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4 Artemis Guidelines for Gathering from Nature

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the forest and the protector of nature. At Artemis Camp, we spend our days in the woods, creeks and rivers around Philadelphia. We make potions and altars and all kinds nature magic. Which means we do a lot of gathering items like leaves, berries, flowers and stones. To help us make sure we are gathering in a sustainable way that honors the land, we use the following four guidelines:

1. Is there PLENTY?

Look around and make sure the item you are gathering is present in abundance. Is there a whole field of flowers? Are there many mushrooms or grasses or pinecones in the area where you are collecting? If so, you can proceed and gather a few to take with you.


The rule of gathering, even when you see plenty, is to make sure you leave plenty. We go to a creek that has an abundance of stones with natural mica. They are so beautiful and seem to be everywhere! But we know that this is a unique resource, and that probably lots of people are drawn to it. So even when we see plenty, we make sure to gather with moderation, leaving far more than what we take.

3. Does it do harm if I take it?

Occassionally, we find something in nature that is unique and not available in abundance. You might find a feather, a snake skin, or an eggshell from a hatched bird, for example. Although there might not be abundance, you can ask yourself "will the ecosystem be harmed if I take this?" Be mindful that certain things, like birds nests, might look abandoned, but they are still in use. So really try and make sure that your discoveries are truly discarded and no longer needed.

4. What will I do with it?

Have you ever picked a flower because it was so pretty you just couldn't resist....only to abandon it later on your walk, or leave it on the floor of the car because it wilted? We've all been there. But this last rule of gathering is the most important. We only gather with a purpose and intention. If you see pretty flowers and there is abundance, and you know you can get them home in time to put them water, or if you will make a crown from them, or put them in a potion, then go ahead and gather (mindful of the other guidelines). But to gather and then discard is a disrespect to mother nature, and a big no-no in the Artemis Pack book. To follow this guideline, you must pause and think before you take!

Gratitude and Honor

When we use the four guidelines above, we are honoring the limits of the land. The earth is generous and abundant! But we don't want to abuse that generosity, and we recognize that we have to use restraint in order to keep the cycle of abundance going. We also make sure to show our gratitude for the spirits of the land where we gather. We always say "thank you" to the spirits of the land. And most of the time, if we are gathering from nature, we make an altar out of found objects as a way to honor the spirits of that place.

If these guidelines resonate with you and you want to learn more, I highly recommend Robin Wall-Kimmerer's gorgeous book, Braiding Sweetgrass. The concepts of not overharvesting and gathering with gratitude are practices that indigenous wisdom keepers from many traditions adhere to. At Artemis Pack, we humbly acknowledge how much repair we have to do in our relationships with the earth, and we are so grateful that there are teachers and writers out there helping to guide us back to a healthy way of loving the earth.

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