Celebrate Women’s Art 2017
March 6 -April 28, 2017
Mount St. Benedict Chapter 57 Gallery
6101 East Lake Road Erie, PA
Undergirding this painting are the following two stories:
The Rev. Dr. Carol P. Vaccariello
Note: There are numerous indigenous stories about Raven and the Sun.
This oil painting, Transformative Journey, represents
my personal weaving of the Raven myth.
Long before the beginning, Great Mother White Raven would fluff her beautiful pearlescent white feathers and sing stellar melodies to her cherished beloved, Grandfather Deep Mystery. Together they dreamed the dream of Earth to whom they gave abundance and shared life.
Beautiful blue planet Earth and all its life-forms would be their most astounding accomplishment. Like proud parents watching their little ones growing and developing, they watched and observed Life explore and discover what it meant to be alive. With deep pride and joy, they observed their new young creations. Great Mother White Raven and Grandfather Deep Mystery began to gather new understandings. It was like looking into a deep still pool reflecting back to them more about who they were. They saw their own traits in these children that they created in their own image and likeness. They witnessed what it meant to be Creators. They saw love and jealousy, kindness and cruelty, assertiveness and laziness, the desire to excel and the pit of despair. They saw the magnificence of Life unfolding entwined with carousing shadow that was being ignored and underestimated. With the implications of this awareness, they gazed into each other’s eyes, and for the first time, tears glistened.
One day Earth grew dark and cold. Deep Mystery said to White Raven, “Earth is in darkness and everything is so cold. The waters are not flowing and there are no crops growing. What will become of our children and all life we have shared with Earth?”
White Raven became deeply concerned and reassured Deep Mystery that she would find the cause for this strange phenomenon. It was ever so strange that the sun and the moon did not light up the heavens and darkness created extreme cold. White Raven began to fly from place to place to see what she might learn. No one could see her because everything was in total darkness, and many stayed in their huts afraid of the dark and shivering in the cold.
She overheard talk that the old man who lived in the hut at river’s edge with his daughter had become obsessed with Light. He had decided he wanted all Light for himself. He believed that if he controlled Light, he would be the most powerful of all. White Raven overheard this and flew to the hut near the river to watch closely.
With her keen Raven-sight she saw the old man’s daughter coming and going from the hut. She watched as the old man also came and went. She overheard the young woman ask her father about the box, within the box, within the box that he kept in the back room of the hut. The old man told her she was never to touch those boxes, to do so would cause her horrible pain and banishment. The young woman, afraid of her father’s words, listened to him and did not touch the boxes, although she was extremely curious. One day while she was doing her best to clean the hut in the darkness, she noticed a small crack of light coming from the box, within the box, within the box. It was ever so faint, but she did see it. She had become depressed in the darkness and stiff from the cold. Her curiosity demanded that she see what was in that box.
The next day when her father was out of the hut, she went to the back room and opened the first box. Still there was only a small crack of light coming from deep inside the inner box. Then she opened the second box and felt the warmth coming from the third box. That’s when she became afraid of what her father might be hiding. She knew that she could not open the third box. She had a strong hunch that her father had taken the sun and the moon and the stars and the fire and the water from Earth and was holding Earth’s life force captive. She was appalled and devastated by this realization. She was also frozen with fear and didn’t know what to do. Her father’s words thumped in her heart, “Anyone who touches those boxes will know horrible pain and banishment.” She quickly put the three boxes back the way she found them.
White Raven was glad to be watching and finding the hidden treasure, however, White Raven was deeply saddened that the old man would do such a thing causing Earth to suffer. She was also deeply troubled that he would threaten his daughter causing her tremendous fear.
White Raven waited and watched while the young woman put everything back as it had been so that her father would not punish her for disobeying.
That night when the old man and his daughter left the hut, White Raven flew down through the chimney and went immediately to the back room to open the boxes. First the large outer box and then the second box and finally the third box. The light of the sun, moon and stars, the waters and the fire ember was all right there! Quickly Great Mother White Raven gathered up her children putting the sun and the moon protectively under her wings. She collected the stars into one wooden bucket and the waters into another and took hold of them with her strong claws. The fire ember she held tightly in her snow-white beak.
Up through the chimney she flew, faster than she had ever flown before. In her haste her beautiful white feathers were stained with sticky chimney soot. Nothing deterred her. Up she flew higher and higher until the darkness was so thick that she took the sun from under her wing and hurled it into the heavens where it belonged. Then flying away from the sun until she was in Earth’s shadow, she hurled the moon into the heavens to find the place where it belonged. Once these two were in place, she took the bucket of endless stars and once again, flying as fast as she could, soared around Earth pouring the stars out as she went creating the spiral arms of our Milky Way Galaxy. With Light restored, she next took the bucket of water and splashed it onto Earth forming the oceans, lakes, waterfalls, rivers and streams. Lastly the ember, still smoldering in her beautiful white beak, was hot and burning. She called to Deep Mystery asking where the best place was to leave this precious gift of fire. Deep Mystery suggested that she take it to the large stone mountains and drop it there to provide a constant source of flint to start new fires.
Fearing that the ember would go out, White Raven flew as hard and fast as she could. The ember glowed becoming red hot in the wind. All the while she flew the heat flowed over her beautiful white feathers singeing them with sparks and smoke. Finally, as she flew over the tallest of the mountains, she dropped the ember between two great peaks. Weary and exhausted, she returned to Deep Mystery.
White Raven was grateful to have restored the essential ingredients for Life on Earth. Then she spoke to Deep Mystery and heard her voice. The heat of the ember had charred her throat and all she heard was a rasping CAW. She was alarmed! Where was her beautiful voice? What had become of her stellar song? Then she looked at her feathers and saw that they were black and charred and she wept. “Oh, Grandfather, Deep Mystery, what has become of me? I CAW, I no longer sing a stellar song and my feathers are charred black as embers.”
Grandfather Deep Mystery looked at her with deep love and said, “Dark Mother Radiant Beauty, look at your feathers. Do you not see the pearlescent glow that has always been there, a true reflection of your intense beauty?”
With hesitance, she looked over her shoulder to see the beautiful iridescent colors, still there.
She listened carefully to his soft gentle voice as he continued, “Dark Mother Radiant Beauty, you are blessed indeed to have given your song for the gift of fire. Now, no one will want to capture you to put you into a cage so that they might not only gaze on you, but also listen to your stellar songs.”
She raised her bent head now giving him her fullest attention, “Dark Mother Radiant Beauty, you are now greater than before. You are the Great Mother who saved Life and restored Light. You are truly my one and only beloved. I cherish you and your faithful courage.”
With that, Raven, Dark Mother Radiant Beauty, released a great sigh, stood tall, gazed into Grandfather Deep Mystery’s eyes, smiled, cawed, and gracefully fluffed her strong deep dark iridescent wings.
…every ending holds a new beginning…
End of Story One.