The Kikimi of the Painted Lands
The Wind in his Heart is set on a fictional reservation in the American Southwest. A desert people, who dwell in the Painted Lands, the Kikimi have a long complex history. Before the Spaniards and the Americans invaded from the south and the east, the people grew corn, beans, and squash and lived peaceably along the San Pedro River. Forced into the mountains, they became warriors and fought back, until the Women’s Council “saw the futility of battling the endless tide of invaders” and they forged an uneasy and unequal peace. As is the case on some reserves today, a conflict arose between traditionalists intent on preserving culture and those open to cultivating business, like casinos, on the reservation.
In The Wind in his Heart, the protagonists are traditionalists. A conflict arises when Sammy Swift Grass, who manages the casino, guides hunters into the mountains to kill a bighorn sheep. The problem is: the sheep is actually Derek Two Trees, a ma’inawo who happened to be shot while in his animal form. Sammy has his head, ready to give to the hunters for mounting.
Two worlds converge: the contemporary Kikimi world and the mythic otherworld—ghost lands where the spirits and ma’inawo dwell. The otherworld is like Faerie, and as in Faerie, humans who venture there are changed. Aging halts. In the otherworld, past, present, and future occur simultaneously.
Time moves differently on the other side. The otherworld is actually an onion of worlds, each skin peeling back a different layer to reveal yet another world. In some places, years pass in what are only minutes here. In others, a few days can be a decade.
The ma’inawo are magical beings who can appear in either human or animal form or as both together. Naturally, the traditionalists, many of whom are ma’inawo themselves, want to avenge the murder of Derek and other ma’inawo.
“Derek Two Trees wasn’t the first to die at the hands of Sammy Swift Grass and his hunters…The kin of other victims have been speaking to the wind, asking for justice,” says Abigail White Feather (Aggie). Like other characters in this story, Aggie moves between worlds. She appears to be in her eighties, but was born before the Europeans invaded the Painted Lands. Aggie is an elder, a wise woman, and an artist. She paints the ma’inawo as she sees them. “Weird animal-human hybrids” like Calico, the foxalope. Sometimes, Calico sprouts horns; other times, she wears the face of fox, and still other times; she is a beautiful red-haired woman. Similarly, Aggie’s red dog, Ruby, shifts between being a dog and a woman.
In New Mexico, I fell in love with Indigenous art. I was sure I’d seen a painting similar to what Charles de Lint describes as Aggie’s ma’inawo art.
For many years, I had one of Susan Seddon Boulet’s prints of a Hawk Woman. Seddon Boulet is an English artist, born in Brazil. She’s been creating mythical art since the 1980s where humans and animals merge in a shamanistic way.
But, I was sure I’d seen some Native American artists in New Mexico galleries who crossed the borders between human and spirit. In my online search, I discovered some truly amazing pieces, though I didn’t turn up any of Aggie’s paintings.
Like the otherworld, de Lint’s story is multi-layered. After a second reading, I’m still sorting through all the complexities, and the story has found its way into my consciousness.
Kikimi shaman, Ramon Morago says, “My medicine speaks to the spirit. It teaches the spirit how to heal itself.”
The Wind in his Heart also speaks to the spirit. It holds its own medicine. Casts its own spell. Charles de Lint’s characters find healing in different ways. One by staying in the Painted Lands. Another by leaving. Still another, by receiving kindness and acceptance from the people she encounters no matter what she does to drive them away. This novel is about healing.
After viewing many Native American prints this morning, I fell asleep in front of the fire, something I never do. And I dreamed. First, I am sure I was at one of the joyful gatherings on the Kikimi rez. And then, I was riding in a jeep in the open air. And I was happy. The sign on the side of the road read, Labrador. I smile as I write this. My first thought was: drive across the country from the West Coast to the East Coast and back again.
But those of you who know me, will remember that I am currently raising a beautiful yellow Labrador puppy who has stolen my heart. No matter if it’s the land or the lab what I can truly say is this: Labrador=Happy=The Wind in her Heart.
Monsters have cast their spell over humanity since the dawn of story. Creeping, swooping, stomping, flying, screeching and munching their way from the voices of our ancestors, they’ve evolved into creatures of fantasy and urban legend.
See ten mythical monsters you may have never heard of before in this fantastical post by Realm of History.
via 10 Bizarre Mythical Monsters You Should Know About
Do you have a favourite?
I’m drawn to the shapeshifting Belgian Kludde. Who doesn’t love and fear a shapeshifter? But, if I had to choose one as my own, I’d want Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse who can travel through all elements at break-neck speed.
via Photoshop Animation Reconstructs The Face Of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti
This is a fascinating post from Realm of History that offers us the faces of King Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti via facial reconstruction and photoshop animation. There are actually two videos. Click the link and scroll down to see a facial reconstruction of both the king and queen and read their story.
In this image (a reconstruction by Sven Geruschkat) Nefertiti is wearing a gold broad collar decorated with faience beads similar to the one the archaeologist discovers in my urban fantasy mystery, To Sleep with Stones. The writer also explains the political turmoil and chaos that Akhenaten created when he attempted to change the religious views of the people. My story concerns their daughter, Meritaten.
During the chaos, Meritaten flees Egypt and ends up in Scotland where she loses her gold broad collar. Twenty-five hundred years later, archaeologist Sorcha O’Hallorhan discovers it at the bottom of a well in Kilmartin Glen, a landscape rife with megaliths. Her discovery sets off a chain of events that ends in murder.
SORCHA FOUND IT IN THE MUD. Pried it from beneath a thin flat stone with tenderness and a trowel—a mud-encrusted, green-tinged, tangled mess. Dylan watched, so entranced he couldn’t breathe.
When she popped the trowel back in the faded caddy, she wore tied around her waist, he inhaled at last. Peeling off one glove, and then the other, she let them fall. As she cradled the object in her palm, her green eyes flickered as if it was speaking to her, and his mind flared again. Did she share his gift? Perhaps, have a talent for psychometry? Imagine holding a golden torque in your hand and seeing its tale unfold in cinematic brilliance. Imagine knowing whose head it adorned, where all it had travelled, and how many lives it had saved, or snuffed out.
She squatted, dipped her treasure reverently in a bucket of water; then cleansed it with her bare fingers. Sorcha was a renegade archaeologist who didn’t always follow procedure or stick to the grid. He usually admired that, but today it gave him shivers.
Kai stamped his foot like a nervous horse, and shone the torch. “Gold,” he murmured, with sly elation, and Dylan cringed, knowing he was considering the cash that could be made from the sale of such an artifact on the black market.
“Thank you, god,” she whispered, cupping it to her breast. It was just an expression—the only god she worshipped was fame. Sorcha O’Hallorhan was searching for archaeological connections between the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, where they currently stood, and a land twenty-five hundred miles southeast. Egypt. This artifact was quite possibly the connecting cord; the evidence she needed to prove a legend real and grasp that fame.
“Is it—?” asked Dylan.
“Aye lads.” She fondled the turquoise beads. Faience. Just like the beads that adorned the golden collar of King Tut. “I knew we’d find her.” She was Meritaten, eldest daughter of Egyptian King Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. It was the stuff of story, and to prove it true would change the way the world viewed prehistory.
Kai reached out his large rough hand. He wanted to hold it.
But Sorcha drew back, slipped it in her vest pocket and began climbing the rope ladder.
They’d dug down nearly eighteen feet into a pre-Celtic holy well because Sorcha had a theory. People offered gifts to the guardians of holy wells; and sometimes too, they used them to hide things. At this depth, the team had already travelled back in time three millenniums, and unearthed a scattering of bronze axe heads, obsidian arrowheads, jet beads and pottery shards; the skull of an extinct great auk with its long curved bill still intact; the shed antlers of a stag; and sadly, a malformed infant. But that was nothing compared to this.