ravenari: (general - iPaint)
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?

May 2010

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