The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography

The Quest for Creative Inspiration,
Imagination and Personal Iconography

I photographed this bird in the Himalaya—
in Bhutan, a place of the Raven Gods.

As some know, I have a long history with Ravens—the birds. This comes from earlier, childhood and mystical encounters with these birds; in fact, my fascination extends to the entire class of Corvids which includes the Crows, the Magpies and Jays, up north, the Hooded, Canadian Camp Robbers.

And, everywhere else in the planet—there they are.

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography

You can read the story of that encounter, which set in place long-running contemplation of the personality and intelligence of these birds. More intriguingly, it’s the intellect of the birds that enables this relationship. For me, to personal applicability, that would be characterized by sentience, quiet and closely-studied observation, which—as a studier of these birds, you can see. You can see them looking at you. Carefully, sitting at vantage points, watching.

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography

And too, what else aligns these birds as personal icons for me, my life in nature? It comes to an etymological observation, the history of words—that supports an exploration with these birds, I’m thinking about the hunger that is beneath the hunger. The ravenous hunger for inspiration. To that, I’m talking less about food and more about the notion of the food beneath food—that is, what drives the hunger itself?

Would that be the hunger of emptiness? Or rather, or the hunger towards a state of fullness?

When that notion of hunger emerges in the meditation of the creative place
—the place of making—what does that mean?

There is a hunger that lies beneath, which speaks to another drive to action. That is the passion, the heated fire for building, making, drawing on—and from—the fire that lies within that sensing of hunger, the curiosity quest to learn more, know more: understand; it is the imagining, the dreaming delirium that mixes the senses of memory and experienced recollection; that which is known and that which is forgotten. The ravenous, the taking by force is part of that condition—it’s the drive to
gather-in a kind of penultimate energy.

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography
A block of stone with a brush drawn Raven, perched in a Yew tree.

In my own experience, the hungered drive to recall the beginning, the opening possession of the Ravens in my life, allegorically and otherwise— would be to be possessed by the creative influence, the flowing lava of creativity–this drive is fueled by the hunger to create. That is—to metaphor and allegory—the character of being creative, the hunger, the RAVE to make things, to create something. For you and I, it is all-consuming.

A person in this condition, can not be doing anything but making. That sparking doesn’t go out; it keeps smoldering — like the feeling of hunger. Emptiness filled.

It is creatively—full-filling. That is to rave on . . .

I got an email from the OED team about raven, the verb, which is perhaps aligned with the bird, my totemic icon, it sparked a meditation of its own concordance.

To “raven”—how could that relate to this experience of the
creative exaltation.

Here’s their analysis [distinctly, per the Oxford Dictionary legacy of word-history, team-based notations, as based on examples of historical usage] of the history of the use of the word, raven—I’ve edited and shortened:

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈravn/, U.S. /ˈræv(ə)n/
15 rauyne, 15 ravyn, 15 ravyne, 15–16 rauen, 15–16 rauin, 15–16 rauine, 15–16 rauyn, 15–16 ravine, 15– raven, 16 18– ravin; Eng. regional (Yorks.) 18 ravvin, 18– ravven.
Etymology: < ravin n.1 Compare Old French raviner to take off by force (12th cent., rare), to stream, rush (12th cent.), Middle French, French raviner to furrow (the earth, etc.) with gullies or ravines (a1592).

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography

Compare ravish v., rapine v.
Although there is no direct evidence for the verb before the 16th cent., the evidence for the apparent derivatives ravener n., ravening n., and ravening adj. perhaps suggests currency in the 14th and 15th centuries.

With sense 4 compare ravenous adj.

a. trans. To take away (esp. property) by force; to seize or divide as spoil; to carry off as prey. Also with away. Now rare.
Formerly spec. in the usage of Quakers, after (e.g.) quot. a1690.
a1513 R. Fabyan New Cronycles Eng. & Fraunce (1516) I. ccxxxvii. f. clix, His mouable goodys were spoyled and Rauenyd amonge ye Kynges offycers.
1539 C. Tunstall Serm. Palme Sondaye sig. E, All thy goodes‥rauened broken and distrybute in thy presence, that euery rauenor may haue his share.
1593 Queen Elizabeth I tr. Boethius De Consolatione Philosophiæ in Queen Elizabeth’s Englishings (1899) i. pr. iii. 7 While they be busy to rauyne vnproffitable baggage.
1602 R. Carew Surv. Cornwall i. f. 3, The encroaching Sea hath rauined from it, the whole Countrie of Lionnesse.
1621 D. Calderwood Altar of Damascus vi. 154 That which they spoyle and raven in other places, there, sayth M. Cartwr[ight], they spend and make good cheere with.
1657 G. Thornley tr. Longus Daphnis & Chloe 175 Nor had the Wolf raven’d away so much as one.
a1690 G. Fox Jrnl. (1694) I. 19 Who inwardly ravened from the Spirit, and brought people into the Form.
1700 G. Keith Serious Call to Quakers 1/1 You are all under the Curse in another Spirit ravened from the Spirit that was in the Apostles.
1721 C. Leslie Theol. Wks. II. 47 So it is when one Quaker’s Light does cross another’s, (for cross they do) then each damns the other’s Infallibility, and says, that he is ravened from the true Light.
1931 J. Clayton St. Hugh of Lincoln ix. 76 Not a lamb in his flock should be ravened by foresters or others while Hugh was bishop without the offender being brought to judgment.

b. intr. To plunder; to seek after or for spoil or booty; to go about with intent to plunder; (later also more generally) to maraud, rampage.
1570 J. Foxe Actes & Monumentes (rev. ed.) II. vii.1096/1 The souldiers‥raungyng about the confines therof, rauened, and made hauocke on euery side, of what soeuer they could lay handes on.
1603 M. Drayton Barrons Wars i. vii. 3 [Blood-thirsting warre] Transferd by fortune to the Scottish meare, To ransack that, as it had rauin’d heere.
1621 J. Molle tr. P. Camerarius Living Libr. ii. xvi. 125 He goes unto the wars to filch and rauen.
1670 C. Cotton tr. G. Girard Hist. Life Duke of Espernon iii. ix. 442 That they might not be disturbed whilst busie ravening after Booty.
1767 T. Neville tr. Virgil Georgics iv. 92 Wide all around they waste, and ravening seize.
1858 Gladys of Harlech I. ix. 159 Think how soon they [sc. the walls] must be polluted by the vulgar soldiers, ravening for plunder.
1865 T. Carlyle Hist. Friedrich II of Prussia VI. xx. iv. 92 His Croats and loose hordes went openly ravening about.
1930 R. A. Taylor Invitation to Renaissance Italy iv. 82 You see‥Poggio ravening after manuscripts, slinging swift Latin at his adversaries.
1952 G. Grigson Gardenage iv. 32 Since the pale persicaria arrived in New Zealand some fifty years ago, it has ravined about the two islands,‥growing now and again in a stupendous plenty.
2006 Star Phoenix(Saskatoon, Sask.) (Nexis) 1 Apr. e15 On September 1, 1939, the Nazi blitzkrieg ravened across the borders of Poland.

a. intr. To eat voraciously; to feed hungrily or greedily; (also) to prey on or upon. Also fig.
1530 J. Palsgrave Lesclarcissement 679/2, I ravyne, I eate hastyly or gredyly. Je briffe. He is an horryble lurtcher, se how he ravyneth.
1545 T. Elyot Preseruatiue agaynste Deth sig. B.vi, The couaitous desyre of riche men is euer vnsaciable. It alwaye raueneth and neuer is satisfied.
1585 Abp. E. Sandys Serm. vii. 110 For greedie cormorants to rauen vpon.
1603 H. Crosse Vertues Common-wealth sig. H2v, The fish Polipus‥doeth rauen vppon other fishes.
1638 T. Abington tr. Gildas Epist. 44 Neither yet was it objected that the Britaines having beene long starved with oppressing povertie, would greedily raven on the English riches and Possessions.
1667 R. Allestree Causes Decay Christian Piety ix. 247 Those wild irregular flames which ravine and consume.
1748 R. Poole Jrnl. 10 Dec. in Beneficient Bee (1753) 193 All Nature‥becoming now voratiously inclined towards each other,‥the Stronger ravening upon the Weaker.
1811 T. Jefferson Writings (1830) IV. 164 Our printers ravin on the agonies of their victims.
1894 E. Œ. Somerville & ‘M. Ross’ Real Charlotte I. xii. 168 They [sc. dogs] were permitted to raven unchecked upon chicken bones, fat slices of ham, and luscious leavings of cream.
1965 E. Dahlberg Reasons of Heart 60 When man’s life is hopeless no bird of prey appears to raven upon his melancholy identity.
1994 M. Gurewitch Ironic Temper & Comic Imagination iii. 140 The blood-crazed sharks ravening on a dead whale suspended from the side of the Pequod.

b. trans. To devour (food, prey, etc.) voraciously; to wolf down (also with up, †in). Also fig. Now rare.
1557 R. Edgeworth Serm. very Fruitfull f. cccix, The Dyuell hath hys misticall bodie, compacte and made of suche as he hath rauende and swalowed vp by theyr sinnes.
1560 Bible(Geneva) Ezek. xxii. 25 Like a roaring lion rauening the pray.
a1571 J. Jewel Expos. 1 Thess. (1611) 91 The fishes belly destroieth those things which they rauine.
1581 A. Hall tr. Homer Iliad ii. 28 In the leaues he [sc. a dragon] sparrowes found‥Which sodainly he rauend vp.
1603 R. Knolles Gen. Hist. Turkes 833 Certaine young men‥like greedie Harpies rauened it downe in a moment.
1607 E. Topsell Hist. Fovre-footed Beastes 303 If he rauen it in, as he wil do hauing much at a time.
1653 T. Urquhart tr. Rabelais 2nd Bk. Wks. ix. 66 If you will but set me to work, it will be as good as a balsamum for sore eyes, to see me gulch and raven it.
1683 T. Tryon Way to Health 648 Saturn and Mars‥with a fierce hunger destroy and raven up the friendly Properties and Preservatives of Life.
1723 R. Burrow Civil Society & Govt. Vindicated 26 That Passage describing Men, who ought to have acted the Part of Shepherds, as Wolves ravening the Prey.
1814 H. F. Cary tr. Dante Inferno xxxii. 124 As bread Is raven’d up through hunger.
1819 in J. Keats Let. 15 July (1947) 360 It is astonishing how they raven down scenery like children do sweetmeats.
1875 J. R. Lowell Poet. Wks. (1879) 458/2 ‘Gainst Self’s lean wolf that ravens word and deed.
1949 D. Smith I capture Castle v. 54 Those five Bennets‥simply waiting to raven the young men at Netherfield Park.
2004 Antioch Rev. 62 602 Rather than needing society less when we work alone, we need it more, ravening down every blurb and book review we receive, desperate for any scrap of praise tossed our way.

3. intr. To prowl ravenously after prey; to go out or about in search of food. Cf. ravening adj. 1.
1560 Bible(Geneva) Gen. xlix. 27 Beniamin shall rauine (as) a wolfe.
1577 B. Googe tr. C. Heresbach Foure Bks. Husbandry iii. f. 155v, Let them want no meate, for yf they doo, they wyll for hunger rauen abrode.
1657 F. Roberts Mysterium & Medulla Bibliorum iii. iii. 504 As a Wolf or Tyger, if you knock out their teeth, pair their nails, chain them up, &c. for the while they will forbear ravening; but set them at liberty, they will raven still.
1680 H. More Apocalypsis Apocalypseos 124 His feet‥which are his strength and instrument of action to raven and prey with.
1739 Psalms of David in Metre xxii. 43 Their Mouths they op’ned wide on me, Upon me gape did they, Like to a Lion ravening And roaring for his prey.
1876 M. M. Grant Sun-maid I. i. 37 Fierce fiery lions went ravening to and fro.
1940 M. de la Roche Whiteoak Chron. i. xxiv. 148 Your mother simply ravens about the frying-pan and makes Renny lose his head so that the baby’s egg is broken.
1985 Financial Times (Nexis) 11 Apr. i. 12 The fact that the U.S. group includes a stockbroker‥and an upmarket bank‥only adds to its image of a wolf ravening for wealthy clients.

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography
Tippi Hedren | The Birds | ©1963 Universal Studios

4. intr. Chiefly in progressive tenses.
a. To have a ravenous appetite, craving, or desire for, or to do something. Also with after.
1607 Trag. Claudius Tiberius Nero sig. G, Didst thou not see her yawning sepulchre Rauening to swallow vp my Emperie?
1669 Dryden Wild Gallant iv. i. 59 She‥ravins mightily for green-fruit.
1684 Enq. Barbarous Murder Earl of Essex 75 [They] have been like Wolves ravening to shed Blood, and to get dishonest Gain.
1701 B. Jenks Medit. l. 245 They Doat upon the World, and are Bewitcht with the Love of their Sins, and Ravening after the Meat for their Lusts.
1739 J. Merrick in tr. Tryphiodorus Destr. Troy 127 The comparison of Wolves ravening for their prey is much more applicable to the Greeks invading the Trojans, than to the Trojans endeavouring to defend themselves.
1799 tr. J.-F. Bourgoing Mem. Pius VI II. xxvi. 251 A crowd of wretches ravening for carnage run about the streets.
1839 Times 12 July 6/1 Such be the meed of mean hypocrisy and selfishness, which assumes the garb of patriotism, and is inwardly ravening for plunder!
1892 S. Baring-Gould In Roar of Sea II. xxii. 33 Here’s my brother thirsting, ravening to make your acquaintance.
1948 Jrnl. Polit. 10 608 He was never poor like Shaw, Wells, Sidney Webb‥or like Balzac, ravening for more than he had.
1999 D. M. Kennedy Freedom from Fear xxii. 818 He had fifteen carriers on station, embarking nearly a thousand aircraft‥. He ravened to go.

b. Originally: to rage with hunger. Later without construction: to be extremely or intensely hungry; to be ravenous. Also fig.
1830 J. Leslie et al. Narr. Discov. Polar Seas vii. 265 These animals continued through the whole winter ravening with hunger.
1858 H. Bushnell Serm. for New Life 66 Those divine affinities in us that raven with immortal hunger.
1881 Blackwood’s Edinb. Mag. 129 194 If I know anything of your constitution‥you must have been ravening hours ago.
1918 U. Sinclair Profits of Relig. vii. 300 We are the representatives of a starving class, which thinks about its belly precisely as does any individual who is ravening with hunger.
1938 D. Lloyd George Truth about Peace Treaties I. vi. 307 The resurrected nations rose from their graves hungry and ravening from their long fast in the vaults of oppression.
1987 R. Harris Summers of Wild Rose (1991) xv. 127 Lunch, Princess? Great. I’m ravening again.

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography
A raven couple, in Paro, Bhutan

To my take—I align them, Raven and hunger; Raven and GIRVIN’s moniker of creative intelligence, and the review of the string of the word, the verb—speaks of that fuse of the threading cord of the creative ignition. What is lit and enflamed as the sparking travels the length of the line of living.

I realize this is probably more in-depth than most students of linguistics and etymology might examine—still, to know is to dig deeper, further in, farther to grasp more. The historical content above came from

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Copyright © for the emailed content above, highlighted in the rust coloration, is registered by the Oxford University Press 2011—kindly note that the intertwining of Raven and hunger comes from me—and that, studying the farthest reaches of the word origins for Ravens and Crows speaks, most anciently, to the sounds that the birds make, according to Phil Harper’s gathering, as: [Late Old English ræfen, refen, earlier hræfn (Mercian), hrefn, hræfn (Northumbrian, West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *khrabanaz (source also of Old Norse hrafn, Danish ravn, Dutch raaf, Old High German hraban, German Rabe “raven,” Old English hroc “rook”), from a PIE root imitative of harsh sounds (compare Latin crepare “to creak, clatter,” cornix “crow,” corvus “raven;” Greek korax “raven,” korōnē “crow;” Old Church Slavonic kruku “raven;” Lithuanian krauklys “crow”). Old English, by a normal alteration of –fn, also used hræmn, hremm.] And Crow [birds of the genus Corvus (the larger sort being sometimes called ravens), Old English crawe, which is held to be imitative of the bird’s cry. Compare Old Saxon kraia, Dutch kraai, Old High German chraja, German Kräke. Also other imitative bird-names such as Greek krex, krekos.]

The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography
I listen to the call of the Ravens.
A creative influence for the last 60 years.

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The Quest for Creative Inspiration, Imagination and Personal Iconography
Japanese Woodblock print from GIRVIN’s collection