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nine muses

MagickalArts

April, 2018

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

 

(Image: Carnegie Museum of Art: 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 Music 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. Music, 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 Music

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

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

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

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

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 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

MagickalArts

March, 2018

(en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses-The Love of Erato

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

During a weekend in Boston with my daughter while she was at the Boston Conservatory, we went to the Museum of Fine Arts. We came to one of the hallways and I looked up and saw a beautiful dome painting of the Nine Muses and Apollo by John Singer Sargeant. As I scanned the image I imagined what type of energy would be in abundance as the Muses danced in free abandon around Apollo, God of the Sun. I thought about the sensuality of this energy and the grace and ease with which it appeared each was connected to the other. The feeling was one of being totally lost in the moment, carried by the urge to create, to move and to inspire. I thought about the tales I had read of the lives of the Muses and the Gods and Goddesses and the common thread of pure passion that flowed through even the most desperate of tales. After all, is it not passion, whether it be positive or negative that fuels the will to live. All of the emotions- jealousy, love, anger, mercy, joy and more, have all come into being because of what we see, what we experience and how we translate these emotions into how we live and ultimately how and who we love. 

Painting: Apollo and the Muses John Singer Sargeant (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.1921)

I also realized that passion is the motivation that guided my life as a dancer. Passion is what has motivated me in parenting and sharing my life with my husband of 37 years. Passion is what drives me to write, to teach and to make magick. And, through all of these acts of creation, desire and drive, the Muse Erato has been gently guiding me on her path of inspiration.

The Muse, Erato is given the title of Muse of Erotic poetry and Mime. Her name means “the lovely” or “beloved” and is derived from the Greek word, Eros meaning “intimate love.” This derivation connects her to the Greek God, Eros whose nature was to stimulate sexual desire and attraction. As a Muse, her work of inspiration is not simply through poetry and lyrical verse, but ore specifically, erotic poetry that stimulates the senses and charms the attendees into romantic liaison. 

The Greek Epic poet, Apollonius Rhodius calls upon the gifts of Erato to aid in the writing of the journey of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. The passion of youth and the desire to conquer all worlds and any obstacle for the object of their desire flows through many of the epic tales and in the Argonautica we read the author’s invocation to Erato to infuse his epic with her gifts….

“The poet invokes Erato as he begins the tale of the love of Jason and Medea:] Come, Erato, come lovely Mousa (Muse), stand by me and take up the tale. How did Medea’s passion help Iason (Jason) to bring back the fleece to Iolkos (Iolcus).” 1.

Everything related to Love, the eroticism of love and the passion that inspires love is attributed to the gifts of the Muse Erato. Hers is the inspiration found in the wooing of the beloved by song, the flowering gifts of the natural world and the gentle caresses that lead to passion’s act. In this way she whispers in the ears of the would-be suitors and lovers, providing the inspiration that will draw their beloved to them…

For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her: . . . Erato, because she makes those who are instructed by her men who are desired and worthy to be loved.” 2.

In the Orphic Hymn to the Muses, Erato is invoked as one who is alluring and seductive in her gifts. Her visage enough to cast the spell of longing…

“Daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus . . . Kleio (Clio), and Erato who charms the sight, with thee, Euterpe, ministering delight: Thalia flourishing, Polymnia famed, Melpomene from skill in music named: Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), Ourania (Urania) heavenly bright.”3.

In art, Erato is depicted holding a Lyre or a garland of roses and myrtle representing the sweet music of a lover’s song and the fragrant rose and myrtle offered as token of a lover’s heart. She was considered the mistress of hymeneal song, playing her Lyre and crafting the poetry of the nuptials of young lovers and the consummate act of their union that followed. 

She is also depicted holding a golden arrow from the bow of the God, Eros as reminder of the sexual desire and attraction that are part of the process of passion and romantic love. In the painting below by Charles Meynier, there is a sense of the Muse being inspired herself as she sits in the setting of the natural world and the God Eros stands intimately at her shoulder. She writes her poems of erotic love with the tip of an arrow from Eros’ quiver, water reflecting the heart’s desire at their feet and flowers readied to seed the lover’s pursuit. I am particularly fond of this painting and the many layers that are extracted each time you look at it. For me, this is the reminder of how complicated, yet simple and profound matters of the heart truly are. 

Painting: Charles Meynier (Cleveland Museum of Art. 1789)

During the Age of the Renaissance we see Erato’s influence strongly present in the ballads of the troubadours, the bards, artists and writers. Another attribution of gift was given to Erato and she came to be known as the Allegory of Music. This title was directly related to the painting by Filippino Lippe entitled The Allegory of Music-Erato. In this form she is depicted with various instruments, white swans at her feet and a lyre. It is thought that this image was the artist’s statement of the intimate and all encompassing nature of complicated relationships and the various passions that drive them. 

Painting: Filippino Lipp (Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany. 1500C)

The painting shows the Muse Erato leading a swan by a golden leash. The swan, an attribute of Apollo, may be associated with Musica as well; its symbolic role is based on the fact that it miraculously sang before its death; thus the concept of the swan song.”

The addition of a stream or water in the paintings of her refers to the idea that the Muses were originally nymphs of streams that had the power to inspire creativity, before these attributes were assigned to human like beings. And, we still associate the images of swans and being serenaded as gestures of love and romantic admiration. 

So, next you see one you hope to make a lover, or passionately embark down a new trail of experience call to Erato to inspire the way and fan the fires of your desire. Honor her gifts in allowing the need to interact and share all the dynamics of your emotions. Consider the pleasure of make-up sex after a heated argument that you thought would surely have no resolution. Or, the desire to beat your personal best, after achieving a sought after goal that you have given your all and devoted yourself to pursuing. These are the poems of love’s achievement that are written in your life’s story as the arrows of Eros guided by Erato’s penning hit their mark.

 

In Honor of Erato

Heart beats wildly with
Each approaching step
As anticipation of loving union
Creates images of satisfied longing.

Breath comes in shallow flow
As my lover pulls me near and
Skin tingles in response to whispered
Words of love that are heated by desire.

Breath hot and sweet
Comes in rapid wave as
Lover’s hand gently caress
Arch of porcelain white neck.

Finger gently traces line
Of butterfly wings in
Hollowed dampness of throat
Moving lightly with desire over
Flushed skin of silky breast.

Fingers trembling as passion
Rises wrap around base
Of delicate waist and curve
Of arched lower back.

Thighs warm and strong
As knees weaken from
Passion’s greedy lips
Pressed insistently against mine.

And at once our passion pulls
Us into its gift of life desirous
Of the touch of another and the
Promise that this union holds.

 

 

The next post will focus on the Muse, Terpsichore and her Gifts of Dance.

References:

1. Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica (Greek Epic C3rd B.C.).

2. Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History (Greek History C1st BC).

3. Orphic Hymn 76 to the Muses (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.).

***

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

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

For Amazon Information Click Image


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

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

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 

 

You can Follow Robin Through the Following Sites:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/robin.fennelly

Instagram:

#themagickalpen

Online Teachings:

Teachings on the Path

Bandcamp Recorded Pathworkings:

Teachings on the Path with Robin

Youtube:

Robin Fennelly