The Nine Muses

In Greek mythology, the Muses (Greek, Mousai: perhaps from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- "think") are a sisterhood of goddesses or spirits, their number set at nine by Classical times, who embody the arts and inspire the creation process with their graces through remembered and improvised song and stage, writing, traditional music, and dance. They were water nymphs, associated with the springs of Helicon and with Pieris, from which they are sometimes called the Pierides. The Olympian system set Apollo as their leader, Apollon Mousaget es. Not only are the Muses explicitly used in modern English to refer to an inspiration, as when one cites his/her own artistic muse, but they are also implicit in the words "amuse" or "musing upon". According to Hesiod's Theogony (seventh century BC), they are the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. For Alcman and Mimnermus, they were even more primordial, springing from Uranus and Gaia. Pausanias records a tradition of two generations of Muses; the first being daughters of Uranus and Gaia, the second of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Another, rarer genealogy is that they are daughters of Harmonia (the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares) which contradicts the myth in which they were dancing at the wedding of Harmonia and Cadmus.
Compare the Roman inspiring nymphs of springs, the Camenae, and also the apsarasa in the culture of classical India.

Muse: Calliope, the firstborn of the Muses
Meaning: Fair-voiced
Arena: Poetry, epics
Symbols and Affinities: Writing implements, wind
Tarot: The Hermit
Anathemas: Discordant sounds

Muse: Cleio, some myths call her the mother of Sirens
Meaning: The proclaimer
Arena: History
Symbols and Affinities: Scrolls, pens, memory, bards
Tarot: Justice
Anathemas: Lies, blemishes, injustice

Muse: Euterpe
Meaning: Giver of pleasure
Arena: Music
Symbols and Affinities: The flute
Tarot: The Magician, the Fool
Anathemas: Refusal to enjoy the gifts of life

Muse: Melpomene
Meaning: Singer
Arena: Music
Symbols and Affinities: The sad mask of the twin harlequins representing tragedy and comedy in theater
Tarot: The Chariot, The Moon, Temperance
Anathemas: Frivolity--she prefers those in deep contemplation

Muse: Polyhymnia
Meaning: She of many hymns
Arena: Tragedy
Symbols and Affinities: Halos, all sacred books, reborn deities, sacred music
Tarot: The High Priestess
Anathemas: Those who use her gifts without honoring their sacred source

Muse: Terpsichore
Meaning: The whirler
Arena: Dance, lyric
Symbols and Affinities: The lyre
Tarot: The Tower, Death or Change
Anathemas: Those who do not help themselves but want others to do for them

Muse: Thaleia
Meaning: The flourisher
Arena: Comedy
Symbols and Affinities: The laughing mask of the twin harlequins representing comedy in the theater
Tarot: The Chariot, The Sun, The World
Anathemas: Sadness--she cannot abide those who refuse to enjoy

Muse: Urania
Meaning: Heavenly one
Arena: Astronomy
Symbols and Affinities: The globe and maps of heavens
Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune
Anathemas: Those who do not seek the answers that lie before them

Muse: Erato
Meaning: Romantic love
Arena: Love songs
Symbols and Affinities: Bow and arrow
Tarot: The Lovers
Anathemas: Magick used to destroy love

In a few stories there are a few more Muses mentioned, however their importance is lost according to most translations.
  • Aoide, the Muse of Singing
  • Melete, the Muse of Rehearsal
  • Mnene, the Muse of Remembering