Interesting experience tonight. I'm knocking around on Facebook, looking up people from my past and I looked for Mark Whitear, who I was once married to from 1992 to 2001. Didn't find him, but I found Ryan, Keri, Sarah and Porter. Then I saw you and out of curiosity did a search and found your website and blog. OMG! What an amazing woman and artist you are! Who knew??
What I found most interesting was that I went to Alaska in May, that I was born in Massachusetts (near Salem, in Danvers, which was where the witch trials actually took place anyway) and that while in Arizona a couple weeks ago I had some very unusual interaction with ravens and have been studying raven medicine since. I'm also an artist, but not nearly as accomplished and bold as you are. I still work in corporate America, because, truth be known, I like the money. But there's a part of me that is always the artist, the wild woman, the adventurer. Most recently I did a couple watercolors at Lake George, NY where Georgia O'Keeffe spent a few summers.
I moved back to New England in 2004 for a couple of different reasons: 1) it was a symbolic starting over 2) something inside told me to, and more and more I listen to that Something. Now I live on the other side of Massachusetts from Salem, in the Berkshires, near the New York border, in a 150 year old house across from a cemetery.
But I'm rarely home except on weekends because I do banking project management and I travel a lot. Right now I'm in a hotel in Rhode Island.
Anyway, I'm so blown away by your artwork and would absolutely love to buy a raven painting from you! Do you have anything for sale, not too large?
Also, if you could say hello to Porter for me. How is he doing? I haven't talked with Mark for at least 3 years now.
This is the next e-mail I got, she gave me permission to reprint in my blog. I was going to edit it but her writing style is too good. Parts of it are very personal and heartfelt. This is the painting I created to go with her raven experience.
I would like you to paint a raven for me based on your artistic interpretation of my encounters in Arizona, in November.
I’ll tell you the story...
Although I was born in Massachusetts, my parents moved us to Arizona when I was 4 years old, so that’s where I grew up and lived until 1981, when I moved to Wyoming, then Utah, then back to Wyoming (back in the days when I was with Mark).As background to this story, my upbringing was rather dicey because my father sexually abused me and my mother was completely unable/unwilling to deal with the situation, even though I told her about it more than once. She was so completely repressed and shut down emotionally that the only way she could deal with it was to ignore it. My voice wasn’t heard and she had never developed one so she couldn’t protect me. I’ve been working to regain my voice and power for many years.
My mother died in 2004, the year I moved back to Massachusetts to begin my life again (for the umpteenth time) but this time owning my power and experiences. I flew back to Arizona to be with her and spent the last days of her life with her. I was with her at the moment of her physical death. (That experience is a whole other story!)
I was upset for some time afterward because I couldn’t feel my mother’s presence after her death. Maybe because she hadn’t really been “present” in my life all along? After the deaths of other family members and close friends I have had visitations and interactions of all sorts, so this was disturbing to me. Where was my mother? I felt abandoned yet again.
I have been working with a therapist for some years now on processing my childhood, and healing from all the fallout of my early misadventures in addiction and running away. In fact, I met my therapist in NA in Nebraska when Mark and I moved there in 1999. (That is yet another story…I’m full of them...I'm in the process of writing a book called “Zsa Zsa Whitaker, the Early Years”.)
Mark went out of his mind in the next year or two after that. He didn’t want me to do therapy, get involved with “woo-woo” (occult, etc.), become a vegetarian or practice Yoga; all of which I was led to do by the power greater than me that somehow is IN me, and somehow IS me.
Enough about that. Back to the Arizona story…
In September I found out my father has inoperable, terminal lung cancer with only months to live. I have been working with him to resolve the bullshit from childhood. I have confronted him twice and said what I needed to say. Once in 2001 and again in 2007. We have a relationship, but it’s not comfortable and I’ve wanted to run from it. Instead I face it, and use it, to continue to take back my power.
I’m working on forgiveness and love, but that is a journey, not an event. Now comes the end of his life, so I need to do what I need to do while I still have the chance. I don’t know how that will play out from now until he dies. (I will return to Arizona in early February, if not before.)
I have a sponsee I’ve been working with for over 4 years. She has a lot of the same background as I do. She came on my trip to Arizona with me last month. She had never been to the Southwest and has become interested in Native American spirituality lately (by attending Navajo sweat lodge ceremonies in New England led by someone who comes up periodically from Chinle, AZ) so she begged me to take her to Arizona, a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts. She stayed the first 4 days of the trip with me, then flew home. I stayed in Arizona an additional week after she left to visit my father and other family members.
The first 4 days while she was there we explored Northern Arizona…the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Jerome and some other out-of-the-way places I’ve been drawn to over the years. It is a powerful area for me and for many people. We went to these spiritual places to pray and meditate. I was preparing for my visit with my father and she was letting go of a relationship. We both asked for strength and healing.
There is a new Buddhist Stupa in Sedona that blows my socks off when I go there. The energy is phenomenal. My son brought me there last time it was in Arizona and I couldn’t wait to go back. The experience did not disappoint.
The ravens first came when we were at the Grand Canyon, two of them. They were amazing! They were huge and black and came close to us, very close, and landed. Then they would fly out over the canyon and soar for a while and then fly close to us and land again. It was breathtaking! They were definitely bringing a message to us, we both recognized that they were communicating something, but neither of us was familiar with raven medicine and weren’t sure what it meant. We were mesmerized by them and talked about the encounter for days afterward, and still do!
The rest of the trip we continued to get raven messages. We saw Native American raven fetishes in Sedona. I bought one for me that I now keep by my bedside, and one for her. We went to a psychic fortune teller in Sedona who mentioned that we should pay attention to the signs we had seen. We found raven art in Jerome, an old ghost town that is now mostly an artist colony. I bought a beautiful card depicting a raven (a print of an original painting) at a gallery there.
When we went to Prescott to have dinner with my son and daughter-in-law, they took us to a restaurant called “The Raven”. We had not told them of our raven experiences. There were murals of ravens on the walls.
Another significant thing that happened while we were there…my mother came to me twice, finally…6 years after her death. The first time was at the Stupa in Sedona. My sponsee and I were meditating there and I suddenly felt my mother’s presence, very strong. It was unmistakable, and I hadn’t been thinking of her, or trying to contact her. The message isn’t clear to me yet. She showed me the box from her favorite kind of perfume “Red”. That was all. Not the bottle, not the frangrance, just the box. She was clearly there and sending me a message. I’m sure of that, even though, just like with the ravens, I’m not sure what the message is. Yet.
Later that same day, in Jerome, in an art gallery called Angels Inn Gallery (a different gallery than where we had found the raven art) a woman in the corner was making an angel out of clay. There were many of these angels in the gallery, different sizes. She called to us to come see what she was doing. We went over to her and she said she wanted us to see this particular angel, because the angel has a name. She said she never names her angels but this one was named “Grace”. That was my mother’s name! Again, I felt her presence. And I have felt it since coming back to New England. Not constantly, but off and on. Once I was changing channels on the television in the hotel, which I rarely turn on, but was looking for the weather channel. Suddenly there on the screen was the word “GRACE” in large scrolled letters taking up most of the screen. It was one of those religious shows…but it freaked me out. Hi, Mom!
So then last night I found your website and saw the ravens and knew I should contact you. I’m sure you’re supposed to paint the raven for me, but I have a feeling there is more to it than that. We shall see!
By the way, I remember when your mother was dying and Porter came to stay with us. The morning we found out she died, Porter and I planted tulips for her. He picked out the bulbs himself. They came up beautifully in the spring and I still have the pictures of them and the memory of that morning. They were called “Queen of the Night”. They are almost black, as close to black as the hybridists have been able to produce.
So, I will let you paint the raven however you think it should be painted. You will know how to do it. I really like the Gold Raven, perhaps you could adapt it, but I will leave that up to you. Please make the size about 12 inches square, or something close to that. It doesn’t need to be square, it can be rectangular. You decide, but nothing bigger than that. (I want it for a particular space in the house.)
I will send a deposit, or pay in advance if you want. Just let me know how you want to proceed.
It was wonderful to hear from you! Thanks for responding so quickly. I hope to hear from you again soon.
This is the e-mail I received after she got the painting!
Happy Holidays! I got "Messengers" in the mail on Thursday. I absolutely love it...thank you SO much! My husband, Sam, likes it too. I've bought a dozen paintings and pieces of art in the last couple years and he said your piece is his favorite. High praise indeed. I've bought some pretty good stuff. :)
I'm attaching another selection of my writing that I thought you might enjoy, inspired by the same trip to Northern Arizona, and past memories. It was immensely helpful to write it.
Hi to Porter.
The light is returning! Yay!!