amusded

MagickalArts

April, 2018

(en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses – Terpsichore

 

(Image: Carnegie Museum of : Terpsichore by Antonio Canova (1821))

This is the Fifth posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series

Terpsichore has been with me longer than I can remember. I was born to dance and the pure joy and thrill of moving through space, weaving energetic patterns and being so completely absorbed by the music are all of her gifts as you open to her magickal inspiration.

Her name means “delighting in dance” and is derived from the Greek word “Terpo” which means to be amused. She is often depicted as wearing laurels on her head and holding a harp or Lyre as she dances. As one of the Nine Muses, her joy in movement is contagious as we see depicted in all the Muses forming lines of flowing grace, regardless of their primary attributes. Her name has come to be synonymous with “dancer” in its English use. As a daughter of Mnemosyne (memory) and Zeus (authoritative power), she is also called upon to assist with the creative effort of choreography and labanotation (the scribing of choreography using symbols that indicate movement and tempo).

This reference calls forth the need to remember in order to re-create the steps given and the ability to command the audience’s attention. Just as her sister Muses have multiple attributes, so too, Terpsichore is also considered the Muse of Choral and education, as a lessor inspiration. The Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus writes…..

“Hesiod even gives their names [the Muses’] when he writes: ‘Kleio, Euterpe, and Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsikhore and Erato, and Polymnia, Ourania, Kalliope too, of them all the most comely.’ To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts… For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her… Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), because she delights (terpein) her disciples with the good things which come from education.” 1.

The Greek lyric poet, Pindar writes of Terpsichore’s sweet song in the Isthmian Ode 2 (In memory of the victories of Xenocrates of Acragas Chariot Race 470 B. C.)….

“Then the Mousa (Muse) [i.e. the poet] had not yet bowed to love of gain, or made herself a hireling journeyman; nor in the market clad in masks of silver did honey-tongues Terpsikhore (Terpsichore) barter her gentle-voiced and sweetly sun refrains. But now she bids us pander to that word the Argive spoke, to sadly near to truth: Money, money makes man.” 2.

In some accounts Terpsichore is attributed as the mother of the Sirens (sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death), fathered by the sea God Akheloos and a son, Linos, fathered by the God, Apollon (the Solar God of prophecy and oracles). She is referenced again by Pindar in his Dirges as singing the lament over her dead son, Linus, who was struck with his lyre by Heracles….

“But in another song did three goddesses [Mousai, Muses] lull to rest the bodies of their sons. The first of these [Terpsikhore] sang a dirge over the clear-voiced Linos [personification of the lamentation song].” 3.

In the epic poem, Dionysiaca by the Greek Poet, Nonnus, the River God of Aitolia, Akheloos is credited as fathering the sirens with Terpsichore….

“The Seirenes (Sirens), whom rosy Terpsikhore (Terpsichore) brought forth by the stormy embraces of her bull-horned husband Akheloos (Achelous).” 4.

Terpsichore’s gift of song is gifted to her children and the stories of these sirens songs have long held legend of fateful death on calm seas. The Greek epic poet, Apollonius Rhodius, speaks of the seductive songs of the sirens in the Argonautica….

“The clear-voiced Seirenes (Sirens), Akheloos’ (Achelous’) daughters, used to bewitch with their seductive melodies whatever sailors anchored there. Lovely Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), one of the Mousai (Muses), has borne them to Akheloos, and at one time they had been handmaids to Demeter’s gallant Daughter [Persephone], before she was married, and sung to her in chorus.” 5.

 

(Painting: Terpsichore, Muse of Dance by Jean Marc Nattier.1939)

Terpsichore’s gift of music is depicted in the traditional fashion of her holding the Lyre in the painting above by Jean Marc Nattier. I particularly like this painting. The artist gave the feeling that she can barely contain herself in rest and at any moment will break free and dance away. Other representations of Terpsichore show her playing the Flute.  

Terpsichore’s influence is perhaps the most wide spread of all of the Muses. In terms of artistic expression, she is the quintessential master. , song, dance and education all held within her powers of inspiration. And, if we consider the effect of these art forms on society as a whole, she is the bringer of cultural delights. Dance is infectious and every culture throughout time has incorporated dance as art of their social and often spiritual traditions. Her image graces dance studio Logos, titles of choreographic wonders and educational materials, all singing praise to her inspired movement and flow.

The statue below is found in the Bavarian Gardens at Beyruth Court. Her image graces the gardens as inspiration to the joys and pleasures to be found in the dance of nature. 

Join me as we enter the world of dance and take center stage as Terpsichore in the Ballet – “Apollon Musagete”choreographed in 1928 by Serge Diaghilev. This ballet was later re-choreographed by George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet, and re-named simply as “Apollo”, where it has become a classic staple of the company.

The ballet features Apollo, god of the arts and the sun. The ballet begins with Apollo playing the Lute and dancing alone. Three of the Muses, Calliope – Polyhymnia and Terpsichore enter the scene. The three dance with Apollo, each in turn, as they weave moving across the stage in sheer delight. Apollo then gives each of the Muses a gift and asks that they dance for him. To Calliope he gives a scroll of parchment; to Polyhymnia a mask. And, to Terpsichore, a lyre. She dances joyously, filling the space with her passion for movement and the love of the music. Apollo judges her dance to be the most perfect of the three and she and the God, dance a beautiful and slow pas de deux (duet); both “delighting in the dance”.

(Come Dance with Me)

Terpsichore has been with me for longer than I can remember and her transformative grace holds me forever in her embrace…

My first magickal experience occurred as a dancer performing at the age of 10 or so. I did not, at the time, realize I was setting up the gateway and intent for magick to move through me. My only intent was to connect so fully and deeply that I would become the persona of the role I was portraying and lose my human nature in the process. The desire was to transcend human form and become something more. The intent was powerful enough and the music and rhythm acted as the keys that opened the gates to the other realms through movement and motion. I became the swan flying high above the earth. I was the beautiful being that was shot through the heart and gracefully fell to earth, wounded and in the throes of death.  A final arch and curve of beautiful elongated neck, gentle flutter of white feathery wing and the final lifting upwards towards eternal ascending flight as death welcomed me into its soft sleep.  The music stopped and I once again returned to the land of human and living; applause awaking me from this deep connection forged as the gates of magickal working closed until called forth again.  

The next post will focus on the Muse, Polymnia and her Gifts of Sacred Hymns and

References:

1. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 7. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.).

2. Pindar, Isthmian Ode 2. 6 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.).

3. Pindar, Dirges Fragment 139 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.).

4. Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 313 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D). 

5. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 892 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.).

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

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Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

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Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

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