Friday, April 15, 2016

Supernatural Friday: How Raven Got His Black Feathers (Tlingit Myth)

There is a tale about Black and White Raven. It is derived from Tlingit mythology.
In the beginning the world was in total darkness. No light at all. An old man, Grandfather, lived with his granddaughter in a house. Grandfather owned a great chest within his house. It contained the sun, moon, and stars, and also sickness, disease, famine, mosquitoes, and other parasites which, if released in the atmosphere would cause great harm to man. (Not unlike the Pandora story).
Raven in his white spiritual form of the raven, was aware that Grandfather had these items in his possession, He had the most interest-in the sun which radiated light. He thought how he could obtain all this for the world. He noticed that the old man’s granddaughter would come out to fetch some water from a nearby stream, and she always stopped to take a sip of water before filling her pail;
Raven devised a scheme to disguise himself as a speck of dust to flow down the stream at the time granddaughter scooped up her first drink. He managed to flow into her cup and she swallowed him. Nine months later, to the happiness of Grandfather, Raven was born by granddaughter in the human form of a boy.  (He did not question how she got pregnant.)
When Raven was older, he asked grandfather about the contents of the great chest. Grandfather explained that under no circumstances was the chest to be opened by anyone other than himself. But as time went by, he allowed Raven to play with the sun and moon and stars to occupy his time, as the youngster had no one else to play with. Each time grandfather grew more trusting and let Raven play with these celestial objects, but always instructed Raven to return them to him to be placed back into the chest. Otherwise, famine, disease, sickness,  mosquitoes, and other parasites would be released in the atmosphere to harm man. But there came a time when Raven was the only one in the house. That was the moment to steal the sun, moon and stars and he changed into his true spiritual form of the raven. He opened the chest and took out all the celestial objects under his wing. At the same time, all the sickness and diseases known to man escaped. Raven flew to the top of a smoke hole in the great house, but because his wings were so full of the celestial objects, he could not get through the smoke hole. Grandfather had just returned and he saw Raven in his true form, realizing the trickster’s deception. He ran to the fire located below the smoke hole to rekindled the flame which caused a great heat and soot to rise and tarnish the feathers of Raven from white (which was his original color from the beginning) to black. Raven could hardly breathe from the heat and soot so he let the celestial objects go and managed to get away. Because the sun, moon, and stars had no control they flowed out of the smoke hole and assumed the space in the present positions they now hold.


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