Art journal your spirit animal

Hi guys, it’s Riet here. Today I want to show you my Raven Nest Journal. It’s about my spirit animal that I discovered last year. I dedicated a whole journal to the raven to honor his presence in my life and that he showed up for me.

So, sit down, have a cookie and make yourself comfortable.

BACKSTORY

Everything began in March when I suddenly started writing stories again after I quitted for seven years. It was a raven feather that inspired me. I don’t know why, I don’t know how but I was surprised and cautious. Later I noticed that three ravens had built their nest on my roof. I live in the heart of my city; it’s a very unusual place for ravens to settle down here. It was when I slowly began to believe that it was no coincidence that they wanted to live here.

Shamans call them spirit animals. Animals (i.e. symbols) that occur to us when we need them, a spiritual companion who helps us with our issues, challenges, situations or when we are trapped in a chapter in our life.
Different from totems which you have since birth spirit animals can come and go as they please, they can occur at any time in your life.
Sometimes they only stay for a short time until your difficulties are resolved and they taught you what you had to learn, sometimes they follow you your whole life.

I wanted to record and capture this journey. I wanted to create a place where I could process all the different meanings, dreams, messages and other thoughts and feelings that I had. The Raven Nest Journal was born. What followed were seven months of work. I needed so much time not because the pages were complex but because I needed a lot of time to process what was happening, what it all meant to me and how things showed up in my life. It was very personal stuff and I didn’t want to rush things. But by all means it’s not necessary for you to dedicate this so much time. You decide for yourself how much time you need. It’s up to you.

THE JOURNAL

I decided to use water color /mixed media paper as I knew I would use a lot of different mediums. The journal is hand bound which adds a nice touch of personality. I started with the cover as for me personally the cover sets the tone for the rest of the journal. It’s difficult for me to start without a cover, that’s where I always take my first step.

As you can see I used very little of ephemera or other pieces to glue down as I felt that my own drawings are more personal and thus add another touch of personality. I’m not very good at detailed drawings so I learnt to just draw their silhouette by researching their different movements, manners and other things. This helped me to capture the moments I saw them at my window or in my dreams. It didn’t bother me that the drawings wouldn’t look perfect. 

Then I researched legends and myths about ravens in order to find elements in the stories that I could incorporate. Which stories fascinated or inspired me? What could I include from them?
I found out that ravens stand for playfulness (I added different fold outs, cut out small circles, added a pop up raven) and magic (gold and glitter is magic for me) and so on. I tried to reflect these elements in my spreads.
Another thing that you’ll notice is that I wrote in my first language- German. This is a tip for bilingualists: usually I write in English in my spreads (because it gives me the opportunity to step back from hard feelings and use another language to write about difficult things) but this time I switched to my first language because it adds another touch of – you guessed it- personality. I was all about honesty and raw feelings here so it suited me to write in German. If you are bilingual then try this and see what effect it has on you and your pages.
I once read something that never left me, I can’t recall the exact words but it was something like this: when a spirit animal decides to visit you honor their presence, honor their lessons, honor the fact that they showed up for you. It would be rude to meet them with disrespect. I wanted to honor their presence by making a journal just for them as I was very grateful for everything they showed me.

YOU OWN THEMED JOURNAL

If you are still reading I’m proud of you. I hope by now that you feel inspired to dedicate a journal to something very special and personal to you. Themed journals give you the possibility to create a space to concentrate and sink into one topic, to evolve, learn and to really engage with your theme. If you hand bound your journal you can decide how many pages you want to use. A little journal is filled quicker than a bought one. And we all know what a great feeling it is to fill a journal from start to end.

TOTEMS

If you want to learn more about totems I highly recommend Vanessa’s Totems class to you! It will help you to open up your mind so magic and spirituality will find you!

Please feel free to ask questions and if you need help I’m here! I’m just a message away!

Riet

Riet lives with her husband near the coast in North Germany where she enjoys capturing her memories and feelings in journals and albums. If she isn’t covered in paint and glue she writes stories or photographs the nature outside her door.

40 Comments

  1. julia Thomas

    Oh you have so inspired me to make a fox journal! I saw a fox a few years ago for the first time and it looked into my soul, Since then I think I am a fox, or was before, or will be again. I love your raven work, it’s so inspiring and the way you wrote this, just beautiful <3

    • Riet

      Oh please do it, Jules! You will create incredible things! I remember the little fox illustration on your wall, I think your shared it on Instagram!
      Foxes are like raven tricksters and very, very interesting spirit animals.
      If I remember it correctly you are a big fan of Japan, aren’t you? Foxes play a huge role in the Japanese mythology! See, that’s the first hint for you! 😉 Follow it!

  2. Divyam Bernstein

    Wow, Riet! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Raven journal with us. This is so inspiring!

    • Riet

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Divyam! Sharing it with a group of people that ‘get’ it is the best!

  3. Eleanor McComb

    Ahhhh! I had to go back and read, because I just wanted to scroll through and look at all the pictures. It is such a beautiful journal. It is so true about using another language to step back from your feelings!!
    I really love this. So inspiring xx

    • Riet

      Haha! Glad you like the pictures and hope you enjoyed reading it!
      It’s quite fascinating to switch languages if it helps to process feelings!
      Thank you so much; Elly! <3

  4. Stephanie manic

    It’s amazing! I love this journal and the way you share with us! Thanks Riet!

    • Riet

      Thank you, Stephanie! It’s a pleasure for me to share it with you all!

  5. Sasha Zinevych

    Well you know my opinion of this journal, Riet! I think it’s pure magic, and it looks like an illustrated children’s book that I would buy for myself! Love how deep you dug in your research and how many interactive elements there are on your pages! Inspiration overload!

    • Riet

      Oh man, yes! There is really much in there and I had to cut it down for the blog post because otherwise I would have wrote even more!
      Interactive elements are my new favorite thing! They will find their way into my art journals again and again!
      Thank you so much for your words! I’d love to illustrate a book!

  6. Gilly Welch

    Wowee this is absolutely stunning & can see why it’s taken you 7 months! You’ve given me heart as I’m finding V’s Totems Class one of the best classes I’ve done, however I’m struggling a little to get all my research down into my journal. Thanks for the inspiration for me to keep this challenge going because it’s not coming easily I really need to dedicate more quality time – I’m definitely going to do it!!

    • Riet

      Please, please take your time, Gilly! You will create something really beautiful!
      When it comes to researches there is so much to find! You will be surprised how many things connect with other aspects of your life and your life in general! The process takes time because you need to translate the information into an art journal spread- no easy task but doable!
      In any case… I’m glad if I can help you! Wishing you a powerful journey! xo

  7. Deborah Hosaflook

    Your journal is amazing and I love how you took time to honor your spirit animal. I love that you took so much time to go deep into your feelings and let yourself be completely raw and open to everything. Such beautiful and heart felt work. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life!!!!!
    XXOO

    • Riet

      Thank you so much for your comment, Deborah!
      To share something so personal is never easy but knowing that other people might feel inspired or really understand you helps a lot! Thanks!

  8. Katie Smith

    Riet, This journal is pure magic. The art in it is wonderful and really inspires me.

    • Riet

      Thank you, my dear! I know that you can create the same magic! <3

  9. Ashley Rodgers

    I love this journal, Riet! The interactive elements are incredible and your drawings add an extra special touch. I can see how much work you put into it, and it’s so inspiring.

    • Riet

      Thank you, Ashley!
      I tend to add interactive elements everywhere now!
      It’s like they say: “You get what you give.” I gave this journal my heart (that’s not exaggerated) and I’ve got pure magic (that’s not exaggerated) back!

  10. Melody Willoughby

    I love this idea. I think your drawings are really good. I have been making more handmade journals lately and it is quite fun.

    • Riet

      Thank you, Melody! 😀 Very kind of you!
      I guess there is always more to improve when it comes to drawing but you can just get better when you train it, right? 😉
      And you are so right- handmade journals are my favorite! They have so many possibilities!

  11. Charlotte

    Riet this is everything! The journal is fabulous, but most of all your explanation is so inspiring. I hope I’m remembering correctly, but a little while ago I think you mentioned this journal, and its meaning on Instagram and I remember then being so inspired by your words. I’m not sure about my spirit animal (I admit I find it a difficult concept to get my head around) but I definitely want to try more deep, themed journals, as well as trying to write again. (Like you, I haven’t written poetry for probably over seven years.) I’ve never tried journaling in my second language (German!) but I really want to try!!

    That became an essay-comment, whoops (my first on the GM blog, yay!) but I had to share how inspired I am! Thank you. Hugs!

    • Riet

      I’m honored that your first comment was for me! <3
      And I'm an avid reader, I love essays! 😉 Thank you so much, Charlotte!

      Yes, I shared it on Instagram. #theRavenNestJournal is the hashtag! I shared pages and thoughts, some of my dreams and feelings there! 🙂

      I understand that you find it a difficult concept- believe me, before I made up my mind about this I was like "Spirit animals? Yeah, too much woo-woo for me."
      But I've always been open minded and it only takes a little bit of believing to open the gates for spirituality. You can gain so much from that experience!
      Anyway I think that deep themed journals are on the same level. Deep work is always fruitful!

      I'd love to hear more of your journey and how it evolves for you in case you share it somewhere!

  12. Suzanne

    Love it!!! Love your ravens! Love the journal! Very inspiring! I’m wondering about my current spirit animal now..

    • Riet

      Oh, thank you! <3
      You might want to start with the question to which animals you always feel drawn to?
      Is there one you love since a long time? What is it that you find so inspiring about them, what do they mean to you? These are questions that only you can answer!

      For an example the raven showed up surprisingly for me but I love deers since my childhood and they are companions whose meaning I still have to find out.
      I'd say begin with the animals that run like a thread through your life and try to find out why. When a new animal shows up you will recognize it as a spirit animal! 🙂

  13. Lea

    This is great. Last summer I kept seeing coyotes and researched the meanings and really felt drawn to them as a spirit animal. I wrote about it in my “normal” journal but love the idea of documenting it creatively in an art journal. Thanks for sharing your personal story!

    • Riet

      Oh wow! Coyotes are like ravens tricksters which means they carry grand knowledge but also bring playfulness into it and they are very powerful spirit animals! There is a lot of wisdom to find!
      Thank you! I hope you feel inspired to bring your coyote to life on a page! xx

  14. Thea marie østerholt

    This is so beautiful and inspiring, thanks for sharing!

    • Riet

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Thea!

  15. Anna Oliveira

    Your journal is beautiful and you are very talented. You rock! 😀
    This week I was thinking about make a simple journal to separate some poetries from my art journal. You inspired me more to do it. Thank you. ^_^

  16. Alexandra merlin

    I loved reading your story Riet, your pages are the most beautiful and inspiring ! Thank you so much for sharing it here.

    • Riet

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Alexandra! I’m glad that I was able to inspire you!

  17. Elizabeth D.

    This is absolutely magic, Riet! Thank you so much for sharing. Ravens are important symbols for me too and so I found this especially engaging. Beautiful work!

    • Riet

      Oh, another raven lady! <3
      I'd love to hear your story, Elizabeth!

  18. Rebecca

    This is such a gorgeous dedication to the raven, Riet, and I loved reading about your process and how you came to realise the raven was your spirit animal and the distinction between that and a totem. The cut outs and personal drawings really speak to me as I’m fascinated by birds (and magic!). Such a special, personal journal and journey you’ve recorded. Thanks so much for sharing xx

  19. Cindy Blood

    I love this journal, especially the page where you’ve cut out the bird shapes along the top edge. Ravens are incredible animals, and are a long-time favorite of mine. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your art!

  20. Julianna Stockton

    I so loved reading more of the meaning behind the art and about your process over time… really really inspiring! A great reminder to me to not be afraid to “go deep” and take on a meaningful project, and give it time to come to its own fruition (if that makes any sense)

  21. Misty Granade

    So beautiful! I just keep coming back to look at it again and again.

  22. MothersRuin

    I was so happy to see your journal. I have been researching Ravens and the myths and folklore that surround them. Something about them speaks to me, and finding your journal just randomly today tells me I am on the right path. I loved reading about your process, inspiration and the beautiful art that came of it. Thank you!