spira spiritum noctis

Thanks are due to my father, a retired Latin teacher, for his guidance in the creation of our motto, Spira Spiritum Noctis.


To breathe, to inhale, to take in. But spira also means 'live' as in, to live. The famous old phrase "Dum spira, spera" means "While I breathe, I hope."


The noun (whose primary meaning is "wind") from which we derive our word "spirit" and its many meanings:

~essence or personality ("the spirit of the age")
~meaning, gist, significance ("the letter versus the spirit of the law")
~mood ("in high spirits")
~alcohol ("distilled spirits")
~ghost, apparition, or departed soul ("the spirits of the dead")
~passion, vivacity, or courage ("she showed a great deal of spirit")
~divinity ("the Great Spirit," "the Holy Spirit") (see also Musings: Pneuma)


The possessive of "night," i.e., "of the night."
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Thus, in simplest translation, the motto means:

Breathe in the spirit of the night.

But nothing worthwhile is ever simple...

Creative inspiration has age-old associations with breathing, with drawing in some magic essence from outside oneself, and infusing the influence of that magic into tangible expressions of beauty. Inspiration is a dazzling gift from a darksome and mysterious Source, a Source whose fierce and capricious graciousness artists and mystics seek to awaken.

From ancient times, that Source has been personified as Female: the Muse.
Her devotees court her like a mistress, alternately pester and cherish her like
a mother, petition her like a seeress, and revere her like a Goddess.

The characteristically nocturnal nature of creative inspiration is an enigma, a practical near-impossibility, and a peculiar delight. "What is it that drifts through the midnight air, giving me this sense of astonishing possibility -- of something wonderful just about to happen? What is it about the night that strikes such unexpected sparks into the tinder of my mind, and fires me to do that which I hardly knew I could?"

Spira spiritum noctis, then, translated in letter and in spirit, means:

Drink the night wind's essence, elixir of inspiration;
bring more beauty into the beautiful world.
Be alive in the night, savor its living spirit,
know its labyrinthine blessings, bright and dark.
Invoke the midnight muse.
Breathe, create, live.


Copyright © Therese Avelland, all rights reserved.................


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