- Song of the Hummingbird Muses -

Sometimes when walking through the forest I make very slow progress, not wanting to miss some foliaceous treasure hidden within the forest undergrowth.  As dancing rays of sunlight search through the shimmering vaults of the forest cathedral, one almost seems to hear the windy voices of a choir, angels of nature, permeating that sacred place with song.  Who is it that sings with such irresistible beauty, inviting the intrepid into discovery?  

I call these mythological beings Zoanthropia Musaicum (animal-human mosaic), and they represent the unseen relation between us and the rest of the natural world.  The hybridization of forms is a way of portraying the invisible integration that binds all living things together into a larger entity: sometimes called the biosphere, or Gaia.  We are beginning to understand the astounding genetic unity in the apparent morphological diversity of nature; someday perhaps we will actually feel the intimate kinship we share with all terrestrial life.  We might even find, in that profound perception, the picture formed by all the perfectly interlocking jigsaw pieces of the world’s living puzzle: the image of the true poetry of the world and a knowledge of the destiny of life and consciousness in the cosmos.

But poetry, the distillation of experience to its essential magic, is a mysterious form of perception, often happening, it sometimes seems, of its own deeply hidden volition, and only in accord with its own inscrutable objectives.  Where then shall we look for the ethereal messenger that brings the miraculous boon of inspiration?

The ancient Greeks believed that all ideas were created by gods.  When moved by sympathy for the travails of humanity, Apollo (a solar deity representing the burning light of understanding) would bestow upon a meritorious individual a precious gift of divine knowledge delivered upon the wings of a divine messenger.  One of nine muses would fly down to earth and silently whisper a little bundle of wisdom directly into the mind of the beneficiary.  She would leave no trace of her presence, except the vague feeling that the new idea in one’s mind was discovered, and not invented - almost as if it was pre-existent elsewhere, and was merely unknown until encountered.

Each muse is meant to represent an aspect of human creative expression: Terpischore - Muse of Dance, Thalia - Muse of Comedy, Eutere - Muse of Music and Lyric Poetry, Polyhymnia - Muse of Sacred Hymns, Urania - Muse of Astronomy, Melpomene - Muse of Tragedy, Calliope - Muse of Epic Poetry, Erato - Muse of Love Poetry, and Clio - Muse of History.  The muses are arranged here in the configuration of their number: nine.

Why nine muses?  Well, the root of 9 is 3 (3 X 3 = 9).  That is, the root - that which connects the living to the source of nourishment (physical food or spiritual wisdom) - of the nine muses is three: the Trinity.  In different places in the world there are different representations of the Trinity.  In Hindu belief, there is Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.  This is just one example of many.

Of course, the Trinity with which the western world is most familiar is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Christ and the Holy Spirit are sometimes described as the right and left hands of the Great Mind between.  A symbolic reading of these words refers to a divinity with two complimentary natures.  Christ is the physical manifestation and form, objective and representative of the conscious rational mind.  The Holy Spirit is the ethereal will and idea, subjective and representative of the unconscious intuitive mind.  And in the center is the third aspect of mysterious totality, the transcendent union of the two.  This is one interpretation of the Holy Trinity, and in this sense the nine muses are symbolic of the connection between us, and the divine fire that generates and sustains the cosmos.

The Trinity is also here in this image: the subjective aspect is portrayed as feminine - the wisdom-bearing hummingbirds; the objective aspect is portrayed as masculine - the phallus-like crimson columbines which die each autumn only to rise again in spring.  And Nature is the unity of the two wherein masculine and feminine are merely component parts, incomplete halves that are subsumed into a greater entity, a supra-personal unity of which the constituent parts are (mostly) ignorant.

And so, like many people who walk too slowly through the forest, I feel like I have made a connection to something grand, beyond comprehension.  Perhaps those little muses have whispered something in my ear...