10/9/13

Goddess of the Week: Mnemosyne

In honor of her mother, who passed away a year ago, Deb has requested a goddess of remembrance. There is only one that will do: Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory and remembrance.

Mnemosyne was a Titan, a daughter of Gaia and Kronos. When Zeus defeated Kronos in an epic battle that pitted the old gods against Kronos' own children, Zeus feared that one day his great deed would be forgotten, so he went to Mnemosyne, and he spent nine nights with her. Later, she had nine daughters, the muses of music, poetry, dance, history, healing, basically everything you could use a muse for. At first, the muses's main job was to attend all the celebrations at Mount Olympus and make sure that no one ever forgot the great deeds of Zeus, but the muses proved a generous lot and soon provided inspiration to artists of all kinds, because what they understood is that we need stories like we need bread. Our stories feed us.

In the Underworld there were two rivers. The River Lethe and the River Mnemosyne. When you died, you were supposed to drink from the River Lethe so that you would forget all your stories, all your memories, so that when you were reborn you could start fresh. But the priestesses of Mnemosyne were told to drink from Mnemosyne's River. It was their obligation to remember. It was a burden, because it is easier to forget or to indulge in nostalgia, in which you spruce up that past, glamorize it. But to truly remember is to take the good with the bad, the pain with the joys, and that's just hard. Even the joy is hard if it is paired with pain, if you have to flip flop between them and if you can't skate on the surface of things but have to process them and think about them deeply. So, Deb, I'm going to give you Mnemosyne, but she is not an easy goddess to channel, and I want you to hold some sweet person's hand when you do, because when you come up for air, you might feel pretty confused, but at least you will be feeling something real. More importantly, you will be keeping your story alive, and your mother's story, and her mother's story, and your whole history will stand as an act of defiance against the all kinds of endings. So drink up, friend.

Channel this goddess: When you need to remember, when you feel tempted to forget.

Need a goddess? I got goddesses! Post a comment saying what you need or want a goddess for. Then check back in a week or two and see what you got. It's fun! It's free! Don't forget!

10 comments:

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

Dear Margaret, Thank you so much for this post! I loved it! I really loved when you wrote "your whole history will stand as an act of defiance against all kinds of endings" as that is exactly what I'm feeling today - a defiance against the end of my mother's time here. I'm going to go back and read this again...and probably a few more times over the course of the next couple of days. I love it. It's perfect. Thank you, my friend!

Addey said...

Awesomely written Margaret! And something we all need to hear. It is so tempting to forget the bad and embellish the good. But,without being able to remember the bad, we'll never realize how good the good really is. It may be painful, but there is no growth, or life, without pain.

Olga said...

We need to remember the good with the bad, otherwise our stories become kind of meaningless. great post.

Cathy Perlmutter said...

Beautiful. And profound. As always.

Petrea Burchard said...

This is one of your best Margaret. If it's not, why am I crying?

Daisy said...

Remembering the stories, painful or joyfilled, is what gives us our identity, seems to me. I hope your memories of your mother, Deb, are always with you. I find my mother becomes more dear and more evident in my life as I mature and hold my memories in new ways.

Ms M said...

Very well written. And so very true.

Bec said...

I've always been fascinated by these ideas and liked hearing the story of Mnemosyne

TheChieftess said...

Very poignant...

altadenahiker said...

"...she is not an easy goddess to channel, and I want you to hold some sweet person's hand when you do, because when you come up for air, you might feel pretty confused, but at least you will be feeling something real."

Hard truths should always be said so beautifully.