Raven flew straight to the river where he’d last seen Otter with hopes of locating her close to the spider’s web. Indeed! he wondered, Would it still be there? The web was easy to find; Otter, wasn’t. He spiraled upwards for a higher perspective in the area of the now tattered web; but he found no trace of her nor of the mysterious spider who wove the orb.
The weather, however, was cooperative. The sun continued to shine and the mists dissipated in its heat, tendrils of steam caressing the trees. Raven flew back down the river to where a series of shallow rapids ended at the braided, boulder-strewn mouth. Here the stub-tailed, gray Dippers dove into the water searching for aquatic bugs to feed their numerous broods. Here is also where he’d seen Otter snatching fish from the pools before they moved upstream during the migrations. Raven really didn’t expect her to be there and was pleasantly surprised to see her basking on one of the rocks.
He flew over her body, casting a shadow across her face. She looked up and lazily slid off the rock and entered a deep pool upriver. He landed on the rock and waited for her to resurface. Otter took her time chasing down a meal of salmon smolts, young salmon resting in the pool before completing the last leg of their seaward journey. At last her hunger appeased, she climbed out of the pool, shook water vigorously off her pelt and joined Raven on the rock. She chuckled but instead of being irritated by it, he felt somehow comforted.
Otter stretched and carefully began grooming her fur. Raven cocked his head studying Otter, much like Hummingbird did with him when they sat together on the web. Hummingbird knew Raven almost too well and now he wondered how well he knew Otter. It had been lifetimes since they had spent spirit time with one another, a time so distant, his memory of it remained sketchy.
Otter, sensing his need to talk about the task just completed and remembering Raven’s propensity for questions, decided to set the tone of their discussion, first by speaking in the universal awareness of all tuned to the Spirit of Mystery: through imaging and telepathic thought. She began by refreshing his memory by sharing many of their episodic adventures from lifetimes spent together as archetypes of creation.
She related to him that after his sister’s death, because he showed an ease in communication with the realms, Otter took on the task of training Raven in land and water magic. As she continued to fill in the history, his memory of the events began returning. Raven remembered shape-shifting and flowing into her universe of rushing waters, tidal shifts and migrating salmon, of fulling living in the moment. But when he was ready to leave her and seek a teacher who could teach him the magic of flight, he became infatuated instead with a newly-emerging life form: humanity.
Raven, however, struggled in remembering the string of events involving humans that caused him to lose favor within the spirit realms. Otter patiently aided Raven in piecing his lengthy story together, answering his many questions. No matter how reluctant Raven was in hearing some of his indiscretions, he knew he must be truthful with Otter, but even more important, truthful with himself.
He had started out full of curiosity and compassion for the humans and willingly helped them reach their potential as stewards of the land. Ancient stories abound with how he helped in their emergence. But Raven became bored with their eagerness yet at the same time growing fond of their modern representations: the artwork and masks, the jewelry, the ball teams that hosted his name and graphical images of his likeness, the countless road markers, businesses and boats that bore his name, the poems about him and the movies where he was the subject of adoration. However, humans proved to be even more beguiling than Raven could have imagined. He fell into an ego trap and ended up being seduced by their greed, glamor and power, eventually living off their spoils, a most humiliating position for Raven.
Now, however, he’d been given a chance to repair his reputation and reclaim his true spirit. Raven wanted to know more but the events and excitement of the day had taken their toll. He struggled with fatigue. Otter agreed to share more when he was rested. Quite humbled, he left her and flew back into the forest to rest seeking a spot not far from the remaining shreds of webbing.
Raven entered into dreamtime almost immediately. Bathed in the moon’s soft glow, he dreamed of a time long ago when the light that emanated from all living matter stitched together a fabric of life…fibers, strangely glowing, connected in a tapestry rich with motion. Impulses of thought, feeling, information, flickered over this intricate living web in full witness to all beings everywhere: a magical time, a time before this time yet a future time.
When Raven awoke, he felt quite rested. After stretching and flexing his legs, feet and wings, he flew directly to the surf to grub about for food. Satiated with snails, several crabs and a dead fish, he flew back upstream to the same area he shared yesterday with Otter; but there was no trace of her. For a change, Raven felt no impatience; instead, he checked out the remains of a fish he found scattered on the rocks just above the flowing river. It looked to be from the large, flat fish he sometimes found scavenged on the beach, a favorite food of eagles. It surprised him, though, that one this big would be so far inland. It’s skin had been peeled away and the bones were stripped of meat but instead of being torn off the bones, it looked almost as if it had been cut. He wondered if a bear had drug it up there and sliced it apart with its razor sharp claws.
(To be continued in Chapter 12: Humanity’s Essence)