In myth Mnemosyne is the titanide of memory, represented as one of the springs of the underworld together with Lethe. In the Orphic golden tablets the initiate is bid to drink not of Lethe but of Mnemosyne and so retain all memory in the next world. She is also the mother of the nine muses by Zeus who made time stand still so that he could enjoy many nights in her bed with none the wiser for it. The Muses themselves can be seen as extensions of Mnemosyne in so much that their arts require touching into memory. Thus history is the memory of humanity, and astronomy is the memory of the movement and order of the cosmos, poetry expresses the memory of the heart whereas epic poetry preserves the memory of the culture and the deeds of heroes. The sacred art of dance is the memory of the divine origin of movement.

All of her daughters proceed from the principle of memory and all express the cosmos is various measures as the arts and sciences are in themselves a divine product, a gift to the gods to humanity that we may understand ourselves (and therefore provide spiritual growth) and understand our world and nature (and therefore increase our understanding of our relationship with the world around us which encourages too growth of the civilization). Memory is knowledge, which is further acredited to her as the mother of language for our language is the tools which preserves knowledge as well as formulates bonds between peoples by the degree of communication that it allows. It seems to be believed that this places Mnemosyne in relation to a time before the written word and particularly bestowed her blessings upon storytellers, poets and musicians who by memorization were best able to preserve and impart knowledge. However, I would argue that rather she maintains the record of all things, which includes the record of our own journeies of our soul which is imprinted with in us. It may also refer to what some scholars call world memory, or collective memory of humanity in which we see from different parts of the world the appearance of similar ideas and philosophies which have evolved seperately. I am not sure I follow the idea of the collective human memory, but I do think that there is a divine pattern which  prevades through nature that echoes on a larger scale what occurs within. Therefore the external and internal are as mirrors to each other. Mnemosyne is as the looking glass that we can perceive this reflection. She allows us to see ourselves in the divine order of the world and understand our own spiritual movement and existance through the laws of nature.

So too do philosophers put great stock in the reflection of the mind for one’s spirituality. Pythagoreas suggested that all before sleeping spend time to reflect upon the day that has passed for this mental reflection encourages the internal reflection of the soul. I have even spent hours reflecting on scenes from my life even my youngest childhood memories, drawing up the scene in mind of what I saw, how I felt (even so much to feel the pull at my heart at some painful memory) to preserve in clarity. There are those who even remember things that they believe are connected to their past lives, memories which rise with necessity. The power of Mnemosyne is the greatest gift to the soul, and the soul which is progressing draws from her and denies itself forgetfulness (Lethe). So in our lives we draw on memory, even that which is painful, for our own progress in this life rather than banish things into the shadows of forgetfulness. Sometimes we may want to forget, but forgetting doesn’t teach us anything…and so is the lesson from Clio, the daughter of Mnemosyne, the Muse of History. The one who forgets their history is doomed to repeat it.

Therefor if Mnemosyne is as the clear still water, the looking glass it is natural that her daughters are led by light, by Apollon. For it is the reflection of light on the looking glass that we can clearly perceive. Apollon’s illumination directs us towards this inspection of the self, and the understanding of the self though nature, for he reveals all. Quite appropriate too then that both Mnemosyne and Apollon are associated with the oracle, the divine messages for in acting together they bring illumination to the self, to our souls. And so even if the Muses may celebrate to the presence of Dionysos, the divine soul…the son of Zeus, they follow the path of light in the procession of Apollon. May memory’s interspection illuminated by the holy light bring wisdom upon us.


One thought on “Mnemosyne

  1. Pingback: PBP: M is for Muses | Beloved in Light

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