Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where does our name come from?

No, rest easy, this isn't going to be a trippy discussion about where names come from. You will not be forced to think about your name and its significance, although you can of course do so if you so wish. We have been asked several times over the last few months about why we are called Smoke Feathers. In truth, like all these things, it's all a bit hazy, but much inspiration for the name came from a tale we found a while back in the folklore of the first people of northern America called Raven Steals The Sun. It tells the tale of how the people of the earth came to have light, water and fire. It also explains how the raven's feathers came to be black - hence the name Smoke Feathers. The story has a few variations but here's the one we stumbled across a few years ago:

"Long ago, near the beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the Sun, Moon and Stars, of fresh water, and of fire. Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. People lived in darkness, without fire and fresh water.
Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in love with her. In the beginning, Raven was a snow-white bird and he pleased Gray Eagle's daughter. She invited him to her father's longhouse.
When Raven saw the Sun, Moon and stars, and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle's lodge, he knew what he had to do. He watched for his chance to seize them. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the longhouse through the smoke hole. 
As soon as Raven got outside he fastened the Sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. When the Sun set, he hung up the Moon and scattered the stars. By their light he flew on, carrying with him the water and the brand of fire.
He flew back over the land and dropped the water. It fell to the ground and became the source of all fresh-water streams and lakes in the world. Then Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill. The smoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black. When his bill began to burn, he dropped the firebrand. It struck rocks and hid within them. That is why, if you strike two stones together, sparks of fire fly out.
Raven's feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand. That is why Raven is now a black bird."

Raven Stealing The Sun by Ken Mowatt

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