Wednesday, April 22, 2009

8 Days....Day 8 has been rescheduled to respond to teachinfourth's blog "the crow"

Today I find myself at the end of my 8 days....and I am sad to see it go. I've really started noticing more and more things that delight me and I quickly found myself "out of time" so to speak, to list them all. Today was going to be a grand list of many things that make me happy.

That has been moved to a special Day 8 round-up post that will be listed tomorrow.

Why? Because of a blog by Teachinfourth that posted last night. In it he talks about one of my favorite creatures on the that definately was on my list of happy things....the crow.

I have loved crows for as long as I can remember. Sure they do not have the sleekness of the hawk, the beauty of bluejays and cardinals, nor the song of the sparrow...but something has always attracted me to them. Anyone who has ever seen a murder of crows soaring overhead has witnessed to their grace and majesty. Fallen feathers have shown a prism effect in their wings that I loved...a sort of hidden beauty in the depths.

Perhaps its because I was not attractive myself growing up...I was clumsy and awkward and felt out of place most of the time and was teased and ridiculed by my peers. Who know really; crows just always seemed to mean something...more. As I grew older and began to show interest in my heritage I found I am part Native American. Hmmmm...maybe some older, earthier part of myself had found its totem. I hid that secret thought deep inside for years thinking I was just being weird (as usual). Seriously, why in the world would someone want the crow as a totem anyway?

About 3 years ago I came across a reference in a book I was reading. It mentioned an old legend but didn't go into details...a passing mention more than anything in the narrative. It made me curious so I started looking into it. The story I found was amazing. I found myself thinking on it from time to time and it made my appreciation for the crow just that much more meaningful. Of course it is just a tale, but what a tale it was.

Why do I tell you this? Well, Teachinfourth's blog got me thinking (once again) of the mythology of how the crow came to be such a dark figure....a story I am sure many people have never heard, but always thrills me whenever I hear it. I am sharing that story today. Many different tribes have a variation of this story, passed down through storytellers throughout the generations...stories that are still told (and performed in dances) today. It is the story of the Rainbow Crow and this is my narrative.

Crow, you see, wasn't always such a dark and dismal figure. She was once celebrated among the People for her feathers of every color and her singing voice that was far sweeter than any songbird. She brought joy and lightness into the hearts of all that saw her soar and heard her soft song. Crow saw how her pressence eased the hearts of the People and strove to be near them. It was said that the Great Creator himself would turn his face to the world in order to hear her song clearer and to catch a glimpse of her beauty and the days were good.

One day the weather changed. Snow and ice began to fall from the sky, stirred by the winds. The snows piled deeper and deeper and the animals soon migrated away. The People were cold and starving, unable to leave their homes for fear they would not find them again in the drifting snows.

Crow heard the People's lament and knew she was not bound to the earth, blocked by mounds of snow. She decided she would fly until she found the Spirit of the Winds and ask him to stop stirring the snow and to blow warm winds to the lands again.

She set upon her journey and flew for days, sometimes just one wingbeat behind him, but not quite catching up, for the Spirit of the Winds was ever moving and never to be found in the same place for more than a few minutes. One morning luck was upon her for she found him swirling in an eddy in the corner of a valley and plead her case with him. The Spirit of the Winds was sorry but replied he could only work with what the Great Creator gave him. It was his job to blow the winds, regardless of what the winds brought. He suggested she speak to the Great Creator himself as it was he who had created the snows in the first place.

Tired from her journey, Crow nevertheless launched herself into the skies on her long journey to see the Great Creator. After endless days with no rest Crow reached the Great Creator and humbly gave her request. The Great Creator was touched by Crow's concern for the People but could not stop the snows. It was his way that what he thought of came into being and, once created, could not be unmade. Crow pleaded with the Great Creator, vowing to do anything he asked of her if he would only spare her People.

The Great Creator thought and then handed Crow a sacred stick. He told her the magic would not last, but if she was brave enough he would allow her to fly to the sun to bring fire back to the People. Crow thanked the Creator, took the stick and flew to the sun. Upon lighting the stick she turned on her journey homewards. In fear for her People, Crow flew as fast as she fast that the smoke from the burning stick began to dull her wings and burn at the back of her throat.

Crow returned and presented the stick to the People who rejoiced at the warmth she brought. She tried to join in but was startled at the loud caw that issued from her throat. What had happened to her beautiful song, she wondered. She then looked down and saw how the soot and smoke had burnt her feathers and how they were black and singed. In shame she hid from the People and cried tears over her loss. She did not regret what she had done, but worried over the price she had paid. How would she be able to lift the people without her song and glorious plummage?

Crow then heard a voice calling her from the distance. It was the Great Creator himself, come to see Crow. Crow hid herself in a thicket, not wanting to be seen in such a condition, but the Creator found her and called her from her hiding place. He admonished Crow for hiding away from the world when the world was rejoicing in the warmth she had brought.

The Creator stretched forth a hand and began wiping away the soot and the blackened feathers took on new life. When he was finished he stepped back and gave Crow a hard look. Her sacrifice, he said, would not be in vain. While it was true that he could not restore her voice or her glorious coat of feathers to their original form, he could bestow upon her a gift. Look down, he said gently as the sun's rays pierced the clouds and settled around her. Crow did as he asked and was astounded to see that in her black wings all the colors of the rainbow sparkled in their depths.

This, said the Creator, is my gift to you. It will stand as a reminder to the People of what you sacrificed in order to save them. And the People came and sang her praises and from that time on, Crow has been loved by the People. Her song became myth and her beauty forgotten. The People loved Crow more than ever and still rejoice in the gift that she gave to them.

For those who look closely, the crow still does hold all of the colors of the rainbow in her wings...


Gerb said...

Thanks for sharing that. What a great legend!

Teachinfourth said...

I've heard something similar before when my school used to do Expedition Red Rock...