Otter stood squarely in front of him, shifted her form and looked deeply into his Being. They became One, their breathing and heart rhythms in harmony. Raven visioned himself flying over the beach stones, the air charged with electrical forces. Lines of energy radiated from everything…every stone, every grain of sand, the water, the grasses, his own body, everything. Each defined entity provided a measure of emanating energy which Raven could ride and manipulate.
He was mesmerized by the feeling of floating and intrigued that he was in control of his flight by simply focusing his intent. Raven flowed into the trees, their roots, their mycelial connections more rapidly then ever before. He was everywhere at once…his eyes witnessed as the bear, the fish, the eagle. He smelled the ocean waters, the cedar bark laying on the beach and heard the bubbling of the waters as they percolated into the river bottom. Raven was thrilled! And then he came to an abrupt halt.
Before him were the energies of the future…sounds he didn’t recognize, sights he had not yet witnessed, smells emanating but not part of his memory and flavors new to his tongue. It was if a barrier stood before him; yet laid out in front of him were his future potentials, his visions and his dreams. He stood behind the barrier and looked out towards the future that he knew now he could accept or change with his intentions. How will I gain access? he questioned.
And with that question, the barrier fell and he was a man, wearing a black leather hat, a black bandana at his throat. All around him the scene was one of pulsing energy lines although Raven could now interpret what they were, what they represented. Raven, the corvid as Man, controlled his breathing, quieting his questions, drawing upon his intuition to control the intent of the journey he now chose to accept and witness.
Raven lived in a community, a community of many people with shelters, animals and gardens. People milled around him…he seemed important. A woman approached. Raven recognized her as his sister. She extended her right hand and gave him a bird the size of a gull but brown and tan in color, a type of game bird which, if Raven remembered correctly, was good eating.
Raven, experiencing the event as a human, reached out with both hands and removed its legs from her grasp. The bird he held was warm, its heart beating rapidly. He held the bird up and looked at it carefully. Its eyes never left his face, twisting its head to keep contact. Raven felt a sense of fear well up in his own belly. He blinked his eyes.
Raven held the bird while she reached down and lifted a young eagle onto the wide leather cuff and attached glove of her left wrist. A stiff leather hood blocking the eagle’s vision covered its head but a slit had been cut into it through which the young bird’s hooked beak protruded. The top of the hood was adorned with a single clay bead and an ochre stripe painted around it, topped with a knot and standing fringe.
The young falconer held one end of a leather tether attached to the eagle’s foot. She motioned for Raven to release the bird he was holding and waited until he tossed it high and the escaping fowl had flown into the distance. Then she removed the leather hood and the eagle launched from the cuffed-glove, spotted the fleeing bird and rapidly flew towards the target, its tether tailing behind. In what seemed to take only a few flaps of its enormous wings, the eagle stuck the bird and followed it to the ground. A few feathers released by the impact of the kill fluttered off into the wind. Raven and his sister moved quickly to the kill site and gave the eagle a piece of raw meat which it gulped down voraciously. Raven’s sister removed the bird now limp in death from its talons and gave it to her companion. Then she placed the raptor onto her wrist perch, expertly replacing the hood as she stood up. It took a few moments for the young eagle to become situated, fluffing its feathers, stretching its wings and opening its bill as if savoring the morsel it had eaten. Stroking the eagle’s neck with her free hand and making soft sounds with her lips like the soughing wind seemed to relax it.
The dead bird was warm to Raven’s touch. He could see where it had been seized in the eagle’s sharp talons, where the feathers had been ripped away and could detect the smell of fresh flesh from the impact wound in the bird’s breast. It was now his duty to dispose of it. Raven drew upon the man’s memory of how it would be done.
The hunting party walked back to the group of people who watched the eagle take down the bird. They were dressed similarly to Raven and his sister: form fitting skin clothing, laced boots, a few hats and although no one else had beads in their hair, a number had small, black facial tattoos. Several children stood wide-eyed as his sister shook her head making the beads strike together with the same sound of chattering water he’d heard them make on the river bank the night before. The eagle spread its wings and then lowered them. She held the bird out to the children who approached and gently stoked its body.
More people approached the group and Raven recognized Grandmother among them. She wore the same strip of otter fur in her hair and around her head, a turquoise bandana. He’d not noticed her blue eyes before, matching quite well the color of her bandana. Otter, the woman, reached out her hand to the eagle and gently stroked its broad back. The eagle relaxed even more. Both Raven’s sister and Otter smiled at each other with genuine affection. Grandmother then moved in front of Raven and accepted the dead bird. She looked deeply into Raven’s eyes. He blinked.
Raven, the bird, sensed another shift happening as the barrier once again went up and he returned to the his world of primary energetic vibration, sensing the river flow, the breezes, the sounds of gulls squabbling over the salmon carcasses.
He blinked and looked about…he was standing in front of Otter who was looking carefully at him but with a more relaxed gaze.
(To be continued in the concluding chapter, Chapter 21: Mastering the Magic of Flight)