A lot of writers talk about their muse, and use the term almost interchangeably with ‘inspiration’. There are others who characterise their muse – a supernatural and separate entity that whispers words into their heads. The notion of muses comes to us from the ancient Greeks – nine entities who presided over different areas of the arts. They were all female, and the artist was assumed to be male. The world has changed a lot since then, thankfully, with women being taken seriously as creative forces. As a concept that comes to us from our pagan ancestors, it seemed like a good topic for this blog.

The muses are an inherrently pagan idea – in their original formthey offer supernatural inspiraiton. They’ve managed to sneak into mainstream perception and although how we use and understand the word has changed a bit, they’ve never been tamed, Christianised, or, I feel, in any way devalued as a concept. To call someone or something your muse remains an incredibly powerful statement.

A muse is a bringer of inspiration. To some, a divine entity, to others a mysterious part of themselves. No doubt everyone relates to the concept in their own way. Although I am very much inspired by the natural world, my muses have always been actual people. They are unusual souls who fill my head with stories – often true ones from their lives, who provoke me into thinking. The majority are themselves very creative people – writers, artists, druids, musicians, philosophers, people who teach and craft community, who give of themselves and live with honour.

There are no shortage of people who inspire me a bit, but the ones who go beyond that, and attain ‘muse’ status in my eyes are rare creatures indeed. These are the few who are generous enough to listen to me, to hear me sing, or read my work and feed back on it. That feedback makes a world of difference, and helps me to keep doing what I love to do. The folk who encourage me to keep going, show me where I could do better are so precious to me. And best of all, the few who invite me to create specifically for them. I love being asked like that and find it hugely enabling. Then every now and then, one of these lovely people will make something, do something and credit me as part of their inspiration. That’s one of the most joyful moments imaginable for me. I’m not going to name names here, because they know who they are, and that’s between me and them.

There is nothing like passing inspiration back and forth between people – stories that breed stories, inspiration that causes a returning tide of fresh inspiration. So if someone affects you, inspires you causes you to do something, don’t be shy about it. Go back and tell them, if at all possible. Honour the creativity of those around you, and you never know where it might lead!

(It led me here, amongst other places… )