The Raven's Gift

In Siberia, the harshest of lands, I met Moolynaut, a shaman of the Koryak people.  Through her teachings, my own adventures, and the patient conversations of many men and women, I have begun to see the world as our ancestors saw it, sustainable and full of wonder. Slowly, I am realizing that the lessons and experiences we learn from the people who live in wilderness — and ultimately from Wilderness itself — can guide us through our passages in this oil soaked, internet crazed, madcap world. In 2000, in the remote Siberian village of Vyvenka, I met a Koryak shaman named Moolynaut.  A year later, Moolynaut entreated the spirit of a great black raven to help mend my injured pelvis.  As scientist, I could find no rational explanation for the healing so I traversed the frozen tundra where Moolynaut was born, camping with bands of reindeer herders, and recording stories of their lives and spirituality. Framed by high adventure across the vast and forbidding Siberian landscape, The Raven’s Gift is a life-altering vision of the ties between the natural and spiritual realms, informed by one man’s awakening and guided by the ancient Spirit Bird who soars above us on wide black wings.


Koryak People of the Deer


Professional PRaise

With The Raven’s Gift, Turk beautifully conveys the raw joy of motion, a terrific sense of adventure, the arduous task of traversing the Arctic tundra and the story of the Vyvenka people. He reminds us that whatever our own initial goals or intentions, the journey always becomes something else, something altogether unexpected.
— Grant Shilling, Vancouver Sun
A moving account worthy of shelving alongside Vladimir Arsenyev’s Dersu Uzala (1923), Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams (1986) and other explorations of native ways of life in the Far North.
— Kirkus Reviews
Turk writes with prowess, nerve, and precision…[He] attests to the innate powers of the body, mind and soul that are awakened when we immerse ourselves in “Wild Nature.
— Donna Seaman, The American Library Association
The tension between his own logical scientific background and the mysterious shamanistic wisdom of his healer is at the heart of this wonderfully-told story of Koryak life, and of his own personal transformation.
— Henry Pollack, Co-Winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore
Jon Turk is a true explorer, a curious traveler and a gifted writer who shares his remarkable journeys with wisdom, insight and compassion.
— Maria Coffey, Author of “Explorers of the Infinite”
Harrowing back-country mountain skiing, avalanches, and equally traumatic ski-trekking in the vast Siberian tundra where he searches for the last remnants of an ancient Koryak reindeer-herding people parallel Turk’s personal search for his own inner balance. This is a tale of loss and rebirth brought about by faith, reflection, and trust in a part of the world that has not been visited or described by Westerners for nearly one hundred years.” From Eric Soares, One of the Founders of the Tsunami Rangers: “If you are looking for a book from a sea kayaker who thinks like we do and who embarks on a long journey of transformative self-discovery, then you will benefit from reading The Raven’s Gift. I did.
— William Fitzhugh, Director, Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution