All the world was in darkness. The sky above was in darkness. The waters below were in darkness. Men and women lived in the dark and cold. Raven was sad for them.
He said, "I will search for light."
I was inspired to needlefelt this wall hanging by my favorite story for this time of year, a Pacific Northwest Coastal Tlingit legend of how Raven the trickster returned the light to the people on earth. Raven felt sorry for the people as they lived in darkness and cold, so he flew to the Sky Chief's lodge at the edge of the horizon to find the light and return it to them. He saw the Sun Chief's beautiful daughter come out to take a drink from a pool of water, so he turned himself into a pine needle and fell down into the pool. She swallowed the pine needle and became pregnant with a child. When the child was born, who was actually Raven in disguise, the Sun Chief loved his grandchild without measure and wanted to always bring him happiness. Raven-child realized that a special carved box in the lodge held the sun within it, so he cried and cried until his grandfather let him open the box. Raven quickly shed his disguise of a human child and flew off out of the lodge with the sun clenched in his beak. Flying back across mountains and forests, Raven returned the sunlight to the people of earth. This tale of Raven stealing the sun is also told with slight variations in Inuit and Athabaskan traditions as well. We read it every year on the Winter Solstice by the fire.
One re-telling I have been reading recently with my chidren, is an illustrated children's book written by Gerald McDermott, a consultant to the Joseph Campbell Foundation on mythology in education. I really love the lyrical way it's told. This one is called Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest.
Another beautifully illustrated children's version we have is How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams.
It is also included in a wonderful anthology called The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards.
I've been busy in the craft room making many things for the holidays. Here are King and Queen Winter. Needlefelted from wool roving in icy blues and whites, they rule over the Winter season bringing snowflakes, icicles and chilly winds. They create blankets of snow to tuck the fields and forests in for a winter slumber. Sparkling ice crystals sit atop their magic staffs. They can be found here on my Etsy shop at http://www.mountainhearth.etsy.com/.
And here is a little Jack Frost that I made as a custom order for a friend's season table in her Waldorf home preschool. He is rascally, jolly and his hands are full of snowballs just waiting for some winter fun! I am sure she will bring him to life with her gift for magical storytelling!