My name is Richard Fairchild. As I write this I am slightly over 58 years of age. Both accident and choice has brought me to the place where I am now. (See the attached link).
My animal or totem name is Shining Raven. I was gifted with this name through a long process wherein, for a time my animal name was Ouligan, and for an even longer time it was Strong Black Bear.
A friend and brother "new warrior", ManWoman, painted my first drum with the image of a black bear. When my name changed to Shining Raven, when the Raven in me emerged and I claimed him - ManWoman repainted my drum - showing a Raven and the old black bear reborn as a Spirit Bear.
Nevertheless my drum did not have a a sound that entirely pleased me. Too loose to be tightened enough by holding it before a fire, the drum's tone and timbre just didn't cut it. It was bad enough to my unmusical ears that I will never know if extra paint made it sound worse. I believe it did not.
I needed a new drum. But as with names, so with drums. They are best gifted by the creator in some fashion or other and claimed and accepted by the recipient. That is my judgement anyway.
And the gift came to me. It came unexpectedly, out of the blue. My friend Larry, who is also recognized as a teaching elder among Metis in the Lower Mainland, honored me by giving me the first drum that he made with his own hands. I did not even know till the moment it happened that this is a tradition amongst certain Metis groups. A WOW! moment for me.
And then ManWoman gifted me by painting my animal name upon the drum. The result was another WOW moment for me. ManWoman also took a photograph of the drum and put up on this social network. That is the picture I am using here as my Profile picture.
Now I have chosen to use my animal name in my writing and sharing here and in other places on the internet. And to use my name (Richard Fairchild) in official documents and most of my relationships -- just as the Laws of Canada and of Good Sense suggest that I should.
Naturally I have made myself a judge of what the Law and what Good Sense consists of. And that leads me to word about Raven as I have come to understand both Raven and myself.
According to some people who are steeped in West Coast traditions, Raven is essentially narcissistic. Every Raven tale speaks of how Raven does good things not for the benefit of others, but for himself. Good and bad effects are incidental to Raven's essence. As Thomas George writes in Raven and the First People: Legends of the Northwest Coast:
When the people beseeched Raven for his help, he initially refused
for he did not get involved in the affairs of humans unless it affected
him (Raven Against the Southwest Wind)
and again from the introduction to the book:
The favourite character of most of these stories was without a
doubt Raven. Always out to satisfy his own needs, the Raven
spirit was seen as both good and bad in Native mythology.
I could go on and on and on. Especially if it is a story about me. My challenge in life, my work as a man among men and as a human being, is to be a Raven who Shines, who indeed brings light to the world, and who does it not simply to please himself, not simply as an accidental thing. Likewise my work is to NOT cause bad things to happen "by accident".
It is hard to be Raven at times. Poor me. Everything thinks we are tricksters and masters of deception. And poor me - sometimes I think that IS all that I am. My inner judge is ever ready to condemn me. But no victimhood here! Life is 90/10. And I do like it when I shine!
- Shining Raven +
Nov 15, 2010