December 21st, 2006

Parrish stars

Winter solstice

A short Alaskan fable, as told on "Northern Exposure," Christmas-y episode 3.10 ('Seoul Mates'), which we just watched:


"A long time ago, the raven looked down from the sky and saw that the people of the world were living in darkness. The ball of light was kept hidden by a selfish old chief. So the raven turned himself into a spruce needle and floated on the river where the chief's daughter came for water. She drank the spruce needle.

"She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy, which was the raven in disguise. The baby cried and cried until the chief gave him the ball of light to play with. As soon as he had the light, the raven turned back into himself and carried the light into the sky. From then on, we no longer lived in darkness."


The figure of Raven is a powerful "trickster" persona like Coyote from elsewhere in North America, Hermes/Mercury from Greece/Rome, and Anansi from Africa, to name just a few; and though these types of gods wreak havoc, I'm always especially fond of them. Prometheus also comes to mind with this particular story, bringing light or fire to mankind. But mostly, it's a good story for the winter solstice--which I suppose is why, in part, the writers of "Northern Exposure" won an Emmy for that particular episode. I recommend looking it up if you want to diversify your holiday viewing a little.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of glaring sunshine and heat, but all the same, I like balance in everything; and therefore I am pleased to welcome back the sun as we tip the scales that direction again. Happy solstice, everyone.