Sunday, February 22, 2009
The story teller - for Carol
Here's a mysterious, magical tale from HealingStory.Org, a really wonderful website.
How Old Woman Kytna Brought Her Daughter Home
A Koryak Story from Kamchatka Peninsula Retold by Kira Van Deusen
In Kichiga old woman Kytna lived with her old man. They had a daughter named Ralinavut, a grown-up daughter. Not far from their village lived a wolf pack, twenty-eight wolves.
One time Ralinavut went for a walk and got lost, she did not return home.
They looked for her everywhere, in all the surrounding settlements, but no one had seen her. Then they decided that she must have lost her way, frozen to death and been covered with snow. It occurred to no one that on the same day Ralinavut got lost, the wolf pack had gone away from that place. And no one guessed that the wolf pack had taken her away as one of them.
But her mother did not believe that her daughter had died and kept waiting for her to return. Three years went by. Ralinavut did not come back.
Dancing Shaman with Drum
Then Kytna took up her shaman's drum. She played and sang all night and in the morning she said to her husband:
"Our daughter is alive. She is in a wolf pack, far away in the north. The place is called Talkap. Three years ago this wolf pack was living in our area, twenty-eight wolves there were. Those are the ones who took our daughter away."
"That is very far away," said the old man. "It's too far for you to go. You'll get lost in the tundra."
"I won't get lost," said Kytna, "I know how to get there."
"Then prepare supplies for the road," said the old man.
They prepared supplies for the road and the next morning, just as it was getting light, Kytna set off on her way. She went on foot along the snow. And as soon as she had gone a hundred paces, she turned into a wolf. Wolves go very quickly on the snow.
Towards evening a reindeer herders' nomad camp appeared. Kytna took her own form and went up to the camp. One reindeer-herder greeted her.
"Greetings, old woman. Where have you come from and where are you going, old woman on foot?"
"I'm going north, to Talkap," said Kytna.
"My daughter is living there among the wolves. The wolves took her away," answered Kytna.
"That's a long way to go!" said the reindeer herder. "On foot it is a very long way. Very difficult. I will give you reindeer. Good reindeer!"
"I feel more at ease on foot. I'll continue on foot.", said Kytna
"You know best," said the reindeer-herder. "We have good reindeer and you are welcome to them."
The next morning, just as it got light, Kytna went on her way. As soon as she had gone a hundred paces, she turned into a wolf. The wolf trotted away. The reindeer-herder watched her go.
"So that's why she refused our reindeer!" he said.
Along the way Kytna met a wolf and questioned him.
"Tell me, brother, have you met an unusual wolf anywhere in a pack in the north? The kind of wolf who is at the same time a wolf and a human?"
The wolf told this tale - "Far away in the north, beyond Talpak, lives a big pack, twenty-nine wolves. I was once their guest. I noticed that among them was one unusual wolf. In my opinion this was not a real wolf. It seemed more like a person."
"Most likely that was my daughter, Ralinavut," said Kytna.
"She's called Ralinavut?" said the wolf. "I have heard that name. In that pack there was one female wolf with that name."
Kytna kept running north. She came to a big settlement of Chukchi reindeer- herders. The Chukchi were glad to have a guest. She was treated to meat and fat and then they asked her, "Where do you come from and where are you going, old woman on foot?"
"I come from far away in the south, a place called Kichiga," said Kytna.
"That is a long way," said the Chukchi. "I was there once"
"Tell me," said Kytna, "is there a large wolf pack living in this vicinity? Don't they prey on your herds?"
"Yes, there is a big pack, twenty-nine wolves. And oh, how sick I am of them! They do prey on our herds."
"Those wolves took away my daughter," said Kytna. "Now she lives in their pack. Three years have gone by. I don't know if I will be able to take her home."
"It is time to sleep," said her host.
"I need to get up early," said Kytna.
They got up early. They ate and they drank tea. Kytna went on her way. She came to the place where the wolves were eating reindeer that they had killed in the night. Kytna saw the pack and turned herself into a wolf. Kytna circled around the wolves.
"Many wolves here eat their food,
Among them must be Ralinavut."
The wolf Ralinavut shivered and stopped eating. "Who is looking for me here in the tundra?" she thought.
Kytna came closer; she circled one more time and sang...
"These wolves are thieves,
Here daughter Ralinavut lives."
The wolf Ralinavut thought, "It's my mother looking for me. Who else would it be? Of course, it's mother." Quietly she moved toward the voice and sang...
"Mama, how did you find me?
Oh, mama, I wish you hadn't come.
I've been a wolf so long now,
Taken in by the wolves."
Kytna made a third circle and sang her answer...
"Ralinavut, you are human.
Like us you have a human name."
Ralinavut could not contain herself; she ran to her mother. "Mama, why are you here?"
"My heart was frozen," answered Kytna. "I've come for you and without you I will not leave. I am your mother. Let us run away while the wolves are not looking. Not far from here is a village of reindeer-herders. We'll rest there. I am very tired. I came the whole way on foot."
"All right, let's go," answered the wolf, Ralinavut. They came to the village, turned into people and went into the yaranga.
"Oho, what a brave old woman!" said the Chukchi. "Not only has she come back but she has taken her daughter away from the wolves!"
Kytna and Ralinavut rested. She rested and then she said, "It's time to go home."
"Your Kichiga is very far away," said the Chukchi. "Let me take you on my reindeer."
"We don't need reindeer," Kytna replied. "We'll go on foot. We'll leave early in the morning."
Early the next morning Kytna and her daughter left. The Chukchi watched them go. When the two women had gone a hundred paces they were no longer there - and in their places ran two wolves. They were moving very quickly!
"So that's why they refused our reindeer!" said the Chukchi. "Wolves will get much faster."
Kytna and her daughter ran all day to Kichiga. Kytna's husband looked out and saw two wolves running toward the village. They ran side by side. He thought, "That must be my wife and daughter."
People rushed out, calling, "Wolves are coming! Wolves!"
But the old man calmed them. "They are not wolves," he said. "They are human. Why would wolves be running straight into the village in broad daylight?" And suddenly there were no more wolves. Kytna and her daughter were walking along the snow. They came home.