Monday, October 26, 2015

Celtic Ravens - Myth and Magic

Raven Fey by Brigid Ashwood. Available as prints, totes, journals... 

There's a chill in the air. Mother Nature has freely splashed the colors of gold, pumpkin orange, deep red on the foliage. Costumes are being assembled with humor and fright. Its that time of year! Halloween? And October - time for the ravens to take the lead role as the theme this month.

For out AJE theme challenges - we invite you all to join us and create jewelry or art in other mediums, with ravens as the theme. Raven beads? Raven jewelry? yes and yes. Please see Karen's original post with all the details on how to participate. 

As I prepare for FaerieCon - I realized I have many artist friends/colleagues that love corvids (Corvus corax - common raven) I decided to share art with you today for inspiration - and knowing me - a little mythology thrown in... 

Meredith Dillmanis an artist and illustrator originally from Minnesota. She now lives in Wisconsin. She is known for her colorful watercolors which blend Art Nouveau, fantasy and Asian influences. She enjoys painting fairies, woodland creatures and other fantasy and medieval themes and has been drawing such since childhood. She is inspired by Pre-Raphaelite artists, Japanese comics, and turn-of-the-century book illustration.
Diverse raven offerings from Meredith: "Throne of Ravens" & "Raven's Treasure" 

Stephanie Lostimolo - "I suppose I've always been a "creator." I think we all are, but most people are forced to (or choose to) abandon their creativity in order to "fit in" or "get a real job." Sometimes I make books, other times I build worlds, still other times I fashion things out of horns, bones, and some modern materials like resin and polymer clay. I double as a graphic designer for many book projects, websites, and special events."

Clockwise from top left: "Fire in the Belly", "Raven Talisman of Protection", "Generations" and "Rosemary is for Remembrance". 

  • Ravens have appeared in myth from Ancient Greece/Rome to modern day Native American belief systems. While Karen shared more Native American inspirations in her original post - I am drawn to the Celtic mythos and to a lesser degree the Norse as well. 
  • Ancient Greece - ravens served as messengers to the gods, were considered lucky, and especially searched to Apollo, in his role as god of prophesy. 
  • In the Norse world, Odin the father deity was accompanied by two ravens, names Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory). Each day the ravens fly out from Hliðskjálf and bring Odin news from Midgard. Odin was associated with knowledge, healing and runes among many other things. 
  • The myth of Bran and Branwen is a complex tale that links ravens to the Tower of London and the present day. The original tale is from the Welsh Mabinogion. 
  • In Celtic and Irish myth ravens are often associated with the Goddesses the Morrigan, Macha, Badb. Warrior goddesses all there then becomes and association with ravens and the battlefield, the slain. ( Ravens are omnivorous, but will feed on carrion) This trifold goddess is described below. 
    • Badb - an Irish warrior goddess known as the "Battle Crow". She is known to cause fear and confusion among soldiers to move the tide of battle to her favoured side. Badb may also appear prior to a battle to foreshadow the extent of the carnage to come, or to predict the death of a notable person. She would sometimes do this through wailing cries, leading to comparisons with the bean-sídhe (banshee).
    • Macha - warrior and goddess of sovereignty. Also associated with horses. 
    • Morrigan - also a warrior goddess, associated with strength and the cycles of life death & birth. 
Jane Star WeilsAncient cultures, myth and magick are the basic core elements that inspire my artwork. Fascinated with symbolic mythology, I try to weave a bit of symbolism into every painting.
I want to create artwork that draws the viewer in, unfolding and revealing it's meaning slowly.
Color is also extremely important to me. Exploring it's richness, the way light creates and interacts with it, and how even the darkest shadow has an unexpected depth to it. My medium is a combination of watercolor and colored pencil. I build up many layers with these two mediums and quite often will ad gouache or ink.

Jane Star Weils brings us: "Branwen ( white raven)", Celtic Raven", and "The Morrigan"

Brigid Ashwood - " Art. Words. Design. - I am an artist who paints steampunk bugs, clockwork dolls, fairy tales, magick and myth. I also write stories... My technique is well rooted in traditional mediums such as oil paint and silverpoint. But I also work in the luminous tones of the digital palette; merging the labored craft of portraiture with the flexibility of modern mediums." ( See her ravens that open this post)

Brigid shared a few images with me of an upcoming project. Her Morrigan concept drawing is shown below with its initial sculpt. Brigid has licensed designs and is working with Pacfic Trading to see these goddesses come to life in detail and color. The second picture here is the first completed sculpt! I love it, and think it maintained Brigid's original detail, palette and symbolism. (Releasing soon. Sign up for her mailing list for details. )
Concept drawing and sculpt preview of B. Ashwood's Morrigan

The Morrigan by Brigid Ashwood. 
I do hope you will join is for the Raven theme challenge this month at AJE. There is still time. (Details here.) I personally just had an insane idea for a bead embroidered piece while looking at these artworks. Gotta go sketch... 

Artists featured in this post retain all copyright; images used with permission. For more information: 

Meredith Dillman's website and store
Stephanie Lostimolo website and Etsy  store
Jane Star Weils website and Etsy
Brigid Ashwood website and store


  1. Great post. Inspiring! Thanks for sharing my work with your audience. :)

  2. These are incredible! Always been fond of Ravens since they are the symbol of my Goddess


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