A year ago I was meditating here.
These are ruins of the temple of Artemis near Ephesus, in present-day Turkey. The temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was the home of the famous many-breasted (or bull-testicled) statue of Artemis.
On the day I visited, there were several men selling reproductions of the statue, set up on tables near the ruins. Though I'd tried to haggle over prices (it's expected) throughout my time in Turkey, I'd also kept to the practice of not bargaining over the price of magical tools. (I'd purchased a knife to use as an athame and several goddess statues.) I picked up the statue that called to me and asked the man, "how much?" "Dollars, euros, or lira?" "Dollars," I replied, thinking of the $10 bill I had in my pocket. "$10," he said. Done.
The temple grounds were ringed with blessed thistle, which made me think of the epithet Thalia Took assigns to Artemis, "defend your boundaries!" I sat at the foot of the column you see here and meditated, surrounded by a few friends. Someone snapped a photo of us. A friend commented later on how it was the fertile women in our class--those of us still bleeding and hoping to have children--who had meditated in the temple, gathered around the column, while the rest of our class explored the grounds. Artemis is a guardian of children and animals, and She is traditionally invoked by women in labor as a Midwife.
Much has changed in my life since I sat meditating at the temple a year ago. The Mother took our beloved Lugh, something we can't pretend to understand but which we know happened as it should. I invoked Artemis on Lugh's behalf, several times, and I will invoke Her again as we adopt other dogs. I've invoked Her in her Amazon aspect on my sister's behalf, as she faced breast cancer. And in six months it will be my turn to invoke Her in childbirth.
She has accompanied me since before I knew I was a Witch, at least since I was an voracious young feminist, if not since I was a child who loved the wild places. And there is something of Her in me: guardian and fierce protector.