Monday, February 11, 2013

Sun Stealer

RAVEN EYE: Sun Stealer

They say you stole the sun.
This is inexact.
You hid the light in darkness
where the light-killers could not find it
so the sun could shine brighter than before.

They say you are black
because you are evil and unkind.
They do not say you swallowed
your own shadow and mastered it
at the price of wearing its colors.

Shivering, they call you death-knell,
Death-eater, bad omen, flying banshee
because you feed on death that feeds on men.
You strip what rots from what remains.
You give us the purity of the bones.

Trickster, they call you.
Oh yes, you'll do your wickedest
to ensure our way is never routine
and we are forced to improvise and transform.
You won't let us swap our souls for a plan.

At least they don't accuse you
of minor crimes.
I praise and claim your gifts
of putting on darkness to come and go safely
in the darkest places, joking with Death.

COMMENT: The kindness of ravens. Our collective noun for a group of crows is "murder". The word for a group of ravens is even crueler; those who know it speak of an "unkindness" of ravens. Yet I have found the raven to be an impeccable ally in seeing into dark places, and in training frequent flyers in the arts of the dream seer, I often call in the ravenous eye. Be it noted that in working with Raven this way, it is vastly desirable to call in a pair, as Odin knew when he sent off his twin ravens, Thought and Memory, to scout for him. I wrote this poem for Raven at the end of a marvelous adventure in group dreaming, when many of us were able to see true with the help of that raven eye. I am posting it today because of further excellent adventures in tracking with the help of the Two Ravens in my recent workshop in Frankfurt.

This tribute to Raven is included in my new collection of poems and stories, Here,
Everything Is Dreaming, published by Exclesior Editions, an imprint of State University of New York Press.

Raven shaman: drawing by Robert Moss



Your poem reminded me of a morning a few years ago. I was up a hill called Cley Hill in the Welsh Marches.The place where the softer English landscape starts moving into the wilder Celtic lands. This hill is said to be the last vestige's of a mountain ecosystem heading east until you hit the Urals.On that day,cold gray some wind All the Ravens from the surrounding country side had collected together 60,80 birds I did not count. They were circling around calling and parading. A pair would peel off from the company and do the most magnificent acrobatics flying upside down . I just sat and watched gobsmacked by the humour and exuberance. This was a wonderful gift no unkindness. Raven's good company.

Betsey said...

Raven is good company and is a watch dog for my property. You only have to listen and they will tell you who has entered your domain.

Barbara said...

Steve, if I had seen that exuberant gathering of ravens I would have been gobsmacked for a very long time!
I admire a creature of such compassion and endurance, especially in light of the fact that so many are taught to demonize the Raven.
I would like to add that in the Pacific Northwest a number of the First Peoples believe that the Raven, the blackest of black, actually stole the sun for humanity by tricking a greedy chief and carrying the sun out of the chief's longhouse through the smoke hole!

Robert Moss said...

Steve: Thanks for your vivid account of a raven gobsmacking! By an interesting coincidence, the first graphic I chose to go with the poem was an old crayon drawing I did many years ago of a long-ago Brit wearing a raven cloak. I've been working up my travel notes from a trek through the Western Borders of Scotland in quest of the Scottish Merlin (there are more than one, as you know) when ravens and other black birds companioned and guided me all the way.

Barbara: Yes, my subtitle for this poem is drawn from the mythology of the Pacific Northwest. The other graphic I considered to go with the poem is a sculpture by a contemporary Haida artist that shows twin ravens, black and white.

Betsey: Glad to hear you have a kindness of ravens watching over you!


i did'nt know about the there being more than one Merlin it makes a lot of sense There being several Taliesin"s. I have also been thinking that Merlin and Woden have rather alot in common which brings us back to Ravens again.

Robert Moss said...

Steve: As I understand it, "merlin", like "arthur" is originally a title or job description rather than a personal name. "Merlin" as in that very small and speedy falcon, "Arthur" as in the consort of Dea Artia, the Bear Goddess. Such good things to dream on...

Robyn said...

Thanks for your poem Robert! It helps make up for the maligning of crows & ravens.

Steve, what a great description of the "wonderful gift no unkindness". It is thrilling to live in the midst of crows and ravens. The crows have fascinating, quirky personalities and communication talents. It's so exhilarating to see them take off from the conventions they hold in my backyard along the bay, when they cover the trees and ground. Their black wings are a thunder of magnificence in the sky.

And the ravens, more mysterious and elusive--swooping down suddenly and flying alongside my car on the valley road, delivering magic.

Donna K said...

Knowing I'm a friend of the Black Birds, my friend told me this morning about the sky-blackening murder of crows that regularly roost in his back yard. I said I was so impressed at the coincidence, and told him about this blog entry (we’re a wee bit too far south for Ravens on any regular basis, so I take my Corvids where I can!). Then we saw the local newspaper - with a front page story about the roosting crows, concluding that Ravens are now sometimes seen locally!

diane said...

For me Raven and Crow are interchangeable and are trusted allies. I thought I'd share a poem I was inspired to write today after reading Raven Eye about another bird of mystery. It feels like a small gifting back for the gifts it has given.


I hear your call night after night
As you sit alone on your perch.
The familiar notes comfort me to know there is someone watching.
Watching in the night,
Seeing light where I see darkness,
Reminding me that darkness need not be blinding.

You remind us that wisdom is associated with seeing.
And that true sight does not come without a price.
You suggest that aloneness need not mean loneliness,
Indeed, that hidden connections make “solitary” only seeming.

There are those who fear the beating of your wings,
Outstretched over time and space.
They have been told you fly with the dead
And that your presence forebodes dying.
With covered ears and closed eyes,
They do not realize the deeper darkness they invite.

In their trembling over things long forgotten,
And desperate clinging to things assumed to be known,
Shadows are mistaken for the Real World
And missed are the gifts of falling feathers.

You show us how to see,
You ask us to face the dark and not turn back.
You direct us to gather our power in stillness.
You guide us to focus and soar with fierce precision.
You teach us to trust our inner hearing.
You ask us to remember.

Diane J. A. 1/2/09

Robert Moss said...

Robyn: Thanks for the "thunder of magnificence" you hear as a convention of crows take off on exective action.

Donna: Thanks for the corvid coincidence story, and for calling ravens back to southern Connecticut.

Diane: Thanks for honoring your own night-seer, who sees light where others see only dark. In one of her poems, Mary Oliver describes owls as "flying buddhas."

Helen Adams said...

I have always had a real fondess for ravens and crows. Your wonderful poem sums up their mystery.

I feed the crows daily and would the ravens too, if they came by this way.

Naomi said...

One of the most transformative dreams I ever had involved seeing Raven cuddled in the upper body of a Shaman and then later meeting that shaman in real time. I will never forget that dream and what followed. That transformation is still active and working in my path.

So, a Raven for me is a friend and guide. When I see one my heart jumps in recognition.

I love Raven. I love the beady intense eyes full of humour, intelligence and a pesky taste for game playing.

Naturalists writing of Raven also relate an attraction and love for reflective surfaces, sparkle, sparkle, plenty! Good ol' Ravens! Bless them.

Naomi said...

The line "you won't let us swap our souls for a plan"..... is deeply understood!

Thank you for the poem, Robert. I can see those glistening feathers the swaggering confident gate, beady eyes. Blessing to you.

I would love to see what you saw Steve, what town is near Cley Hill and those marches? I've got to plan a trip there. Come hell or high water, I've got to see the convention of Ravens for myself!

Savannah said...

Thank you for that lovely feat of poetic justice, Robert! Your words hit my desktop just after I had finished reading the Norse legend of the White Raven Nights for the first time, but thanks to you we won't have to wait for full moon magic to hear to hear the true spirit of raven speak in human tongues :-). I've had an evolving relationship with the trickster creator ever since crossing paths with a talking stick carved by a local artist, though I will admit I am hard pressed to extend the same kindness to that murder of crows I've been dive-bombed by on more than one occasion...

Robert Moss said...

Helen, Naomi, Savannah: Thank you so much for the kindness of your responses, for feeding the crows (Helen) for going beyond the old plans with the raven within the shaman (Naomi) and for approving "poetic justice" for the sun stealers (Savannah).


Naomi The nearest town to Clee Hill is Ludlow ,a wonderful Medieval town in Shropshire. From my understanding Ravens without there own territories form flocks. My experience on the hill was in the early Spring. The Marches are the much fought over lands between Wales and England,

tracy tull said...

Thank you so much for writing this. I was given my spirit name years ago by my guides as Raven and it took two years for me to accept that name. (was sort of hoping to be something soft, furry and loveable). The last year I have learned more beautiful things about Ravens than I ever expected. As always, your writing really resonates and lifts my mind and thoughts up a level. Thank you.

Don said...

The Raven

Now take the Raven,
A clever bird is he
Strutting with a flourish,
Posing for us to see.

Behold the Raven,
A bird of trickster wit.
Sometimes he does amuse.
Sometimes he is a twit.

Copied from my little book "Moments."

ari said...

so beautiful. i believe in the kindness of ravens. and am very much looking forward to reading more of your poems and stories in 'Here, Everything Is Dreaming'.