender—manifests as emotional distance.

Apollo and Artemis are both completely hopeless when it comes to forming meaningful, lasting emotional connections with others. They especially suck at intimacy.

That’s what we call an archetypal “wound.”

Here’s a shortlist of these archetypes’ wounds, most of which come from Jean Shinoda Bolen’s books “Goddesses in Everywoman” and “Gods in Everyman”:

— Artemis: Contempt for weakness and vulnerability. (Artemis is a hardcore feminist who has no patience for people who are too emotional, because she sees that as weakness.)

— Artemis: Destructive rage. (Artemis is less than thrilled at the way women are often treated . . . and more than capable of punishing men for it. So her brand of feminism can be angry.)

— Artemis: “Self-esteem issues involving intimate relationships from early isolation from other girls and, later, sense of rejection/exclusion by boys.”

— Artemis: “Avoids her own vulnerability and deeper emotions by absorbing herself in work, goals, or physical activity.”


— Apollo: “Difficulties related to emotional distance, such as communication problems, inability to be intimate, and rejections,” especially by lovers or partners.

— Apollo: Rejected by lovers who are initially impressed with his success, but ultimately disappointed with his emotional unavailability.

— Apollo: “Lofty status, which contributes to narcissism and arrogance.”

— Apollo: Avoids his own deeper emotions by intellectualizing everything, or even taking refuge in a “mindful spiritual practice.” (This is spiritual bypassing.)

— Apollo: Self-worth issues related to failing to live up to his own high standards. (I don’t think this is from Bolen.)


Notice anything about the twins’ wounds? They mirror one another pretty neatly, right? They’re all to do with emotional distance and self-worth.

So what?

Weelllllll . . . remember where I mentioned that these two archetypes are at play in our society at large, and in individuals?

The intellect has gotten a little drunk on its own ability to break things down into their component parts, and to shape the world in a way that serves the ego’s desires. (See my post Apollo is a Perfectionist and You are Not Good Enough for Him.)

Why the ego? Because the intellect doesn’t easily recognize the existence of intuition or spirit, or even the heart. So the intellect serves the ego. It serves progress and achievement. It serves being right and winning. It serves itself.

As a culture, our collective intellect has essentially decided that if something isn’t logical or profitable, it isn’t valid. We look at nature and see untapped resources. So it’s only naturally that the more technology and information Apollo has access to, the more he’s going to pave all over Artemis’s world and exploit it for his own ends. She can’t stop him. Unless she sends an earthquake or a tidal wave or something.

But even that will only stop Apollo for a little while. He’s a pretty determined guy.

And it’s only natural that Artemis’s rage is getting pretty out of control.

In a world where Apollo is so large and in charge, his other half is going to be equally large . . . if not as equally in charge. The god of the sun casts a big shadow.

So as we seek to master the natural world, we have this kind of backlash—climate change, sea levels rising, the reducing populations of bees threatening world food supplies, species extinction on a mass scale, and more environmental issues than I can list here.

I look at this and see the severance and distance between the two halves of a whole. On a SUPER grand scale.


I think the fact that these archetypes are behaving this way has big implications for the members of our society, both as a collective and as individuals.

What’s going on in a world is basically a reflection of what’s going on psychologically and spiritually for the members of that world. In other words, your intellect is paving over your emotions. And so is mine.

It’s the way we’ve been taught to live.

That’s why we’ve created the world this way—it’s a reflection of us and our Apollonian values. Along with all the benefits of Apollo, we get his shadow. (And both the sun and its shadow have the SAME WOUNDS.)


WE have the wounds of the twins—emotional distance. WE are the “Far-Distant Ones.”

WE have contempt for vulnerability and natural emotions. WE have self-esteem issues based on a lack of self-worth and rejection. WE have a tendency to withdraw from one another, to fail at connection in a big way, and even to be “Far-Distant” from our own emotions.

When we are disconnected from our own emotions, we cannot possibly emotionally connect with another person, and we will always feel alone no matter what we do. So we are far-distant on two fronts: from other people and from ourselves.

WE have deep-seated hurt—sometimes earthquake-level rage—that stems from a place within us that we don’t really understand, because it’s not logical. It’s instinctual and heart-based.

It comes from not recognizing emotions as guidance, and not using them as a map to help us live meaningful lives. It comes from disconnecting from those feelings (especially vulnerability, which is necessary if we’re to connect with another person) and trying to logic our way through our lives.

Logic leads to rational decisions, but not always meaningful ones.

It leads to profitable decisions, but not always nourishing ones.

So we make “good” decisions that feel meaningless, and we feel hurt feelings, and the only thing we can do is distance ourselves from those feelings. It’s self-defense from ourselves.

Emotional distance like this is, at first, a brilliant maneuver that allows us to survive in conditions that we feel are hostile to our hearts. It allows us to look at the natural world being destroyed (and our natural selves being destroyed) and feel very little in response.

That’s useful if we’re building a house to live in.

But not so useful when the house is big enough and we’re ready to fill it with a family.

I think it’s time for us to make a global family.


So how do these two twins, who have wounded each other so deeply in the same ways, come together?

I used to think it had to start with Apollo. After all, if he doesn’t observe scientifically how this kind of distance and coldness damages him (if our intellect does not realize how emotional distance damages our lives) then he will not make any changes.

But now I think it starts with Artemis. She was born before her brother, anyway.

She’s the one who has to raise hell in order to point out that something is not right. (Your gut and your heart have to cause a lot of trouble and make you very unhappy before your intellect will take steps to make change.)

Well, Artemis is doing just that. We have environmental destruction and feminine energy changing rapidly, demanding equality and learning to experience its own power in new ways.

Apollo is taking notice. More quickly in some ways than others, but still. He’s noticed.

Once Apollo sees that his actions are causing trouble, he’ll take steps to change them. That means changing himself.

So this means that while the feminine is learning to experience its own power in new ways, so is the masculine. Artemis and Apollo are both changing.

It’s fun to see that shift taking place in different ways in the world.


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