Some artists have real, live inspirational helpers--people that act like a muse. Some folks swear that the muse must not be another living person, that the inspiration must be completely internal or other-worldly.

I favor the explanation of Carl Jung--the muse is the other-sexed, unconscious energy-complex that complements the artist's conscious efforts.

For far too long, men dominated social art forms and the female muse seemed like the only kind there was. Now, with women claiming their due, we have "male muse" coming into use. The fact that the term has "male" tacked on is testimony to the lack of full admission that men and women, both, can have a muse, with no qualifiers absolutely necessary.

Still, Jung goes into great detail on the differences of what he calls the anima and animus--his terms for male and female muse. No matter. Even if there are differences, the Essense of the muse is the same.

There is a video by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, that explores what I would call the muse but she calls the genius--like in the word's etymology: "guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation, wit, talent"

Even though Jung's explanations give me much to ponder over, Gilbert's ideas make me Soar, just like my muse does :-)