by Caro Dee
It's just past dawn when Blair steps out of the woods into the little clearing. It's still untouched. No one has found it since the last time he was here. The spirits have protected it.
Carefully Blair spreads out his blanket, the rattle, the smudge stick and matches, the token from his teacher. He ignores the hunger in his belly from fasting as unimportant.
Lighting the smudge stick, he carefully smudges himself and the items he brought with him. Disrobing, Blair moves over to the tiny stream and performs the ritual water cleansing until his spirit shines clear. There's a particular feeling when that happens, like he's transparent.
Kneeling on the blanket, shivering slightly in the cool morning air, Blair settles into meditation. This is the most familiar part and he smiles fondly, thinking of Naomi. Then he lets that go and slowly settles into the silence.
Gradually the clearing fills him as he becomes one with the grass, the stream, the trees, the birds, the little animals and insects scurrying about. Blair Sandburg, Anthropology student and police consultant, dissipates and leaves Shaman in his place.
When it feels right, Shaman picks up the rattle and begins to shake it. It's not actually part of his teacher's tradition, but Blair spent time on Indian reservations and it was a gift to him. So it seems appropriate to use it now.
Rising to his feet, shaking the rattle, Shaman begins to dance. His voice rises and falls in a wordless chant and he spreads his arms wide in invitation. He knows the moment Wolf Brother enters him and joins the dance because his movements change, becoming less human and more fluid, his vision sharpens, and he smells the forest's secrets.
There is a brushing against his legs and he welcomes Panther, the spirit of his Sentinel. Panther will hang around for a while watching and then return to Jim. Jim, who doesn't know about Shaman because Blair and his teacher agree he's not ready to accept this. It doesn't matter. This is Shaman's path.
Dancing frenetically now, Shaman becomes disoriented. His spirit is almost ready to leave his body. Falling onto the blanket, Shaman lies there letting the spasms shake him until his body seizes, arches, and falls back limp.
Shaman opens his eyes to the familiar blue-tinged jungle. Wolf Brother is with him and he joyfully kneels to greet him properly. They indulge in a moment of wrestling before becoming serious again.
Blair stands and together they move towards the temple rising above the rainforest canopy. It is a place of great power and Blair feels it shiver over him. But he has a right to be here and his own small power swells and grows within him.
Spying the small figure waiting at the base of the temple, Shaman breaks into a happy grin and hurries forward. Wolf Brother yelps and rushes ahead, leaping happily around the teacher.
Wise, dark eyes meet Shaman's. "Greeting, Younger Brother. How was your journey?"
"Greetings, Elder Brother. Incacha, man, good to see you! What are we working on today?"
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