Morpheus Ravenna

Describe your artistic practice.

In my personal work I am drawn to painting mythic, divine, and otherworldly beings, spaces, and experiences and much of my work is devotional. For paintings of gods and spirit beings, my process often begins with devotional meditation and listening, and also immersing myself in imagery from the cultural context or landscapes that are home to the divinity. I also do magically activated sigil art which involves a ritual to create a sigil for the divinity, then the sigil becomes the structure around which the composition of the painting is designed.

I work primarily in oils, watercolor, and ink. Where the media will accept it, I love to add ingredients ethically collected near sites sacred to the divinities in the art, or materials otherwise consecrated to them.

I make my living as a tattoo artist specializing in ritual tattoo. Ritual tattoo design is informed by a similar process of devotional meditation, and contemplation of source material. I recognize tattooing as an initiatory art and in this my role is to serve as a facilitator and mediator, bringing holy powers and spiritual forces into contact with the client in a form that is recorded as living art in the skin.

Describe your religious practice.

I practice Celtic polytheism through the Coru Priesthood tradition, centered on my lifelong dedication to the Morrígan and devotional relationships with a broad family of Irish gods and spirits, as well as some Brittonic and Gaulish gods and spirits. I have had beloved relationships with gods beyond this broadly Celtic group, but the Celtic polytheist worldview and cosmology forms the structure of my practice. I am also a practicing witch, which is more folk magic than religious practice, however, my religious relationships with gods and spirits do support and empower my magical practice.

How do your artistic and religious practices intersect? How is this work differentiated from mundane or secular art?

Firstly, I'm helped by various gods and spirits who I relate to as patrons and guides of creative work. These are deities who can help bless and uphold my skill, as well as the spirits of artists who I relate to as creative ancestors or folk saints who are active in supporting creative work.

For me, because I exist in the world as an animist and polytheist and this orientation informs everything I do, all my personal work tends to carry some level of religious significance. As a polytheist, I believe that attention is devotion and so when I am in process of creating artwork centering holy powers, I am doing what is called "practicing the presence", sitting with the divinity for that time. Through this, their presence becomes seated in and animates the physical object of the art. In my experience, this happens whether or not I've performed outward ritual around the art. However, the clarity and power of the presence enshrined in an artwork can be greater, more focused, and more articulate when there is attention to the sacred in the process. I also feel that all art carries some of the life force of the artist, and art created within a ritual or devotional framework becomes a living being whose substance is composed of both the artist's life force and the presence of the divinities it's centered in. This shapes how we need to relate to and handle these art objects.

I distinguish more clearly between sacred and mundane work when it comes to work done for clients, especially tattoo clients, because there is a need for consent around any religious elements that I bring into work for others.

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