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Stories of the Stars

Art by Grace Gill

In Greek mythology, stars are more than just stars. The connections and myths between the constellations chronicle epic feats of brave warriors, angry gods, fair maidens, and every kind of trick and trap. In addition, most people have fallen down the rabbit hole of zodiac signs, searching for every little detail that it can tell you about yourself, and I want to continue that search. Although the stories that I’m going to tell will not give you some spiritual connection with your personality, they are tales that have been lost to more popular entertainment and contain plots you’ve most likely never heard in your life. The goal is to shed some light on how enchanting and complicated Greek mythology is, and to uncover all of the secrets of the night sky.

#1: Artemis and Callisto: Ursa Major

Zodiacs: Cancer, Leo, and Virgo

Photo credit of DALL-E-2

In Ancient Greece, offending the gods was a big deal, and there were sure to be terrible punishments that followed. If you were friends with a god, ruining that relationship would only bring chaos.

Callisto was a nymph in the kingdom of Arcadia, and she had a pretty good life. If you didn’t know, nymphs were said to be the most beautiful creatures in all of Greece, and in Callisto’s case, her name translated to “most beautiful.” Callisto was a devoted follower of Artemis, who was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, and the moon, and protector of all girls and women who are not mothers. Artemis had taken a vow never to marry, and in turn, Callisto did the same.

Artemis appreciated Callisto’s devotion and thoughtfulness, and Callisto admired Artemis’ bravery and kindness. Callisto quickly became one of Artemis’ closest friends and confidants.

This relationship was all good and well until Callisto’s outstanding beauty caught the eye of a very famous god; Zeus. Now, it’s important to understand that Callisto was still good on her vow never to marry, and she didn’t plan to break that vow. She was Artemis’s dear friend, and everyone knew that you couldn’t be bothered with love if you planned to stay on her good side. Callisto also knew that Zeus was known not to treat the women he was supposed to be protecting very well. She convinced herself that she wouldn’t fall in love, no matter how hard he tried.

Zeus overwhelmed Callisto with gifts and wishes and compliments and tried so hard to make her happy. Over time, Callisto started to unravel and let her guard down. She began to fall in love. She couldn’t stress to Zeus enough how much he could NOT tell Artemis. It wouldn’t be good for either of them. (Artemis is known for her anger and over-the-top punishments throughout all of Greek mythology.)

Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long before Artemis found out about the growing romance between Zeus and Callisto. She had learned that Callisto was pregnant, through another nymph named Amlia.

Artemis was furious. She couldn’t have any maidens around who were bearing children, but worst of all, Callisto, her BEST FRIEND had betrayed her. As Artemis watched Callisto packing up her things, one question burned in her mind. Who was the father?

At this point, Callisto felt that she at least owed Artemis the truth.

“It is Zeus,” she muttered.

Artemis was, as expected, outraged. Zeus was her enemy. The one god she didn’t respect. Callisto couldn’t have picked anyone else to betray her with?

Artemis grabbed her bow and arrow and prepared to take a shot. Callisto would die.

“Please!” Callisto begged. “Just wait until my child is born and then you can do as you wish.”

Artemis considered this. She was the protector of all women and children who weren’t mothers, and Callisto wasn’t technically a mother yet. She would not break her word, so she let Callisto off, but just until her baby was born.