Muses have been around ever since artists were born. They have been seen as mystical creatures, an actual person in the artist’s life, or a place or thing. For an artist, a muse is a good luck charm, a talisman that the creative thoughts and ideas will continue to flow to them and out of them.
My muse is Sandro Botticelli’s Venus Rising. He paints the Venus on a half-shell rising out of the ocean and attendants coming to clothe her and the angels blowing upon her (perhaps drying her off?, blowing good energy toward her?).
Art historians have many interpretations of the painting. It was believed to be commissioned by the Medici family (c. 1484). One interpretation is a Neoplatonic interpretation of the physical beauty of an earthly goddess arousing humans to love. Another thought is she is a heavenly goddess inspiring intellectual love, which suggests that 15th century viewers would look upon her physical beauty and be lifted to a higher plane of divine love.
But it is her face and the expression she wears that has become my muse.
Venus (also called Aphrodite) seems to be looking back, her thoughts somewhere else. Her eyes read a tinge of sadness. Perhaps she has emerged as human and knows what frailties, what earthly burdens are about to be placed upon her as her feet touch terra firma. Perhaps she longs for the underworld (the ocean) and the deepness of it’s own secrets.
There is another interpretation that states she represents the original EVE without sin, without guile. The clothing is supposed to represent her earthly mantle. The theme is the same though- divine love.
For me, I imagine she feels she is of neither world, but she has no choice. She must go forward and be among those who have never experienced the underworld of their thoughts and feelings and emerged with divine love. Water is depicted in mythology, psychology (freudian and Jung), and dream interpretation as representing the thoughts and feeling of our psyche.
As a writer, I explore the underworld of my thoughts, my feelings and also those we universally share as human beings. I in turn, hopefully share with others in a way that lifts them to a higher place.
We all yearn for divine love. We all yearn for a muse that points us in the direction of where we might find divine love in ourselves and others. Isn’t our idea of divine love coming from a higher place and also flowing within our hearts?
Venus is my muse. She looks out and within. The sweetness of her face (innocence?) along with the almost sad expression moves me. I have a large print of the painting in my home. I also have a small print of just her face, framed and sitting on my bedside table.
And secretly? I sometimes ask her to give me an inspirational idea while I slumber.