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The legend of Actaeon is one of the many tales in Greek mythology that cautions mortals about the power of the gods - and especially the goddesses. According to one version of the story, Actaeon was a young man fond of the hunt and of spending his time haunting the forests, searching for game. One day, while on a hunting expedition, he happened to catch a glimpse of the chaste virgin goddess Artemis.

Artemis was bathing (in the nude, of course) and cavorting with her female companions in a lake. No doubt, Actaeon was taken aback by the beauty of the goddess. The youth then made some sound that gave away his illicit presence. Artemis, startled, noticed Actaeon's presence, and immediately her wrath at being seen in such a state by a mortal man caused her to react with fury. The goddess responded to the intrusion by transforming the unfortunate Actaeon into a stag.

The young man was accompanied by his hunting dogs. Normally, dogs are the perfect companions for hunters. But in this case, their presence was deadly. The animals simply did not recognize Actaeon in his new stag form. So Actaeon's hounds, blinded with lust for this tempting prey, pounced upon their master and tore him apart, thus ending the life of the unlucky man. And Artemis had her revenge...

Book of Shadows © 2001, Dana (Huntress of the Dark)