ravenari: (general - iPaint)
[personal profile] 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?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-26 04:58 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
How fascinating!

I have a whole slew of muses for my writing. Usually one for each character I write. But in the case of characters that are used in multiple ways [canon vs. AU, for example], there can be multiple versions of the same "character".

The muses will actually speak to me, even hold whole conversations in my head, like I'm watching a movie of the characters/muses. Hell, there have been MANY times where the muses have "taken over", so to speak, and written things that I later had to go back and re-read to know what was written. It's truly fascinating...

[personal profile] shatterpath and I "share" muses, as well. Usually the ones that we work on together in our big AU crossover series, Light, Water, Muses, but sometimes others. We jokingly call it "brainshare" or "brainsharing".

I don't know of many other people that have the multiple muses, as most I talk to have a singe Muse [capitalization intended by those people]. I don't know if that means that [personal profile] shatterpath and I are different in some way or not... Most people don't understand the multiple muses situation. We actually tend to treat them almost as living people, because the stronger ones sometimes feel that way. As [personal profile] shatterpath said, they're every bit as real as you or I, they just exist on a different plane of reality than we do.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-27 02:05 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
Yeah, it can get kind of crowded in my head sometimes, but I don't mind it. When I'm not able to write, for whatever reason, and the muses are quiet? It terrifies me, to be quite honest, and I don't feel "right" at all.

I think it is similar. I think the main difference might be that the animals and their energy don't necessarily stay once teh illustrations are done. My muses, for the most part, stick around for a good long time. Some are transient, some are stronger than others. I suppose they could be likened to power/totem animals or spirit guides in that sense.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-28 01:22 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
Oh! My bad for thinking otherwise. That's kewl that they stick around.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-26 11:12 pm (UTC)
thiefofvoices: Profile of a person with long black hair in a ponytail wearing a high-collared leather jacket, hair obscuring their eyes (desert prophet)
From: [personal profile] thiefofvoices
This has put so much more life into the already-vibrant artwork you post. (I have a feeling that seeing them up in real life would leave me with a different impression than just pixels on a screen, though it was already evident how alive the art was to begin with. :)) Amazing! :D

I do much the same thing as ariestess above described, when writing. Though I do not call them muses, but rather headvoices, as I use a different set of language to describe the phenomena -- as in, I am not a multiple system myself, but am in communication with a number of people at any given time, and I write their stories to the best of my ability. (I have a theory that this is a far more common thing than a lot of writers let on, as at least 50% of my (online and real life) friends do the same thing with varying levels of intensity) So when I'm writing, it's either me describing a movie, or just falling into the world and coming out of it with a story.

I spend a lot of time with the characters I write on a daily basis as well, and they bleed into my everyday actions and sometimes what I wear or what I want to do/eat/etc. It helps a lot when writing, and as silly as it sounds, I think I would be lonely without them to a certain extent. It's certainly an experience when my brain's quiet, at least.

Sometimes it's similar for drawing. (Or was. I haven't created nearly so much visual art as I would have liked over the past year; I'm slowly trying to get back into a mental space where I feel I can draw & make masks again.) Sometimes it's more trancelike, especially if I'm working with a quill pen and ink, or charcoal, rather than anything streamlined. I call it the 'ink trance', though it doesn't always happen with ink, and I lose time when I do it because all of me is focused into the act of creation, which is in and of itself a very spiritual thing for me. Depending on the subject being drawn, my methods change -- the ink trance rarely comes around for characters, and mostly for when I'm doing intensely personal, spiritual artwork instead.

And I've often said that dancing is one of the ways I pray. Dancing and creating are two things I throw myself into and are a huge part of my spirituality, or at least the way I express it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-28 07:23 pm (UTC)
thiefofvoices: Profile of a person with long black hair in a ponytail wearing a high-collared leather jacket, hair obscuring their eyes (drum and the grey horse)
From: [personal profile] thiefofvoices
Definitely, particularly with the tribal- and fusion-style that seems to be currently in resurgence, not only in clubs but also in organized, taught classes and one-on-one teaching situations as well (at least, so far as I've observed). I can only speak from a personal standpoint, but for me it's a way to physically immerse myself in spirituality (or certain aspects thereof) and communicate without conscious thoughts or words.

May 2010

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