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Week 11 Story: Heart and Mind

"We have a problem."

Raven looked up to see Man approaching him from across the sandy beach. Raven had been relaxing, content after the creation of so many beings. But here came Man, apparently with a problem.

How can there be a problem? Thought Raven. 

I only just created life on this planet. It should all be perfect. At least for now.

Man sat down beside Raven and sighed deeply. 

"I'm sorry to say this Raven, but there is an issue with one of your creations," he said.

"An issue? How could this be? I made everything perfectly!" Raven replied.

"Yes," Man responded. "All of the creatures that you intentionally created are perfect. But..."

Raven immediately grasped his meaning. Of all of his creations, only one had been accidental.

"My friend," Raven said. "What misfortune befalls you? What issue has reared its head to afflict mankind?"

"Come," said Man. "Follow me to the village and I will show you."

Man began to walk back towards the direction he came, but Raven quickly stopped him.

"Walking will not suffice in such a time, my friend," said Raven. "Come, climb atop my back and we will travel much faster."

With that, Raven pulled his beaked mask down onto his face and thus transformed into a bird. Carrying Man along, Raven flew swiftly to the village of mankind. 

Upon arriving, Raven could not tell that anything was amiss. Looking around, all that he saw was life continuing on as it normally would. People were preparing supper, cleaning fish, weaving nets, tending fires, and performing other menial chores. But, before long, Raven began to feel that something was indeed amiss. He couldn't place the feeling, but something about the way the people moved and the expressions on their faces seemed...wrong. 

Pulling off his mask, Raven took his human form once again. Walking swiftly towards the village, he was surprised to see that his presence raised little more than cursory glances from the people. In the past, when he had visited the village, the people had smiled and waved, greeting him with laughter and joy. But there was none of that now. Raven was confused, they weren't hostile by any means, they simply seemed...disinterested. Raven was deeply troubled, even hurt, by this. Despite their creation being entirely accidental, Raven was deeply fond of Man and mankind. It was for their sake that he had created all the other animals and plants that populated the land.

As Raven stood at the center of the village, Man approached and sat before him.

"You see our problem," Man sighed. "The people are...changed. They still perform the tasks necessary to keep themselves alive, but there is no joy in it. There is no interest."

Raven pondered this problem. He knew that his people could not persist for long in this state. Without a passion for life and joy, they would soon lose interest in doing even the simple tasks that would keep them alive. As he thought about this, Raven felt pangs of sorrow through his heart at the idea of creation's fate. 

But these feelings of sorrow triggered something in Raven. An idea. He looked at Man and beckoned him closer. He then reached out and placed a hand against Man's chest. To his surprise, he felt nothing. 

"Where is your heart?" Raven wondered aloud. "It should be here, in the same place that mine is."

At this, Man looked confused.

"What do you mean where is my heart?" Man replied. "It is here where it has always been."

With that, Man raised Raven's hand up until it was resting on his head. 

Raven let out a cry of shock. Finally, he understood the origin of mankind's woes. 

"Your heart and your mind are sharing the same space!" he said excitedly. "That must be the cause of what has happened here!"

Man threw Raven a quizzical look. "I don't understand. How does the position of our hearts have anything to do with this disinterest?"

"It's because of your mind," explained Raven. "Mankind has a powerful mind. Much more powerful than my other creations. It seems that with your mind and heart sharing the same space, your mind has gradually suppressed your heart. Your emotions and feelings, instincts and interest, have all been pushed down by the power of your own mind.

With this theory in place, Raven reached out and plucked the heart out from Man and moved it down into his chest. Raven then went around to the people of the village and performed the same procedure on each. Within minutes, the people of the village began to experience joy again. They laughed and cried and celebrated regaining their feeling. 

And thus Raven separated the hearts and minds of men, giving rise to the difference between emotion and sense, logic and feeling. 

Raven and Man

Author's Note:
This was a pretty weird story for me to write. It's inspired a lot by the stories of Raven as a creator, but there was one story in particular wherein the concept of the mind and heart existing in the same place was sort of implied. I liked this idea and wanted to explore it further, but I'm not so sure that this story really does it justice. Basic parts of the story, such as the accidental creation of Man by Raven, and Raven's ability to transform from human to bird and back, were taken from the original stories as I read them. But pretty much everything else were things that I had to create to fit the narrative I was trying to tell. I'm not sure if it really all got through. In any case, thanks for reading and feel free to comment down below. (If you read the whole thing, you probably have to anyways!)

By: Katharine Berry Judson

Photo Credits:


  1. Hi Rhys! I actually really liked this story. I wasn't sure where it was going at first, because I'm not familiar with a ton of raven creation myths, but I really liked the ending. You brought together different legends to help explain a really important human characteristic - the struggle between logic and emotion - and that came through really clearly by the end. I think you trying to construct this story to fit a specific narrative and explanation of the world is exactly the point of these myths in the first place. Great work!

  2. Hi Rhys! I also read the Alaskan unit and actually read the one on Raven's creation, so I was already familiar with some of the things you mentioned. I think your story does a great job and capturing the essence of the original one but adds unto it in a way that seems natural and believable. I love the idea that mind suppressed the emotions so Raven had to separate our hearts and minds, it was very clever!


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