A few years ago, I was in a coffee shop brainstorming ideas for a project that I was working on, and was using a small notebook that had a Pegasus on the cover it. The notebook cover got me wondering about the story of Pegasus, so I decided to read about him. After reading the story, and because of my love for art, music and all things creative, I decided to jot down some notes about what I had read for possible future use.
As I read the myth, I discovered that Pegasus had been given to the Muses on Mount Helicon, which was their sacred mountain. While there he struck his hoof on the ground, to create a spring, which was named Hippocrene (Horse Spring). That spring was thereafter considered a source of creative inspiration, and thus, Pegasus became a symbol of creativity.
In addition to its special springs, Mount Helicon was also known for its many medicinal herbs, which were considered to have divine healing powers .
HELICON, a mountain range… in ancient Greece, celebrated in classical literature as the favourite haunt of the Muses… On the fertile eastern slopes stood a temple and grove sacred to the Muses… Hard by were the famous fountains, Aganippe and Hippocrene, the latter fabled to have gushed from the earth at the tread of the winged horse Pegasus, whose favourite browsing place was there. … many of its herbs possessed a miraculous healing virtue.”
– 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Project Gutenberg, 1911
My husband and I had been wanting to buy a new home for awhile, and in 2018 we finally decided that it was time. We often talked about the things we would each like to have at our new home. One of the things that I hoped for was a place with a creek or stream on the property or at least nearby, because water has always held a special place in my soul. And of course it goes without saying – we wanted a place where we could do our music & art, and grow things.
We looked at many houses, but none were quite right. Finally at the most unexpected moment we found “home”. We knew as soon as we stepped foot on the property that it was where we were meant to be. A simple brick ranch in need of some love, built in 1951, it was just what we had hoped for, with space for all the things we loved to do.
Although there was no visible water on the property, the neighborhood had many springs and small creeks running through it, including a stream on the property right behind us. There were also many signs of hidden springs on the property, so I was contented.
Our home sits on land that is part of the watershed of the Cumberland River. Some of the small streams that head to the river are visible, but many of them had long ago been piped underground. Even so, the evidence of the water is still there if you look closely. The willow and sugarberry trees reveal it with their deep thirst for water, and there are other signs as well.
After finding our home, we began searching for a name for it. (We are big believers in naming houses.) Several ideas were tossed around, but nothing was quite right. The theme of water kept reoccurring though.
At the same time I was also researching the history of the house and land; which is something that I always love to do when moving to a new place. That interest is born of a deeply curious soul, as well as a need to connect to a new place.
While doing the research I discovered that our little third of an acre was once part of one of the largest and most well known farms in the area: Maplewood Farm. Our back boundary is an old fence-line on the farm. Old wire emerges from the sides of the towering trees that have long since grown around it.
It had been a place of wealth and luxury. Prize-winning horses and cattle were raised on its fertile pastureland. Racehorses, draft horses, and “fancy” ponies filled the place. There were even Shetland and Icelandic ponies that had traveled across the globe to come here. Having been one of millions of girls that grew up with an obsession for horses; imagining those ponies scampering on the land made me smile.
The history of the land also includes a darker side. The area was a sacred space for the first nations that were here. Nearby was the site of an ancient mound, claimed by one of the European settlers who then built a house upon it. Eventually, in my lifetime, the mound and the house were razed to make way for a commercial establishment. Evidence of the life of those first people can still be found here as their artifacts occasionally comes to the surface. Later the farm was home to enslaved people that gave their lives in working on the land. You can feel the presence of all of these people if you are quiet enough. (It is our hope that, in our stewardship of the land, we can honor these people.)
For us the deep alluvial soil, that had been enriched by the forest, the water and the animals that had been here for many years, became the perfect canvas for our little urban farm. A place where we could embrace the trees, and grow herbs, food, and flowers, and share the stories of those that came before us.
As these threads finally started coming together to slowly form an idea for a name. The themes of healing, of water, of horses and history, and of our love for all things creative and growing, brought to remembrance the story of Pegasus. It was then, finally, that the name became clear. It would be a place of Heliconian Muses, where waters of inspiration would flow, and healing plants and trees would be grown.
It would be The Spring House.
For more on Pegasus, the Muses & Helicon.
From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing,
Who hold the great and holy mount of Helicon,
And dance on soft feet about the deep-blue spring…
When they have washed their tender bodies…
In the Horse’s Spring…
Make their fair, lovely dances upon highest Helicon…
and utter their song with lovely voice.
– Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days