You are about to enter the magical, mysterious world of another kind of symbolic storytelling – mythology.
Stories about exploits of gods and goddesses were not passed on merely to entertain us. They contain universal truths about what it means to be human, transcending time and culture, so that they are as valid today as they were all those thousands of years ago.
Each woman has the potential, power and freedom to become her own Goddess, in her own way. We can draw on ancient myths and legend for inspiration and insight. This pilgrimage in the goddesses world will help you to choose the most appropriate goddess that can awake the goddess within you.
Let’s start our travel with THE MUSES.
WHO ARE THE MUSES?
The Muses are the Greek goddesses who preside over the arts and sciences and inspire those who excel at these pursuits. Daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne (“memory”), they were born at Pieria at the foot of Mount Olympus.
Their nurse, Eupheme, raised them along with her son, Crotus the hunter, who was transported into the sky as Sagittarius upon his death. Their name denotes ‘memory’ or ‘a reminder’, since in the earliet times poets, having no books to read from, relied on their memories.
The original number of muses and their names varies in earlier times as their evolution blossomed in Greek mythology. At first, three muses were worshipped on Mount Helicon in Boeotia: Melete (“meditation”), Mneme (“memory”), and Aoede (“song”).
Another three were worshipped at Delphi and their names represented the names of the strings of a lyre: Nete, Mese, and Hypate.
Several other versions were worshipped until the Greeks finally established the nine muses in mythology as: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. The Muses had several epithets which usually referred to places where they had settled.
Ephialtes and Otus, who also founded Ascra, were the first to sacrifice on Helicon to the Muses and to call the mountain sacred to the Muses. Sacrifices to the Muses consisted of libations of water, milk, or honey.
Their companions are the Charities, the Horae, Eros, Dionysus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Harmonia, and Himerus (Desire). Apollo is the leader of the choir of the Muses and consequently he has the surname Musagetes.
Athena caught and tamed the winged horse Pegasus and gave him to the Muses. Some of their disciples included the Sphinx who learned her riddle from the Muses, Aristaeus, who learned the arts of healing and prophecy from them, and Echo, who was taught by them to play music.
In Plato’s Phaedrus 259c, Socrates says the locusts used to be men before the birth of the Muses. When song appeared when the Muses were born, some men were so overcome with delight that they sang constantly, forgetting to eat and drink until they eventually died.
These dead men became locusts with a gift from the Muses allowing them to sing continuously from their birth until death without the need of sustenance. When they die, the locust go to the Muses and report which men on earth honors each, endearing a worshipper to the Muse he follows.
Many places were dedicated to the Muses such as the famous Valley of the Muses – Thespies on the eastern slopes of Mt. Helikon began it’s “Mouseai” festivals in the 6th c. B.C. It was organized every 5 years by the Thespians.
Poets and musicians from all over Greece also participated in various games (epic, poetry, rapsodia, kithara, aulos, satyric poetry, tragedy and comedy). It was common for ancient schools to have a shrine to the Muses called mouseion, the source of the modern word ‘museum.’
The famous Museum of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I, was a temple dedicated to the Muses. Before poets or storytellers recited their work, it was customary for them to invoke the inspiration and protection of the Muses.