The lunar cycle of October is that of the Blood Moon; its legends are of death. During the Blood Moon, the
changes of the Earth make visible the first signs of winterís arrival. The treesí changing colors and the airís crispness herald the winter season. All that live upon the Earth make ready for winterís time of dominion. The squirrels hurriedly gather any last bits of food before the snows hide it away from their reach. Those who slumber through the cold months have made ready their beds. The birds have already taken to the air in search of the warmer lands to the south. People have taken their grain to the winter store and sealed their dwelling tightly against the bitter, biting chill of the winter winds. The Earth has begun to fall to barrenness, and people will turn to the hunt for their sustenance. In this time, when all the world works feverishly to prepare for the coming season, the elders dedicate their tales to the Blood Moon.
A Lesson of Darkness
Inuits of the Bering Strait
Tulugaukuk, the Raven father, was the creator of all life. Raven visualized the world covered with growing plants. He created trees, vines, and bushes to beautify the lads of the Earth. From out of one of the pea pods, Man was born. When raven saw this creature, he cared for him.
Raven showed Man the worlds of his creation, including a Sky-Land. In it, there was a round hole. Around the hole was a short grass that glowed like the white flame. On one edge of the hole, some grass was missing. Raven explained to Man that this was the star called Moon. Raven had taken some of the fire- grass to the land below to create the first fire on Earth.
Raven Father fed Man with salmon berries and heath berries, which he had made plentiful in the forests. Man tasted the berries and his hunger was satisfied. There was fresh water in the clear lakes for Man to drink.
Next, raven collected clay and shaped two mountain sheep with his hands. Raven called on Man to look at his new creation. Man was pleased at this new form of life. Raven wondered if people would kill the sheep if they became plentiful. He thought they might, so he sent the sheep to live among the steep rocks where few people could reach them.
With more clay, raven formed reindeer, caribou, muskrat, and all the other beasts of the land, water, and air. In time, Raven became afraid that Man would kill the creatures of his making and use them for food and clothing. He took white clay and shaped it into a bear, the guardian spirit of the animals. Raven warned Man not to disturb White Bear, for he would tear Man to pieces with his sharp claws.
The numbers of the Earth people grew steadily. Soon many people lived upon the Earth. As Raven feared,
they began killing the animals of his creation. As punishment, Raven took the light away from the Sky-Land and plunged the Earth into darkness. The people of Earth made offerings to Raven so that he would return the light to the Earth, but he would not.
Finally, the son of Raven took pity on the Earth people. The raven Boy took the leather bag in which the Creator had hidden the Sun and flew far into the sky. When he reached the place where the sun should be, he tore open the leather bag and the light burst forth. Raven Father called after the boy. Thinking that his son had stolen the sun for himself, Raven told him not to allow it always to be dark.
Perhaps out of misunderstanding or perhaps to honor his father whose wishes he had first stood against, raven Boy toppled the sky. Sometimes the Sun is visible through the spinning Sky-Land, sometimes it is the Moon, the round hole with white fire that less brightly lights the Earth. It is sometimes dark and sometimes bright. But as Raven Father wished, there is not always darkness upon the Earth.
People still hunt. The Sun and Moon still take their turns being visible above. But we hope the lessons of the Raven Father have been learned well. We hope that people hunts the creatures of the Creator no more than is dictated by their needs. We hope they honor the White Bear and remember the lesson of darkness.