Catching a glimpse of the mantle, he realized he hadn't conversed with his fetishes since taking the job. It still felt as if he were in a dream of sorts. Not quite himself, yet in some way more genuine.
He'd never been so entrenched in vehoe's world, yet never felt more like a warrior.
Had he finally found a way to ride both ponies?
Prior rationalizations aside, he was helping violate the Earth.
Dr. Phil's parting words stung like a yellow jacket, unexpected and painful.
Was working for LSO right?
It was time for another chat at the medicine wheel. If he moved to the work site, he wouldn't be able to. He shuddered at how those roughnecks would react if he sat on the bunkhouse floor conversing with tiny stone animals.
Gathering them from the mantle, he settled down in front of the fireplace and set them in their respective positions. He lit a sweetgrass braid, used its sacred smoke to bless himself, the wheel, and fetishes. Eyes closed, he inhaled the fragrant vapors deeply, then tuned into their energies.
Oddly enough, Eagle, Black Bear, Badger, Mountain Lion, Mole, and Wolf were all silent.
Instead, the impression was that of a lizard.
His eyes lost their focus as he drifted back to his childhood.
The first spirit animal Eaglefeathers told him to ponder. He thought back to that evening before the fire as a young boy, creeping through the dust on his belly.
What message did lizard have?
Lizards were naturally camouflaged, blending with their environment, whether on the ground, a rock, or against the bark of a tree. Their tongue snapped insects from the air faster than the blink of an eye. They were silent, often unseen, wily at eluding predators, particularly as they got older.
Like immature members of all species, humans included, they were more vulnerable when young, naive, impulsive, and foolish.
Enemies—lots of them.
Birds of all kinds, especially birds of prey. Dogs and cats, domestic and wild. Snakes, possums, raccoons, toads and fish. Their own diet was less varied, mostly insects, arachnids, even scorpions.
Ironic, considering some scorpions could kill a man.
So what was lizard trying to say?
Its ability to blend with its environment was one. Unless he was actually looking for lizard, it was probably invisible—until it moved. That could be no more than a flicker in his peripheral vision, gone before he realized it was there.
Next, its keen senses—sight, hearing, smell, vibrations in the Earth. If lizard missed something, it could wind up in a predator's stomach. Threats could come from the air, like an eagle. From the ground, like a snake. From its own level. Anything from a small mammal or possum to a bigger lizard.
One defense it had was its tail. It broke off easily, but would grow back.
Sometimes he got a second chance.
Recognizing his vulnerability and maintaining sharp awareness in all directions struck him as the intended message.
He rubbed his chin, sobered by multiple implications.
That was a lot to watch for.
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