THis close to worshiping Prometheia
September 20, 2011 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Are there any other folkloric/religious/mythological beings/concepts other than the Muses who preside over or rule inspiration or creativity?

Bonus points if it's for comedy or theater, but I know how hard it is to get away from poetry in the anicent world.....
posted by The Whelk to Religion & Philosophy (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
There's always The Box.
posted by michaelh at 10:21 AM on September 20, 2011

Pretty close is the Norse god Bragi who was eloquent and was associated with poetry and storytelling.
posted by fearnothing at 10:22 AM on September 20, 2011

In Norse mythology, Kvasir (or more specifically the mead of poetry made in part from his blood) is a source of poetic inspiration.
posted by jedicus at 10:24 AM on September 20, 2011

Saraswati in Hinduism is goddess of knowledge, music and the arts generally. Her Japanese cognate, Benzaiten, is particularly associated with eloquence.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is far enough from the concept of the Muses, but the Spring of Pieris was a fountain of knowledge and inspiration.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on September 20, 2011

Sanatana goddess Sarasvati is goddess of music and the arts.
posted by reverend cuttle at 10:26 AM on September 20, 2011

From Exodus 31.
The LORD said to Moses, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do."
posted by valkyryn at 10:28 AM on September 20, 2011

Enthusiasm literally means inspired by God.

The greeks didn't just rely on the muses. The plays of the Greeks were written for Dionysus.
posted by empath at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2011

Ame no Uzume no Mikoto is the Shinto kami (spirit) patron of actors and theater arts. She's famous in early Japanese myths for doing a lewd but comical dance that sent the other kami into hysterics, which coaxed the sun kami Amaterasu Omikami out of the cave where she had been hiding and thus returned light to the world. She's also married to Sarutahiko no Okami, who is the ancestor of all the "earthly" kami and presides over nature.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:56 AM on September 20, 2011

The Egyptian goddess Hathor presided over music and dance (as well as love, beauty and the cosmetic arts).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:03 PM on September 20, 2011

Best answer: I just finished writing my Masters thesis on creativity, heh – I mainly focused on cosmogonic myths (i.e. creation myths). 155-page thesis short, Goddess and/or bisexual/androgynous primordial gods are all associated with the creation of the world, and, at least in my research, that original act of creation was always associated with a primordial principle of relationship (for instance, Eros with the Greeks, who is sometimes the bisexual creator as well, as in the Orphic theogonies, or a more symbolic relationship principle as symbolized by the interaction between opposites, such as what you see between the world of fire and the world of ice in Norse cosmogonies), and often combined with a more-or-less well-defined spiritus principle. "Spiritus" is Latin for "breath" and is also a root for "inspiration". What's especially interesting to note is the link between creativity and spirit incarnate – literally, breath embodied (incarnate comes from the Latin "caro", flesh). So... the spoken word :) There are a lot of other examples you can think of as well; after all, writing is an incarnation of previously-immaterial ideas too. I also like that "text" comes from "textus" which means "weave/woven" – y'know, textiles.

Odin is the main Norse god associated with poetry. He hung himself on Yggdrasil (tree of life) to learn wisdom, and sacrificed his left eye at the well of Mimir (same Indo-European root as our modern English word "memory"). There are some neat Celtic myths surrounding headless spirits at sacred wells who dispense wisdom/inspiration too.

As for goddesses, my favorite is Aataentsic, the Iroquois/Iroquoian (linguistic family, includes Huron, Iroquois and Cherokee tribes) Great Mother who fell from the sky. I found this Huron-Wendat documentary available for free on the Canada National Film Bureau website to be really intriguing – they go into the symbolism and mythology, relating it to everyday life. In the Cherokee myth she's named Skywoman; you can read their Beginning/Strawberry Legend online. I love how curiosity and exploration lead to the creation of Earth in that version.
posted by fraula at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Thinking Cap! Plus more inspiring springs atop Mount Helicon.
posted by fix at 1:44 PM on September 20, 2011

Ceridwen - the Welsh goddess of poetry & inspiration
posted by belladonna at 4:41 PM on September 20, 2011

Or Brigid, the Irish goddess of poetry, creativity, and blacksmithing (and my patron saint, hooray). Brigit was also Christianized into a Catholic saint who presides over the arts.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:14 PM on September 20, 2011

« Older Graphic Novels for Writers, not Artists   |   did I just watch The Last Unicorn too many times? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.