How Raven Stole the Light


I studied film in college. In those ancient days, when one edited film, one physically cut off the unwanted portion with a razor.  I pasted my outtakes together and saved them on an outtakes reel in case I wanted them later. Now that I’m writing, I save the outtakes in an outtakes document. And I do go back sometimes and drag them back into the document.  Anyway…

This is a real Native American legend told in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. I wrote my version for my book 2. And then I took it out. But I couldn’t part with it so it was saved in the outtakes document. Since we’re talking about myths this month, I now offer it for your consideration “How Raven Stole the Light.”

A long time ago, the world was covered in darkness.

A magician had captured all the light and hid it in a cedar box in his home. One day, Raven flew over the magician’s home and saw a stream of light shooting up through the smoke-hole.  Raven flew close and saw the magician’s daughter playing with the light.

Raven wanted that light.

So Raven followed the magician’s daughter  to the river. After she scooped water into her basket, he turned himself into a hemlock needle and dropped into the basket. When the daughter drank the water, she swallowed the hemlock needle. Then Raven turned himself into a baby inside the daughter.

When the baby was born, the magician and his daughter loved him very much. But the baby cried all of the time because he wanted to play with the light inside of the magician’s cedar box. Finally the magician gave up. He opened the box, took out the ball of light and gave it to the baby Raven.

Raven turned himself back into a bird and flew out the smoke-hole with the light. He played with the light as he flew overhead. He tossed it into the air and caught it, as ravens do. While he was playing, he dropped the light and it shattered into one big ball and lots of tiny bits of light. And that is why we have the sun and the stars.




13 thoughts on “How Raven Stole the Light”

  1. I love Native American legends, and yours is no exception. They are beautiful explanations of natural things, like your Raven story, or they teach a lesson. The first lesson that comes to mind is the one about feeding the two wolves that live in each of us. Remember that one?


  2. Peg Brentley: I heard the two wolves story from an Eskimo friend of mine before Hollywood came to Alaska. She said she heard it from her grandfather. (I have no reason to doubt that.) Then I saw it in a movie made by someone who I’d known to have been in Alaska, so I wondered if she was the source of that story.


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