House of the Muses

Richard Fortey really nailed it on this one, and also helps me to bring up a very good point on just exactly why I consider visiting a museum a deep spiritual experience.

If the source of the word “museum” is a house of the muses, then the original museum might have harboured all the arts and sciences, corresponding to the nine muses. The first building to carry the name was probably the university in Alexandria about 300 B.C. Only one of the muses, Urania, Muse of Astronomy–she who is portrayed in a mural in Herculaneum pointing at the heavens with a staff–would have personified the scientific endeavor remotely in the modern sense. From the early days of the British Museum the display of classical archaeology and art was an important part of the function of this new public space. This was a nod of recognition of the new civilization towards the old, a kind of acknowledgement of mutually shared culture.

~Richard Fortey, Dry Storeroom No.1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum

To muse over something. To contemplate. To be inspired. To go to a place like a natural history museum, or a museum of the arts, is to allow oneself to be touched through the vast reaches of time, by the great machinations and workings of Nature, and the fantastic workings of gods and men rendered in stone and bone, canvas and clay. To go to a museum is to open oneself up to the Muses, to be inspired, to hear the whispering voices spoken in ancient tongues, languages spoken in color, movement and pose. In the attitudes of death are the great expressions of life shining through.

Go to a museum. Quiet your mind. Allow yourself to be still. Listen to them speak. They are eager to tell their stories, and the Muses are ever willing to bless you in the process.

In other news, today is Spirit Day. I’ve written plenty, mostly in private, on this topic. When I’m feeling more able, I’ll relate more at a later time. However, I’d like to recommend Aedicula Antinoi, for thoughtful and inspiring words relating to this day and what’s really behind it.

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  1. October 21, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Thanks for passing on the link!

    I very much agree about musea being wonderful places for inspiration–and, in some instances, active cultus! The poem on Chnoubis that I just completed recently was initially inspired by looking at a Chnoubis gem (after seeing him come up a lot in my reading) in Michigan, and standing in front of it and trying to honor him–I got an almost immediate “I appreciate your attention; next time, try this…” and then a few lines. It’s all coming together now, at last…

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