Blackcap as Totem

This totem has the awesome honour of being a patron of Italian culture and the arts. I mean, in general, it’s an awesome bird – but did you know that something so tiny has inspired a lot of artists? What a wonderful, and overlooked, totem animal.

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BLACKCAP as TOTEM

Blackcap as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Sharing your song with others, possessing a sweet voice, knowing how to persuade others, the pen is mightier than the sword, learning new ways of expressing yourself, respecting religious pathways, enjoying sacred spaces, adapting to significant changes to your environment, being fond of myths and legends, associations with St. Francis, connection to Italian culture and crafts, muse.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The blackcap is a widespread, common passerine warbler found in Europe, western Africa and Europe. They are sexually dimorphic, and have a unique colour pattern for warblers. The male is grey with a distinct black cap, the female has a brown cap. They prefer to forage and hunt in shady woodlands, and nest in groundcover, preferring low shrubs. Their song is pleasant, chattering, with occasional clear notes; isolated blackcap populations can show marked differences in style and complexity of song. The blackcap is more hardy than other warblers, taking berries as well as insects when the weather gets tough. The blackcap is partially migratory, but recently some have been changing their wintering habits due to the availability of human food and gardens and recent environmental changes; the birds that are not migratory have higher survival rates than those that are. In some cultures, the blackcap is consumed as a food and considered a delicacy. Blackcaps have long inspired Italian writers, who knew the bird as La Capinera. They are associated with St. Francis in the opera Saint Francois d’Assise.

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Blue Eared Pheasant as Totem

I love writing totem files for the less common animals. I think I may have been the only person to write a totem file about the blue-eared pheasant, but you never know! They seem like awesome birds.

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BLUE EARED PHEASANT as TOTEM

Blue Eared Pheasant as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTS

Sibling rivalry, enjoying wild weather, feeling invigorated during cold or snowy weather, mountain wisdom, forest wisdom, having a profound connection to trees and plants, being feisty when pushed, coping well in times of crisis, being the one to depend on when things go wrong, taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, rooting around to get to the cause of the problem.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The blue eared pheasant is a large, blue-grey pheasant, with a black grown, red wattles, yellow iris, long white ear coverts and crimson legs. They are among the most common of eared pheasants. They are sexually dimorphic with the male being larger than the female, but are otherwise quite similar. They are found in the mountain forests (Himalayas) of central and northern China, where they do very well in cold and snowy weather, and seem to enjoy inclement weather. Primarily eat berries and vegetable matters, but are opportunistic feeders. They root around by nature, and can destroy smaller plants in the process. They enjoy mud and dust-baths. Blue eared pheasants are hardy. They are monogamous, and reach sexual fertility in their first year. Males will often display a lowered wing to signify size and dominance. Chicks are lively, rambunctious, bold and look like they are smiling. If over-crowded, they will become violent and cannibalistic, killing their siblings. Males will become quite aggressive and attack other species during breeding season.

Brown Honeyeater as Totem

The second installment for today.

These guys have been visitors to my Mum’s gardens for as long as I can remember. I haven’t seen any in my garden yet, but that’s because it’s a new suburb and I’m not sure what the brown honeyeater population is like; I do see other nectar feeders though. They are drab-looking birds, to be certain, but they have lovely personalities, and a lovely call.

These guys are a fantastic totem animal for people who work with balancing the chakras, or who fall out of balance very quickly. Their habits are all about achieving the right balance, and being selective about what energy you allow into your body. Also fantastic for people who are making shields that let certain things in, and not others.

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BROWN HONEYEATER as TOTEM

Brown Honeyeater as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING –

Balance, knowing how to balance your energy, being selective about how you receive and give out your energy, singing your song, possessing the ability to balance the energy of others, the unobtrusive healer, seeking and finding clarity, getting what’s yours, flowers are healing, an affinity with flower essences and flower foods at this time, learning to be happy with blending into your surroundings.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The brown honeyeater is a small, grey-brown bird with a yellow tuft behind the eye, found in western, northern and eastern Australia. It is considered common and widespread, and populations are on the rise in urban environments. Brown honeyeaters live in a variety of different habitats provided they are close to a source of water; these habitats include mangroves, eucalypt woodlands and gardens. The brown honeyeater is mostly active in early morning, and seasonally nomadic within its territory, following the flowering plants and trees. It primarily feeds on nectar and will also take insects; it’s tongue is brush-tipped and specially adapted for mopping up nectar. Brown honeyeaters will also feed in small groups and flocks of mixed honeyeaters.

Brown honeyeaters maintain the same breeding territory each year, and nests are cup-shaped and woven from grass and tree-bark. They are acrobatic, busy and active birds, able to take insects on the wing and hover over nectar-providing flowers. They most prefer to feed in foliage and canopies, but will also feed on the ground. They have a distinct, beautiful, loud, clear song which is considered the best of all the honeyeaters. Some even consider it to be one of the best among Australian birds. They are predated upon by ants, pied currawong and their nests are parasitised by a variety of cuckoos.

Horned (Shore) Lark as Totem

HORNED LARK as TOTEM

Horned Lark as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Strutting your stuff, oneness with wind and ground spirits, staying grounded and dreaming big, knowing the healing power of the earth, the earth element, the wind element, doing what is necessary to protect loved ones, knowing the power of sacrifice, putting others first, seeking stability, don’t damage your health for environmentalism, learning to live in new environments, the healing power of open places.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The horned lark (also known as the shore lark) is a distinctive songbird with a black and yellow face pattern. The male has black ‘horns’ in the breeding season, which can be erected or lay flat. They are birds that prefer to both feed and nest in the open ground. They are found in North America, northernmost Europe and Asia, as well as Colombia. The northern populations are migratory, travelling south in the Winter. They are usually found on seashore flats, farmland, golf courses, airports, prairies, grasslands, steppes, open forests, deserts and above the mountain treelines. They primarily eat seeds, and will eat insects during the breeding season. It is the female that chooses the nesting site; and they have been known to perform distraction displays to lure away predators. The vocalisations of horned larks are high, lisping or tinkling with ascending trills in flight. They can be aggressive, with males chasing each other in flight. They are the bird species most frequently killed by wind turbines.

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The rest of the totem animal dictionary can be found here!

Red-Winged Blackbird as Totem

This was an interesting one. I don’t tend to read more generic totem meanings until after I’ve completed my own; that way I’m not unconsciously taking from anything that I haven’t researched or found myself. When I looked at other meanings however, I noticed that just about everyone who did refer to the red-winged blackbird said that it referred to goddess and feminist energies. This seems totally counter-intuitive, given what I know of the bird and its energy. The closest I came was reading a sense of sisterhood into the energy; but even that was a mild totem meaning, and not its strongest.

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RED WINGED BLACKBIRD as TOTEM

red winged blackbird as totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, speak up, talk about what you believe in, communicate, let your love spread to many people, be wary of peer pressure (both receiving and doling out), changing habits and mannerisms amongst groups of people, being an opportunist, wetlands wisdom, group dynamics, the power of large groups of people, being visible, putting yourself out there, the middleworlds, drawing attention to yourself, being a part of a sisterhood.

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ABOUT

The red-winged blackbird is an abundant, well-studied songbird found in North and Central Merica. They are sexually dimorphic, with the males being black, with red and yellow shoulder patches that can be puffed or hidden, and duller, drabber females. The males are often sighted alongside roadsides, on high perches, in wetlands, on telephone wires and on cattails. They are found in open grassy areas, fresh and saltwater marshes (with a preference for those with cattail), wetlands, watercourses and other wet regions. They will also frequent crop fields, feedlots, meadows, prairies, old fields and pastures. Different subspecies vary greatly in size and proportion. Red-winged blackbirds will form huge flocks of several million birds, with other species of blackbird and starling, in order to consume grains and group forage. They are omnivorous and predominantly eat seeds and insects, and will also consume snails, frogs, eggs, carrion and other opportunistically taken animals and vegetation. They are strong, agile flyers.

Red-winged blackbirds are associated with the return of Spring, as migratory populations return early and sing frequently as the season returns. Males are extremely territorial (a quarter of their waking hours during breeding season is devoted to territory defense), and polygynous, having up to 15 female mates in their territory. Males will chase and mob animals much larger than they, including livestock and humans. Predated upon by many other birds, including raptors, owls, corvids and herons, as well as raccoons, mink, foxes and snakes. To prevent predation, red-winged blackbirds will make well-concealed nests over water, group-nest and sound alarm calls. The red-winged blackbird may be the most studied bird.

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You can find the full totem dictionary here, a free resource representing 258 animals.

I’m here, I’m alive!

Look how many weeks it’s been!

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Well, in the time that has passed us by, I have been to the Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition, which was busy and lovely all at the same time. There were some truly awesome, incredible sculptures:

by Ravenari

The basic premise is, a large outdoor exhibition that is free to the public (and designed to be interactive to varying degrees) is installed onto the famous tourist beach of Cottesloe. We were there during the opening weekend, so we saw more people than sculptures!

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I saw these metal hot air balloons and looked up to view them properly. I noticed about fifty people walk past who never bothered to look at them from a different angle. Interact with your art people!

photo by Ravenari

There was also wildlife to contend with, as feral corellas were about. Now, corellas belong in Australia, it’s just they’re a pest in Perth and are ousting local parrots.

corella by Ravenari

I have been working hard on a lot of art. The one I finished most recently was this commission of a Parson’s Chameleon, which are endemic to Madagascar. It was a lovely bout of synchronicity with this one. I had watched David Attenborough’s documentary series Madagascar (which I highly, highly recommend) and had felt an overwhelming strong piull to illustrate a chameleon. A few days later a wonderful client emailed me with a commission for a chameleon; one of the very species of chameleon that had inspired the feeling!:

Parson's Chameleon by Ravenari

Most importantly, the earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear issues have been happening in Japan. This has hit me quite personally for two reasons. One, I love Japan. But two, I had a very good friend in Tokyo while the worst was happening (he’s in a safer place now), and one can’t help but worry.

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Also importantly (but of less global significance), my beautiful bengal cross rescue cat Maybe got very sick. She was diagnosed with Feline Idiopathic Cystitis; but a more aggressive form in that the struvite crystals (all thousands of them) were in a rare and unusual form that was more unpleasant for the bladder. Basically, she was urinating a lot of blood. She’s had a complete diet change and seems to be doing better, but for a while there it was four vet visits in three days. The last visit required sedation and needles to the bladder and tests and all sorts of things. Here she is recovering from one of the vet visits:

'I hate the vet' - Maybe by Ravenari

And of course how did her older ‘brother’ Moet react to the whole thing?

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Well, he wasn’t too fussed:

champion of relaxation - by Ravenari

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