"For men of our civilization, solitary nature can be infinitely moving and healing. Here the intellectual worker, the harried slave of expedience, finds peace and wholesome air and is not troubled by the awe with which generations more pious entered the silent valleys and hills. A slight sense of strangeness, a touch of uneasiness, do not seriously disturb his pleasure. He is in control of his knowledge and technical skill, and in a short time can make even the wildest regions familiar, comfortable, and profitable. But though the proud victor press as far forward as he will, the secret is not revealed, the enigma not solved; without his noticing, it flies from before him and is again everywhere that he is not — the hollowed solitude of untouched nature, which he can only rend and disturb but never comprehend and build up.
Here is a teeming concourse of elements, flora and fauna, life unnumbered which sprouts, blooms, spreads its scent, bubbles, hops, leaps, flutters, soars, and sings; an infinity of sympathy and discord, pairing and struggle, rest and feverish movement, and yet all is related, interwoven, and borne by a single life-spirit, and the quiet visitor senses the higher presence with the awe of the indescribable. Here the people whose religion we begin to grasp found the divine. To them not the fearful majesty of the sinless judge of conscience but the purity of the untouched element was holiest. And they felt that man, this questionable creature that mirrors, doubts, and condemns itself, that has long lost its peace through so much distress and so much striving, could only with diffidence thrust himself into the chaste environs where the divine hovered and held sway. The divine seemed to breathe in the enveloping splendor of mountain meadows, in river and seas and the smiling limpidness that hung over all. And at luminous moments suddenly the form appeared, a god or a goddess, now like a man, now nearer the monstrous, like an animal. The solitudes of nature possess geniuses of diverse form, from the fearful and wild to the shy spirit of sweet maidenhood. But loftiest of all is an encounter with the sublime. It dwells in the clear ether of the mountain peak, in the golden iridescence of mountain meadows, in the lightning glint of ice-crystals and snowy slopes, in the silent astonishment of field and forest when the moonlight bathes them in its glow and drips glittering from the leaves. Here everything is transparent and weightless. Earth itself has lost its heaviness and the blood is no longer conscious of its dark passions. A dance of white feet seems to hover over the ground, a chase to pass through the air. This is the divine spirit of sublime nature, the lofty shimmering mistress, the pure one, who compels delight and yet cannot love, the dancer and huntress who fondles cubs in her bosom and races the deer, who brings death when she draws her golden bow, reserved and unapproachable like wild nature, and yet, like nature, wholly enchantment and fresh excitement and lightning beauty. This is Artemis. Manifold as her manifestations may be, in this idea they possess their unity and are no longer contradictory.”
— Walter F. Otto, The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion
(Image: Henry Hering, Running Diana)