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I am UmberDove.

And by that, I mean an artist.  One who hears stories in the wind, who paints because it is what her soul tells her to do, who smiths because the muse moves through her fingertips, who loves nothing more than the promise of an unexplored trail, the sound of the ocean in her ears, and scent of a serious cup of coffee.

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Filtering by Category: Ancestral Mythology

Ancestral Mythology, Vol 4: People of the Bear

Kelly Clark

This is a story of long ago, beyond the time that you or I or even our great-grandmothers can remember, when our ancestors were only children.  The Children were small, slight, with bright eyes and quick feet.  They knew the scent of the river after the thaw, they understood the speed of coyotes and the night-song of the owls.  They ran hard on the open plains and padded silently in the deep forest.   By day they gathered thimbleberries and by night they sang to the stars.  But the Children did not sleep.  Day after day they traveled, ate, danced and watched, but they saw only the existence before them, the Ordinary Reality of life.  The world was too wild then, too reckless, too hungry, and the Children were too busy surviving.

As days, months, years passed, the Children grew tired.  They grew lean of leg and lean of heart, worn down by the harshness of the young earth.  On a late spring day, as they strode through twiggy forests thick with moss, their path led them to a narrow cleft in the mountainside.  This, they thought, may be a safe place to rest so one by one, they slipped into the dark.  Inside the passage widened and the Children found themselves in a warm cavern, dry and sweet smelling.  The birdsong outside grew hushed and the air made their eyelids heavy.  Just as the children were crouching down to sit, a voice deeper than honey rolled up from the back of the cave.  

"Who is this who enters my home?"

One small girl edged forward. "It is us, the Children of the Earth, and we wish you no harm but we are so tired.  Bone tired.  So tired we could cry.  Won't you let us rest here for the night?"

From the shadows a rustle of fur moved forward until a damp, black nose was inches from the girl's face.  It breathed deep, pulling in the scent of the Children along with the secrets of their hearts.  After a long moment, Bear stood up.  

"Children," she began, "why do you not sleep?  You wear exhaustion like sweat on skin, and your minds have not looked up from the effort of survival in far too long."  The girl spoke, "Dear Bear, when ever we close our eyes, we see only darkness without end and we have no one to protect us from the beasts of the world.  Please do not make us leave."

Bear softened.  "Children, come close.  I have long teeth and sharp claws for protecting the young.  I have deep fur and a strong heartbeat to warm your skin.  But most importantly, I have the secrets of the dark, the trail to follow into the Non-Ordinary World, the world where stars swim in lakes and humans fly in the night sky.  Rest your heads, close your eyes, and I will sing you into the dreamtime."  She spread wide her great paws and all the Children crowded close, faces nestled into her shaggy brown hide.  As soon as their breathing slowed, she began to sing.  Her voice rose up from the deepest roots of the mountain and echoed back from the farthest galaxy.  And for the first time, the Children closed their eyes and the darkness rolled back.  They flapped wings, spoke in unknown languages and understood secrets never seen before.  Mysteries were manifest in images and the stars revealed themselves as family.

No one knows how long Bear sang, or how long the Children slumbered in dreamtime.  But when they woke, the cavern was cool and empty.  They crawled out under the night sky, calling for Bear, when a twinkle above caught their eye.  Seven new stars shone out in the black and the Children saw Bear was watching out for them from high above the earth.  

Ancestral Mythology: People of the Bear  (sterling silver and Morenci Turquoise

Ancestral Mythology: People of the Bear  (sterling silver and Morenci Turquoise

From that day on, the Children knew whenever the sun sank and the moon rose, they could close their eyes to the ordinariness of this reality and swim into the magic of the non-ordinary world.  For Bear had bestowed the gift of dreams upon the Children, that they might always see more than meets the eye.

And that dear children, is how we became a People of the Bear.

* * *

Ancestral Mythology: People of the Horse

Kelly Clark

Long ago, the People knew only peace.  They spoke with all the creatures of the land and sky, they shared their fires and gave thanks after the hunt.   

But then the Men came.  They smelled foreign, nothing like cedar and soil, but like something sharp.  Something bitting.  Knowing only peace, the People invited them to sit by their fires, to partake of their meals.  The Men came willingly, eating ravenously and jostling each other for the warmest seats.  They began to tell stories, of lands far away, of the glittering boxes people lived in and the way they conquered rivers and fields.  The People listened, transfixed, while day after day the Men told them more about this world over the mountains.  Soon they began showing the tools they brought with them, shiny and hard, cold and brilliant.  The men of the People held these tools in their hands and forgot what it was to run the hillsides after deer on sinewy legs and sure feet.  The women were silenced when they spoke of all the wisdom the Moon had gifted them, and soon they too begin to forget what it was to dance naked and hear the songs of the forest.   

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But there was one Girl who kept her distance from the Men.  She was old enough to care for herself, but too young, too small for the Men to bother speaking with.  She spent her days in the council of the trees, practicing the language of the winged and four-legged creatures.  She sat alone on a high hilltop watching as the People began acting more and more like the Men.  They dressed like the Men, spoke like the Men, and the Girl knew it was time.  She crept back into camp under night's dark cover and gathered all the songs, all the dances, all younger children who could still hear the trees.  She lead them up to her hilltop and from there she called Horse.  

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"Horse," she cried, surrounded by the children, "my kindred and I need your help, we need your swift hooves, your strength and your courage.  We have the precious secrets of the People and we can not make the journey ahead alone."   

Horse galloped up the hillside, followed by his band. "We will help you," he replied, "for the People and the Horses have always treated each other with respect, have always sought to aid the other that lives ripple brightly and grow strong.  But we too have been watching the Men, and we too have seen that the earth is changing.  The Men do not speak our language, they do not see us as brethren, and so we too need the help of those who remember."  

The Girl listened and thought.  From the great sack she had filled with all the songs and dances, she drew two long feathers, tying one into the mane of Horse, and one into her own loose locks.  She called the other children and bade them each take two feathers, one for their own hair, and one for the mane of the horse who would carry them.  She turned to Horse and spoke.  "Now we share this bond, seen by all the heavens.  Now whenever the People see a horse with a mane that flies like wings, whenever the Horses see a person with flight in their hair, we shall know that we are kin.  We shall respect and hear the other, we shall remember this day we shared, our cries for help and our vows of aid.  These feathers will pass back to the earth, but this bond will remain in the very blood that passes down through our children's children.  And all those People with our blood will know the language of the Horse in their bones.  No matter how the earth shifts and turns, how the landscape changes and the creatures morph, no matter the words forgotten by tongue and time, this will remain because it resides within our very marrow."

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With that Horse nodded deeply, and the Girl climbed astride. 

And that dear child, is how we became a People of the Horse. 

* * * 

Ancestral Mythology Vol 2: People of the Owl

Kelly Clark

This is a story of our great grandmothers, of the days when the women still had feathers running down their spines, before we tucked them up below our shoulders blades and slept through the moonlight.

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Not many remember this today, but there was a time when the Moon and her twin sister walked among the people.  The Moon showed the women the dark secret of the earth, when to plant, where to gather, how to sing the oysters up from the depths.  She would gather them to her each month, showing them how to dance the wildness into their souls and how blood beget life.  The Moon loved the People dearly, always returning after the day, after the sun, every night without fail.  

But the Moon's sister became jealous.  She was as fair skinned as the Moon, as silvery haired, she knew the ancient dances, she knew the secrets to life.  But she cared little for the People, and so the People stepped cautiously around her with averted eyes.  Her jealousy consumed her.  While the Moon slept and the Sun distracted the People with his dazzling presence, the Moon's sister crafted a plan.  She wrapped her sleeping sister in a black bear skin, tied tight with leather thongs, and threw her into the sky.  When evening fell, the darkness was complete.  The Moon was hidden from the People and they shivered in the blackness.

"Where is our sister?  Where is our mother-Moon? " the People cried in a panic.  They called out to the eagles, to the crows, to the sparrows, "Someone help!  The Moon has been stolen away!"  The eagles, the crows and the sparrows awoke and flapped out of their nests, but the darkness was complete and they stumbled without sight.  The People called to the bison, the bobcats, and the mule deer, "Help us, help us!"  But without even a glimmer of light, they were lost in the forest.  Finally the People called out, "Owl, Owl, help us find the Moon."

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Now Owl was known as the seer, for Owl's eyesight was keener than any other living being.  She rolled her head side to side, from earth to sky, and caught the faintest twinkle high above the clouds.  She spread her great wings and flew, up and up, until the air was thin.  She flew until the earth pulled back below her and disappeared in the gloom of night.   She flew until she reached the bear skin hanging in the sky, and with her sharp small beak, she clipped right through the leather thongs.  The cloak fell away from the Moon and the earth was once again illuminated with her glow.  Owl tried to carry the Moon back to the earth, but the Moon knew her time to walk among the People had passed.

She kissed Owl on the forehead, and immediately the brown feathers turned bright white, and the sign of love ringed her face.  "Send my sister to me," commanded the Moon, "for though her heart is dark, she is still my kin and she shall live with me in the sky.  Return to the People, show them your face and they will see me in it.  Tell them to remember the truths I have shown them."

And Owl did everything just as the Moon said.  Now, every month, the Moon dances with her sister across the night sky, swinging each other around through light and darkness that neither outshine the other. 

And that dear children, is how we became a People of the Owl. 

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Ancestral Mythology: People of the Owl

(sterling silver, kyanite, larimar, and aquamarine) 

* * * 

Ancestral Mythology, Vol 1.

UmberDove

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This is a story of the People.

*

Long, long ago when the earth was still bright eyed and the People did not yet know Her fullness, the sun shone harsh and baked the soil.  For weeks the People stood with parched tongues at the valley edge, watching the storm clouds high above the mountain range.  High, higher than anyone had dared climb, so high their eyes watered and wept, so high the trees sighed and released their leaves.  In the valley the grasses withered and the children cried out for the hunger in their bellies.  The women huddled and in hushed tones wondered where to lead their tribe. 

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The eldest woman cried out "Deer Mother, Deer Mother, how do we save our babies?  Where will we lead our men?"  And so Deer ran down from the trees and walked among the People, noting their empty baskets and innocent hearts.  She looked to the high mountains, flowering and lush.

"You must travel North," Deer said, "You must follow the rain for in its path the land springs green eternal.

"But we can not climb so high" lamented the People.  "Our feet are too broad for the narrow trails, our toes too tender for the shale.  Our legs are not strong enough for those steep sides and we shall surely fall to our death."

Deer looked at the People with their wide open eyes full of hope and fear.

"Climb," she said, dropping to her knees.  "Climb and I will carry you."  And so the People clambered upon her back, the young, the old, the men, the women.  She carried them high, higher than any had ever traveled before, so high that when the People turned they saw the whole of the Earth stretched out before them and their eyes were opened to Her fullness.  Deer carried them until the air was scented with the tang of damp loam and the grasses grew thick and dark.  The People slid off her back, kissed her neck, and ate their fill.

*

And that child, is how we became a People of the Deer.

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Ancestral Mythology: People of the Deer

(sterling silver, prehnite, amazonite, and gaspeite)