Sun, Moon, and Star Legends
Translated and edited by
D. L. Ashliman
- The Night Raven or Eternal
During the night the night raven can be heard calling out with its "caw,
caw." This bird is much larger than an ordinary raven, even as large as
an old hen.
It is also called the eternal teamster. They say that for his portion of
the Kingdom of Heaven he desired to be underway forever and ever. Thus he
will be driving for all eternity, seated on the middle horse of Heaven's
Wagon. The four large stars to the rear are the great wheels. The three
stars in front, standing in a crooked line, are three horses. The small
star above the middle one of these is the eternal teamster. He steers the
horses, and because the wagon always goes in a circle, they are not in a
straight line, but in a crooked one, for they are always making a turn.
Before midnight, it is said, he drives outward, and the wagon-tongue bends
upward; after midnight he drives homeward, and it bends downward.
- Source: A. Kuhn and W. Schwartz, Norddeutsche Sagen, Märchen
und Gebräuche (Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1848), pp. 199-200.
- The constellation described in this legend is, of course, the Big
Dipper or Ursa Major (the Great Bear).
- According the Jacob Grimm (Deutsche Mythologie), Ursa Major was
also called "Odin's Wagon" in ancient northern Europe. The above legend
reinforces this view, for Odin was associated with ravens.
Revised February 10, 1997.