Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Muses

Working with the Muses provides me with inspiration in my craft work and writing, if I take time to meditate or sit still with the Muses prior to starting my creations there seems to be another force working with me guiding me whilst I create. My creations seem to flow with no difficulty and I just sit in an open heart space and I just have an inner knowing of what products to use, colours, textures etc and I am lost in a space with no time or day to day cares.

Although traditionally the Muses were associated with Music, Song and Dance I personally find that they can assist us with any king of creative pursuits we undertake.

So I thought I would investigate and share with you the origins and myths of the Muses and how each one has a different role.

The origin description from is as follows:

The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.

Photo Source
The nine muses, clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsischore, Urania, Melpomene on a Roman sarcophagus (2nd century AD, from the Louvre)

In Boeotia, the homeland of Hesiod, a tradition persisted that the Muses had once been three in number. Diodorus Sirculus, quotes Hesiod to the contrary, observing:

Writers similarly disagree also concerning the number of the Muses; for some say that there are three, and others that there are nine, but the number nine has prevailed since it rests upon the authority of the most distinguished men, such as Homer and Hesiod and others like them.

Diodoris also states that Osiris first recruited the nine Muses, along with the Satyrs or male dancers, while passing through Ethiopia, before embarking on a tour of all Asia and Europe, teaching the arts of cultivation wherever he went.

The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory personified). Hesiod's account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes: 
Calliope -epic poetry - emblem is writing tablet
Clio -history - emblem scrolls and books
Euterpe -song and lyric poetry - emblem Aulos (an ancient Greek musical instrument like a flute)
Thalia -comedy and pastoral poetry - emblem comic mask
Melpomene -tragedy - emblem tragic mask
Terpsichore -choral dance and song - emblem lyre and is often dancing
Erato -love poetry - emblem Cithara (an ancient Greek musical Instrument in the lyre family), and a crown of roses
Polyhymnia -sacred poetry/hymns -emblem veil and is often seen with a pensive expression
Urania -astronomy - emblem globe and compass

Three ancient Muses were also reported in Plutarch's Quaestiones Conviviviales. The Roman scholar Varro relates that there are only three Muses: one who is born from the movement of water, another who makes sound by striking the air, and a third who is embodied only in the human voice. They were Melete or Practice
Mneme or Memory and 
Aoide or Song.

Photo Source Gustave Moreau, Hesiod and the Muse (1891) Musee d'Orsay Paris
However the Classical understanding of the muses tripled their triad, set at nine goddesses, who embody the arts and inspire creation with their graces through remembered and improvised song and stage, writing, traditional music, and dance.

In one myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon, had nine daughters he named after the nine Muses, believing that their skills were a great match to the Muses. He thus challenged the Muses to a match, resulting in his daughters, the Pierides, being turned into chattering magpies for their presumption.

Sometimes they are referred to as water nymphs, associated with the springs of Helicon and with Pieris. It was said that the winged horse Pegasus touched his hooves to the ground on Helicon, causing four sacred springs to burst forth, from which the muses were born. Athena later tamed the horse and presented him to the muses.

Antiquity set Apollo as their leader, Apollon Mousaget─ôs. Not only are the Muses explicitly used in modern English to refer to an artistic inspiration, as when one cites one's own artistic muse, but they also are implicit in words and phrases such as "amuse", "museum" (a place where the muses were worshipped), "music", and "musing upon".

According to Hesopd's Theogony (7th century BCE), they were daughters of Neus, the second generation king of the gods, and the offspring of Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. For Alcman and Mimmermus, they were even more primodial, springing from the early deities, Uranus and Gaia. Gaia is Mother Earth, an early mother goddess who was worshipped at Delphi from prehistoric times, long before the site was rededicated to Apollo, possibly indicating a transfer to association with him after that time.

Photo Source
Polyhymnia, the muse of sacred poetry, sacred hymn andeloquence as well as agriculture and pantomime.
Pausanias records a tradition of two generations of Muses; the first being daughters of Uranus and Gaia, the second of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Another, rarer genealogy is that they are daughters of Harmonia (the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares) which contradicts the myth in which they were dancing at the wedding of Harmonia and Cadmus. This later inconsistency is an example of how clues to the true dating, or chronology, of myths may be determined by the appearance of figures and concepts in Greek myths.

In Renaissance and Neoclassical art, the dissemination of emblem books such as Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1593 and many further editions) helped standardize the depiction of the Muses in sculpture and painting, so they could be distinguished by certain props, together with which they became emblems readily identifiable by the viewer, enabling one immediately to recognize the art with which they had become bound.

Greek mousa is a common noun as well as a type of goddess: it literally means "art" or "poetry". In Pindar, to "carry a mousa" is "to excel in the arts". The word probably derives from the Indo-European root men-, which is also the source of Greek Mnemosyne, English "mind", "mental" and "memory" and Sanskrit "mantra".
Photo Source
Melpomene and Polyhymnia, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico
The Muses, therefore, were both the embodiments and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike (whence the English term "music") was just "one of the arts of the Muses". Others included Science, Geography, Mathematics, Philosophy, and especially Art, Drama, and inspiration. In the archaic period, before the widespread availability of books (scrolls), this included nearly all of learning. The first Greek book on astronomy, by Thales, took the form of dactylic hexameters, as did many works of pre-Socratic philosophy; both Plato and the Pythagoreans explicitly included philosophy as a sub-species of mousike. The Histories of Herodotus, whose primary medium of delivery was public recitation, were divided by Alexandrian editors into nine books, named after the nine Muses.

For poet and "law-giver" Solon the Muses were "the key to the good life"; since they brought both prosperity and friendship. Solon sought to perpetuate his political reforms by establishing recitations of his poetry—complete with invocations to his practical-minded Muses—by Athenian boys at festivals each year. It was believed that the muses would help inspire people to do their best.

Photo Source
Thalia, muse of comedy, holding a comic mask
"Muses Sarcophagus" early second century AD - Louvre
The British poet Robert Graves popularized the concept of the Muse-poet in modern times. His concept was based on pre-12th century traditions of the Celtic poets, the tradition of the medieval troubadours who celebrated the concept of courtly love, and the romantic poets.

"No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident; just as no Apollonian poet can perform his proper function unless he lives under a monarchy or a quasi-monarchy. A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the embodiment of the Muse... But the real, perpetually obsessed Muse-poet distinguishes between the Goddess as manifest in the supreme power, glory, wisdom, and love of woman, and the individual woman whom the Goddess may make her instrument... The Goddess abides; and perhaps he will again have knowledge of her through his experience of another woman..." Robert Graves, The White Goddess, a historical grammar of poetic myth.

Photo Source
Athena and the Muses Painting by Hans Rottenhammer 1564-1626
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nurnberg
The following article by Jach on which talks of the Glamours, the Muse, and the Sisters of the Cauldron.

Lazaris first explored the Glamours in depth while working with the faerie realm. He points out that the Glamours do not belong to the faerie realm, but they are easier to encounter there.

The Muse are the "Sisters of the Fire." They are the energy or consciousness that is present in the igniting of the fires of passion and of creativity. They are present in the ignition of the fires of inspiration and change, as well. They are the god-being energies related to the fire element.

As the Muse are the nine Sisters of the Fires, so the Glamours are the nine Sisters of the Cauldron. They are the magicians that give birth, death, and rebirth. The cauldron is the womb. It is the esoteric womb and the source of all life. In Ancient Egypt, the Nile was the giver of all life, and the headwaters were the cauldron. In each culture, there is the concept of the womb of all birth, death, and rebirth. That is the cauldron.

Fire creates life; water gives birth to life. And there are Nine Sisters which begin with initiation and move to gracious love and to joy. These are the first three sisters. If they are the ones who come to you, they bring a message of what you need to give birth to in your life. The Muse may bring a story idea to a writer or a tune to a composer, but it is the Glamours that bring it to birth and manifestation. The Muse can inspire it and create it; the Glamours manifest it. The Glamours make it happen.

So if the Glamour of Joy comes, the message may well be that even when you have a terrific creative idea and you are aching to get about creating it, you need to tap into joy before you are going to "give birth."
Photo Source
Parnassus (Apollo, Venus, Mercury and the Muses), by Andrea Mantegna (ca.1431-1506),
Italian Renaissance painter
For another, the manifestation may come from experiencing gracious love or from sparking initiation within themselves. Other Glamours include the healing balm that heals grief or brings comfort. When Lazaris talks of generating abundance as never before, he talks of the missing key to our "abundance machine." One of the places where that missing key may be lost is within the grief that will not end or in the "unforgivable." It could be lost in the malady that will not mend. For one for whom this is true, it may be the Glamour of the healing balm or the Glamour of healing grief that is necessary before that person will allow the manifestation of abundance. So the Glamours are the Sisters of the Cauldron and they are involved in the manifestation of the stuff that emerges from the fires of creation.

I love working with the Muse (the nine maidens), and Terpsichore is my favorite Muse. She is the Muse of Dance or of Movement. She is an important player and participant in my magic. And the Ancients are beyond words. I find them enchanting and I think it is because of the Ancients that we have such words as "enchantress" and "enchantor" in our vocabulary. And between the Maidens and the Ancients are the Glamours.

They are the women of magic. Within the legends of Arthur, they are the Ladies of the Round. Chauvinism and Christianity have focused upon the men, and the Ladies have been relegated, once again, to the recesses. But it is within the dynamism of the Ladies of the Round that incredible magic is worked. And Arthur's half-sister, Morgaine, is a powerful Lady of the Round. She is one of the Glamours, as well. She has been turned into a sinister character in the Legends of Arthur, but she is not that at all. She is a woman, she is a Glamour.

The Glamours are the nine sisters that keep the cauldron steaming. It is not fire that keeps the cauldron boiling, it is the breath of the sisters of the cauldron. And they tend all Cauldron Magic. They tend all that is created from the Goddess. That is, they tend all that is created.
Photo Source
Apollo, Athena and the Muses.
There are nine of them that we know about. Each one has their own glamour and their magic is glamorous. There are Initiation, Gracious Love, and Joy. Each of these offers a special magic and each is essential in creating success, happiness, and joy.

We must begin with initiation; we must set things in motion. And love is key, but for true creation, doesn't that love have to be gracious? Doesn't it have to flow naturally? "Now it's time to love because if you love, you will be rewarded with success,"- we have thought it and we know others who teach it. It's like love is an investment that has a certain rate of return. Done for these reasons, it seldom is magical, is it? But when we just love and it is spontaneous and it is natural . . . as natural as flight is to an eagle . . . then love's magic works miracles. The key is the love, but the key is also the graciousness of that love. And joy is critical to creative success, don't you think?

Then there are three Glamours: Dominion, Comfort/Healing Balm, and Nurturing. Again, all three are critical and they are given. We can develop dominion, sure. But as we do the dance of dominion, it comes as a gift. We do not earn dominion, we receive it. It's a gift; it's given.

The ability to comfort another is also more akin to a talent than it is to a power or strength. It is a gift that some of us have while others do not. And to receive comfort is also a gift. - so it seems to me. To be nurtured and to be nurturing ... the steps can be learned and one can take training, but to truly be a nurturing person takes talent. It just comes naturally to some. All three of these are given gifts from the sisters of the cauldron ... from the women of magic.

And then there are three more: Challenge, Knowledge (of Ancestry), and Compassion. Again, the glamoury of each is obvious.

Photo Source
"[The Muses] are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song and their spirit is free from care. He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses to men."
The following inspired Poem I thought I would share with you from

Naw Morwynion

A Bard am I with a tale to tell
and you may be captured by the spell.
From the Elder days of yesteryear
of Nine Maidens you shall hear.
How they came to be born in our land
and in a circle came to stand.
Nine Stones in a magic ring -
Each one a Maiden, daughter of a King.
Lir, his name, Lord of the Sea:
Nine Mermaid Princesses had he.
Up a river valley they swam to a hill,
Where they danced in a circle
and then stood still.
The Nine Muses as stone became
and each was given her bardic name.

Nine Maidens, born from One,
through Nine Springs her waters run.
Nine silver moonbeams, bright -
Mood Goddess of the Night.
Nine Morgans of the Lake
here in Avalon awake.
Nine Maidens of the sea:
peace to you and blessed be.
Nine maidens of the stones -
circle of our Mother's bones.
Merry Maidens in a ring:
see them dance and hear them sing!

In the merry month of May
on the Druid Sabbath day
Poets sing and Bards play
to the Nine Maidens.
Nine Queens with silver crowns
rising from the barrow mounds
bear a cauldron in their hands -
Grail Maidens of our Lands.

Nine Ladies of the well
many a tale they have to tell
from Lyonesse to the shore,
Tintagel to the Tor.
Priestesses of the Grail:
to the Goddess 'All Hail!'
Merry Maidens, Nine
Muses of the Mother.

I saw Nine Stones
and on each carved a number,
with words engraved
which I read out loud:
'Nine Moons there are
from conception to birth.
Eight turns of the wheel
through the seasons of the earth.
Seven tones in colour and sound.
Six Kings, Six Queens
of the Table Round.
Five seeds hidden in the Apple, green.
Four elements Spirit flows between.
Three are the faces of the Moon Goddess.
Two is Creation from nothingness.
One is free from separateness!'

I invoke the Goddesses of the Sea,
the Nine Muses so that we
may compose an incantation
from the land of the Sidhe.
She is the blazing fire on the hill.
She is the spring where we drink our fill.
Healing Goddess of Poetry:
may the Nine Muses return!
Nine Muses to Avalon lead
the way through the mists
to the hall of mead.
They pass a chalice of heather ale
the cup of life, the Holy Grail.
The bubbling cauldron of Cerridwen,
the three drops of the Awen.
Bestowing rebirth beyond the grave
the Tir-nan-Og, beyond the Ninth Wave,
where the Nine Morgans reawake -
the Nine Ladies of the Lake.

By the shores of the lake I lay dreaming
of Nine Swan Maidens singing.
Nine daughters of Lir, enchanted
by a spell - human forms transmuted.
For Nine long Moons, unchanging,
mortal men - their lovers lamenting.
On the eve of May, returning,
I pray the spell is lifting?.
from the lake Nine Maidens arising?.
from the lake Nine Maiden are Rising!

Hail Nimue - to Avalon welcome!
Olwen, Branwen, Bridie, Blodwen,
Aine, Avaline, Vivian, Morgan!

© Merlin of the Woods

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