The great bird of the northern First Nations here in America.
The eyes of Odin flying across the world, bringing news back to the top of the tree of life.
Black wings, turning blue and green in the sunlight, in a flash becoming the magpie.
A rook on the Tower of London, testifying.
Raven is flying.
No messiah. No prophet. No preacher. No guru.
Just a watchful eye and a clever voice, leading the way down the forest path.
Beyond spirituality, Raven is flesh and bone and wing.
Raven is the shadow of the air.
Make Prayers to the Raven brings tells of the essence of Raven. Written by Richard Nelson, a cultural anthropologist, the book brings ethnography, natural history and personal insight together to tell of the inspired version of Raven that forms the heart of the Koyukon way of life, or at least did once, when the book was published back in 1983. A new edition was released in 1986, and that is what's now available online.
Never mind the dating of the book. It is told in the ethnographic present and so may inform our own present and future. I read this book as a college student back in 1992, and I read it now and find it just as telling.
To understand our own ethnographic present, it may do us well to contemplate on the way of Raven.
In the winter, under the spruce. A silent stand of a year, darkness passes three times and is gone. Raven is flying.
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