The following is an extract from the book The Mastery of Love
by Don Miguel Ruiz
In Greek Mythology, there is a story about Artemis, the divine huntress. Artemis was the supreme huntress because the way she hunted was effortless. She fulfilled her needs so easily and lived in perfect harmony with the forest. Everything in the forest loved Artemis, and to be hunted by her was an honor. It never seemed like Artemis was hunting; whatever she needed came to her. That is why she was the best hunter, but this also made her the most difficult prey. Her animal form was a magical deer that was almost impossible to hunt.
Artemis lived in perfect harmony in the forest, until one day a king gave an order to Hercules, the son of Zeus, who was searching for his own transcendence. The order was that Hercules had to hunt the magical deer of Artemis. Hercules, being the undefeated son of Zeus, did not refuse; he went to the forest to hunt the deer. Artemis saw Hercules, and she wasn't afraid of him. She let Hercules come close, but when Hercules tried to capture her, she ran. There was no way Hercules could get this deer unless he became a better hunter than Artemis.
Hercules called upon Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, the fastest one, to lend him his wings. Now Hercules was as fast as Hermes, and soon the most valuable prey was in the hands of Hercules. You can imagine the reaction of Artemis. She was hunted by Hercules and of course, she wanted to get even. She wanted to hunt Hercules, and she did her best to capture him, but Hercules was now the most difficult prey. Hercules was so free and although she tried and tried, Artemis could not capture him.
Artemis didn't need Hercules at all. She felt a strong need to have him, but of course it was only an illusion. She believed she was in love with Hercules, and she wanted him for herself. The one thing on her mind was to get Hercules, and it became an obsession until she was no longer happy. Artemis started to change. She was no longer in harmony with the forest because now she hunted just for the pleasure of the prey. Artemis broke her own rules and became a predator. The animals were afraid, and the forest started to reject her, but Artemis didn't care. She didn't see the truth; she only had Hercules on her mind.
Hercules had many works to do, but sometimes he would go to the forest to visit Artemis. Every time he did, Artemis did her best to hunt him. When she was with Hercules, she felt so happy to be with him, but she knew he would leave, and she became jealous and possessive. Every time Hercules left, she suffered and she cried. She hated Hercules, but she loved him also.
Hercules had no idea what was going on in the mind of Artemis; he didn't notice she was hunting him. In his mind, he was never prey. Hercules loved and respected Artemis, but this is not what she wanted. Artemis wanted to own him; she wanted to be the predator with him. Of course everyone in the forest noticed the difference in Artemis except her. In her mind she was still the divine huntress. She didn't have the awareness that she had fallen. She wasn't aware that the heaven that was the forest had become hell, because after her fall, the rest of the hunters fell with her; they all became predators.
One day Hermes took on animal form, and just as Artemis was ready to destroy Hermes, he became a God and she rediscovered the wisdom she had lost. He let her know she had fallen, and with this awareness Artemis went to Hercules to ask his forgiveness. It was nothing but her personal importance that brought her to that fall. In talking to Hercules she realized she had never offended him because he didn't know what was going on in her mind. Then she looked around and she saw what she had done to the forest. She apologized to every flower and to every animal until she recovered love. Once again, Artemis became the divine huntress.
I tell this story to let you know that all of us are hunters; and all of us are prey. Everything that exists is both hunters and prey. What is it we hunt? We hunt to fulfill our needs. I have talked about the needs of the body versus the needs of the mind. When the mind believes it is the body, the needs are only illusions, and they cannot be fulfilled. When we hunt those needs that are unreal in the mind, we become the predators - we are hunting for what we don't need.
Humans hunt for love. We feel that we need that love because we believe we don't have love, because we don't love ourselves. We hunt for love in other humans just like us, expecting to get love from them when these humans are in the same condition as we are. They don't love themselves either, so how much love can we get from them? We merely create a bigger need that isn't real; we keep hunting and hunting, but in the wrong place, because humans don't have the love we need.
When Artemis became aware of her fall, she went back to herself, because everything she needed was inside herself. It is the same for all of us, because all of us are like Artemis after she fell and before her redemption. We are hunting for love. We are hunting for justice and happiness. We are hunting for God, but God is inside us.
(Originally from the book The Mastery of Love
by Don Miguel Ruiz)
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