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The Muse of Greek Mythology

abstract rendering of praying female spirit

The muse phenomenon... its myth status dispelled

(5th edition - Nov 2010) by A.O. Kime
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According to the most popular version of Greek mythology there are nine muse - goddesses who inspire artists, musicians, writers and poets - and that these immortal beings are the daughters of the titaness Mnemosyne who were fathered by Zeus.

For over 2,500 years and throughout western civilization, it is largely acknowledged by artists of every sort that their inspirations, creativity and talent come from these muse. Yet, in this day and age of scientific thought, one would think this would be a preposterous concept for intelligent people to believe yet it remains the case. Well, there's good reasons... first, there isn’t much about the subconscious mind that science can explain - being the 'receiving end' of emanation - and nothing at all about the spirit world. Secondly, one's intuitiveness always gravitates towards the most heartfelt reason... thus why artists credit the darling muse.

While many versions considered 'Greek mythology' had been put forth over the centuries - take your pick - this particular popular and more 'endearing' version claim the goddesses Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia and Urania represent this incredible phenomenon. Although consisting of nine, a plurality, people more commonly refer to them as simply 'the muse' rather than the plural 'muses'. Nonetheless, being a transcendental matter in which few people are willing to discuss, mention of the muse is rare.

So, are the muse real? In one sense they're just effectively real but since emanation produces results (has effect) then the muse are just as real as awareness. In other words, awareness has no substance either yet it's as real as a rock. To put it another way, in ethereal matters 'effectively real' is the equivalent of 'real'.

But why give credit for emanation to 'beings'? Well, the concept not only 'feels right' but there are good reasons for believing spiritual phenomena are caused by ‘they’ and not things… similarly nobody refers to God as an ‘it’ (except atheists). The forces within the spirit world may not breathe but they're nonetheless lifelike. Who can say it isn't true? After all, science has no idea yet what constitutes life.... much less the possible parameters. (see The Quest for the Nature of Light for a couple Promethean-like theories on these parameters).

Secondly, all of life's functions are living forces whether having a scientific (mechanical) explanation or not... and that applies to inspiration coming from out-of-the-blue. Only 'intelligence' is capable of formulating and transmitting ideas so it must be 'they'. Forget what science may say... having no clue whatsoever about metaphysics.

For those who hear them, the muse are considered either 'helpers' - but not necessarily accompanied by any particular religious belief - or 'angels' representing the voice of God. Yet, in forever demanding perfection the muse are hard-driving taskmasters. As such, it should serve as ample proof they speak for God. After all, beauty is the hallmark of divineness and 'perfection' is how it is achieved. Both incredible and heartwarming, the act of 'inspiring artistic genius through emanation' can mean nothing less than a divine connection.

Yet, who knows whether there are really nine of them… maybe there’s three, eighteen or just one. Who can even vouch for their names? Well, it doesn't really matter... the important thing is that the phenomenon is real. Of the several versions, the most popular number was nine although the names of the muse vary by language. So too, their sphere of influence varies. Perhaps that's par for the course... the urge to embroider (endear) phenomena and historical personages is apparently typical. As one example, the Buddhists also embroidered the Bodhisattva.

Further rationalizing the muse

There were several classical Greek and Roman writers who tried to improve upon Greek mythology and attributed which areas each muse influenced - whether it was poetry or music for example - but that depended on what each writer believed (or concocted). The Greeks had different versions and so did the Romans and then there were all the adoptions and changes.... in a sense causing Greek mythology to 'evolve' over time.

But, of the dozens of versions which are accurate? Or, perhaps one should say, the 'most accurate'. After all, we're talking about the spirit world where nothing can be precisely defined.

Well, no matter how credible any particular author was considered at the time - short of the muse introducing themselves and explaining all - it is difficult to put any faith in what these authors believed as to which muse did what. Besides, accuracy suffers when one tries to get too specific about the spirit world. Moreover, it makes the phenomenon less believable. For example, if someone said God has a mustache it would tend to distract from the magnificence of this reality. While the later (spiced-up) versions of Greek mythology makes for interesting reading and is fun to imagine, one shouldn't overlook the underlying insightfulness.

Greek mythology

Greek mythology contains many truths but because of the indefinable nature of the subject matter, these truths had to be conveyed allegorically... and why the Bible also uses allegories. But with later authors apparently believing it conjecture, or a fairytale, it led to tampering. And with the added dramatics it's now better known for its colorful tales about what the various gods did... often battling each other or punishing man when they were bored. It seems all the gods were vain, moody and had very bad tempers. Then there were also the immortal titans and supermen such as Achilles and Hercules.

Whether one can find some basis in fact within every tale is doubtful but there's truths within the picture Greek mythology tried to paint. Lacking any credible evidence to the contrary, it appears certain this picture was based on someone's insightfulness before the art of writing came about. Originating with an unknown source then - being a case of fame denied - it must have been passed-on orally until ultimately writers tried to put it into words.

Homer’s famous Iliad (circa 800 B.C.) was one such tale and perhaps the greatest story ever written... considered a masterpiece. It centered on the siege of Troy which - until 1870 when the ruins were discovered - was believed to have been a mythical place. Until then, almost everyone thought the Iliad was fiction. Since Troy is now professionally considered to have been a real place, what else about the Iliad could be factual? Did Achilles and Hector really exist? Were they indeed as powerful as Homer depicted?

Good questions for which only speculation can ponder but from what these early Greeks accomplished, and with their passionate beliefs in gods, goddesses, oracles and the muse, there is surely more truths to the Iliad and Greek mythology that modern man is willing to accept. Maybe mankind would rather not wonder why the goddess Athena was so revered, or why statues of her were so magnificently fashioned and erected everywhere. Or not to wonder why buildings were erected in the honor of the muse in so many places, even in Alexandria, Egypt when Ptolemy I ruled (buildings in dedication to the muse were then known as ‘museums’).

Nor does modern man sufficiently wonder why the words ‘music’ or 'amuse' were derived from the word 'muse' either. We shouldn't assume no reasons existed. The ancient belief that the ability to make music was the doings of the muse was surely well-founded... that talents are 'attributable' (to a divine force).

Such honor the Greeks bestowed would not have been the case without good reasons. Other gods were honored also, like Apollo. It is about these 'good reasons' is where our curiosity and attention should be focused. It wasn't about idolatry either... it was about respect, honor, wonderment and awe. The act of revering the fantastic powers of the spirit world is not a religion. Religions, after all, have tenets.

Records of pagan beliefs destroyed

Surely to some extent the knowledge of the Greeks persisted long afterwards and if effectively true, then perhaps the heretics during the Spanish Inquisition (15th century) best demonstrates the lingering passion for the old Greek beliefs.

Although purportedly all (or most all) written accounts of what pagans (heretics) believed were destroyed by the Catholic Church in their reign of terror during the Spanish Inquisition, at least we can conclude they were powerful beliefs. It was well documented by the Catholics that heretics were given the choice between renouncing their beliefs or be burned alive at the stake. Their beliefs must have held an incredible amount of merit for an estimated 31,912 heretics (external website) to choose death in that manner.

And, most likely they were age-old beliefs dating back to the ancient Greeks and further on into the Stone Age which could be described as the accumulated spiritual knowledge of millennia … but forcefully erased to make way for Christian beliefs.

So, what were the beliefs that the cavemen, early Greeks and later pagans during the Middle Ages were so dedicated to? Well, one could safely bet their beliefs originated from individual contacts with divine intelligence which Plotinus (205-270) later revealed to the world as being an actual 'existent'. And since the practice wasn't yet considered taboo by organized religions, likely it was commonly utilized. They also likely knew that simply knowing about divine intelligence wouldn't do them any good... that secondhand knowledge about the spirit world holds no personal value.

Surely they also utilized emanation for inspiration. That plants could have medicinal properties would not have been otherwise obvious nor the existence of yeast.

The main difference between divine intelligence and emanation is that the muse (emanation) are more the 'idea makers' whereas divine intelligence is more about revealing the makeup of metaphysics... but it's uncertain how forthcoming. From my single experience with divine intelligence I got the general picture but it didn't include any specifics. Nor did I see a way to obtain any specifics. Seemingly though, as part of the experience one's mental capacity is enhanced. In other words, one may not walk away knowing any specifics but would have gained a greater capacity to know.

Actually, this 'capacity' could be considered the equivalent of 'lingering intelligence on standby'. While all this is difficult to characterize - a matter of metaphysical semantics - intelligence is ethereal and can exist anywhere... whether blowing in the wind or within a living cell. While access now seems much easier, it's still conditional depending on my frame of mind and 'worthiness'.

The magnificent edifices and the contributions of the muse

The ancient Greeks clearly demonstrated this empowerment as can be easily seen in what remains of that era, the ruins, testimony to what once was. In particular, the beauty and complexity in the design of the Parthenon... most assuredly the Greeks were divinely guided. No other satisfactory explanation exists.

While the architectural structures of the later Romans were marvelous engineering feats in of themselves, compared to the Greeks they lacked that special touch. This suggests the Romans didn't see - or couldn't achieve- a divine connection. So, without help, and by the means of their scientific technology alone, they built. It was surely because the practical-mindedness of the Romans made spiritual involvement impossible. With the scientific mindset becoming more prevalent during that time, contact was fast becoming a disappearing ability. Today, it's practically nonexistent.

It was, one can be certain, a close relationship with the spirit world which enabled the early Greeks from their art to architecture which was, in effect, one in the same. Ancient Greece as we know it wouldn't have existed otherwise nor would the Romans have anything worthwhile to try emulating. Since it's always been a matter of how much knowledge, creativity and inspiration one is able to siphon through emanation, the ancient Greek connection must have been exceptionally strong.

While these taskmaster perfectionists (the muse) were surely involved in all great edifices, Cumbemayo (ancient Peruvian aqueduct) illustrates best the ancient dedication to perfection because the message is clearer. The extraordinary effort put forth for 'just' an irrigation project says reams... since there was no practical reason for such perfection. In other words, it isn't a sepulcher built for a king (perfection insisted upon). With no other practical reasons evident, the builders seemed to be demonstrating their belief that "perfection is a closeness to God". It is not only testimony to yesteryear's mindset but would solve the mystery as to why we're drawn to beautiful things (and perfection).

What can ancient Greek poetry tell us?

The primary reason the ancient Greeks were in tune with spiritual matters was because their mindset was a carryover from antiquity (Stone Age)... being a time when people were most capable simply because of their primitive circumstances. Like an Indian sweathouse or seclusion, primitive circumstances serve as a catalyst. It was a time when men lived with nature on a daily basis, who knew it better than anyone since. Doubtless, they had to be the first to 'discover' the muse (emanation) and the existence of divine intelligence.

Whatever cavemen knew about the spirit world may never be totally recaptured but assuredly what they knew was incredibly insightful. The common mindset of today has barely a clue. Since ancient Greek poetry would likely reflect the thoughts and perhaps the spiritual beliefs of ancient man, it could help substantiate. Although it is believed this early poetry (circa 500-1000 B.C.) came from earlier ‘war songs’ (the extent unknown), the most revealing poems the Catholics probably destroyed. Still, the fact poetry existed back then says a lot.

Poetry is said to have been very popular when written languages were first developing and some scholars believe poets made the first use of the written word. Being first seems to signify its importance. Since there is a strong connection between poetry and spirituality strongly suggests emanation (the muse) was also utilized. That means they also knew poetry is another way the spirit world communicates... and since the muse are particularly forthcoming when writing poetry, it could be called "the language of the spirit world".

Spiritual mindedness and the soul of the world

In summary, one needs to keep an open mind about Greek mythology... strip away the colorful and exaggerated depictions and truths will reveal themselves. With due diligence, one should recognize there is some basis for these mythological (allegorical) personages... that they must represent something otherwise indefinable. After all, trying to describe the spirit world is like trying to describe the smell of an onion or the sound of a saxophone... languages simply cannot accommodate metaphysical semantics. Perhaps this dictionary definition of allegorical also explains: "having hidden spiritual meaning that transcends the literal sense of a sacred text".

After 2000 years of institutional tinkering with the truth - now either benighted mechanism (scientific) or religious fluff - the vestiges can still be found in Greek mythology and in Genesis (Bible). If something is written allegorically, then it is likely somewhere in the ballpark.

For a different view on instincts and the frame-of-mind see Instincts and for a philosophical analysis of light see
The Quest for the Nature of Light

Today - with the tenets of organized religions being so 'handy' and so easily adopted - people don't see much need for spiritual forays anymore. While a scientific mindset is necessary these days in order to make a living, but like a demon a mindset also 'possesses'. One should be in control of how their mind operates... which 'system' it uses.

Now, more than ever, the human race needs to find its direction, purpose and spirit..

A.O. Kime

Addendum: While attributing to each muse their 'sphere of influence' probably seemed like a darling idea long ago, but then to add more and more as time passed, directs our attention away from the profound nature of it all. To name them was enough. At any rate, there are different versions. It should be noted the various languages might spell their names differently and sometimes they are known by different names. The purpose to 'romanticize' these phenomenal muse in such a way was, apparently, to make Greek mythology all the more fascinating but it tends to dilute the realities of this phenomenon by presenting it more like a fairytale. There are two ways to appreciate Greek mythology, one can either enjoy it for its fascinating tales, for that purpose only, or else, once having stripped away all the added nonsense, is to recognize it as holding subliminal hints of incredible truths. So for those who insist upon knowing the added nonsense anyway, I reluctantly post the following 'specialties' attributed to each muse.

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Matrix of Mnemosyne... the place of smoke signals from the spirit world

Last modified: 03/05/16