Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login
(Disclaimer: This discusses views that work for ME, and is not meant to be proscriptive to how other people deal with their paths on this journey at all. If you do it differently, that's awesome. *thumbs up*)

I was talking to my therapist Thursday about how weird it is to watch people getting so angry at my cancer. Tell me to fight it. To battle it. Crying 'fuck cancer.' Scribbling their thoughts onto the whiteboard they think is me, when none of those things are my philosophy at all...

Here's my perspective: If you treat the body as a battlefield, you will lose, even when you win. It's not a coincidence that people get so many war-based mental illnesses from waging war on their own bodies. That's why - in part - we have cancer-based PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc. Our language is based in war and battle. 'Fight the flu!' 'Beat the cold!' 'Battle cancer!' 'Destroy toxins!' It is based fundamentally in destruction and death instead of in supporting the body. Not 'How to Support Your Body When You Have the Flu' but GO TO WAR, GO TO WAR NOW.

My body is not a battlefield, thanks. I'm not fighting a war. I'm not *angry* at my body for genetically doing what it knows how to do (grow tumours), I'm *grateful* that it's still stopping me from growing even more tumours. I want to support myself, not fight myself. I'm learning how to support my body, and your war and battle metaphors are not - intrinsically - supportive. I don't need a flamethrower to direct at myself. I don't need to shake my fist at my genetics. Do I wish it was different? Of course! But hey guess what, it's not.

My body, as with all nature, does what bodies and nature do - it gets sick, it gets diseased, it continues to try and live, it supports itself through illness, sometimes it gets weaker or stronger. Sometimes it lives or dies. That's not a war, my friends. That's life.

This Copper Forest illustration I've been working on, was intentionally a forest that's ill and sickened. The trees have galls. There's almost no leaves. Branches have fallen. Yet there is so much LIFE here, and dare I say it, BEAUTY. Do you want to go to war with that forest?

My body is like The Copper Forest. It is sickened. It has cancer/tumours (like galls). But there is so much life here. So much beauty. I'm not angry at myself. I'm not at war with myself. I'm not in a battle of 'life and death.' I'm just living as best I can, and supporting myself too.

I will treat my tumours and I will support my organs, my soul and I feel honestly very content about it all. I'm not happy I have cancer, but I don't feel like the process I'm going through is different to any other life process. Why go to war, when I can walk through the woods.

Instead of throwing your war/battlefield metaphors at me, throwing your vehement anger at my body (the tumours are grown by it after all). I invite you to come walk through the woods with me, and see what we find together.

That's what I think support looks like.

*

(Specific update: one of the tumours has grown 5 millimetres, which doesn't sound like much, but there's not all that much room in the neck for two tumours, and I see the radiation oncologist in two weeks. It looks like this will be the year I start radiation / Cyberknife radiosurgery! Exciting and somewhat terrifying times).

*

And my year from diagnosis anniversary:

A year ago today, I was diagnosed with multiple paragangliomas.

A glomus vagale paraganglioma (Thelma), a carotid body paraganglioma (Louise), and either a glomus jugulare or glomus tympanicum (Caramello). My koalas clinging to arteries, and feeding like vampires off my blood. (Or, as I like to call them at times, ‘those little fuckers’).

In the year that has followed, I’ve had many MRIs, one PET scan, multiple CT scans, a lot of bloodtests, and seen a lot of surgeons, specialists and been on a lot of websites. My team of specialists (Radiation Oncologist, Endocrinologist, Neurosurgeon, Vascular Surgeon, ENT Surgeon) are my boy band. They’re great. The nurses and radiologists that have helped me are incredible.

In the year that has followed we went from rushing headlong into surgery, before a brutal crashing to earth where I was told very frankly that the risks of death were too high for one surgeon to be comfortable doing it. Again and again, we were told that the risks were just brutal, and the permanent side effects (the ones that cannot be avoided) were frightening. Loss of voice. Loss of swallowing. Deafness.

They also didn’t guarantee the tumours wouldn’t return, and don’t include the removal of tiny Caramello.

So we learned about Cyberknife stereotactic radiosurgery and Gamma Knife. We learned about lutate and other chemotherapy options. We know about trials here in Western Australia and in the USA and elsewhere. I watched webinars and livestreams of the 2017 Para/Pheo International Symposium. A getting together of some of the best specialists in the world, on one of the rarest types of tumour in the world, that cannot be graded.

I’ve talked to patients in other states. I’ve talked to nurses and doctors in other states. I’ve become a Moderator of the Australia and New Zealand Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma Support Group. I spend a lot of time there, even when I seem inactive here.

I’ve been told to eat more. Eat less. Alkalise my body. Go ‘keto.’ Juice. Fast. Spend thousands of dollars on snake oil treatments. I’ve been told to be angry, be furious, be sad, be happy, feel lucky that it’s not a ‘bad cancer,’ feel terrified, feel like the way I think about my cancer will kill me, feel enlightened. I’ve been told that ‘my friend who did this one thing amazingly went into remission so you should also do this one thing’ even though none of those friends have ever had neuroendocrine cancer. I mostly just continue to do my own thing.

I’m doing well. I have bad days, but I had bad days before I was diagnosed. In the space of a year, I have learned to love myself more (happy valentine’s day, me) and love others more (happy valentine’s day, loved ones). I’m happier about my body. It keeps me alive! (Well it tries anyway). I’ve become more social. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, and reached thousands of people, and my Patreon account is active again. I’ve done art I’m proud of. Talked to people who make me laugh and who I love and adore. I’ve finished the Bardic Grade in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and am about to commence the Ovate Grade.

I’ve gotten to enjoy epic sunsets and cloud formations in Ellenbrook. I get to see kangaroos on a weekly basis. I love the cats. I get to spend time with loved ones. I’ve spent the year enjoying old favourite cuisines and finding new ones. Hey Gusto Gelato exists and it’s in Perth! I’ve enjoyed Instagram and generally loathed Facebook. I’ve spent amazing moments with friends. I’ve re-established a habit of meditating. My basil’s growing really well. The words generally flow, the brush responds to my fingers, and I can still speak in my own voice and sing when I want to.

There’s a lot of things I still want to do and achieve, but hey, I’m here to hope about the future, think about the past, exist in the present. That’s a good thing.

And so, my life is going well. So while it’s a strange anniversary to mark, I prefer to think of it as the day where I’m still alive, goddamnit, and that’s a wonderful thing indeed.
  • Listening to: Manchester Orchestra
  • Reading: Australia's Best Science Writing 2017
  • Watching: Studio Ghibli
  • Playing: Starbound
  • Drinking: Green Smoothie

This year was meant to be my Big Year for Writing. And, in a lot of ways, it has been! But there have been unexpected bouts of lag on a lot of my projects, because on February 14th I was diagnosed with two very rare tumours called paragangliomas, in very shitty places in my neck, near the brain, attached to arteries, near and/or on significant cranial nerves (9-12).

Some back story: I have a metabolic cancer disease that is a 1/1,000,000 condition called 'Hereditary PGL PCC' or just 'the SDHD Gene Fault.' You know you're doing well when your disease has no common name. I had a life-threatening tumour when I was 18, had it removed, my arteries removed, was lucky to survive, and was told - mistakenly - that the tumours would never return. 

They should never have told me that, but hell, they didn't know. This disease is too rare, there's not enough patients, and there wasn't a wide enough pool to understand what was going on. 

Since the discovery of these tumours (specifically a Glomus Vagale Paraganglioma and Carotid Body Paraganglioma if you like to look those things up), I've found that I've got one of the more severe manifestations of this disease in Australia. I'm seeing the best Endocrinologist in the state (it's a neuroendocrine disease in the same class of cancer that killed Steve Jobs), I'm seeing Radiation Oncologists for radiotherapy (not commenced as yet, still discussing options etc.)

The only cure is surgery, but I've been told that the surgery is so risky that it's not worth attempting until my quality of life is such that 'I have nothing left to lose.' Never fun to hear. The Neurosurgeon told me I should wait until there was compression on my brain, I see an ENT (Ears/Nose/Throat) surgeon on Tuesday, the Vascular surgeon says he doesn't want to touch the arteries at all until a Neurosurgeon is happy t o go ahead. The surgery itself is not safe, they will have to remove some of my skull, the arteries, risk cutting through cranial arteries (I already know I'm losing the vagus nerve on my right-hand side), which can lead to loss of voice (and my voice will certainly be permanently damaged), loss of the ability to swallow, to taste food, to do anything at all with the throat, move the head/neck, move the shoulder, and many other things. 

Even if the surgery is successful, now that I've had three paragangliomas, we know they can come back to the same place, and the surgical risks at that point would be astronomical. This disease is fundamentally incurable, and let's be real, a giant pain in the ass, lol. It will - outside of something random - be the thing that kills me, sooner, or later.

It means a lot of blood tests, regular MRIs, PET scans, CT scans, meetings with specialists, my GP, and a lot of other things. And it's also exhausting. I am currently - mostly - asymptomatic, aside from some persistent but mild neck pain, and fatigue, and mild issues swallowing. The tumours might be slow growing at least, and some people wait years before they decide to go ahead with surgery or radiotherapy, but we're still waiting to hear if mine are actually slow growing. 

The fatigue, and also running around to appointments, and hearing from fellow patients around the world with this kind of cancer who are dying from it, can get to a person. But I'm also very fortunate, because the disease is so rare, I'm seeing a lot of the best surgeons and professionals in the state, usually the heads of their departments in multiple hospitals. Today I find out PET scan results to see if I have a metastatic condition or tumours in any other locations, before getting a follow up MRI to measure growth rate.

Art / writing wise things are going well, just slowly. But given this is all pretty much overtaking my entire life, I thought I'd update about it here. Also how have I not updated here in three years? Lol. You're welcome to ask any questions re: the disease you want, there's always too much to talk about in a journal post anyway.

  • Listening to: too much to put down here.
  • Watching: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Things have been pretty exciting though, lately.

Firstly, I've been writing a great deal. However, that work is happening under another name, and so that's basically like my secret double life that's been happening in the background.

I'm not really taking personal commissions still. HOWEVER, I am considering commercial commissions on a case by case basis, especially book covers and book illustrations.

I recently was nominated for a Tin Duck award for Best WA Professional Artwork for the cover of Prickle Moon by the wonderful Juliet Marillier. And I've been nominated for a DITMAR award for best artwork in the Australian SF Awards again for the cover of Prickle Moon. I don't expect to win, I am up against the most tremendous company and honestly, the nomination alone has blown me away.

I've also been fortunate enough to win a Tin Duck for Best WA Professional Short Work for a short story I wrote in the Dreaming of Djinn anthology by Ticonderoga Publications, called 'Street Dancer.'

I've also been shockingly ill over the past year. Some of that is only just starting to ease up, but in order to protect my health, I'll never be able to produce such a high quantity of artwork as I used to ever again, and I'll need to be very astute with my commitments. This has actually been okay. I've produced hundreds of pieces of artwork, honoured the energy of hundreds of animals, and I'm finding this transition not as painful as I thought it would be.

This year has been kind of a fallow year. From a marketing perspective, dropping off the face of the planet after executing a book cover for a fantastic author, and starting to make contacts in the writing world was kind of stupid; but I've not really had much of a choice. The creative world is still out there and I haven't left it, I'm just...working in it a bit differently to how I used to. Then again, with the amount of physical and mental illnesses I have, balancing my medical costs with living on a Disability Pension (because alas the discounts don't cover the kind of dental care I need due to my Sjogren's Syndrome) - it's a miracle I'm actually able to do anything much at all.

So you may see a little more of me, but possibly not a great deal more of me. Life does what life does, and I find my way through it. I'm a snail in a very big garden, and there are a lot of other showier animals out there, but that's okay; I've always loved the simple things - the rain, green things, reading, hibernating in forests - and I am working on making a life that suits me. It's hard work, but it's worthy work.

I hope you are all keeping well!

*

Did you know there are even better places to keep up with what's happening with Ravenari? :)

ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…

Ravenari @ Wordpress: ravenari.wordpress.com/ (I write blog posts like four times a year!)

Ravenari's Animal Guide Dictionary: www.wildspeak.com/
  • Listening to: too much to put down here.
  • Reading: fanfiction actually, because it's awesome
  • Watching: all the things!
Hi everyone!

A couple of housekeeping things. Firstly, I am not taking on any more commissions until further notice. However, if you have a commercial proposition or just a really important commission or anything like that, feel free to still get in touch, because I left the metaphorical business door open a teensy crack. The reason for this change is that I'm exploring a lot of new avenues with the artwork, and I want to see what percolates in a mostly commission-free space.

Secondly, I will no longer be using the word 'totem' to describe the illustrations that I create. I will instead be calling animal guides/teachers/energies something more appropriate in a contemporary space, such as 'golden catfish as energy' or 'golden catfish as guide' (I haven't decided yet). While I won't be retroactively changing the titles of artwork, this will be something applied in the future and I thought I'd give everyone a heads up there. It's a personal decision, based on my discomfort with using a term that is appropriative in nature.

Thirdly, some of you may not know this (or really care to know this), but there will be significantly less artwork overall this year since I'll be devoting a fair amount of time to writing. Writing has always been an important part of my overall career, but it got benched the last two years because I became very focused on commissions and certain segments of artwork which kept me intensively busy (seriously, world, 90 pieces of finished artwork in a year? Maybe sustainable for someone without PTSD and chronic health issues, but I was pretty spent at the end of 2012!) I'm still learning how to divide my time between both the artwork and the writing in a way that is sustainable to my health and my wellbeing, and last year I let myself down in that department, firmly embracing workaholicism in a way that I'm still paying a price for this year.

But, in very good news, I am doing a lot better already. I am working on several new concepts, as well as still exploring with my older style. Also trying to figure out a direction in life. Where am I headed? What's the meaning of life? What is my purpose right now? Haha, nothing major, just a few questions! Gotta love it when the big ones come on in and sit down on top of you and refuse to pay rent.

So how are you going? :)

*

Did you know there are even better places to keep up with what's happening with Ravenari? :)

Ravenari @ Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Ravenar…

Ravenari @ Wordpress: ravenari.wordpress.com/ (I write blog posts like four times a year!)

Ravenari's Animal Guide Dictionary: www.wildspeak.com/

ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…

My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari
  • Listening to: too much to put down here.
  • Reading: a lot.
  • Watching: all the things!

A short question.

Journal Entry: Fri Jun 11, 2010, 7:08 PM
What sort of things do you want me write about in this journal?

:D

*~*~*~*~*~*

Ravenari's Totem Animal Dictionary: www.wildspeak.com/vilturj/tote… (234 animals now).

My Portfolio: ravenari.darkfolio.com/
My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari
My Formspring @ Ravenari: www.formspring.me/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Glee
  • Reading: Ursula le Guin
  • Watching: Glee
  • Playing: SoulSilver (Pokewalker FTW!)

An update from ye olde Ravenari.

Journal Entry: Fri Jun 4, 2010, 2:19 AM
Well, I must say I don't know how I feel about DA's new change yet. It's crashed Firefox for me about four times, so I'm leaning towards 'not really well-disposed towards it.' I'm certainly not finding it more userfriendly, or 'more about the art,' but so be it.

What of life lately? Well, we got a rescue kitten, a bengal cross. Her name is Maybe (we changed her original name). She recently got a severe bowel impaction from a cat toy and needed major surgery, and since then hasn't really been 100%. So as of today, she's on a prescription vet diet, and more pills, and I get to have the immense fun of taking a stool sample. But oh well, the things we do for our animal companions!

In the meantime, art is going well. I got accepted into Natcon 50's Future Imperfect exhibition, so you can expect to see either steampunk totems or fairytales from me in the future. You may also see Totem representations of Pokemon, because I'm just very strange that way.

I'm not producing as much art as I used to, because I've been very focused on healing from both PTSD and DID. This was seriously cramped by a boundary impaired therapist who left me in a worse position than when I started; and I think there really does need to be more literature out there for clients as to what 'boundary impaired' means, what the warning signs are, and just how damaging and crippling it is.

Anyway, it's an ongoing journey, but I am getting much better, and my art reflects a maturation of my style and a deepening in the themes. I work more slowly now, and my life is also now full of things like cross-stitch, going for long walks, and trying to decide what I want my present and my future to be. I am learning mostly from Snail, in this, since to me, it is one of the most sacred animals in the world.

So, there you go, a short update. If you have any questions, about anything, feel free to ask. I never seem to be able to cover everything in a journal entry! Particularly when I update so infrequently at DA. :)

*

Ravenari's Totem Animal Dictionary: www.wildspeak.com/vilturj/tote… (234 animals now).

My Portfolio: ravenari.darkfolio.com/
My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari
My Formspring @ Ravenari: www.formspring.me/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Death Cab for Cutie
  • Reading: Tao Te Ching
  • Watching: SYTYCD:US

Open for Commissions

Journal Entry: Fri Mar 12, 2010, 6:38 AM
Specifically in the 'as totems' series.

Check out the details here, @ Livejournal:

moonvoice.livejournal.com/1177…

*

Ravenari's Totem Animal Dictionary: www.wildspeak.com/vilturj/tote… (234 animals now).

My Portfolio: ravenari.darkfolio.com/
My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari
My Formspring @ Ravenari: www.formspring.me/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Elliott Smith
  • Reading: Robin Hobb
  • Watching: SYTYCD:US

I tripped and fell into Formspring

Journal Entry: Thu Mar 4, 2010, 5:04 PM
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I got totally sucked into Formspring! Is there anything more narcissistic than this website?

www.formspring.me/Ravenari

Have at it. :)

*
Ravenari's Totem Animal Dictionary: www.wildspeak.com/vilturj/tote… (234 animals now).

My Portfolio: ravenari.darkfolio.com/
My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari
My Formspring @ Ravenari: www.formspring.me/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Sigur Ros, Voxtrot and Memory Tapes
  • Reading: non-fiction on media and mental illness
  • Watching: Bones, Modern Family, Community

Animal Totem Dictionary

Journal Entry: Tue Feb 2, 2010, 5:47 AM
Just a reminder, that I actually maintain an almost text-only Totem Animal Dictionary here at my website:

www.wildspeak.com/vilturj/tote…

Now with 186 animal totems represented, making it one of the most comprehensive on the internet, especially as a free resource. :)

Oh, and the rest of the site has some cool stuff too, if you're into that kind of thing.

*

My Portfolio: ravenari.darkfolio.com/
My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Passion Pit
  • Reading: Robert Holdstock
  • Watching: Chuck and House
  • Playing: mindgames with myself
  • Eating: Terry's chocolate orange
  • Drinking: Water

Totems for the New Year

Journal Entry: Wed Jan 20, 2010, 1:53 AM
(originally posted in the Axis Mundi e-zine.)

Totems for the New Year

So often, totems are treated like accessories, animals that we show off to our like-minded friends, and that's where the connection tends to end. But totems (of any kind) can have meaningful benefits outside of basic research into an animal's meanings and behaviour.

Consider aligning yourself to animal totems or guides for the year ahead. What are you wanting to achieve? The messages of our animals friends are more than able to support us on our goals, and suggest new ones to boot.

Want to be more creative? Consider the orb-web spider and her beautiful woven tapestries. Orb-web spider knows how to create something beautiful no matter how she feels, she teaches us that we create to survive, and not just to feel good. For those considering creative ventures as a career for the first time, orb-web spider can teach diligence, discipline, and the reward of a job well done. For those who want to explore art as a hobby in general, consider bower bird, or even the curious thief magpie, who steals things that appeals to his or her eye.

Considering quitting a bad habit? Look into animals that demonstrate a call to action, and steely willpower. Quoll – all species – are an excellent Australian example of applying discipline, strength and ferocity to any area of your life. If you prefer to go more gently into quitting a bad habit, or creating health; consider gentle frog, who cannot tolerate pollutants in his or her environment, and can communicate to you when you're going overboard, or drifting back into self-destructive habits. If you're focusing primarily on halting thought patterns you don't like anymore, try appealing to the adaptive, curious Australian raven, or highly intelligent bottlenose dolphin.

If you're wanting to challenge yourself, or try something completely new, consider those animals that have adapted extremely well to challenges themselves. Feral animals, as much as they can be a bane on our native species, are excellent examples of animals that can adapt to just about anything. Camels, cane toad, domestic cat, rock pigeon, rabbit and fox are just a start. As many people have fox, cat and rabbit as totem in particular, it won't be so much of a leap for those that have worked with these animals before. Alternatively, you can consider native animals that adapt extremely well to human habitation, like willie wagtail, Australian raven, red-back spider or grey kangaroo.

If finance or an increase in wealth and independence is your game, consider animal totems that live in areas of material abundance. Birds of paradise are an immediate ally for those wanting to live the life of the rich and famous (or at least, get one step closer to it!) The reason birds of paradise have been able to develop such beautiful courtship displays, is simply because they live – compared to other birds – relative lives of leisure. Food is abundant, all around them, throughout the year. They want for nothing as much as any animal can. If you're also someone who has problems with concepts of material richness and wealth, the birds of paradise, particularly those that live in the richest of rainforests, can be extremely helpful.

Travel is often a big one; for people wanting to see the world, take more time to themselves, or spend more time with loved ones in new environments. For those who wish to have some animal totems for the goal of travel, consider all animals that migrate, or are truly nomadic, going where their needs take them. Many native parrots are excellent totem ambassadors for travel; rainbow lorikeet, and wild budgerigar both go where food and water can be found. Then of course, there are the true travellers; the albatrosses and petrels, many of which visit and nest on our shores. These birds can spend incredible amounts of time out at sea, and have been known to be protectors of sailors in many cultures.

As to the 'asking for help' process, you can try different things. You can consider creating a new visualisation to meet this animal, and ask for its help and support. See if you can work something out between your two energies that is reciprocal and meaningful. You can also try researching animals that reflect qualities you may want to adopt in your own life. If you like affirmations, you can try something as simple as 'as orb-web spider creates works of beauty to help her thrive, so will I.' Be lateral, whatever works for you, is something that is working well!

Remember, the animal totems in our lives – those that come to us, and those we invite into our space – are immensely powerful, from blowfly to bear. Working with them on a more intensive level, such as what is described here, can lead to an enrichment in your life. If nothing else, it can certainly help you to reach your goals and resolutions of 2010!

*

My Portfolio: ravenari.darkfolio.com/
My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Jonatha Brooke
  • Reading: Evernight (sigh)
  • Watching: United States of Tara
  • Playing: Bejewelled Blitz on FB (702,000 - thank you!)

One of my growing-to-be-pet-peeves...

Journal Entry: Fri Dec 25, 2009, 3:47 PM
I wrote this as an entry in my Livejournal, and it became one of my most commented upon pieces. As it was actually about Art, I thought I'd post it here:

*

When you're an artist, people try and take advantage of you in ways they wouldn't necessarily if you had a conservative career (though whenever you're self-employed, people will generally try and take advantage of your skills).

They don't know they're doing it, because in a society that doesn't value art for the most part; it's normal not to value artists. And artists often don't know it's happening, because they're part of that society and the trend of devaluing their own work.

This came about because recently a complete stranger who I don't know from a bar of soap asked me if they could print out one of my pictures for free, and give it to a friend. I started composing a message to them along the lines of 'sure! fine! wow that's really sweet of you!' but something didn't feel right. It didn't feel right because I thought... I have a DeviantArt store to sell my prints, and I did that for a reason. So that I could survive.

This person doesn't know me. They're not a friend. They're a complete stranger asking for free art on behalf of someone else I also don't know very well.

And let me tell you now; this happens a lot.

Some family members have said things like 'I was wondering if Pia could do some art for me if she's got some spare time?' with absolutely no offers of remuneration. Nothing. I can assure you right now that if they approached other trades-people in the family, they would not be asking for free work without at least offering something in return. Even if they eventually got it for free, the offer of compensation of some kind would still be there.

These days, I'm much more conscious of what I lose when I sell things 'for cheap,' or worse, 'for free.' When I devalue my art, I teach other people that it's okay to devalue my art. If you had a family member who was a surgeon, I doubt you'd say to them 'hey, my birthday is coming up, will you give me surgery for free?' And bat your eyelashes. And I really doubt they'd then go 'oh sure! Free surgery, I do that all the time for friends and family! Free surgery is how I can afford to live!'

But if everyone treated the surgeon like they're obligated to do free surgery for all friends and family members, eventually the surgeon is going to go 'sure, I mean that week I could actually be making money to survive, but it's okay, I'll do your surgery for free. That's what surgeons do! I'll use my other job of flipping burgers to try and make up for the loss of me doing this highly skilled and uncommon service for you; though really I won't be able to make up for it through flipping burgers.'

That is the culture of art and artists in Western society. People on my friends list are guilty of it. People I meet and hardly know, and people I know very very well are guilty of it. I'M guilty of allowing it (though you can probably tell I'm getting reaaaaaally sick of it now). Friends of mine who are artists participate in this 'I will sell myself short because I'm an artist and you expect me to sell myself short' culture.

It's the expectation that bothers me. It's not like I don't freely give my art as gifts, occasional pro-bono book covers, or haven't sent pictures in the past. I do and have. I genuinely want to.

It's the expectation that because I'm an artist, I exist to do art for others, for free, or for nothing more than a 'gee, you're so talented' (I know that, that's why art costs money, because it's a rare and desirable skill that not everyone can do - even with training). It's the assumption that I am some bohemian who basically wants to spend her entire life sharing my creativity with others, but never making money off it - because bohemians live on tea and noodles and tuna and don't want for anything more than that if they have art in their lives. Right? Wrong. Or at least, certainly wrong in my case. Doctor's appointments, art supplies and a mortgage aint cheap.

I do a style of art which is uncommon, unique, and has taken me well over seven years of diligent application to get the technique to where it's at today. In that time, I've never seen anyone else do anything like it - until the past two years (and the people who do anything like it, know me, or know of my style of art).

My art style is my OWN. So much so, that I've had something like five art students through DA do essays on my work (complete with interviews) for their classes (both highschool and university level), and I've had other students (and accomplished artists) use techniques I've developed, in their own artwork, because they are aesthetically or symbolically pleasing or appropriate.

I am a skilled artist who has sold her artwork around the world. Because I have been doing it for well over five years now - I am considered a professional by Australian standards even without a university degree. I still charge at amateur or sub-amateur rates. Some people still complain about my prices with the expectation that I should charge significantly less. Seriously.

Still, it's not all like this. There are some people who truly value my artwork, or if not, at least my career as an artist. My mentor, Jennifer Perry, is one of them (and a fucking fantastic artist in her own right). In fact she has been one of the best things to happen to me in regards to my attitudes towards my art, selling my art, and 'art as a career.'

There are repeat clients on my Livejournal Flist who - despite not having much money - not only support my art, but support my career choice as an artist. I try and pay it forward by supporting artists when I can.

But it shocks me how many people aren't like this. It shocks me regularly, and due to some events that occurred today; it's shocked me again.

So hence, this rant. Because I actually think this is rather important.

If you agree with my message, please pimp it out to others.

*

ETA: I absolutely agree that this can happen to people in other professions, this is focused on artists because I'm an artist. ;)

ETA 2: I'd like to also add that in almost no other profession is it so universally accepted that the worker is devalued over the product, to the point that the cost of the work skyrockets upon death. The successful artist never sees the majority of his or her profits, because the majority of those profits go to galleries and collectors upon the death of the artist. I think it can happen with first edition publications in the writing industry, but not nearly to the same degree.

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Joe Hisaishi
  • Reading: The Book of Islands
  • Watching: NCIS, Bones
  • Playing: WipEout HD (and killing it)

Question time!

Journal Entry: Fri Sep 25, 2009, 5:20 PM
Ever wanted to ask me a question, or questions? Now's your chance!

It can be anything from; 'where do you see your art going in the next few years,' to 'hey, you like chocolate right?' :) Go for it!

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Sigur Ros
  • Reading: Anne Bishop (AGAIN)
  • Watching: House, Freaks & Geeks

Prints! :)

Journal Entry: Tue Aug 4, 2009, 4:51 PM
Hi folks!

I've recently updated over 180 print files, so now you can access prints from my DeviantArt store in the form of:

Photo Quality Prints (cost effective, and in a variety of sizes - some larger than the originals themselves)
Fine Art Prints
Wrapped Canvas
Greeting Cards
Mouse Pads
Ceramic Mugs
Coasters
Postcards
Fridge Magnets
Jigsaw Puzzles

Check it out! :)

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My LIVEJOURNAL (updates and spirituality): moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: The New Amsterdams
  • Reading: Kushiel's Dart
  • Watching: 30 Rock

Shamanic Pathways 07 - A wounded shaman.

Journal Entry: Mon Jul 27, 2009, 4:52 PM
Shamanic Pathways - A Wounded Shaman

In neo-shamanism, it has been bandied out - mistakenly - that a shamanist must experience illness, sickness or even death in order to be a shamanist or shaman. This has been bred out of the fact that in some (but not all) Indigenous cultures, a shaman could occasionally be hall-marked by the shaman's sickness, which could be mental or physical in origin; or the shaman's death. The idea being that should a shaman walk so close to the lands of the dead (or indeed, within them), s/he would be better qualified to heal those who were sick or dying or dead.

It's a sound theory, it makes sense, it's certainly true that experiencing chronic illness for most of your life gives you the potential to have a better understanding of others who are experiencing the same thing. The thing is, it's not universal. One does not need to be sick, or dying, or to have died, or whatever, in order to be a shamanist.

It's ironic that I make this argument (or perhaps disclaimer), because in many ways I am the epitome of the 'wounded shamanist.' The person who has died, experienced major surgeries, mental illnesses, chronic illnesses both diagnosed and undiagnosed (in fact, I'm still waiting on a camera endoscopy for the latter), childhood rape not by one person, but by more than one.

I've been through more than the average Westerner.

Did my illnesses lead me to shamanism? It's hard to say. Certainly I looked for spiritual succour in order to survive. I learnt very early on of the monstrous nature of humanity that it could unleash itself upon its own species in the matter of childhood rape and torture. And instinctively I found my peace and harmony within nature. Even as a very young child, I would spend time with animals and plants to escape what I knew of the people around me.

But that could have led me anywhere. It is possible to find spiritual succour in any religion. It is possible to love nature even in religions that do not obviously tout love of nature.

It is, however, certainly true that shamanism offered me many practical and useful tools to address my illnesses with peace, acceptance, and understanding. Breath-work, soul retrieval, soul extraction, journeying, listening to teachers and those who are healing themselves, helping others to heal, aligning myself with helpful spirits and so on. That through my practices of shamanism, and my embracing of what I have been taught by the spirits around me, I have learnt to love myself more, and not less, because of these illnesses.

And it is also true that because of them, I think I am able to offer certain insights that others who have not been through them, cannot. I can never undo the crimes that were inflicted upon me, but I can learn from them, take responsibility for my healing, and share what I have learned with others. While I seek health and wellness, I also see how my wounds - both those visible and those beneath the surface - have become a tool in my shamanism to work great healings on behalf of myself, and others.

These ramblings today are brought to you by my illnesses, for alongside my chronic illnesses, my mental disorders, the fact that I need a tooth removed, I also seem to be struck down with food poisoning. And it got me thinking that in the past I used to vilify myself when I was sick. I hated that I couldn't make offerings to the spirits, drum or even journey properly. I hated how out of touch I felt. I even thought, years ago, that it made me a 'bad shamanist' to be sick.

And nowadays it's the opposite. I recognise illness for what it is - a transient state that has the potential to teach me great things on the path to wellness - and accept that illness, when approached from certain mindsets, can provide their own spiritual truths and knowledges. So now I rest easily without self-vilification, because it is through taking care of myself, taking care of my body, and being gentle with myself in ways that other people in my life were not; that I am more spiritual, than if I were to force myself to drum or make offerings.

And it is through my illnesses that I have come to understand the nature of wellness, why it is desirable to achieve, and why we walk the paths to it that we do.

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Neko Case
  • Reading: A Little Princess
  • Watching: The United States of Tara
  • Playing: Neopets
  • Eating: Chocolate pudding (had a tooth removed!)
  • Drinking: Water

Shamanic Pathways 06 - A part of life.

Journal Entry: Wed Jul 1, 2009, 2:27 AM
When I first started out, as a pagan, I was in highschool and I was one of those kids who did tarot readings for her friends, made her own Book of Shadows, was very interested in all kinds of energy work and healing (including Reiki) and basically starting to become obsessed with animal symbolism and so on. By the time I was 17, I was in an Alexandrian Wiccan coven. I thought I was dedicated. I meditated every day, I ran a meditation group for friends, I did rituals and spells, I had my own huge altar, I burnt a circle of salt into the grass in the back garden (sorry Mum!) and so on...

So, on the outside, I was a dedicated young spiritual pagan. But there was a problem. A big problem. There was a huge divide between my spiritual work, and my real life. The person I was spiritually was more ethical than the person I was on a day to day basis. A lot of what I learnt in meditation, I didn't apply to my 'real life.' The animals I worked with taught and said interesting things, but I didn't really know how to bridge the gap. How did I take the problem solving skills of raven and apply them anywhere? I didn't. There was a big divide between what I did, who I was, the lives I was leading.

It wasn't until much later, when I split away from Wicca, and embraced shamanism and animism, that I started to see very clear ways that my spirituality could assist my 'real life.' And around that time I started realising that there's no point to a spirituality that doesn't assist your real life. And absolutely no point in any spirituality that lowers your quality of life. If you're in any spirituality or belief system, no matter WHAT it is, that lowers your quality of life; get out!!!

These days, I don't meditate every day. I don't have a great big altar (I have a few shrines). I have no circles of salt burnt into the grass behind our house (we have no grass, so...), and I don't run a meditation group. But it doesn't matter, because I live my spirituality. In my work as a spiritual artist. In my mental health and therapy where I now see a therapist who will actually bring up the totems I'm working with as a way to communicate assistance.

An excellent example of this unification was recently I experienced a great deal of anger over a serious betrayal. I am very dysfunctional when it comes to anger, I'll be the first to admit it. I rarely feel it, let along anger that is so strong that I shake from it, and feel my heart pounding and my face heat up... I had no idea what to do. So I reached out to my perevrjni, my spirit helpers, and I said 'what do I do? Help me.'

One of my spirit helpers, a grumpy old man who is partial to wolverines, came forward around me and brought another one of my spirit helpers, a water-horse (a horse that lives in the sea, with a mane and tail of fire) with him. He took a jar and said 'pour your anger into this jar.' I did, and it filled up quickly. He grabbed another jar, and said 'pour your anger into this jar.' And so we went, on and on, pouring out white, and then red, and then blue and purple and green shades of anger, until my water-horse was covered in clinking jars of anger that shone with energy. I was grounded and more calm, and I had a stockpile of energy to use for later.

In 'real life' it gave me the ability to respond to the person who had betrayed me from a rational and honest place. I stood up for myself, made healthy decisions for myself, and essentially got out of a very toxic situation with most of my soul intact and a gratefulness in my spirit helpers, and a proudness in myself for being able to manage serious anger in such a way for the first time in my life.

Those anger jars came in handy. I use them in energy work, to protect myself against being attacked by two spirits, and as offerings to other spirits (including a local crocodile god, who now has all my anger jars, and I have to wait again until I'm very angry to make some new ones). It wasn't a psychological technique I was using, taught to me by a therapist; but a spiritual one with psychological and real life implications. It was taught to me by a spirit helper named Aka Oslo, who lives on a house, on a rock that reaches out of a rough sea, that smells of salt and fur...who may or may not be a figment of my imagination. It doesn't matter if he is; because any figment of your imagination that teaches you spiritual and therapeutic tools that keep you safe and true to yourself, is a wonderful, helpful figment. Of course, I think he is real. :)

Not only that, but a couple of other people who heard this story are using anger jars themselves now. This is a technique that can be very helpful. It reached into other 'real lives,' because of its practical implications. It allows you to keep your anger, which means you're not 'getting rid of it' (don't get rid of your emotions, they're valuable!); but it also allows you to take a step back and see exactly what you have, what the energy looks like, and how beautiful it is. Anger might be overwhelming, but when it's shining out of many many jars, it's beautiful too. And colourful! And mostly, practical and helpful as well.

So how does your spirituality translate to your every day functioning (if you have one)? Do you have problems making connections between your spiritual practices and your 'mundane' life? When you work with animal totems, where are the real life results of that? When you walk or commune with the land, what do you take back to your workplace or your other environments. When you are in crisis, how does your spirituality assist you?

~

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Iron & Wine
  • Reading: Sarah Zettel
  • Watching: The United States of Tara
  • Playing: The Altador Cup - go Kreludor!!!

Shamanic Pathways 05 - Totem artwork.

Journal Entry: Sat Jun 20, 2009, 8:17 PM
Emu as Totem by Ravenari

I've been doing totem artwork for a long time. As long as I have actually been doing art. Back in highschool, the totems I drew were less stylistic and more realistic, and I tended to focus on the skeletal systems of animals. I wanted their bones and that's what I drew. Consequently my art folio from way back then, has a lot of ram and cattle skulls in it.

When I was Wiccan, I continued drawing animal totems, though at this stage I didn't invite the actual totem animal energy to hang around me, or even come into my body. And back then, over 9 years ago, I drew most of the stereotypical favourites; frog, white buffalo, bear, wolf and so on. The process of drawing the animal totems made me feel amazing, and very connected. But the animals themselves didn't feel quite right.

I started drawing animal totems more seriously a few years ago. I developed a process that worked for me. Back then, it was a lengthy process. Firstly, I would see what animal energies wanted to be drawn. I'd do this by going for walks and holding my intent to draw an animal energy in my mind, and seeing what I saw, or opening animal encyclopedias up to random pages, using internet searches and databases and what have you. Over and over again, I was drawn to drawing Australian animal energies, or those of rare animals or animals under-represented as totems.

Then, I would try to commune or connect with the animal through meditation or even a more encompasisng form of trance-work / journeying. If I could connect with the animal, I would ask them if they would honour me by staying with me while I drew them, to add more 'authenticity' to the piece. So that, in essence, anyone who held a picture of an animal I drew could hopefully access the animal energy through that picture. The first animal that ever went from 'hanging around' me, to actually jumping into me was red kangaroo. Boy, that was a weird experience. I ended up rushing through my very first totem illustration of red kangaroo, because it was just too weird.

But after that, animal after animal after animal wanted to drop in. I could only really handle one at a time, at first. And certain animals had kinds of energies which made me want to, or actually rest afterwards for a few days at a time. And then something clicked into place and I could tap into many animal energies (with a few exceptions, some just don't want me to draw them), until finally I had drawn hundreds of animal totems, and given away, or sold many of those illustrations to those who wanted a deeper connection to the animals they cared about.

So these days, a significant part of my shamanic practice, is actually through my artwork. With almost all the animal artwork I do, particularly my 'as totems' series, there is significant time spent with an animal energy both during conception, the execution, and often for a few days afterwards. It is how I generally develop new relationships with animals, and nowadays I know I'm getting a good 'connection' to an animal's energy when I get four or five compositions and clear colour palettes dropping into my head.

Using my creative practices as a vector for my spirituality is a really fantastic way of 'living' the shamanism outside of soul retrieval and healing, and more ritualised practices. It's also a great way to give homage to animal totems, because with each finished product, I have a living piece of artwork that is both a signature of where an animal has taken me, and how I have processed that energy.

So for those of you who create, art, write, dance, drum, craft and so on, do you feel there's anything spiritual about it? Conscious or otherwise? Do you seek something 'more' than just the sum of the parts?

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: Rock Kills Kid
  • Reading: Sarah Zettel
  • Watching: So You Think You Can Dance
  • Playing: The Altador Cup - go Kreludor!!!

Shamanic Pathways 04 - Dehydration

Journal Entry: Sat Jun 6, 2009, 10:30 PM
I have a non-conventional way of approaching some of the problems in my life. A lot of people do, I'm not alone. But I feel that some of my problem-solving methods are distinctly shamanic in nature. They are spirit-oriented. They look towards the sacredness of something.

Since moving into this new house, in a semi-rural, dry environment, I've been dehydrated. I'm not drinking enough water. I love water, staying hydrated is usually not a problem for me. I can tell, immdiately, when I'm dehydrated. I eat more, I get headaches in the afternoon, I feel sluggish and unmotivated.

So my first objective solution was to simply make myself drink more water. Make up a schedule, drink a lot in the morning, a lot at night. It wasn't an 'all day' thing, but hey, at least I'd be doing it right?

Wrong.

I remembered for half a day, and then promptly forgot and ended up even more dehydrated than before. Rinse and repeat for about two weeks, with only one day of me really keeping to my pretty objective solution.

So then I took it to my more non-conventional place, and I decided to talk with an internalised spirit of water since humans - like almost all animals with a high water content - tend to have one (or so I believe). I withdrew into myself, into the watery places within myself, and found a gentle, young female spirit sitting calmly within the waters with her head looking down.

I introduced myself to her, feeling the dryness around me, and seeing it in her environment. It didn't feel as wet as was appropriate. I felt like I should have taken several buckets of water with me and just let them go.

So I said what came to mind, and our dialogue went like this. I asked 'why have I been so combative with you lately?' And this water maiden looked up at me, smiled softly and shrugged. 'I don't know, why have you been so combative with me lately?'

I paused and thought about it, feeling dry and unhappy inside of myself, and then thought about my environment. The land around me. I've recently made a radical shift in my living environment. From suburbia, to a semi-rural area that borders directly onto bushland. Both behind my house, and not too far away from the house. I thought 'maybe it's because the land is dry,' but then I realised that there was a lot of ground-water beneath this land. So much so, that most of Perth's water come from underground aquifers right where I am.

And then as I thought about this, I had a strange brainwave. I said, 'there's not enough water here, I feel like I have to ration how much I drink.'

The maiden looked up, and smiled, though her eyes were sad. 'There's not enough water here, not for everything and everyone, but there is enough to drink of, and drink plenty. Maybe you are more aware of the land than you were before, the falling water table, the fragile water sources. Maybe in trying to understand your environment, you have become too much like it, and forgot to nourish yourself.'

'Maybe.' I said. 'Even if I don't know why, I'd like to help you more. I don't like how it feels down here.'

'Neither do I.' She said. 'I can help you, though. Lately I have been feeling dry and unhappy, my environment is dry and unhappy. But maybe that is why you don't like water very much as a taste or a flavour. What I can do instead, is try smiling more, for you and for me. It sounds little, but it changes the atmosphere down here, right?' And she beamed at me, and suddenly I thought 'I feel like some water.'

We said our farewells and we shook on it, and I've had a lot of water to drink today. So even though my methods were ultimately non-conventional, they were useful. I feel even more inter-connected with myself and my inner state of being, experiencing 'dryness' at a literal level. I feel grateful that part of this may even be because of my interconnectedness with my environment and local spirits. And I am grateful I have found what seems to be a solution.

Now, I don't know if it's a long-term solution yet! But of course if it's not, I will write another pathway like this one to let you know my next non-conventional way of dealing with dehydration. After all, shamanism is about things that seem small and simple, because often we build our health and healthy environments, from the ground up. :)

NOTE: I wrote this entry elsewhere some weeks ago, and I just wanted to add that it was a long-term solution! Since then there's only been one or two days where I've been dehydrated. My relationship with water has definitely improved!

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

  • Listening to: The New Amsterdams
  • Reading: Trauma and Recovery - Judith Herman
  • Watching: So You Think You Can Dance
  • Playing: The Altador Cup - go Kreludor!!!

Shamanic pathways 03 - The Spirits in My Life

Journal Entry: Wed Jun 3, 2009, 4:58 PM
Welcome to another ramble on shamanism and my footsteps upon this path!

It took me a little while to understand the statement: 'no spirits, no shaman.' I thought 'but I can do it without them!' And I am grateful that I know differently these days.

I have a few spirit helpers who are willing to walk with me on my spiritual journeys, a few gods that I visit, or who visit me, and a few 'acquaintances' in the otherworlds who, for trade (usually), will offer a wealth of knowledge, access, wisdom, growth or simply offer of themselves so that I may learn, grow, move, and so forth.

We live in a world where independence, at least in many of the circles I walk, is praised almost above healthy interdependence within a community/communities, friends, family, and the friends and family that the spirits can be. And so I feel an offshoot of this is a proliferation of solitary pagan paths that are praised almost above group and community-based faiths. Solitary paganism, Solitary Wicca, Solitary shamanists, and so forth. And many proponents of solitary paths will state 'I can do what I want, I like the independence it gives me.'

But is any path truly solitary, if you are walking with spirits and gods in your life? If you say 'yes,' then how much substance are you awarding these spirits and gods? How 'real' are they to you? If one accords spirits and gods with the respect I feel they rightfully deserve, then any path that involves these spirits and gods can never be 'solitary' truly. Unless of course you believe all spirits and gods are archetypes, and have no more substance than that. But this is not the sort of spiritual practices I'm personally referring to. It is difficult to practice shamanism with archetypal spirits. ;)

Can any person on a solitary or community-based pathway truly do 'what they want,' when it is balanced against the wisdom of the spirits, the gods, their own conscience and their will when it comes up against the will of others?

The spirits and gods in my life inform me, and therefore inform my path. Just as my friends, my family, my 'fremily' (...I think I hate that term), any therapists, co-workers, colleagues and acquaintances inform me, and therefore inform my path. I am no shamanist without the spirits and gods. I am no shamanist without the community around me, the people in my life, my animal companion, the plants, the land, my clients, the rocks that bear my weight as tiny grains of sand in the structure of this house.

I used to think it was a sign of weakness to essentially say that I was nothing without the spirits, but now I see it as a sign of strength. I do not have to surrender my will, my ability to discern, decide, and see the truth of a matter, in the recognition of my interdependence on the spirits around me. They enrich my existence, my perspective, bring me to greater state of health, just as the people around me - through their support, and love - also do.

What are the spirits and gods to you? Are they archetypes? Are they integral to your practice? Are they an afterthought? Have they helped you to grow as a person in all aspects of your life? Can you apply wisdom or knowledge that spirits and/or gods offer you in the 'real world'? And have you applied the wisdom or knowledge of friends and/or family in places like the otherworlds?

Right now I am mostly all about gratitude, and the gentle warmth that comes from knowing that if these spirits and gods, friends and family, choose to walk in my life, maybe they get something out of my existence, just as I very much get something out of theirs.

*

My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

And you can always purchase prints at my DeviantArt print store: ravenari.deviantart.com/store/…

  • Listening to: Heather Nova - Siren
  • Reading: Sarah Zettel
  • Watching: Bones - Season 4
  • Playing: Littlebigplanet

Shamanic Pathways 02 - About Emugirl

Journal Entry: Sun May 24, 2009, 4:50 PM
Emugirl by Ravenari

I was describing the story of the emugirls, as I had learnt them, to a fellow friend, and it occurred to me that it wouldn't hurt to share them here too.

I first met a solo emugirl by a stand of sheoaks or casuarina trees. She was hiding in one of the lower branches, and materialised wild and shaggy. Her eyes were bright, large and lucid. Her mane of hair continued down her back and flared out at her hips, like that of the actual emu. And like the emu, her feathers were doubled onto one shaft.

She didn't say anything, but smiled with her impossibly wide mouth. The smile widened and I saw she had no teeth. I smiled back, and she nodded, and I nodded, and we went out separate ways. I felt warmed. I had never read about emugirls anywhere and to this day I don't know if they exist, and I don't claim that they are real to anyone but me. I often wonder what would happen if someone else tried to contact them in the otherworlds.

Recently, in the semi-rural suburb I find myself living in now, I travelled in a journey-state across the lands and came to a plain of kanya, balga, lechenaultia and grey sands. There, I saw 9/10 emugirls, slight and frail, but shaggy and wild all the same, come together in a circle under the stars, and begin singing to the stars. It was the strangest song I had ever heard, filled with the bass 'OOM' sounds that emus make, but also high-pitched girl's voices in unison and harmony. They didn't sing any song I knew, but the melody was simple and soaring. I wanted to know what they were doing, but out of respect I left them alone and cherished that I had witnessed this event.

I don't know if there are emuboys, I don't know if there are emuwomen and men. I don't know much at all. I only know that when I communed with the land-wights of Koondoola and they suggested I honour them through my gift of artwork, emugirl was the second spirit who immediately came to mind.

I hope to meet her, and others, again some day.

*


My ETSY (Originals only): www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=…
My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

And you can always purchase prints at my DeviantArt print store: ravenari.deviantart.com/store/…

  • Listening to: Heather Nova - Siren
  • Reading: Robert Scaer - The Trauma Spectrum
  • Watching: Bones - Season 4
  • Playing: Littlebigplanet

Shamanic Pathways 01 - quiet thoughts.

Journal Entry: Sat May 23, 2009, 4:23 PM
My animal companion, or 'pet', Moet - a champagne tabby - has spent most of today lounging in the sunbeams by the blinds I left open specifically for him. Specifically so he could lounge in front of them.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that I live with a feline who has the leashed spirit of tigers and lions inside of him, until of course I see him playing, or his blown black pupils pop up over my bed, a second before he wraps himself around my foot, all claws and teeth.

We too, are humans with the leashed spirits of primates and goodness knows what else inside of us. We sit at our computers, we lie docile in our beds at night (or some of us do), we cook our meals and live our lives leashed by society, jobs, sometimes even our friends and families.

So when do our pupils dilate black with the sheer joy of the hunt? When do we unleash and play for the sake of playing? When do we climb, run, crawl, frolic and revel in our environments and surroundings? Do you know what furniture would carry your weight if you jumped on it? Have you ever hid, breathless, waiting for a friend to come round the door before shouting 'BOO!' and revelling in this jump of fear?

I unleash, sometimes, in the otherworlds. Specifically, in my 'starting place' (no really, one day I will give it a name), in the middle-realms. I am lucky to have a few spirit helpers who remind me that I am not just a leashed creature, someone's animal companion, but a fierce and at times ferocious spirit. Capable of holding great power, and - when necessary - letting it go. Play is serious business.

When do you unleash? And how?

*


My website @ Wildspeak: www.wildspeak.com/sitemap.html
My Livejournal @ Moonvoice: moonvoice.livejournal.com/prof…
My Twitter @ Ravenari: twitter.com/Ravenari

And you can always purchase prints at my DeviantArt print store: ravenari.deviantart.com/store/…

  • Listening to: Heather Nova - Siren
  • Reading: Robert Scaer - The Trauma Spectrum
  • Watching: Bones - Season 4
  • Playing: Littlebigplanet