Charlie seeks guidance and inspiration from Maheo (Cheyenne name for the Great Spirit) in several different ways. In this scene, he conducts what is known as a heliacal rising ceremony where the participant watches for the last star or constellation to rise before its extinguished by dawn's light.
As if cooperating with the hour's intent, Grandmother Moon lurked beneath the horizon while blackened skies strewn with stars awaited their demise at dawn. Charlie made an offering with his prayers, then sat cross-legged on the bare ground outside his cabin, facing northeast.
Dawn would commence just after five o'clock, sun breach the horizon roughly forty-five minutes later. Just enough time to get to work by six.
Morning air sharpened his senses as he tapped softly on the hand drum in his lap. The hypnotic rhythm quieted his mind much as his blanket warmed his body, a lullaby to his indigenous soul. The scent of pine needles and soft chime of aspen leaves embraced Charlie from the forest below while his eyes remained fixed on the eastern horizon,.
As he practiced what Eaglefeathers taught him of the Tseteshestahese way of life, he likewise remembered how the Diné sought answers. Both tribes honored the same Great Spirit, but through different rituals.
Dawn was a sacred time when Diné tradition declared one could seek wisdom in a special way. Why not take advantage of both? Surely Maheo wouldn't mind.
A pale glow caressed distant peaks, reaching toward heaven. Light fanned out and brightened, the time he was waiting for. The last rising star or constellation preceding the sun's appearance would deliver specific inspiration in those sacred moments before it was extinguished by the break of day.
His heartbeat merged with that of his drum, mind clear and receptive as he watched, waiting.
What appeared wasn't surprising. Stars known to the white man as Orion's belt. To the Diné they were the quiver of Átsé Ets' ózí, a strong, young warrior charged with protecting his family and people. His appearance in an heliacal rise was a call for action.
What that might be, however, was what he needed to know.
Opening his mind to Maheo, he braced for the moment's culmination, when a small splash of pinkish-red appeared between the peak-strewn horizon and the spreading light. Its energy stirred his soul, bathed in brilliance like the snow crowning high elevations.
A sharp cry shattered the still air like a lance—a golden eagle on its morning hunt.
Another call from Eagle.
He assumed the great bird's persona, acquiring its flawless vision that sought its prey, then swooped in for the kill before it could escape. Eagle didn't know where his prey would appear until it did. He rode the wind, searching, until it broke cover.
He kept drumming, maintaining focus, enjoining patience. The eagle plunged groundward, then ascended again, an unfortunate rabbit dangling from its talons.
An animal that depended on its senses to perceive danger, then use its wit to survive.
He thought back to hunting rabbits with his father. They were not always successful. While their arrows were swift and silent, their feet were not. Rocks, twigs, fallen leaves, perhaps the vibration itself, served as warning. Snares were far more effective.
This quest required that he hunt as the eagle. Maintain his instincts and be on constant guard with unwavering vigilance. Sharp of eye, his approach silent, swift, and deadly.
Otherwise, he would fail.
He drummed a while longer as he watched and listened. The sun continued its journey, dissipating night and its shadows, stealing dawn's intrigue.
To discover what happened to Bryan required further action.
How his job with LSO fit in would come with time.