Raven Steals The Light Picture

This image is based on the well known West Coast Aboriginal / First Nations tale of how light was brought to the world, through the craft of the great trickster, Raven. Three personal stock photos and two fractal flames went into its creation.

“Raven Steals the Light”

“Long ago, the earth was covered by darkness. Its inky blanket shrouded the world, making things difficult for anyone to hunt, fish, or gather berries for food. At this time, an old man lived along the banks of a stream with his daughter.

The old man had a box that held another box; that box contained many other boxes. In the very last one, was all the light in the universe. and this was a treasure he selfishly kept to himself.

The mischievous Raven had always existed, and he was not pleased about the state of the world, as he was forced to blunder about in the dark along with everyone else. His curiosity was piqued one day, when he stumbled by the old man’s hut, and overheard him muttering about his boxes. Raven listened, and then decided to steal the light, but first had to find a way to get inside the hut. He soon came up with a plan.

Each day the daughter would go to the stream to fetch water, so the Raven transformed himself into a tiny hemlock needle and floated into the girl’s bucket. Working more of his “trickster” magic, he made the girl thirsty and as she took a drink he slipped down her throat. Once within her, he changed again; this time into a small human being, and took a long nap.

The girl didn’t know what was happening to her, and didn’t tell her father. One day the Raven emerged as a little boy child. If anyone could have seen him in the dark, they would have noticed that he was a peculiar looking child with a long beaklike nose, a few feathers here and there, and the unmistakably shining eyes of the Raven.

Both father and daughter were delighted with their new addition, and played with him for hours on end. As the child explored his new home, he determined that the light must be kept within the big box in the corner. When he first tried to open it, his grandfather scolded him intensely. The Raven, seeing the opportunity, began to cry and howl in a way that only children can. As grandfathers have done since the beginning of time the old man relented, and gave the child the biggest box to play with. This brought peace to the hut for a brief time but it wasn’t long until the ‘child’ worked his magic again, and again, and again until finally only one box remained.

The old man, worn out by his grandson’s efforts, at last agreed to let the child play with the light.
‘. . . for only a moment. . .’
As he tossed the ball of light up in the air to the boy, the child transformed into the Raven and snatched the light in his beak. The Raven promptly flew through the smoke hole and up into the sky.

The world was instantly changed for all time. All was seen. Mountains sprang up into the sky, and reflections danced across the water. The Eagle was awakened by the radiance, and launched skyward; his target, though far in the distance, was now clearly in sight.

Raven was so enthralled by the newly revealed world that he almost didn’t notice the Eagle bearing down on him. Swerving quickly, to escape the outstretched talons, the Raven dropped nearly half of the ball of light. He watched as it fell to earth, shattering on the rocky ground, and the bits of light bounced back up into the heavens, where they remain to this day as the moon and the stars.

Eagle pursued Raven past the rim of the world, and Raven, exhausted by the long chase, let go of what light still remained in his grasp. Instead of dropping, it floated away, coming to rest gracefully above the mountains to the east. It became the sun.

The first rays of the morning sun brought light through the smoke hole of the old man’s house. He was weeping in sorrow over his great loss and looking up, saw his daughter for the first time. She was very beautiful, and smiled at him; he knew that he had lost one treasure, but revealed a world of others.”

This myth is shared by many Northwest Coast Nations, and remains their intellectual and cultural property.
No infringement is intended. The image is by J. I. Rogers ©2014

Raven Steals The Light
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