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Multicultural Muses : The Fount of Inspiration: Muses of Water

Multicultural Muses

The Fount of Inspiration: Muses of Water

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers

The perfect day to begin working on this article dawned rainy and gray; a perfect day to hole up in my studio and do a little research, and begin to write about Muses and deities associated with the element of water and the creative arts. I found quickly that water goddesses and Muses associated with rain, lakes, streams, and oceans — exist all over the world, forming a great part of the mythology and culture of many diverse societies from all over the world.

For the purposes of this article, I have chosen to narrow my focus, honing in on Celtic muses and goddesses from Ireland. (I found so many different mermaids, nymphs, sirens, seal-women and blue-headed serpent goddesses that I was forced to choose a tiny area of focus, to avoid turning this article into a book of my own!) It is a rich topic, indeed, and I researched it sitting in the window-seat and gazing out at the rain when I needed a respite from the words on the page.

The rain itself served as one of my Muses for this piece, creating in me a dreamy, contemplative and sweetly sad mood that was perfectly suited to writing about Lenan Sidhe and Moriath, Cliodhna, and the rest. If the rain inspires you, or you find yourself exalted by the view of a river, write a poem or a story to honor these Muses from the natural world, and their many gifts. Or, paint a rainy landscape, using your favorite paints. I like watercolors best! You can even paint your poem, framing it in the center of the page with a border of clouds and raindrops. Walk barefoot through the new grass in the rain in springtime for a heady dose of inspiration, straight from Mother Earth. Watch the rain fall from a snug little corner, sipping hot chamomile tea. Write a poem to honor the Rain Goddess in chalk on the sidewalk, and watch it fade away in the storm.

Here is my haiku about a rainy Saturday morning…

Rain Falling in the Forest

There is a lovely

Melancholy in the rain

Blackbirds singing sweet

Leanan Sidhe, the Faerie Sweetheart, is beloved and feared by Irish poets and singers. A darkly beautiful Faerie Muse, she is often seen near water, and lures young men into her arms with a song sweeter than honey. Once they have fallen under her fatal spell, the poor lads are doomed to despair, often committing suicide or merely wasting away when they are separated from their faerie lover for too long.

This has earned Leanan Sidhe a terrible reputation; some say that she is deadly and is best avoided. For a more thorough discussion of Leanan Sidhe and ways to work with her energy safely, please see my article, Leanan Sidhe: Irish Faerie Muse. I have found that she inspires mystical watery landscapes, and darkly lovely poems, and that she is dangerous when crossed.

Another dark and mysterious figure is Canola. Despite her unlikely name, she was an important and powerful Celtic goddess. According to Irish legend, it was Canola who crafted the first harp from the skeleton of a whale. This was a mighty gift to mortal musicians, and they show the generous side of this little-known deity.

Moriath, a Celtic goddess associated with water, magic, the arts, and healing, was also generous to mortals, and helpful by nature. It is said that she could create magical music which could make anyone who heard it go to sleep. This enchanting music was also known to restore the power of speech to those who had lost the ability to speak.

Listen to the wind — Moriath is calling your name. Let her song rock you to sleep. Dream beautiful deep blue dreams and write them all down, paint their portraits, tie them to kites and butterflies' wings and set them free to soar. •

Authors Notes: It seems that Ireland is full of water-spirits, river-goddesses, and sea-nymphs. Every well and bog seems to have its own attendant spirit. There were many to choose from, and I could not name or explore them all in the scope of one brief article. The book, "Goddesses in World Mythology" by Ann and Imel, was a great help in finding information about these obscure and sometimes little-known Muses.

In fact, there were so many wonderful Muses to explore from this region that I'll be revisiting the Emerald Isle this winter! Stay tuned for a my article on Cliodhna, the Irish goddess of Beauty, who lives in the Land of Promise. Her tale is an interesting one, and I'll go into it in more detail in December of this year. Coming up in this series next, I will continue my exploration of the four elements as Muses, with inspiration drawn from the earth and air deities in August and October.

© 2009 Molly Anderson-Childers.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »