Joseph Campbell on Muses

What is your view on muses? Do you have one? Want one? Need one?

The following quote by American mythologist, writer and lecturer, Joseph Campbell has some really interesting things to say about where inspiration comes from.

As for me, I think of my muse as a part of me that waits for me to sit, get still and open myself to whatever story I’m working on. I’ve had years of practice calling on my creativity and imagination in the service of a novel, so it doesn’t seem all that magical to me anymore. But I’m totally open to expanding my view.

Here tis’. See what you think:


Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what have been called the Muses, or, in biblical language, ‘God.’ This is no fancy, it is a fact. Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So when one hears the seer’s story, one responds, ‘Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn’t able to say.’ There has to be a dialogue, an interaction between the seer and the community.

From Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth” (with Bill Moyers). (Thanks to my friend, Nancy Mason, for sending me this!)

I love the part about the “seer and the community.” My translation of that would be that there has to be a dialogue between the writer and the reader. That’s the ultimate. To write is a lonely endeavor and only half the process. To share it with readers completes the circle whereby the community is hopefully enriched. In other words, readers rock my world!

Comments? Questions? I welcome your thoughts. xo

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