A tale told to me by the Grandmothers.
Once upon a time, when the world was young and people were new, all that the sky had was the sun. The sun would heat the world during the day, but when night came all the people had was a an inky blackness with nothing to see by. And under cover of the black, shadow creatures would creep out and take the children of the people and steal them off into the darkness. Each night, as the sun sank lower in the sky, the children would pray for something to break the darkness, so that they would not be taken by the shadows.
Crow, that silly bird, loved the people. She loved their shiny things and the way they would laugh and she loved to listen to the children as they played. She learned their words and learned to play with the people, mimicking their laughter and their speech. She spent more and more time watching the children as they ran and sang, and each night she heard their tears and listened to their prayers. And each prayer made her heart ache and made her dark eyes glitter with sorrow.
One day, as Crow sat listening to their prayers, she had a thought. “If I can carry their prayers to the Great Mother, maybe she can find a way to beat back the shadows and save the children.” Crow spent months flying from child to child, collecting their prayers as shining jewels in her heart and her eyes. And when she was so heavy with prayers she didn’t think she could fly anymore, Crow set off to find the Great Mother.
She searched for a year, looking under ever rock and in every cave. Crow searched and searched and called for the Great Mother until her voice was just a croak. And when she was almost exhausted, she looked up into the setting sun and realized that was the last place she had not yet looked. So Crow started flying, chasing the setting sun. She flew until she was enveloped in shadows. She flew until her feathers were ragged and her wings were weak. She flew until she could no longer see the earth and no longer see the sun.
And in her last moment of exhaustion and desperation. Crow flung the children’s prayers into the shadow, hoping that at least one would reach the Great Mother. And something amazing happened. The children’s prayers caught on the skin of the shadow and stayed there. They danced and glittered, they told stories against the dark. They illuminated the shadows. And they caught the Great Mother’s attention. She looked up and heard the prayers of the children and saw Crow falling from the darkness.
The Great Mother reached up and caught Crow in her hands. She healed Crow and blessed her for her love.
The Great Mother placed the moon up in the sky amongst the dancing, glittering stars, to illuminate the night sky and drive away the shadows. She placed it, as white and pure as Crow’s heart, as a conduit for the prayers of the humans to reach her, no matter what. She painted Crows feathers as black as the shadows, as a blessing for her devotion and placed Crow amongst the humans as an eternal guide and keeper of the shadow path, to help the humans find their way out of the darkness.
So next time you look up at the night sky and see the moon and the stars, say a quick thank you and a quick prayer for the light to help keep the shadows away.