This is the third post related to my trip to Ireland. Ravens played a big part of what I will remember about the country. Thank you to artists and photographers whose work I am re-posting here to show the strength and beauty of raven.
I’d have never chosen a bird for a totem or guardian animal. I appreciate birds but I was never drawn to them in any special way. Then, in the last four years I started to notice birds of every size. I love to watch for bald eagles, white pelicans, blue herons, sandhill cranes and more recently, ravens.
Their sheer size, intense blue-black plumage and intelligence intrigue me. They are one of very few birds that stays in this northern region year-round and so I suppose I notice them more here in my remote surroundings because friends are few and far between but wildlife is constant. A raven in a snowscape that can last seven months of the year is hard to miss!
At least one or two love to fly by low over the backyard and tease my dogs. I can trick my Dane into racing around if I imitate a raven call, which is pretty funny to see.
I often see them gliding in perfect synchronicity in the sky above the house, hardly having to flap. They grab hold of an unseen wind current and steer on it much the same way I can guide myself on a wave in a canoe.
In the west of Ireland while hiking, they were everywhere and very active. For the first time I saw them rolling in air, grabbing at each others talons and playing with one another. In one case, six ravens engaged in a remarkable, aerial acrobatic display.
While descending Brother O’Shea’s Gully on Carrauntoohil, I had an ethereal experience that involved six ravens in a mystical setting that I have yet to be able to articulate in any way that remotely expresses the fullness of the event. For the first time in my life I am seriously considering getting a tattoo as a way to honour the memory because words are failing me.
I have been researching myths and legends, symbolism and natural history of the corvid known as the common raven. The more I read the greater respect and intrigue I have for the Trickster, Thought, Memory, Distance Healer, Courier of Magic, the colour of the void where all Creativity exists.
Raven is held in high esteem in several cultures including Celtic, Norse and West Coast First Nations.
I have included some of the images from tattoos that already exist related to raven in those traditions as a place to start dreaming from for my own potential body art piece. One example is simply geometric design which I also really like and would like to incorporate somehow in order to “hide” other symbols in the art. I have often doodled similar style designs on scraps of paper with pen since I was a kid. Somehow it will all evolve into a piece of art that I might want to ink somewhere on my skin.