European Pine Marten as Totem

Today you get two totems, since I fell behind!

The first:

EUROPEAN PINE MARTEN as TOTEM

European Pine Marten as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Forest and tree wisdom, the ability for trees and forests to be healing places, possessing great wit and cunning, being resourceful and capable of great lateral thinking when necessary, needing to chew something over, protecting your home and yourself, having a great sense of where your boundaries are, swiftness of action and movement, being exploited for what you have and what you do, keeping your body in good condition, general anxiety and fussing over things.

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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!

Leopard Shark as Totem

I love leopard sharks. I mean I love sharks in general, though. Because sharks are awesome. Also they have this very clear way of reminding us that the sea is their territory, and we will only ever be visitors.

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LEOPARD SHARK as TOTEM

Leopard Shark as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTS:

Finding your way through the dark, learning to respect and embrace tidal cycles, a time and place for everything, knowing when to go forward, and when to retreat, you cannot see clearly, rely on your other senses, using socialisation as protection, healing and nourishment, it’s okay to take your time, be wary and cautious, ocean wisdom, coastal wisdom, tidal wisdom.

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DESCRIPTION

The leopard shark is a marine species of hound shark found along the Pacific coast of North America. It has striking leopard-like markings of black-to-grey along it’s body, and juveniles have spottier markings. They are long, slender sharks, averaging 1.2 to 1.5 metres long. They are coastal predators generally found in the intertidal zone, in sometimes brackish or murky waters, and frequent bays, estuaries, sandflats, mudflats and rock-strewn areas; often in large schools with other species like smoothhounds and dogfish. Their hunting and activity is very powerfully influenced by the tides, they are opportunistic benthic feeders, eating sea worms, as well as clams, crabs, shrimp, bony fish and fish eggs. They cannot see very well, due to the murkiness associated in regions where they hunt.

They generally like to stay in a particular area, though some will travel, and will socialise with other leopard sharks of similar size and sex. Leopard sharks are very slow growing, and take many years to sexually mature. They are often caught for food and aquariums, as they pose no danger to humans and are wary by nature, and quick to flee.

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The full totem dictionary, representing 258 animals, can be found here

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I’m finally getting back into illustrating ‘as totem’ illustrations. The next four will be the PATAGONIAN MARA, the OKAPI, the BLACK MAMBA, and the KING COBRA. All will be available for sale, unless they get snapped up during the illustration process.

Llama as Totem

No Llama totem write up is complete any longer without mentioning drama llama!

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LLAMA as TOTEM

Llama as Totem by Ravenari

LLAMA TOTEM REPRESENTS:

Connecting respectfully with other species, inter-species relationships, having a great deal to give, demanding the respect of others, be wary of making a bigger deal out of a situation than it deserves, drama llama, unstable social circles, unstable social hierarchies, learning how to deal with not knowing where you stand, being able to protect others, the energy of hostility, high altitudes are healing, don’t be afraid to retreat to the mountains and the high places, connections with pre-Hispanic South American cultures.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The llama is a relative of the camel, found in South America, that has been utilised as a domestic animal since pre-Hispanic times. It is utilised for its soft and lanolin-free fleece, to carry loads over rough terrain, for leather, for food and for fuel. An overloaded llama will refuse to move and can become aggressive and hostile, but generally if well-raised they are considered intelligent, curious, and easily trained with positive reinforcement. Guard llamas have been utilised since the early 1980s, as they bond firmly with sheep, and require almost no training to protect sheep from predators. They can be differentiated from alpaca as they are larger and have a longer head.

Llama are grazers of grass and chew cud, they will also consume lichens, low shrubs and other mountainous plants, and need very little water. They are well-adapted to survive in sparse mountainous terrain, with their red blood cells able to carry more oxygen than many other animals, making them suited to high altitudes. They have an ambling gait. In the wild they live in groups of about 20, that is defended by a male. Fighting males will try and force another male to his knees, they will also neck wrestle and spit. They mate lying down and for approximately thirty minutes, both unusual in larger animals. Llamas are social by nature, and can live between 20 and 30 years. Considered significant to the Moche, the Incans, as well as other Indigenous nations. In contemporary times, the term ‘drama llama’ has emerged as an internet-originating term referring to people who bring random or over-inflated drama with them, and generate conflicts.

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This and other files like it Can be found at my totem dictionary, representing 258 animal totems and growing.

Mikado Pheasant as Totem

In between all the artwork, I’ve decided to get working on the ol’ totem website again.

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Mikado Pheasant as Totem

Mikado Pheasant as Totem by Ravenari

Representing:

Being used by others, being exploited against your will, possessing great beauty and power, rain energy, benefitting from periods of rain and mist, using mist to conceal you, concealment, being solitary by nature, quietness and alertness, choosing caution over panic, calmly seeking shelter over blindly running away, foraging for wisdom, looking to the ground for understanding, mist as a sacred and liminal space.

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You can find the link as well as the rest of the website here.

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And in other news, finished my first semester of the Masters, and start the second next week! No rest for the wicked, as they say. 🙂

The problem with being too driven…

The problem with being too driven in self-work and self-awareness.

Tonight I am pondering the endless work of Sisyphus. The endless pushing of the stone up the hill, the endless rolling of the stone to the bottom of the hill, the eternal suffering for the sake of ‘progress,’ and the slaves that it makes of us.

Sisyphus pushing the rock.

Progress is a myth in the sense that; progress can happen, but it will never be the salvation of humankind while humankind exists. To gain this non-existent progress, we must work endlessly, more than ever, we must slave for something we cannot have, and for something that is also endless. We must be Sisyphus, ever struggling, always tired, never ‘there yet.’

And tonight I’m pondering it specifically in relationship to my own attitudes towards self-work. My struggle for the myth of progress within myself, has created a situation where I have become a slave to that progress, and now I suffer greatly for it. That is its greatest irony. The flaw of my consciousness that pits me against myself.

So once more, in order to understand this, I turn to the innate wit and knowledge of animals. And again, to one of the most unthinking of animals; the snail. I do not wish to be a slave to self-work. It makes me suicidal and at best, it makes me absolutely certain that life is without a point. That is not something they teach you about in therapy, and – I believe – it is not in the curricula of therapists either. That self-work can lead to death if it is not balanced with an unconscious, ‘animal’ care of the self.

It can’t all be conscious thought and maintenance. That is to be a slave to consciousness. And without consciousness, we wouldn’t have mental illness in the first place (no, really; the most unconscious of animals don’t even have ‘mental illness’ in their lexicon for a reason). It is a grand irony then, that the very thing that makes us so dysfunctional by animal standards is the very thing we – sometimes wrongly – depend upon to regain function.

Animism has taught me differently. Consciousness has its place, but so does unconsciousness which makes up the vastness of the bodymind in the first place, and informs our ‘free will’ so that we will nothing that our unconscious doesn’t ask of us first. And I have learnt more from the instinctive and innate world of other species than I have from any book or any other human animal. Consciousness will have its place in my healing, but right now it has made me a slave of the healing process, and it will be my unconscious that frees me.

I am tired of being a Sisyphus to my own mental health and mental illness. I will try to go a Snail’s way. I will let the great stone roll down to the bottom of the hill and leave it there. I will go and innately find food and shelter, rest and play, rain and crispy green things. Not in the name of progress, not even in the name of health, but because that is what animals will sometimes do. And if health or progress comes of it, then I am sure the therapeutic world may be happier, and my friends and family might be happier, and I might even benefit from it in the long-term.

snail as totem - by Ravenari

But if nothing comes of it, at least in the short term I cannot say that my life is pointless any longer. Because there is nothing pointless in the rain and green crispy things, in rest and play, in food and shelter.

And because there is a great deal of pointlessness in being Sisyphus, rolling my stone of ‘self-work’ up the hill only to see it fall to the bottom again representing yet another allotment of heavy work for the tired and overworked; the endless, eternal suffering for the myth of progress.

02. all you need is - by Ravenari

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