(Printed in the Women's Press, March/April 2010)
It’s spring! Time to nurture energy and imagination for new projects. Get acquainted with your Muse. When I first learned of Muses, the nine Greek sister goddesses who inspire creativity, I wanted one and thought they only visited brilliant people.
We can cultivate and access our Muse. Isabelle Allende has rituals that she follows. Annually, she starts a new book on the day she began a letter to her dying grandfather because that letter turned into her first novel, House of Spirits.
Each January 8 she provides flowers and lights candles for her Muses, and meditates. At a computer she writes her first line in a kind of trance as if someone else where writing it through her. Using that line as an opening to explore new worlds, she lets a story unfold and delights in the surprises that arrive. She waits until her first draft is complete before switching to left brain editing.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Love and Pray discusses the history of muses and genies at http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html In order to access her muse Gilbert shows up and, like a mule, works. By doing her part the creative spirit is more likely to arrive.
Gilbert described the poet Ruth Stone who would be working in the field when a poem barreled in from above. Stone’s job was to run into the house and write it down before the poem gave up on her and went to find another poet.
The Moors chanted Allah and praised God when they observed a transcendent performance. In Spain the name Allah morphed to Olé, a shout for an outstanding moment during a flamenco dance, a bullfight or other achievement.
Now Gilbert shouts Olé after she and her Muse have a successful collaboration. She also believes we deserve Olé for just showing up and working.
To nurture your muse, you might ask her name, get to know what she likes: flowers, candles, silence, music or a bustling café atmosphere. Try a meditative conversation with her, describe what you need. Once she’s activated on a venture, new ideas could pop into your brain day or night. Carry pencil and paper. Inviting and writing dreams can be very productive.
Muses enjoy being invoked and appreciated. They also like to a-muse, so have fun!