“O divine poesy/ goddess-daughter of Zeus/ sustain for me/ this song” —from Homer’s Odyssey 

An Odyssey

It’s probably been a while since you’ve read the Odyssey, the epic tale of Odysseus and his travels as he wandered for years on his return from Troy. So you may not remember that it opens with the Invocation of the Muse, basically an invitation to Calliope (the muse of epic poetry) to help him write the book. It’s meant to acknowledge the link between humans and the divine, which helps guide our work. 

There are nine muses, covering different forms of storytelling. Thalia is the muse of comedy, for tragedy, call upon Melpomene. Clio is the muse of history, while Erato is the muse of love poetry. If you want to write a song, call on Euterpe, but for hymns, Polyhymnia. There is also a muse for dance (Terpsichore) and, interestingly, astronomy (Urania). In Ancient Greece, of course, astronomy was more than science; it was a way to determine location and predict events, an art not unrelated to storytelling. 

Handling the Truth

Writing can be lonely, which is an interesting paradox, given that it is an attempt to communicate. It can be helpful to remember that we write, we are looking for that which is universal that lives within specific events, and this is a realm that is greater than any single one of us. We don’t create the truth; it is revealed to us. We, in turn, attempt to help others see.

We don’t create the truth; it is revealed to us. We, in turn, attempt to help others see.

This week, think about an image or object that might help your muse (this could be one of the nine, one that only you know, or simply the spirit of an author you admire) feel invited to join you in your workspace. This could be a rock, a candle, a postcard, or anything that might serve as a small reminder. Then rest in the comfort that these spirits or the writings of real people will help guide you. You aren’t alone.