27 January 2008

How the Raven Gave us Stars

click image to enlarge
It was the raven who gave us stars. He stole them from a village next to a large river that ran from the mountains to the sea.

He made himself into a small pine needle, and dropped from a tree into a drinking cup. The village chief had a daughter who was drinking tea from that cup. And she swallowed the pine needle with her tea.

Once inside the chief's daughter, the raven changed from a pine needle to a baby. He was born soon after, and he was the chief's favorite grandson. The chief could deny him nothing.

The stars were highly prized by the villagers, and it was the chief's duty to guard them. They were held in a soft bag made from the belly of a white tail deer. The chief's daughter coloured the bag with blackberries so that the light from the stars would not shine through. But the raven was not fooled.

He cried for the bag. And at first his grandfather said, no. But the raven child made large tears to run down his beautiful face, and in the end the chief could not deny him. He gave him the soft bag to play with.

Just as soon as the grandfather gave him the bag, the raven pulled on the sash and let loose the stars. They poured upwards into the sky and spread all across, millions and millions till the bag was empty, and light was now sprinkling down from above.

[click image to enlarge]

31 comments:

Bobo Cat said...

Thanks for sharing this great story, perfect match with your illo.

tsduff said...

I'm in perfect love with your picture, and your fabulous story. ahhh - made me gasp to see your picture. Can you tell me which tribe the story is told by? That raven - one smart cookie eh?

Catnapping said...

Variations of the story are told among the tribes of the Pacific Northwest. I googled, and they mention the Tlingits and the Haidas.

I took a lot of liberties with the story. He stole the sun and moon, as well as the stars. I didn't want to put too much in the illustration, so I just stuck to the part about the stars.

And he took them from a cedar box, but I wanted something more...organic...softer, rounder.

The Raven, like the Coyote, is a trickster. He is used to tell cautionary tales to kids. He always puts his own needs before others, which is a cardinal sin amongst peoples who are raised to share. (a big no-no in our capitalist america!)

The thing is, the Trickster's schemes always end up screwed, and he inadvertently helps others, and finds, or is given, a chance to redeem himself.

I'm glad you liked him. I love making crows and ravens...they are my favorite birds.

Teri C said...

Gosh, this is a beautiful illo!!!! And the legend is great and perfect for this.

sbpoet said...

Gorgeous!

Thomas Paine said...

Great story, and great illustration.

studio lolo said...

Well you might have guessed I'm WOWED by this one! I "Googled" Native American tales and saw this one but couldn't think how to go about it. I decided to use one I had to continue my dream story. I'm so glad you did this Cat. It's amazing! The bag is luminescent and the stars and the raven are so magical.

Milan Rubio said...

Great story and great illo.

bookbabie said...

Wonderful illo and great story, perfectly told, sweetly and lyrically:)

tsduff said...

You must also be a fan of Charles deLint. Well done.

Gawpo said...

Oh my gosh. That story explains everything. I am very, very close to ravens, Ms. Cat. Tlingit and Haida theology, huh? Wow. So moving. When you see the world coming about in this way, one cannot help but respect all of its inhabitants. That story that has fundamentalism telling it incorrectly is a good one. But idiots place humans in a very judgmental, not-like-a-raven-and-stars category.

Just lovely, Natcapping!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous story Catnapping! The shades of colour in your illustration are also perfect! Beautiful :) I guess this means having a Raven for a totem isn't such a good thing ... but imagine not having stars or Ravens!

Doug said...

Great story!

Sarah said...

I'm a lover of all corvids myself - beautiful rich colours in your illustration and a charming story - thank you.

Mick said...

I had a bag full of those candy stars one time. When I undid the string, they fell out all over the ground ... dozens and scores and hundreds of them! Everywhere! My mum wouldn't let me pick 'em up though. Later that day - adding insult to injury - I saw some crows busy with them! :D

SOe said...

Thanks to the raven that he gave us the stars. Nice story and picture.

Laurie said...

That is a great post, Cat. You never cease to amaze me...I say that all the time, but I truly mean it.

dinahmow said...

Lovely! My IF is also about a trickster, but as it's raining it might be tomorrow before I can get it posted!

Tony LaRocca said...

Darn ravens, ruining everyone's fun!

ValGalArt said...

Exquisite story and picture. I'm sure the chief forgave him because in the end we all benefit!

Homo Escapeons said...

There is some truth to that lovely myth..
many Scientists agree that were it not for certain elements volunteered from celestial entities striking the Earth and releasing the missing ingredients for the creation of Life, that the blue-greens would have never come to pass and we wouldn't be here to enjoy your illustration.

Archaeopteryx said...

Brilliant. Beautiful.

Janice said...

this is beautifully presented..thankyou

LDahl said...

A couple of months ago I was in the backyard when two big ravens flew into the pine tree. They were giving me the birdie stretch and gabbing away at me, so when the third one arrived(even bigger than the other two) I gave them the birdie stretch back and said hello. They seemed to be very excited by this, but in a few moments flew off the branches and up, into the sky... as the last one spread his wings he said, "Hello!" as plain as day and flew away. Took me quite by surprise!
I really like how you told the story and your illo for it! It was a treat!

Michael Daunt said...

Cat:

You just keep getting better and better.

This is really terrific work.

Patia said...

Neat story and WONDER-FULL illustration!

Alina Chau said...

beautiful story!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I love this!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Fabulous legend! Wonderful illustration!

Janice said...

this is very cool... like the mostly dark colour key you used...

Borut said...

Not that different from the story of the birth of Christ after all!?:) The archetypal story behind seems clear: Man lives a dark existence…Somebody from above has to assume the human form and bring light into the world of men. The Man who is more than just a man…!?:)