A familiar loping sound just beyond the log drew Raven’s attention. Otter emerged, sniffing the air. Raven, glad to have his friend back, began to question why she had disappeared but Otter stood up and began speaking with a strong medicine tongue, which silenced Raven’s query. She told Raven he needed to slowly and thoughtfully review the events of the evening. When he was ready to go over the messages and ask the right questions about what he saw happening, she would find him. Otter then quickly moved into the shadows beyond the fire ring.
Raven was taken aback by her response but she was clear: He had missed something important. Again, rather than being irritated, he realized there was still more of the mystery to solve. Raven could not see Otter from where she was standing beyond the fire area; a tendril of steam trailing upwards from the ash obscured her darkened form.
The evening’s chilling mist, rolling in from the ocean, hovered briefly and then began swallowing the landscape. Distracted as he was, Raven innately sensed the moisture and looked to a tall cottonwood close by where he flew to roost for the night. Even with the river’s flowing as the dominant evening sound, Raven could distinguish the active splashing in the shallow riffles as the salmon built redds, fertilized the eggs and defended the sites. It was easy to make out the bears sloshing along in the river, snatching fish with their strong jaws and teeth or grabbing them in their long, sharp claws; ripping head, skin and eggs from the bodies while the fish still thrashed about. He could also hear the bears making vocal commotion when fishing spots were under dispute. In the distance, the sounds of the surf breaking across the beach stones drew his attention as well. He visualized its foam streaking white for a moment before flattening out and losing texture, sinking into the sand and gravel.
Raven slept fitfully. It could have been from the excitement of seeing the humans but he also questioned an insight that what he’d witnessed was a scene from the future. It was all so confusing but he knew he had more thinking to do before Otter’s magic found him ready. Now the only thing he could do was to go over every detail of his time spent with the three human beings and wonder where Otter had gone when Grandmother came forward. It was not like Otter at all to miss such an important opportunity…Was she hiding something from Raven and what of his visions at the old abandoned village site? But, as fitful as the sleep turned out to be, by morning Raven had at least a portion of the questions he felt most important and hoped Otter was ready with answers.
Early, before the coastal fog had dissipated, gifting its mist to the trees, Raven flew to the cove and foraged a meal of limpets and snails. Tucked under the tangled mats of seaweed, he also found red sea urchins. Their bodies lay partially mangled, most of their spines broken off but the corvid found their fatty, orange roe particularly satisfying.
After Otter’s challenge last night to review what he had witnessed, Raven went over all the events he could remember since meeting Otter in the pool where she devoured Frog. That memory and others up until Otter’s remark at the fire, he recalled easily; but in remembering the past before the frog-eating event, Raven felt like he’d been in a long and deep, almost amnesic sleep. Perhaps, reflected Raven, Otter was right: The secret was to recognize just that, the past is over. Don’t dwell on it, learn from it and move on. But what about just last night…what had he missed? Did his vision in the forest have anything to do with this?
Raven still felt positive that last night’s activity taking place around the fire represented a vision from the future. If he was right, then he, his sister and Otter had eaten a meal of freshly cooked salmon together. As strange as it seemed at first, before he left the beach, he was quite sure they had!
Last night’s pondering also made Raven aware of at least three of the human and spirit realms which aided in the creative, re-evolution of the planet: the Survivors, those who had lived through the inundations and hardships; the Essence, a vibrational signature which he had helped attune; and lastly, the Aware Ones, those realms trusted by the Mother and the Mystery as mentioned by Grandfather Whale. He did not know for sure where the three humans fit into the larger picture, however. He had gone as far as he could without more advice from Otter.
Raven was most curious about the fire site and flew there first to look for any signs left by the Humans. The gulls squawked irritatingly at his approach but since he had no food nor was he attempting to steal theirs, he was not a threat and they left him alone.
The scene of last night’s fire offered something priceless…quite priceless: He found two clay beads, much like the ones decorating the woman’s hair, tucked into a crevice on the fallen tree where the woman had cut up the fish. Each one was roughly the size of a salmon egg, made of light-colored, fired clay and decorated with a single band of ochre running around their perimeters. Raven pecked at them and managed to pluck one from its resting place and popped into his mouth. Immediately, he felt a stirring of awareness…He was right, this had his sister’s vibratory signature! He could never mistake that!
Raven began hopping stiffly up and down in excitement. All of a sudden, a large brown bear that was on its way across the same stretch of beach next to the log, rushed at him, swung a paw that hit Raven on the chest and flipped him off the log and into the air. He tumbled over a couple of times but although stunned, stood up uninjured and watched the bruin wander off over to the fishing holes, seemingly oblivious to what he’d done.
Raven shook his head, opened and closed his mouth a few times and gingerly walked a few stiff-legged paces to the log and flew back up onto it. He found one bead still in the crevice but the one he had in his mouth when the bear charged him lay shattered in pieces.
A rustle on the river side caused him to swirl around and look down just as Otter loped up the bank. She must have seen the bear rushing Raven because her face showed great concern. She waited until Raven settled and acknowledged he was all right before softly asking him if he had questions for her.
Raven’s eyes lit up as he spoke in the Language of the Mystery recalling the insights he had about his sister, yet he was most curious about the Aware Ones and what Grandfather Whale meant when he had said: Human emergence and its re-evolution would depend on forgiveness by the Aware Ones.
Raven wanted to relax and listen to Otter fill in some more missing pieces of the mystery but Otter knew first to ask Raven: Who would the Mother and the Mystery listen to and trust, Raven?
Raven knew he had once held this role but had succumbed to the folly of ego’s importance and had lost favor. Raven also knew that by Otter asking for his advice, he was being tested.
(To be continued in Chapter 20: Shifting Form)