Botticelli's Primavera

Follow Your Muses This Summer

Are your muses calling? What are they whispering to you?

Summer is the perfect time to slow down and listen to your muses. Sometimes it is hard for us to hear our muses as we get caught up in the cacophony of our daily lives. We’ve all been there–screaming kids, rushing from the moment we get up, work, phone calls, texts, emails, phones pinging and beeping all day long. But summer, with its long days and warm weather, invites us to relax and daydream, as we make plans for vacations and time away from our daily routines.

We don’t have to wait to be on vacation to embrace its leisurely pace. It can be as simple as grabbing a glass of iced tea and sitting outside to watch the sunset or taking a walk during lunch. It is in those moments that we are most able to hear the whispers of our muses.

Finding my muses in Florence, Italy

When I lived in Florence for three months in 2014, I was fortunate to be able to visit the various museums daily. (The Uffizi offered an Amici Pass at the time which gave priority entry to their museum and other museums, gardens, and villas. The pass has since been discontinued to my dismay.) Having that slower pace and freedom to visit as often and as long as I wished, was an amazing experience. I soon had my favorite rooms and works of art in each museum.

Michelangelo's David, Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy.
Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy.

 

Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy
Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy

As an art historian, I was familiar with Sandro Botticelli’s work, but I gained a greater appreciation for his paintings seeing them in person–experiencing them, breathing them in. I was astounded at the size. When looking at images of artwork in books or projected on a screen, one doesn’t have a real sense of the scale–some works are much smaller, and others are monumental. (Reading that they are both about 6′ x 10′ isn’t quite the same as standing in front of them.)  Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera overwhelmed me with their monumental presence.

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

 

Botticelli's Primavera

They are in the same room in the Uffizi on adjacent walls. Fortunately, there are benches in the middle of the room where one can sit and enjoy the paintings for hours on end (if one has the time and the inclination which I did!).

Venus was one of Botticelli’s muses but who were mine? Who had been inspiring me since childhood? I have heard them. They have been giving me ideas, sending me images, and nudging me my whole life but did I know them?

My muses walked out of a painting

After three months wandering the streets, gardens, and museums of Florence, they finally took form. They had a face, and when I closed my eyes, I could see them dancing around me. They were the women I saw in Botticelli’s Primavera–Flora and the three Graces (Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne).

It was like Alice through the looking glass. They walked out of the painting and into my life giving form to my inspiration.

Flora is the one I see most when I close my eyes and meditate on my muses. There is something about the way that Botticelli portrayed her that captivates me.

Botticelli's Primavera
Flora

Perhaps I am drawn to her because she is the goddess of flowers and the season of spring. I was born on the spring equinox and feel such an affinity to that season, the rebirth after a long cold winter. (Living in the desert after growing up in the Midwest, spring is a more subtle season but one still filled with beautiful flowers.)

Symbolically, Flora and the Graces are the perfect muses for me–Flora, goddess of spring; Aglaia, elegance, brightness, and splendor; Thalia, youth, beauty, and good cheer; and Euphrosyne, mirth, and joyfulness.

Botticelli's Primavera-Three Graces
The Three Graces–Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne

why you should give form to your muses

There is something magical about giving them form. I think that the Greeks and Romans were right in embodying inspiration. It meant that inspiration had a form and could visit and be accessible to anyone who would listen. I think we, in our modern western culture, can be too literal and limited in our thinking. We are creative, or we aren’t. We have inspiration, or we don’t. By giving inspiration form and therefore creativity, makes it accessible to us all.

Embracing Flora and the Graces as my muses changed my relationship with inspiration and my creative process.

While I know that the seat of our creativity lives in our subconscious, I found giving it form allows me to connect and speak with it more effectively. I imagine Flora whispering ideas to me (it is way more glamorous than a clinical dissection of the subconscious mind where I saw something previously and my subconscious connects it with other stored data and experiences to create a novel idea).

I encourage you to give a face and a name to your muses. You may find your muses in a painting as I did. Maybe yours will emerge from a photograph. Whatever the source, bring your muses to life.

How ideas take root

I have always felt that ideas are floating out there looking for fertile ground in which to grow. I could feel them swimming in my mind, some clear and in reach and other just outside of my grasp, outside my view.  Have you ever had an idea that was just out of reach?

Our muses (or angels if you prefer), whisper ideas to us. If we choose not to act on them, they move on to someone else.

Ever notice how two people in distant locations have the same discovery or invention almost simultaneously? Have you ever wonder why that occurs? I believe that ideas have a need to be born (I am not alone in thinking this). Our muses carry the ideas to people who are open to bringing them into the world.

Are you open to receiving inspiration?

how do you open yourself up to receive inspiration

Tapping into our creativity can be challenging at times. How do we find inspiration when we need it? How do we record it for future use? How do we hear our muses when they whisper to us?

In our fast-paced, over-stimulated modern environment, it is often difficult to hear these voices over the never-ending din. We need to slow down and create space for these ideas to enter and take root.

How do you do this?

  • take a walk
  • daydream
  • turn off the TV, music, computer, and phone
  • sit outside and people watch or watch nature
  • take a nap (let your subconscious go to work for you)
  • meditate or pray (the goal is to quiet your mind)

Make space for your muses. I like to do a muse meditation where I imagine them dancing around me, laughing, singing, and telling me their secrets (the secrets are their inspiration, the ideas). I hear them encouraging me to take risks and be bold and courageous.

listening to your muses, what’s next

This summer is time to be bold. To let those ideas take root. Make time not only to hear your inspiration but to act on it. The longer days urge us to explore. Take the time to create. Bring to life that idea.

Now that you have met my muses, tell me about your? What are your muses calling on you to do?

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2 comments

  1. Mary Ahern says:

    My muse, I would say, is my garden. Other gardens as well, but my garden in particular. I move in it, feel it, and hear the breezes whisper through it. I watch the lighting during the day as it slides over and around the textured surfaces. Lighting so different on days with sun and with clouds. Lighting in the spring with the bright yellow greens of optimistic new growth and lighting by the fall with ambers & tans of a lived life.

    My garden brings consciousness and meaning to me. It keeps me grounded. The ephemeral beauty of an unfertilized blossom studied up close with magnifiers and macro lenses is a representation of a miracle. The world of possibility. The beginning of a story I represent in my Art.

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