Raven in Greenland by Devin GalaudetPrior to Christianity, Greenland had its own nature-based religion where men and women had to accept their place among the difficult conditions of Greenland’s unpredictable weather and cold.

Raven is a curious bird.

In the beginning, Raven sat alone in the dark. She was bored and began to scratch at the edge of the Earth. With the mud she created a Sparrow. The Sparrow leapt off the edge of the Earth and flew away. When the Sparrow returned she came singing a song.

Inspired by her creation, Raven then scratched at the Earth again taking mud and plants and created humans and all living things. They all lived in total darkness.

As time went by Raven grew tired. The first woman became tired. Soon, all of Raven’s creations became tired and old, but no one ever died.

One day, Raven then flew off the edge of the world and then flew out to sea, but had nowhere to land. She saw a whale with its mouth open and landed inside of the whale and into its stomach.

Raven found the Lady in the stomach of the whale (or the whale’s soul). The Lady had a beautiful Light that glowed brightly. The Lady told the Raven, “You may stay here with me and rest, but you must never touch my Light.” Raven agreed. Over the days and nights, the Lady would leave the whales stomach to go out into the world, which tempted Raven.

One day when the Lady of the Whale left for the world, Raven reached out and touched the Light, because Raven is a curious bird. Then the Light went out. When the Lady of the whale returned she discovered Raven without the Light. She said, “Raven, you have touched my Light, and now I will die.” And so it was that Lady of the Whale died and old people of the world also died.

In this way, Raven created both Life and Death.

Nive Heilmann in GreenlandNive Heilmann of Greenland Travel in Ilulissat sat with me over coffee and enthusiastically shared the stories that were given to her by her grandmother. I want to thank her for telling me the stories, traditions, and mythology of her home. I am grateful for her time.

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