You are about to enter a world in which all the characters are animals. But these are not cartoon characters, team mascots or anthropomorphic manifestations of human tendencies – they are potent spirits in their own right. These are animals to be sure, but animals of a very special sort. They are derived very loosely from Native American mythology – particularly that of the Tlingit natives of southeast Alaska – but only very loosely. In a fundamental way they have created themselves. I have met these animals in their own places and my life is richer and fuller because they paused to meet me.
You will meet Raven – creator of the world – also known as Trickster. Raven dreamt this world into existence and, having done so, faced the decision that all creators do – whether to watch his creation drift off onto the stream of time or to hop in and drift along with it. He made the latter choice with all of its implications. Raven is only the creator of the original dream – not the continuing architect of what has become of that dream. All of his creations are busily dreaming themselves anew. The most he can do is provide a bit of mentoring to those inhabitants that have resulted from his initial dream – enjoy their company – and rejoice in their dreaming of themselves beyond his initial dream of them. In that way Raven is something more of a parent than a supreme being.
Wolverine is the second most powerful spirit in this world. He has nothing in common with the cartoon character that modern media has made so famous. Wolverine is engaged in the higher levels of existence and working to understand exactly what it means to be. He possesses many of the characteristics of the natural wolverine. He is aggressive, mostly impatient and highly intelligent. His relationship with Raven, though differential, is often strained by these tendencies. Of all the spirits in Raven’s world, Wolverine has dreamt himself the farthest from Raven’s initial dreaming of him.
You will also meet other spirits, such as Deer, Bear, Wolf, Porcupine, Badger and Thrush. Each has their own strengths, weaknesses, challenges and potentials. Each started with what they were given by the pure chance of creation and has dreamt themselves to be as they have become.
Together these spirits live in a wood that is populated by other living beings. Here Tree, Rock and Pond are alive and dreaming – and thinking such as they are able. In Raven’s world everything is alive to being alive.
A life’s journey is a marvelous thing – bookended by confusion and disorientation – yet between those awesome extremities there are abundant opportunities for clarity and comprehension. The true blessing is that those chances are legion. The most important residuals of having lived are those times when life comes into sharp focus and, within a broader nature, begins to make a bit more sense.
Before you are born and after you die you will not be here – then the opportunity to live and experience is not yours. In those decades between, however, there are opportunities to experience life and its meaning in all its various implications. This is the ‘living time’ between ‘all that might become’ and ‘all that might have been’ – between the blind hope of infancy and the melancholic regrets of old age. For those of us who write or read books such as this one, that time is still very much our own. This is a book about that time and those opportunities.