Numbers say female hunting is on the rise, but they’ve been doing it throughout mythological history.
Though the phenomenon of female hunters is seemingly a recent one, the notion of women hunting is as ancient as civilization itself.
Stories of powerful huntresses have filled our legends and stories for centuries. Whether they are solely associated with the hunt or juggle many duties, the huntresses of mythology remain powerful and even familiar figures in the modern day.
With Mother’s Day around the corner, we thought we’d highlight some strong female hunters who can set, albeit mythologically, a good example for modern day outdoorswomen.
The following are some of the more well known mythological female hunters from popular mythology.
Image via theoi.com
Perhaps the most famous mythological huntress is Artemis. Twin sister to Apollo, who pulls the sun across the sky, Artemis was born standing up and ready to work.
She is a goddess of great contradiction, both a virgin and a fertility goddess at once. She is known as the stag-killer and the protector of hunters, the wilderness, and wild animals alike.
Known in Sparta as Orthia and, later, in Roma as Diana, Artemis is also associated with the moon and with sudden calamity.
Image via norse-mythology.org
Skadi is an unusual figure in Norse mythology. A giant (also known as ‘devourer’), Skadi should not have entered the Norse pantheon as she did. However, a brief marriage to the sea god, Njord, earned her the reverence of a goddess.
Skadi is known for being a huntress, armed with a bow and either snow shoes or a pair of skis, as the snow never melted in the mountains where she made her home.
It is thought that her reverence, though unexpected, is due in part to the fact that she represents the subsistence activities many relied on to survive the harsh winters.
Image via thedailygoddess.tumblr.com
Mielikki of the Finnish pantheon was known as the lady of the forest. Though many of her counterparts are represented by deer, Mielikki was known as the goddess of Emon viljat, or small game like squirrels and rabbits.
Her husband, Tapio, was the god of large game hunting. Therefore, when hunters went out to catch small game for the day, they sent up quick prayers to Mielikki, both for her favor and generosity.
Mielikki was also known to be a hospitable goddess, sometimes referred to as The Sharer Maid, for her propensity to share her game with hunters.
Image via gypsymoonsister.tumblr.com
Flidais is part of the Celtic mythology and an ally of the Tuatha de Danaan, the race of gods and goddesses descended from the god Danu. Known as the mistress of stags, Flidais is said to have had a chariot pulled by deer instead of horses. She is revered as being both the huntress of wild animals and their protector, ensuring no abuse of hunting occurs under her watch.
Image via wikipedia.org
Neith of Ancient Egypt was a dual goddess of war and hunting, and is often depicted with two arrows crossed over a shield.
In other images, she is depicted as holding a baby crocodile, a suggestion that she herself is a primordial goddess, a potential mother of Ra, and is representative of all that which is born of the water.
She is also depicted as a guardian, using her bow and arrows to defend the canopic jars belonging to the dead under her protection.