Way back, beyond the reach of living memory, things were different in this world. It’s hard to believe or even imagine how they could be, but they were. The present, after all, is not a solid thing. It is like an invisible curtain we are constantly walking through. We seem to be always peering through it, into a room we never quite enter. So we grasp onto the notion of permanence despite a deep knowingness that nothing endures. This is why we love stories. Stories soften the blows of uncertainty and remind us that we will be alright in the end. Stories cut through the illusions that might otherwise bind us. Take for instance the story of The Raven.
Those noisy black birds that seem to taunt you and strut around like they’re untouchable, they have their story. Legend has it that ravens were once tasked to protect the wisdom of the world. For centuries they fulfilled their duty as the gatekeepers of this wisdom with courage and great nobility of spirit.
Then, one day a dispute emerged between the ravens and the humans. Humans, like ravens, were quick learners, equally intelligent but more arrogant than their counterparts. They challenged the ravens to step down from their assigned role, believing that they were better suited to protect the wisdom of the world. Rivalry between humans and ravens escalated quickly. There had been harsh words before, and words are only words, but they soon have way to violence. The first act of cruelty was quickly avenged and there’s no stopping anyone who feels justified for their brutality. The kingdom came to the brink of civil war. Faced with the potential destruction of the kingdom, the emperor summoned the humans and the ravens to attend an important meeting. Each side arrived convinced that they were right and that the emperor would rule in their favour. The emperor passed a decree which is still in force today. He proclaimed that henceforth all humans would lose their memory of the wisdom of the world or that it even existed, and that the ravens would forget their language except for the vowel sounds: a, e, i, o and u. The key to lifting the curse for both the ravens and humans lay in the form of a specific arrangement of vowel sounds. This curse would be lifted on the day that the humans heard and understood the coded message uttered by the ravens. Since then, sadly, humans have forgotten to listen while many ravens have given up trying to be heard. However, some days, if you are attentive, you will hear through the raven’s caws those letters: a, e, i, o and u. Sometimes you will notice how the ravens appear to be trying to get our attention.