Even though the days were growing shorter, there was still plenty of daylight in the far north country where Raven lived for him to find Otter and ask a few questions. Of course, to save time he’d have to take the quickest route which flew him directly over the village he’d been avoiding. However, since spending time with Otter and particularly since journeying with Grandfather Whale, he was now intrigued and wanted a closer look at the village site that most revered him before the great tsunami destroyed it.
Raven’s reluctance to visit this section of coastline and witness the catastrophic annihilation brought about by Moon’s wrath was understandable. Memories returned as he flew landward. He remembered that he had been powerless to stop her retaliation for the destructive forces unleashed by humans that affected Gaia’s natural environment. He wondered why his life had been spared, for having talked with Otter, he knew he’d been partially responsible for Moon’s reaction.
Raven circled the totem pole and from the air, could barely make out the outline of the longhouse. The mosses and plants had easily overrun the house timbers but there was one lump in the center of the outline that drew him closer, much like the tantalizing spider’s web high up in the tree where the droplets of water had coalesced. He circled lower and lower, all the while wondering if he should be wasting his time doing this or leave and find otter.
Before he could decide, Raven was drawn earthward by a force as powerful as the ocean’s pull on the water drop he’d carried earlier. The moss-shrouded hummock in the center of the house acted like a magnet and the black bird of magic was unable to resist its draw. He clawed at the air in a frantic attempt to slow the decent but to no avail.
The impact of his landing knocked him senseless and totally oblivious to the changes occurring in the environment around him. The mosses disappeared as centuries retreated and the ancient village came alive. Smoke rose up from the nearby fire pit and filled the house with the pleasant scent of cedar although visibility was limited to just a few feet.
Raven, gasping for the air lost on impact, opened his eyes and noticed a stout, bent cedar box with painted red and black decorations carved into its sides in front of him. Bits of abalone shells had also been added to the carvings, causing them to glisten in the firelight. Looking past the box, he was shocked to see a series of blue-trimmed orbs glistening with abalone shell hanging suspended in the smoke about the central fire. Quickly Raven deduced that each orb represented a phase of the moon from the dark of the moon, waxing to a full moon and then back to the smallest waning crescent. He counted thirteen. One orb for each of the months of the year.
Raven also heard rain heavily pelting the planks on the roof and heard the hissing of drops falling through the smoke hole and onto the fire creating sizzling steam which added further smokey mists to the interior of the Northwest Coast plank house. Raven felt bewitched as he looked about the circle of moons.
Drawing out his magic, he looked up again as each phase manifested into an animal or plant. The smokey haze lessened and he could see each orb held aloft by a carved pole much like a totem pole with the abalone orb as the top piece. Below each orb was the carved and painted face of the plant or animal. Each represented a powerful spirit amongst the coastal peoples.
Raven drew back as each spirit pole moved and came forward, dropping a bundle into the box. He could see no arms or hands but through the shadows he could see the bundle fall and heard it strike the bottom. He wondered what the bundles contained and could vaguely make out some parts of animals and plants. Each totem returned to its former place after depositing its bundle into the box.
The mists and smoke grew thicker and Raven’s eyes started to smart and tear up. He shook his head and ruffled his feathers. The smoke was almost too much for him to bear but just as he had that thought, he found himself looking out at the orbs from their height and then realized he had taken on the attributes of the animal or plant he had previously looked up at. He began looking at himself from the perspective of the animal or plant throughout the year and feeling Moon’s influence within his cells as both male and female. He was immensely impressed with the diversity, the growth, the harvest cycles…spending time as each stage throughout the year of a salmon, eagle, devils club shrub, bear, deer, frog, orca, mushroom, otter, hummingbird, thunderbird, cedar tree and lastly, raven…thirteen totems, through a full thirteen moons as both male and female. Raven’s imagination swirled as he realized he could also have chosen other totem plants and animals. True to his Being, even in this altered state of consciousness, Raven was planning to come back and experience more.
Then Raven found himself as Moon and watched himself go through all the phases of thirteen moons constituting a year and then back through the millennia until the beginning of time. He saw Gaia’s formation and how the bounty spread upon her lands. Raven then realized the bundles he had seen the totems depositing in the box were the energies of all of creation, evolving through time to represent what existed before and what existed now spread upon her lands. He also realized that this matrix of creation would be constantly changing but these moons represented the elders –– the genotypes of forever, like pearls strung together making a forever year. They were the seed impulses of Gaia waiting to rise and walk in the beauty way.
The light surrounding Raven became dimmer as if the fogs had rolled in from the sea and further darkened the room. Raven began to feel an uneasiness that he’d not have time to find Otter and would have to remain in the dim, smokey longhouse overnight. His brain was reeling with so much information, it felt like it would explode and he greatly longed for some fresh air.
With that thought, Raven came fully aware and looked around. He found himself in daylight on the moss-covered hummock in a roosting position as if just resting. He stood up, stretched and shook. There was absolutely no sign of an impact on the moss nor did he feel a magnetic draw. “Kwak, kwak!” he noisily croaked in frustration.
There was still lots of daylight left; in fact, it seemed to Raven as if time had stood still while he was experiencing his visions in the cedar plank longhouse. He was too agitated to stay around the site much longer but before leaving to confer with Otter, he pecked at the moss-covered lump. Under a thick layer of moss, he found what he was searching for: his beak struck a piece of abalone shell. He removed the surrounding moss and discovered a fairly well-intact but fire-blackened corner of a cedar box, similar to the one in his vision. Raven briskly feathered the air and rose to find Otter.
(To be continued in Chapter 17: First Contact)