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Becoming the Huntress

Diana the HuntressAs a Pagan, I’ve always had an interest in the faces that humanity puts on the gods. I have a particular fascination with the Celtic gods and goddesses most commonly seen as part of the Wiccan beliefs. No matter what your take on religion is, or whatever deity you believe in (or not), I encourage you to look closer at the lessons that we can all learn from the stories and followers of the old ways. The Celtic gods and goddess may just become a series in my blog, thanks to a friend who asked me for information about the Morrigan. More on her next time.

For now, I’ve started with Diana, the Huntress, because she is the goddess that I most identify with. She’s Roman, not Celtic, but since there is a whole section of Dianic Wicca, I’m not going to split hairs. There are multitudes of references on her, so I will just include the Wikipedia link. She is represented primarily as the goddess of the hunt, with her quiver and bow close at hand, and often surrounded by deer or other creatures from the forest.

Archery is a hobby of mine, and when I practice shooting I can relate to the goddess. There are are few lessons I’ve learned from her, and from the meditative state that can occur when target shooting.

1) Maintain your focus
So many times we get distracted from what we’re trying to achieve. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day craziness of life and lose sight of what we want to do. Whether it be a goal of a new job or career, or saving for a vacation, or just spending more quality time with those that mean the most, it is so easy to be distracted. The Huntress always brings her focus back to her target and doesn’t lose sight.

2) Look beyond your target
On the flip side, one thing we do in archery is to shoot beyond the target. Yes, we’re aiming for the zone, whether it be a red dot or the heart of a deer. Aiming for just those areas may get a successful shot, but they won’t be accurate much of the time. Shooting beyond the target will let you anticipate where your focus is headed and adjust accordingly. Energy from the arrow needs to go beyond the target and not stop dead at it, otherwise the arrow won’t reach as far into its destination.

3) Monitor your surroundings
With awareness comes connections, and connections strengthen focus. Avoid becoming so tunnel blind that you miss out on the opportunities that show up unexpectedly. Take time to listen, be quiet, know where the wind is in relation to your bow, and know what’s around you. Open up to the possibilities.

4) Easy grip
When holding on to the bow or the string with a choke-hold grip, the energy gets trapped in your hands. The arrow will release with a pluck and enough tension to slam it into the ground or send it wide from the target. Grabbing something and holding on so tight that air cannot expand will only make whatever it is you’re holding onto bolt that much faster.

5) Use your whole body
A bow isn’t drawn just using the arms. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. A draw must start in the core, pulling stability through the legs, travel through the torso and back, and then through the arms, hands, and fingers. Breath is even more important. Inhaling while expanding the draw, pausing, then exhaling with the release puts your whole body in harmony with shooting. It’s the same way in life. Treating your body as different sections and forgetting your breath will derail your shot every time.

6) Soft release and exhale
The same concept of an easy grip applies to the release of the arrow. You have your target in sight, know what is around you, have engaged your whole body, and now it’s time to just…let go. Never try to force the arrow. Just let it go. It’s the most difficult part of archery to grasp. It’s a difficult part of life to grasp. Set everything up, get it aligned, and let the arrow fly. Let the pieces fall into place. Don’t get in their way.

Set up your building blocks in life – your target, your stance, your equipment. Put the pieces together and believe that the arrow will fly true. This is the message that I’m trying to learn, and sometimes still struggling with. Follow the Huntress; she will lead on the right path.