So, I had to go to the bones of what a Muse was to understand really the phenomenon of NINE women being worshipped that had these skills to pray to them. What are they? Muses, are people who inspire us! It could be your mother who worked two jobs so you could have a roof over your head and become successful like Kanye West. It could be your father was just a coal miner like Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton (they both had hit songs about their poor upbringing). It could be that you are in love and what to share with us why it is you are love like Emily Dickinson, or Shakespeare....
SONNET 130My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
Paintings are the most obvious examples of Muses, my favorite being Frida Kahlo who obviously saw herself as her own muse since she painted herself so much! How fabulous and much richer our world is because of this though...she has influenced how we see beauty, and re-directed our ideas about color, texture, and what is interesting just from a few brush strokes. It is said that the Mona Lisa is really just Leonardo Davinci because it looks so much like him, but does it really make the painting any less beautiful? I personally like believing he was inspired by a woman that looked alot like him but obviously whomever the "Mona Lisa" is; she was his muse. Pablo Picasso is notorious for painting the women he was involved with in all of his paintings and thus it begs the question...without inspiration, where would we be? Furthermore without the magic of Muses there would be no art!
So who are the Muses? The Muses are the daughters of Zeus and the Titan Mnemosyne, whose name means 'memory' she spent 9 nights with Zeus and produced her wonderful offspring. Mnemosyne's sacred site was established at Lebadeia, a spring dedicated to memory. Originally the Muses only sang of the deeds of Zeus, and only lived in Mt. Olympus standing near his throne. How annoying huh? Eventually they started singing and writing painting about other Gods and Goddesses, then they started to branch out realizing that they could inspire humans to write, draw, paint, sing about Gods and Goddesses. It is said that they literally created dialogues, and better forms of communication (I guess Ugh Ugh a Bugg Bugg didn't translate well) and it seems that before you could say Thalia or Melpomene the Theater was created....and there we all gathered to hear Comedies or Tragedies and learn from the plays while being entertained! ( Friedrich Nietzche claimed that all of life could be condensed to comedy and tragedies spiraling in and out and was obsessed with Apollo and the Muses) It seems the Muses were not only Godly and beautiful but smart and go-getters also...sounds alike like women today huh?
They eventually stopped following their father around you know, and hooked on to Apollo whom not only was gorgeous but they had alot more in common with. He became re-named because of this as "Apollon Musegetes" and was the official "director of their choir". They were not his followers though, because you see he became romantically involved with Thalia and had nine children with her...the Corbyantes. These sons of her inspired ritualistic dancing, trances, heavy drumming, and were associated with the "dark mysteries".
There are so many poems in literature that start off being prayers to muses that if you were to type in a search engine it would explode (lol) and so many ending with a thanks to them that it would be the same. It was really a classical style of writing until the modern twentieth century! Common citizens, and I am sure most artists used to put out offerings and beg for their assistance all the time; and many artists would become bitter when they felt the "muses" had forsaken them or moved on. But how much like a woman eh? "SING IN ME OH MUSE" is one of the first lines in the movie "Oh brother where art thou?" seems even a director needs help from the muses every now and then. Okay, so now I have shared why they are important, where they came from, so why don't I give you a list of their names and what they are good at so you can pray to your very own MUSE?
Calliope Beautiful voice
Chief of the nine Muses. She was the patron of epic poetry. Her symbol is the writing tablet. (Ipad anyone?)
She was the patron of history, and inventor of historical and heroic poetry. Her symbol was the scroll. (Once again a laptop or Ipad would be a great modern translation)
Erato Passionate or Lovely
The Muse of lyric poetry about love and eroticism, and mimicry! (can anyone say erotic literature?)
Euterpe Rejoicing Well or Pleasure Giver
The Muse of lyric poetry and music. Known as the cheerful one, who always played a flute! It is rumored she invented the double flute. Jethro Tull and her must have been gettin'g it on.
Polyhymnia Many Songs
Okay, Polyhymia is the somber and beautiful one. She was the Muse of Sacred Hymn, and of Eloquence. She is portrayed in serious thought with a finger to her lips...but meditation is associated with her. Yoga, or contemplation the brainstorming period before you create...this is HER time.
She carried a club, or a knife and was only associated with Tragedy in writing. Watching a sad love story movie where everyone falls in love but cannot have each other? That is Melpomene's area of expertise!
Terpsichore Rejoicing in the Dance or Whirling
She is the Muse of dancing and choral singing. It is said she gave birth to the Sirens. She is always portrayed dancing or with a lyre in her hand. Are you a belly dancer? Do you dance alone in your room? Well take that energy and offer it to Terpsichore!
Thalia Festive or Flourishing
She presides over comedy and pastoral poetry which explains why she holds a comic mask. But Thalia is the "country girl" of the group. She loves to traipse about meadows and forests and rural places that a city girl like me wouldn't know about. That's why she carries the shepherd's crook, as well. Want to get in touch with Thalia? Watch the Blue collar comedy tours or Roseanne re-runs and you have it all in a nutshell...she likes to make us laugh!
Urania Mountain Queen
Muse of astronomy and astrology , her feet rest on a turtle and she holds a globe in her hands and a pair of compasses. It is said she inspires Chaste love! The kind you yearn for but never act on! So if you want to get in touch with Urania, ask for directions with a compass, look at the stars, have a crush on someone you know you will never act on...but while you are feeling all of this...thank Urania!
Lastly, look around you! See who give you inspiration! I love Vidal Sassoon and and John Masters when it comes to hair techniques and stories. When it comes to my Spiritual life I look to Starhawk, or Selena Fox, or Pete Pathfinder, even some of my local elders....when I need to feel inspired; I read their words and I vibrate!
I am sharing these wonderful Goddesses with you because once I started diving into them I found that I had taken so much of my life for granted, and how much knowledge and fun I was missing out on as a Pagan, Witch, Wiccan, and human being. I hope these ladies inspire you also...and you find yourself using their names; because they deserve it...and it is fun!
Thank you for the gift of your time.