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Myth & Movie: The Antisocial Artemis of The Walking Dead

Michonne on The Walking Dead represents an aspect of Artemis that has no interest in connecting with others…until she does.

Image courtesy of the-walkingdead.com and AMC. Used with the intention of fair use.

I guess I need to note that an article titled “The Antisocial Artemis of The Walking Dead” will have spoilers for “The Walking Dead.” There—I’ve done it. Now no whining when you see a spoiler.

***

So it turns out I’m not a particularly friendly person.

Sorry, Mom.

It’s not that I’m actively rude to people. I’m nice enough. It isn’t even that I don’t like people. It’s just that I find it difficult to connect with people in ways that feel meaningful to me. So what winds up happening is my attachments feel shallow. And since I’m not really into extended small talk, I wind up letting go of people or just ignoring them after awhile.

It sure can make me seem like a b—ch sometimes.

I’ve come to terms with that.

***

This aloofness, aloneness, and preference to be apart from people is a big part of the Artemis archetype.

I’ve written a lot about Artemis. She’s a very popular archetype right now. One reason why is because she’s a badass feminist. She represents the strong, feminine spirit that connects with nature, does her own thing, provides for herself, doesn’t take shit. She’s taking our attention right now because feminine energy is rising in the world to equal partnership with the masculine. She’s done standing a step below her brothers.

But Artemis herself doesn’t partner up with men.

She enjoys the company of women and children, but she doesn’t really partner up very well with any of them either.

She doesn’t actually partner up with anyone. She’s what we call a “virginal goddess,” which doesn’t refer to her celibacy as much as it refers to the way she withholds from relationships; the way she is self-defined rather than defined by her interactions with others.

It’s not that she hates people. She just doesn’t really get them. She doesn’t speak their language. She’s better at grunting and howling, like the animals whose company she prefers. She relies on instinct over logic.

She is more than independent—she’s a loner.

Image property of AMC

We see this aspect of Artemis reflected a lot in our stories today.

For example, she’s present in Michonne from The Walking Dead.

Michonne is the strong, silent type. She’s good at moving through the post-apocalyptic zombified world and keeping herself alive. She doesn’t have much to say, but she’s always watching, listening, and using her intuition to show her a safe path.

In season three, Michonne and Andrea are taken in by the Governor at Woodbury. Andrea thinks they’ve found a real safe haven in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Logically, it would seem so. Woodbury’s a nice place. They’ve got booze and running water and happy people wearing khakis and milling about in the street like it was a Gap commercial. Andrea is a pretty capable woman herself, and she relies on her judgment and comes to the conclusion that this is a safe place.

Michonne, though, does not rely on logic. She looks around and sees this Stepford-esque community, and her gut tells her something is wrong. She trusts her gut so much that she’d rather be alone in the wild with the zombies, where at least she knows what she’s dealing with and how to survive, than inside the walls of Woodbury.

That’s Artemis. She does better in the wild than in a city.

Even after Michonne joins the group of main characters at the prison, she still keeps relatively apart. She goes out for days at a time on her own.

Michonne does bond with children, though. She and young Carl get along really well, and he is the first one she opens up to. We also learn that she lost a baby at the beginning of the end of civilization. She loves kids.

That’s an Artemis thing, too. Artemis is a goddess of childbirth and a protectress of children.

Image property of AMC

If you ask me, Michonne is the most badass character on all of The Walking Dead. She once took out a whole herd of zombies with her katana. (Okay, it’s a close tie with Daryl…)

***

I can’t personally relate to that aspect of Artemis. I’m not really a badass. If I were a character in The Walking Dead, I’d be dead. I’d be zombified and stabbed in the head in season one.

I do, however, relate to the strong Artemis preference for being alone in the wild. And to the pronounced lack of interest in communicating and connecting with other people.

No one wants to say this about themselves, but I’ll go ahead and say it about myself: I don’t really place a lot of value on most personal relationships. (There are a few I’ve had for many, many years, and they mean the world to me.)

I’m not glorifying that. I’m not even saying it’s healthy. Artemis, for all her amazingness and all the empowerment she offers us, has her dark side (like all the archetypes).

“Artemis’s emotional detachment, and even cruelty, appears in numerous myths,” said authors Harris and Platzner in their book “Classical Mythology: Images & Insights.”

How far can the antisocial aspect of the archetype take us before we need to grow out of her? And how can we grow out of her?

***

Michonne herself realizes that she might—just maybe—want to connect more with the people around her.

In season four of The Walking Dead, the main characters get separated, and Michonne finds herself out on her own. At first she tries to do things like she did before—wandering alone in the wild zombielands, doing what she had to. But it didn’t take long for her to realize that if she stayed all by herself, she was pretty much dead already. She was like a zombie. So she tracked some members of the group, and when she found them, she wept for relief and love.

Michonne also, slowly, begins to open up and share herself with these people—her family. That’s essential, too.

I know that for some Artemis archetype people, communication with others can seem a little futile, as though everything is shallow or gets lost in translation. But Artemis’s brother, Apollo—her rational other half—offers us great advice on this point: Know Thyself.

Know Thyself, and you’ll find your truth and your voice. Find your voice, and use your words with as much personal truth as you can. Then it won’t matter who doesn’t “get you.” You’ll attract the people who do.

***

So what do the independent-to-the-point-of-antisocial Artemises among us have to learn from this?

You know how to keep yourself alive. Now you need a reason to FEEL alive. You need a reason to keep on being alive, or you might as well be dead. A group of people—a family—can give you this. It’s not necessarily your blood family, but it’s a group of people who help you connect with the world—with the parts of the world that mean something to you.

It’s a group of people that help you feel connected to yourself.

Find these people. Track them down. Follow them and call to them. Connect with them. It won’t be easy, but do not give up. Your life depends on it. Find them, and do not let them out of your sight.

I’m not saying you can’t ever go live in the woods by yourself for a few months. I will always want to go live in the woods by myself for a few months. But it’s so much better when you have kin to come back to, so you actually want to come out of the woods again.

***

L. Marrick is an author, ghostwriter, and suitcase entrepreneur—which is a hipster way of saying she travels and works from her laptop. Her memoir, “Working Girl: 132 Somewhat Moral Values I Learned from a Sex Worker,” tells about when she answered a shady classified ad and wound up working as a sex worker’s personal assistant. Follow her on Twitter @LMarrick.

© Leslie Hedrick 2015. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact the author at the above links to request usage.


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