Diana (Artemis) Classical goddess of the Moon and the hunt and one of the most important aspects of the Goddess in Wicca. Diana (counterpart to the Greek Artemis) personifies the positive attributes of the moon, which is the source of Witches’ magical power, as well as independence, self-esteem and fierce aggressiveness. A virgin goddess and maiden warrior, she is the eternal feminist, owned by no man, beholden to none. As a moon goddess, Diana shares the lunar trinity with Selene and Hecate and serves as patron goddess of witches. In the trinity, she represents power over the earth.

Diana’s origins as Artemis comprise a rich mythology. Her cult flourished throughout the Mediterranean region during the Bronze Age. The Amazons build a beehive- shaped temple to her at Ephesus circa 900 B.C.E., and it is considered the Seventh Wonder of the ancient world. The temple contained a statue of Black Diana, on which was implanted a magical stone. Emperor Theodosius closed the temple in 380, allegedly because he despised the religion of women. Early Christians sought to destroy the cult as Devil-worshipers, and Black Diana was smashed ca. 400.

According to myth, Artemis was born of Zeus and Leto, a nature deity and the twin sister of Apollo, who became the god of oracles and of the Sun. As soon as she was born, Artemis was thrust into the role of protector and helper of women. Though Artemis was born without pain, Apollo caused Leto great suffering. Artemis served as midwife. As a result, women have traditionally prayed to her to ease childbirth.

As a youth, Artemis exhibited a boyish taste for adventure and independence. At her request, Zeus granted her a bow and a quiver of arrows, a band of nymph maidens to follow her, a pack of hounds, a short tunic suitable for running and eternal chastity, so that she could run forever through the wilderness. She was quick to protect wildlife and animals, as well as humans who appealed to her for help, especially women who were raped and victimized by men.

She was equally quick to punish offending men. Actaeon, a hunter who spied Artemis and her nymphs bath- ing nude in a pool, was turned into a stag and torn to pieces by his own hounds. She killed Orion, whom she loved, with an arrow shot to the head. In one version, she was tricked into killing Orion by Apollo, who did not like Orion; in another version, she killed him out of jealousy over his feelings for Dawn. She sent a boar to ravage the countryside of Calydon as punishment to King Oeneus, because he forgot to include her in the sacrifice of the first fruits of harvest. (None of the bravest male warriors of Greece could slay the boar. It took another woman, Atalanta, to do it.)

In British myth, Diana directed Prince Brutus of Troy to flee to Britain after the fall of that city. Brutus, who then founded Britain’s royalty, is said to have erected an altar to Diana at the site where St. Paul’s Cathedral is located today. A surviving remnant of that altar is the London Stone.

As late as the fifth and sixth centuries, a Dianic cult flourished among European pagans. With the slow Christianization of Europe, Diana became associated with evil and Satan. In the early Middle Ages, she was believed to be the patroness of Sorcery (an evil) and to lead witches’ processions and rites. Historian Jeffrey B. Russell notes that Dianic witches’ processions were not known in classical times but probably grew out of the Teutonic myth of the Wild Hunt, a nocturnal spree of ghosts who destroyed the countryside. Clerical scholars may have substituted Diana, a familiar deity, for the Teutonic goddesses, Holda and Berta, who sometimes led the Wild Hunt and who were identified by the church as followers of the Devil.

The Canon Episcopi, an ecclesiastical law written ca. 900, reinforced the portrayal of a Devil Diana who leads the witches:

It is not to be omitted that some wicked women, perverted by the Devil, seduced by illusions and phantasms of Demons, believe and profess themselves, in the hours of the night, to ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of the night to tra- verse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights.

Diana also became associated with Herodias, wife of Herod, who was responsible for the execution of John the Baptist. Herodias took on the aspects of a Demon, condemned to wander through the sky forever but allowed by God to rest in trees from midnight to dawn. In Italian lore, the name Herodias became Aradia. In the 19th century, Charles Godfrey Leland recorded oral legends told to him by witches of Etruscan heritage concerning Aradia, the daughter of Diana and her brother Lucifer. Diana dispatched Aradia to earth to teach witches their craft.

British anthropologist Margaret A. Murray erroneously believed that an organized Dianic cult of witches had existed throughout the Middle Ages and the witch hunt centuries, though no evidence survives to prove it. Murray relied heavily upon the Canon Episcopi in developing these ideas. They were adopted by Gerald B. Gardner, a key figure in the revival of witchcraft in the 1950s in Britain.

Diana in Wicca.

Though most Wiccans no longer believe in Murray’s medieval Dianic cult, they do revere Diana as a Pagan deity and an archetype. As part of the Triple Goddess aspect of the moon, Diana holds sway over the new and waxing moon, a two-week period that is auspicious for magic related to new beginnings, growth and achieve- ment. Diana is invoked as nurturer and protector. At the full moon, she turns her power over to Selene.

As an archetype, Diana serves as a role model for feminist Witchcraft, called the Dianic tradition. She is a free spirit, an achiever, who knows what she wants and scores the mark with a single arrow shot. She is neither dependent upon nor subjugated by men. Though a lunar goddess, she walks the earth, and her domain is the wild; she is one with nature.


  • Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. Revised ed. New York: Viking, 1986.
  • Crowley, Vivianne. Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium. Revised ed. London: Thorsons/Harper Collins, 1996.
  • Starhawk. The Spiral Dance. Revised ed. San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1989.
  • Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.

The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Diana – The Luminous One; Holy Mother;Lady of the Grove; Mother of the Forest; Lady of the Wild Creatures; Opener of the Womb

Diana is an ancient spirit, indigenous to Italy, possibly Etruscan or Latin. She preceded the Romans in the region, then traveled with them through Europe, becoming well known all over that once heavily wooded continent. Diana has dominion over magic, witchcraft, women and children, wilderness, fertility, hunting, and wild animals. In addition, she is matron of slaves and outlaws, many of whom found refuge in her forest sanctuary. Her veneration may have begun at that sanctuary at Nemi at the foot of the Alban Hills. A temple was eventually dedicated to her on Rome’s Aventine Hill, most likely following the Roman victory over the Latins in the fifth century BCE.

Diana may initially have been the preeminent goddess in the Roman region, paired with such important male spirits as Janus and Jupiter. Some suggest she was the ruler of the night while Jupiter ruled the day. She is an anarchic goddess, however, a spirit of ecstasy and independence. Although the Romans incorporated her into their pantheon and venerated her, she was somewhat marginalized and diminished, associated with slaves, immigrants, and disreputable people while Juno became the official state goddess.

Diana was adored throughout Europe. Other versions of her name include:

• Jana, Tana (Italian)

• Debena, Devana (Czech)

• Diiwica (Serbian)

• Dziewona (Polish)

• Gana (Transylvanian)

Efforts to identify her with Artemis may have been part of this process of diminishment. Diana’s identity was subsumed by Artemis. Over the centuries Diana became intensely identified with Greek Artemis; their names are often used interchangeably, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two although they were initially distinct spirits. The names Artemis of Ephesus and Diana of Ephesus are also used interchangeably.

Most surviving information regarding her worship and influence comes from her enemies, Saint Paul of Tarsus and other early Christian writers. Diana’s cult was so popular throughout Europe and Asia Minor that early Christians perceived it as among their major rivals. The subsequent destruction of Europe’s forests and wildlife, especially wolves, may have been a method of eradicating Diana’s power and influence.

When Christianity achieved political power, Diana was completely vilified. In 1487, Spanish Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada flatly stated, “Diana is the devil.” The Society of Diana was among the Inquisition’s terms for witchcraft. No deity was more associated with witchcraft during the Burning Times. Devotion to Diana survived the witch hunts and remains vital. She is among the most beloved of contemporary deities and is central to the Italian witchcraft tradition, Stregheria.


Dea Jana


13 August


Thieves; outlaws; slaves; shamans; witches; fortune-tellers; Diana has dominion over women but men worshipped her just as passionately: what are described as werewolves may really be male wolf-shamans or lunar priests dedicated to Diana.


Although usually envisioned as a beautiful young woman, in Celtic Europe, Diana was worshipped in the form of a log.


Images of Diana and Artemis tend to be used interchangeably.


• Oak groves

• Forests in general

• The famous witches’ walnut tree in Benevento, Italy

• Lake Nemi and the entire Forest of Nemi: A stream flowed into the lake from a sacred grotto near Diana’s Temple. The Mirror of Diana names the volcanic lake surrounded on three sides by forested cliffs.

• Temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill

• The present Cathedral of Saint Etienne in Metz, France, built on the site of her temple


• The Festival of Torches was held annually in Diana’s honor beginning 13 August. Women carried torches to her temple at Nemi and elsewhere engaged in torchlit processions.

• On 15 August, women would journey to the Arician Woods to offer thanks and beseech Diana for future blessings. They were accompanied by crowned hunting dogs, leashed so as not to disturb Diana’s wild creatures.

• A Friday the 13th falling in the month of August is believed especially sacred to Diana.


Virbius, Janus


Egeria, Hekate


All wild creatures, but especially wolves, dogs, deer, and black cats


Fire and water


Moon, the light of the night


Diana likes a drink. Strega liquore, allegedly inspired by an Italian witches’ recipe, is a favourite, but she’ll drink grappa, too. Cakes in the shape of the moon, topped with lit candles—the original birthday cake—are a traditional offering. At Diana’s ancient festival, the celebratory meal included wine, roasted young goat, cakes served hot on plates of leaves, and apples still hanging in clusters on their boughs. Offerings on behalf of wolves, wild creatures, and preservation of wilderness may also be appreciated.


• Pour a little Strega liquore in a fireproof bowl, preferably an iron cauldron.

• Stand back and set it aflame using a long fireplace match as an offering for Diana.

• Only use a little Strega. Do not fill the bowl all the way or even halfway! Be sure to stand away from the bowl: do not hover over it. There’s an old joke about Italian witches with singed eyebrows, but it’s no joke if you’re harmed. As soon as the Strega is lit, there is a tendency for high flames to shoot up, considered a sign of Diana’s favour, but not if you are burned or if the house catches fire. Exercise caution, and always be aware of fire safety.



Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.