"Artio, Goddess of the Chase" by Howard David Johnson

“Artio’s themes are spring, abundance and providence.  Her symbols are bears and fruit.  Artio is a Swiss bear Goddess who awakens in the spring to announce the season and share fruit from Her storehouse. This is the fruit of daily providence and abundance, even as the earth itself will soon show signs of abundant life and fruitfulness. In Celtic tradition, She is also the Goddess of wildlife, and She was likely called on during hunting rituals.

As Artio emerges from Her sleep, the Swiss burn an effigy of winter to literally destroy the cold with fire and light. An easy way to do this yourself is to burn a fruity cookie (carefully) in the oven, then disperse the ashes to the earth.

If you’ve spent a lot of time at home lately, definitely emerge from that ‘cave’, experience life fully and begin preparing the soil of your spirit for spring’s growth-oriented energy.

Put together a fresh fruit salad today and invoke Artio’s providence, saying something like this:

‘Artio, see my needs and bless
bring to me fruitfulness!’

Share the fruit with family and friends to permeate their life with Artio’s abundance. If you want to preserve your resources as well as inspire abundance, use canned fruit instead (which equates with Artio’s stores during hibernation).”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Artio is the Continental Celtic Goddess of fertility and wild animals, especially bears, and in fact that is exactly what Her name means, ‘Bear’.  She is known from a number of inscriptions found in Switzerland, Luxembourg anf Germany and is a Goddess of the harvest and of fertility who, typically, is depicted in bear form. The female bear usually conceives in the autumn and spends Her hibernation time pregnant. Bears are associated with shamanism, as the hibernation period in winter symbolizes the journey into darkness and their emergence in spring with cubs the return to the light bearing the wisdom gained on the journey.” [1]

The Goddess Artio as depicted in the Muri statuette group, presumably in bear and in human form.

Artio is seen above in a statue found now in the Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland.  The bronze statue shows a large bear facing a woman, perhaps the Goddess in Her human form, with a small tree behind the bear.  The woman, or Goddess, is carrying a bowl of fruit on Her lap, perhaps feeding the bear.  The sculpture has a large rectangular bronze base, which bears an inscription:

“Deae Artioni / Licinia Sabinilla”
To the Goddess Artio (or Artionis), from Licinia Sabinilla

“Other inscriptions to this Goddess have been found at Daun and Stockstadt in Germany; also in Weilerback in Luxembourg.

"The Bear Goddess" by Sabattier

The Celts ancestors came from what is today Germany, Austria and Switzerland bringing their Gods and Goddess with them. The Helvetii , a celtic tribe who migrated from the area of modern Bavaria to Switzerland worshipped Artio as the ‘She- Bear’. This tribe eventually became a part of the Roman Empire and the Gaul and Roman Gods and Goddess took on each other’s attributes. Some believe that Artio then was absorbed into the Goddess of Diana as the tribes were taken over by the Romans. Both the Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis are attributed to bears in myths and may have gained this from the followers of Artio.

"Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt" by violscraper

Throughout all of Celtic Gaul and Britian there have been similar deities that appear in bear form as the Goddess of wildlife. Making this an important part of their spiritual life.

The Celtic tribes sometimes shortened Her name to Art; in Irish, Art meant ‘God’; but its earlier meaning was ‘Bear Goddess.’ Stone figures of bears have been found in many digs of ancient Celtic past; some were found during the restoration of Ireland’s Armagh Cathedral in 1840. Based on the niches found in caves across Europe which hold bones and skulls of bears have been found to be arranged with care; many archaeologist have claimed that the bear is the oldest European deity.

About 6,000 years ago the ancestors of the Celts invented the ‘Old Europe Script’ it is known to be the earliest proto-language. The first ever written sentence reads: ‘The Bear Goddess and the Bird Goddess are the Bear Goddess indeed.’ Dr. Toby Griffin who has been working on the translation of this script believes that this means the Bear Goddess and Bird Goddess have merged into a single deity. This deity later became Celtic Goddess Artio, Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis.

Saint Ursula

Some believe She was absorbed into Christianity as The British Saint Ursula (‘Little Female Bear’) a Latinized form of the Saxon ‘Ursel’ meaning (‘She Bear’). Her feast day is October 21 which would follow along with the harvest attribute of Artio.” [2]