Dani stepped lightly through the shadows flickering on the ground as she walked beneath the whispering trees. Her senses were attuned to the messages flying through the overhead branches as the wind pushed leaves together to allow the trees to talk among themselves. She listened even more closely to discover the voice of Raven as it fluttered through the dim forest atmosphere, the sound of its wings lost in the sounds made by the talkative leaves and the mischievous wind.
She looked about anxiously searching for sight of her new totem animal but its sleek black shape had disappeared from her vision. She heard its distinctive caw and turned to follow the path of its sound into the deep forest.
She wandered for hours in the same direction always listening carefully for a sign from Raven. She moved soundlessly listening always but heard no sound other than the low murmur of the trees above. Then she sighed with relief when she saw the outline of Raven flying above the trees in a sunny patch surrounded by shadowy forest. Raven flew to her and led her to the sun. She followed determined to discover the purpose of her quest into the woods.
She cried out with delight when she saw the sunny patch was filled with berry vines laden with perfectly sun-ripened blackberries at a site no one from her tribe had ever discovered. She laughed as she picked a berry and kissed it before offering it to Raven who sat beside her on the ground.
Raven swallowed her offering with grace and flew away high into the clouds. Dani turned to the berries and filled her mouth with their sweet juiciness. Then she lifted her skirt and filled it like a basket with the fruit most loved by her tribe. She rushed back through the woods to take her prize to the Medicine Woman for blessing.
She stepped respectfully into the Medicine Woman’s hogan and knelt at her feet displaying the rich find of the tribe’s preferred fruit.
The Medicine Woman said solemnly, “You have received a blessing on this day from your totem. I can see it in your eyes.”
Dani said, “It’s true. Raven led me to a patch of berries larger than any we’ve seen before. We must take others to the woods to harvest the fruit before it becomes too ripe.”
“Yes, food for the tribe is a great discovery that must be shared with all of our people, but don’t forget to thank your totem for this generous gift.”
“I did not forget your teachings, Medicine Woman. I fed one of the berries to Raven before I tasted the fruit. He took it from my hand and flew away into the clouds.”
“Dear girl, Raven has selected you for great things. He has given you a great gift that requires the highest respect to be given back to him. You must be careful who you take with you to harvest the berries. Take only a few with you.”
“But there is so much to harvest.”
“That is the lesson Raven wants you to learn. You must share the bounty of the Mother Earth with all of her children not just those of our tribe. Take a few trustworthy women who will keep the secret of the find and harvest enough for a great feast for our tribe … but leave some for the birds and other animals of the forest and for the humans of other tribes who may pass that way.”
“I think I understand. Raven wants me to learn to respect all of Mother Earth’s creatures.”
“And that it is better to give than to receive. Giving back will serve us much more than depleting everything the planet has to offer for ourselves.”
“Thank you, Medicine Woman. I will go and do as you say.”
Dani and a few women harvested baskets of berries to create a bounteous feast, but they left much more than they took. They all bowed to the ground as they turned to leave the berry patch still laden with plenty of fruit for others to partake.
Dani turned as she stepped out of the sunny patch and saw Raven sitting on a branch atop the tallest tree. She bowed to her generous totem and waited to see if he had further messages for her.
Raven cawed loudly and fluttered down to perch on Dani’s shoulder. She thought she heard him whisper that he was pleased with her before he flew away into the clouds. She smiled brightly in anticipation of the dancing there would be at the celebration that night.