Ephesian Artemis: the child is the precious fruit of mother nature

Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, Nature and Her Followers or Nature Adorning the Three Graces, circa 1615. US Public Domain.
Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, Nature and Her Followers or Nature Adorning the Three Graces, circa 1615. US Public Domain.

The image titled Nature and Her Followers or Nature Adorning the Three Graces, was painted in 1615 by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel. This painting is a wondrous celebration of the fruitfulness and fertility of Mother Nature. In the center of the piece we see a sculpture of the many-breasted goddess, an image is based on Diana of Ephesus [1].

There is an inscription on the pedestal which reads ‘the Great Mother, Earth who bears everything’. This may be seen as a description of the all-giving, unprotected fecundity of the Mother archetype. In the image, the three nymphs (or Graces) are removing the veil of the Great Mother. Silenus is at the scene, holding the torch in honor of Mother Nature. [1] We see floral crowns, as well as a garland of fruit and flowers. The satyrs and the flying putti are putting up the garland. Below Mother Nature, nymphs and satyrs bind fruit to the garland [1].

Carl Jung tells us that the child is the ‘most precious fruit of Mother Nature ‘. As precious fruit, each of us is offered the potential of her future, as the potential for Self-realization. Jung notes that nothing welcomes the new birth save Mother Nature herself. Jung says:

“Nothing in all the world welcomes this new birth, although it is the most precious fruit of Mother Nature herself, the most pregnant with the future, signifying a higher stage of self-realization. That is why Nature, the world of the instincts, takes the “child” under its wing: it is nourished or protected by animals” (CW 9i, para. 285-287).

The child archetype often entails the motifs of “insignificant beginnings” and/or ” a mysterious and miraculous birth” (ibid). The child is abandoned or exposed to danger: thrown into this wild world. Yet, as Jung tells us, this “abandonment is… a necessary condition for Self-realization” (ibid).

References:

  1. Description from the Glasgow Museum
  2. Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious ,  Collected Works 9i by C. G. Jung