I find myself relating to the Greek myth of the spring-water of Castalia. The Encyclopedia of Britannica defines "Castalia" as
"a source of poetic inspiration. Castalia was the name of a nymph who threw herself into or was transformed into a spring to evade the pursuit of Apollo. The spring was then named after her, and it was a source of inspiration for Apollo and the Muses The Muses were sometimes called Castalides because of their association with the spring." ("Castalia", in https://www.britannica.com/topic/Castalia) [emboldened emphasis mine]
I live near a city named Castalia, in Ohio. When I was young, my father used to take our family to what was called the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole was a natural pool of a spring that rose from an underground river about 70 miles down. Rumors that attracted tourists and locals were spread that it was a bottomless pool. It did have a bottomless appearance and it had a beautiful blue hue. It was considered a natural wonder and still is, but the original Blue Hole is closed now to the public. Such a wonder was sprung in my child's mind that felt as fathomless as the Blue Hole itself. Ever since, I have wondered about the sources of things under appearances and the inner workings of our earth.
We as children inhabited the lake and wetland areas around Lake Erie, and we lived there as if part of the spirit of the lake, rivers, springs, streams, and creeks as if part of the wonder of the beautiful natural magic of it all. As for nymphs and water nymphs, The Encyclopedia of Britannica defines nymphs as,
"In Greek mythology, any of a large class of inferior female divinities. The nymphs were usually associated with fertile, growing things, such as trees, or with water. They were not immortal but were extremely long-lived and were on the whole kindly disposed toward men. They were distinguished according to the sphere of nature with which they were connected. The Oceanids, for example, were sea nymphs; the Nereids inhabited both saltwater and freshwater; the Naiads presided over springs, rivers, and lakes. The Oreads (oros, “mountain”) were nymphs of mountains and grottoes; the Napaeae (nape,“dell”) and the Alseids (also, “grove”). ("Nymphs," in https://www.britannica.com/topic/nymph-Greek-mythology) [emboldened emphasis mine]
Then, there was all that the nature around us inspired. As children, my cousins and I wondered what would happen and where we would end up if we dove into the Blue Hole, and if we would surface on the other side of the earth, much like children are told they could dig a hole to China. My dad also would proudly announce how clean the water from the spring was as he warned us not to get too too close to it. This only added to the mystique and the delight we could take in its pristine pure nature. It was the same at Kelley's Island when we were told that the water there was still 97% pure. We felt surrounded by natural wonders. The Blue Hole was quiet, with soft bird sounds coming from the grove of trees surrounding it. A rushing stream sounded a different song. Shallow pools in areas of the lake, when we waded and looked down, were full of silver shining minnows swimming at our feet, and this too was another type of music, the tiny trickles of little musical notes playing through the water and up into the sun as sparkling happiness embodied. Of course there was for those visually artistically inclined the visual inspiration of it all to go home and draw and paint. So we can see how the Castalia spring was associated with the Greek Muses, too. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the Greek Muses as follows:
"Muse, Greek Mousa or Moisa, Latin Musa, in Greco-Roman religion and mythology, any of a group of sister goddesses of obscure but ancient origin, the chief centre of whose cult was Mount Helicon in Boeotia, Greece. They were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mount Olympus. Very little is known of their cult, but they had a festival every four years at Thespiae, near Helicon, and a contest (Museia), presumably—or at least at first—in singing and playing. They probably were originally the patron goddesses of poets (who in early times were also musicians, providing their own accompaniments), although later their range was extended to include all liberal arts and sciences—hence, their connection with such institutions as the Museum (Mouseion, seat of the Muses) at Alexandria, Egypt. There were nine Muses as early as Homer’s Odyssey, and Homer invokes either a Muse or the Muses collectively from time to time. Probably, to begin with, the Muses were one of those vague collections of deities, undifferentiated within the group, which are characteristic of certain, probably early, strata of Greek religion" ("Muse," in https://www.britannica.com/topic/Muse-Greek-mythology).
There is much to muse upon here, just as when we look upon the surface of the water it makes us muse, and when we look upon the surface of a pond, our first human mirrors, we ponder many things, including ourselves.
Nota Bene: This is in part an excerpt of a paper written earlier that I was invited to present at the JSSS Conference in 2015; however, I could not attend that year. This paper is now being edited to be submitted for publication soon. I will soon post the paper proposal that got the paper accepted here in my website under Features. It was a paper on Lake Erie and "The Lady of the Lake."
I offer consultations in creativity in the arts, mythopoetic analysis within the arts and humanities, and inspirational collector's and gift items.
Mary Ann Bencivengo, MA, MFA
Creative Arts Consultant & Mythopoeticist