Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Red Raven and I – Birds and my intuition


For me, the words red raven are a blend of all the things I love: animals, art, the magic of possibility.

Before I started my little graphic design company in 1998, I'd never given much thought to ravens, regardless of their colour, nor their symbolism. I'd just returned from spending a year in the UK and had been offered a start-up opportunity within the framework of a larger business.

My company needed a name. And quickly too, as my business partners wanted to get it registered. The application form required a list of three possible names, just in case one or the other was already the name of a registered business.

I only had one requirement: the title had to mention an animal, the species wasn't specific.

A friend suggested Paper Tiger and I loved the sound of it, so it went on top of the list. And then I started brainstorming. I love the sound of alliterations and quirky rhyming words, so there were lots of pink panthers and purple turtles.

I remember the moment Red Raven floated into my head – it seemed to come out of nowhere – like I’d blinked, and there it was. I felt a rush of energy as I wrote it down, with the now familiar sense of knowing I feel when I have an intuitive hit. Back in 1998 I had no idea how important my intuition would be in my future, nor had I started to understand how often it opted in to help me out.

It was like my Red Raven was a portal through which I travelled to find me. Looking back, I see it’s magical ingredients were brewing and influencing me, even though I was oblivious to any of it.

I forget the third name I chose and added to the last slot on the list before I sent it off. A couple of days later I was with the friend who had suggested Paper Tiger when we looked up its meaning:

... a literal English translation of a Chinese phrase which refers to something that seems threatening but is ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge. 

I was mortified.

I didn’t want my business name to have that association and feel, even if its meaning wasn’t well known. As an artist and designer, I loved the feel of the word “paper” and imagined that Paper Tiger looked something like this:




I had a moment of panic when I thought of the irreversible consequences of registering my business with a name I now no longer wanted. Monkey-mind kicked in and I started imagining having to explain how I had changed my mind and why I no longer wanted the name I’d put at the top of my list.

But Raven’s magic was already at play. In the quiet moments I prayed and hoped that there was already a business in South Africa called Paper Tiger and that the second name on the list would be chosen. My intuition told me it would be so. I felt a strong connection to those two words already – Red Raven.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Red Raven Designs was born in September 1998. 

Ravens have fascinated me ever since. They’ve led me on a journey through wicca, helping me uncover ancient memories of living in harmony with plants, animals and the seasons, during a time when life’s rhythms were governed by the moon.

Raven introduced me to totem animals and how their qualities can influence and shape our lives if we allow them.

They triggered my interest in our local bird species. Expanding my awareness to include the behaviour of the inhabitants of my garden. I know when they’re around because I can hear their call. I once cawed back at a Pied Crow who sat at the top of our Pine tree, cawing, it seemed, at me while I hung the washing on the line. 


Pied Crow – Lands Art, Northcliff Hill, Johannesburg

They led me to looking for and trying to understand the messages of the birds around me. I smile when I see these big birds around, they don’t seem to be afraid of anything. 

It feels like I'm still exploring and uncovering the magic these birds have for me. Red Raven is so much more than just the name which labels my art and all that I'm choosing to share with the world.

It's the magic of potential that beckons me and curiosity which keeps me interested in them.


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