Greek mythology claims there were 9 Muses (Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania, and Melpomene) – goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths. The compliment to a real woman who inspires creative endeavor is a later idea. Muses are also implicit in amuse, museum (a place where muses were worshipped), music and musing.
Some artists feel the need to perform daily rituals to entice the muse to arrive. This may include the playing of certain music – or absolute silence; the use of smoking materials (cigars, cigarettes, Tiparillos) – or clear lungs; several shots of seductive libation – or keeping the label/cork intact; perfumed air through intoxicating flowers or pheromones – or sober old oxygen; plush, vibrant-colored pillows or stark, Spartan space to welcome them. Some do Yoga or meditate to open the channels and chakras, generating a clear, clean palette for our particular muses to enter and, hopefully, reside a spell.
Sometimes nothing we do to lure them works. If our muse does not appear we may feel ignored, abandoned, frustrated, fearful, desolate. Then the pacing begins. And the clenched fists. The cords in the neck tighten. A prominent vein in the temple/forehead area may begin to pulse and throb angrily. The chain-smoking/drinking ensues. Certainly no muse in her or his right mind would want to turn up to a tension-filled muddled mind and be expected to produce anything worthwhile. They want to saunter in and give that royal/papal superior wave, flick away an imaginary piece of metaphysical lint, plop down in a comfy chair and begin the sultry whispering in your eager ear.
Some creative types are superstitious folks – worse than theatre people and their penchant for saying, The Scottish Play instead of MacBeth – and the dreaded writer’s block (painter’s block, sculptor’s block, etc.) may not be mentioned, for even a child knows once those two words are aired, the horrific problem expands exponentially. More dire than insomnia, writer’s block can cripple the confidence of an artist for protracted periods of time, leading to melancholia and periods of various shades of color.
I do not possess, lease, or hire a muse to perform magical feats for me; neither in human form, some phantasmagorical figure, nor someone who plays a muse on TV. Though much of my writing is humorous (allegedly) and Calliope is the Greek Muse for comedy, I do not subscribe to her existence and refuse to pander to her, casting rose petals at her feet, tempting her with chilled Snickers or copious amounts of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I refuse to allow my creativity to be hijacked or stonewalled by the theory of some gossamer spirit deigning to pay me a visit so I can knock out the rest of that short story or the next chapter. I take full credit or full blame for the finished product. Admittedly, I have experienced the occasional faint whisper of something in my ear that later found its way into my writing. However, it could have been my subconscious pitching in. The verdict on muses is still out as far as I’m concerned, but just in case they do exist, I want to hedge my bets and not mock the muse.