“Myths are archetypal patterns in human consciousness.” ~Joseph Campbell
Mnemosyne was originally a Titan, one of the second generation of Goddesses and Gods that preexisted the Greek Olympians. Her name means “of memory” and her parents, along with her eleven siblings, were primordial Gaia, the earth Goddess and Uranus, the sky god.
She was born of a mixing of ancient earth and sky and shared them both equally in her self. Many believe the Titans were giants but it is very unclear and there is much debate as to their origins. It is clear, however, that they were a group of Gods and Goddesses or powerful elemental forces already activated in the collective human psyche of the region whom the new order of Greeks needed to co-opt and supplant. A detailed storyline was created in which the Olympians (the new order of Gods and Goddesses) overthrew the Titans in a prolonged battle spanning 10 years.
Mnemosyne retained her importance in ancient Greece as the Goddess that poets and philosophers called on to help them remember the stories, prophecies and myths they were called to recite. The word mnemonic comes from this ancient Goddess. Mnemonic devices are designed to help us remember and memorize.
Before written language, cultures held their memories in stories that were repeated in oral recitation. Therefore, having Mnemosyne as an ally was important. She was the record keeper who held the memories and would help one access them as they carried out their role as orator, philosopher and storyteller in the community. Remember, there were far less people in the world then so people of such titles wielded enormous influence.
I have come to understand Greek Goddess Mnemosyne as an ancient Moon Goddess. Her association with memory, water, time, language and death gives us the clues to her lunar origin.
Catch up with this narrative by reading these previous posts:
Moon Mind and the Moon Goddess
The Nine Muses
After the Olympians had succeeded in their overthrow and sent the Titans to the interior of the earth, Zeus, the leader of the Olympians, sought out and deliberately coupled with Mnemosyne for nine consecutive nights, out of which she birthed nine daughters who became the nine muses: the inspirations and patronesses of the divine arts.
Read my post on the nine muses: Engaging the Nine Muses: Ancient Moon Goddesses and Portals of Information
The nine muses are the Goddesses of the creative arts. They inspire humans to create poetry, music, history, erotic writing, tragedy, dance, astronomy, science and comedy. Humans may call on them for inspiration, imagination, sustenance, nurturance and companionship as they engage in the creative process. With divine intervention, they help us muse and interact with our inner genius.
But to think their mother is Memory! How fascinating to think upon the connection and relationship between creativity and memory and memory as a function of Time and stored or active information.
Like any good patriarch, Zeus wanted to control the stories that were told, and the history that was honored. One way to do this would be to commandeer the Goddess of Memory and control her daughters through birthright and progeny.
The Rivers Mnemosyne and Lethe
In later mystery traditions, Mnemosyne became associated with an underworld river from which one would drink to retain their memories upon death so that they would not have to be reborn into another round of embodiment. They could free themselves of the wheel of karma or the “transmigration of the soul,” by drinking of that river.
Other traditions told of two underworld rivers, the River Lethe and the River Mnemosyne. The River Lethe was the river of forgetting,
According to some legends, souls undergoing reincarnation were forced to drink from the Lethe to forget the past life otherwise they could not be reborn into the living world.
The nine muses were said to have eventually made their home in the mountains above Boeotia in Greece. There was an oracular shrine to the God Trophonis in Boeotia. At the oracle, visitors were encouraged to drink first from the River Lethe and then from the River Mnemosyne.
Unlike the other traditions where theses rivers existed after death in Hades or another underworld articulation, the rivers at Boeotia existed in real time and those who drank from them were there to receive oracle. They were petitioners to the oracle.
Lethe was the Goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion as well as the river. She was also called Lemosyne.
It was believed that by drinking first from Lethe and then from the Mnemosyne, one would be able to receive the full truth. To receive Mnemosyne’s truth they first needed to forget.
“Those who sought the oracle’s wisdom first drank from the waters of the River Lethe, then from the waters of Mnemosyne. . . .
According to Pausanias, the impact was so intense that men had to be physically carried from the temple, overwhelmed by the clarity of their memories”(mythologysource.com/mnemosyne-greek-goddess/).
This says a lot about divination, oracle work and receiving information from other dimensions in general. It is important to clear the mind in order to hear cleanly what is coming through and access true wisdom.
It also makes me wonder about the lakes of the Mirror of the Moon discussed in earlier posts. Was this part of the purpose of the women swimming in the waters on the full moon. Were they forgetting or gathering memories from the Moon Goddess? Did the women offer and receive oracle from one another after swimming in those waters?
With a culture agreeing on moon mind, the function of the oracle becomes ever more important. People want to hear what is happening in the fullness and wholeness of their world and reality. They understand their perception is but one small view, they understand that there are others ways to access alternative perspectives. They honor this. One of them is the oracle who works in close connection with the moon.
Others are dream incubation and entering trance to have their own experiences with alternative ways of knowing. Mnemosyne was also invoked in the temple of Asclepius where the those preparing for rituals of dream incubation would petition for her help to remember their dreams and visions.
The muses were ancient (Pre-Greek) Moon Goddesses
Through divination the muses revealed that they are ancient Moon Goddesses. They said, “We are nine aspects of the moon. Nine is three three’s and three is creativity. Three of anything is the ultimate.” The muses are the ultimate access to creativity and their mother is the Goddess of Memory .
In a sequence of divinations, the muses arranged themselves in a horseshoe-like formation with Mnemosyne at the head and revealed full moons in the center of their chests, white and glowing. As I continued to focus, the moons began to spin and open, revealing themselves to be portals. The muses invited us to walk through the moon portals in their chests and access the moon and the moon mysteries.
If the muses and Mnemosyne have their roots in the ancient Moon Goddess, that would imply that if we engage with them through their moon portals, memories retrieved may be more accurate as they are the memories the moon is holding objectively. She is witness, and holds everyone’s memories, not a particular point of view.
With Zeus at the lead, the Greek Gods and Goddesses became very anthropomorphized and the culture human-centric. The memory of Mnemosyne can also be seen that way: the history of humans and human-like Gods and Goddesses. The artwork inspired by the muses can be seen as human-centric as well.
But then the muses come into divination and say, “Hey, we are ancient Moon Goddesses. We’ve been co-opted. This is how you can interact with who we really are.” And they show us the way back to moon mind through the portals in their chest.
Mnemosyne is also the Goddess of Time, language and speech. When we listen to that and consider how she was commandeered, reclaiming her as the Moon Goddess becomes even more radical and urgent.
Mnemosyne and the muses are a way in to transpermeable consciousness and moon mind. If we enter through the moon portal of their chests, we enter all time and the great mind, we become bigger than our own human mind. We have access to the greater mind.
The muses provide the inspiration which opens us to the larger mind of the cosmos and the feeling of flow. Its’ all part of entering moon mind.
Call on Mnemosyne today to remember what is hidden, what she is holding.
Release your secrets to me
© Theresa C. Dintino 2023