From Shadows of Chaco Canyon Chapter One:
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"Sunlight bathed Pueblo Bonito in primary hues, casting a colorful aura above its great kiva. As if extinct volcanoes were coming back to life, reds and yellows swirled toward the western horizon in an explosion of light. A purple halo hovered over the Chuska Mountains, eventually drifting northward, pausing to illuminate the Great North Road in an ethereal shade of gold.
People were traveling on all eight lanes of the road. The lanes were ceremonial in nature, and visitors honored the winter solstice by retracing the journey of the four original clans. Those who traveled on the outer lanes honored the four cardinal directions. The powerful energies of these sacred paths intersected at Chaco Canyon."

Chaco Canyon: Chaco Canyon is located in northern New Mexico, near the four corners region of the United States, where the boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado coincide. With an elevation slightly higher than 4100 feet, this is the high desert region where the winters are long, and the growing seasons are short. For the last 70 years, annual rainfall has averaged about 8.5 inches. Between 850 A.D. and 1130 A.D., during a time of above-average rainfall, the people of Chaco Canyon undertook massive construction projects that changed the landscape and extended their sphere of influence over an area 95,000 square miles in size. Who were these people? Some believe that the people of Chaco Canyon never fully left, that the spirits of the ancestors remain and the wind carries their voices.



Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter Two:
The shaman had long, curly hair streaked with gray. Curly hair was unheard of among the people, but the shaman had been born with a full head of silken curls. It was believed the spirits had chosen him to be a spiritual leader while in the womb.
A few strands had escaped from the long braid hanging down his back and framed his rugged face in spiral tendrils. His prominent brows were arched above jet-black eyes, and his face showed signs of strain. His efforts to intercede on the people’s behalf were etched in the lines of his face and in the slight stoop of his shoulders. The spirits remained displeased. What else could explain such a severe drought?


Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter One:
Trouble had come to the peaceful village in the form of a shape-changer.
Shape-changers acted as friends but conspired as enemies. Some people believed in chindi. Chindi, all that is bad in a person's soul, could remain behind after death to haunt the earth. Was there such a thing as a ghost left behind, comprised of a person's faults while on earth?
Shape-changer, skin-walker, or chindi -it didn't matter what you called this particular form of evil. The results were the same: trouble. There would be more trouble until the witch was exposed.


Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter One:
Kee looked for the sacred order of celestial movement within all things. He believed that in following the natural order of the heavens, peace and harmony could be attained on the earth below. Dark brown eyes beneath a furrowed brow hinted at a serious nature, yet laugh lines creased the corners of his eyes and mouth. His selfless nature and quiet inner strength were a comfort to those entrusted to his care and were an inspiration to his fellow watchers.
Members of the Watchers Society were entrusted with protecting the boundaries of Chaco Canyon and its surrounding communities. Grateful that help was nearby, the residents were equally comforted to know that members of the Watchers Society valued discretion above all else. The watchers ensured peace without promoting gossip and provided protection without resorting to force. Kee assumed his watch at Pueblo Bonito.


Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter One:
When it became apparent that the elderly farmer had finished speaking, the pretty young woman known as Neeva offered more information. She had beautiful dark brown eyes and spoke with animated movements. There was passion in the tone of her voice.
"It was a sound like thunder, although there were no clouds in the sky. The rockslide seemed to go on forever, until our ears began to ache."
She stood, moving her arms in a circle, reaching toward the ceiling. "Huge dust clouds…it was difficult to breath. When the dust began to settle, we could see a body beneath the rockslide. Nearly the entire terrace along the North Rim near Pueblo Alto is gone! If it rains, the water will be lost."
A long stretch of silence followed—partly out of respect, for Neeva might not be finished speaking, but also because everyone present was stunned.

Kota the Senior Astronomer
Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter Ten:
The senior astronomer rolled off his sleeping mat to bid farewell to the night sky. Kota gave thanks for the breath of life filling his lungs and shared it with the embers in the fire pit. He nourished the coals with twigs and bark. A drop of sap flared and crackled as small flames tentatively explored the new offering. Kota murmured a prayer of welcome, and his gentle words strengthened the weak flames. The senior astronomer then rested partially burned logs from the previous night against the fire, turning the charred sides away from the embers. With whispered prayers of encouragement, he bent close to the ground and breathed new life into the ceremonial fire.
Years of drought had made fire building an art, and Kota’s small fire would place little demand on the dwindling wood supply. His room would never be warm, but it was enough not to see his own breath in it. Kota crouched over the fire pit and warmed his hands before moving next door to a room on the perimeter of the great house. This room was much colder, but it was an honor awarded to the most senior and respected member of the Astronomical Society. Although all the people followed the movements of the moon and sun, it was the senior astronomer who was entrusted with keeping accurate records.
When the stars were no longer visible, Kota greeted the coming sun with a prayer of welcome. He watched the first ray of sunshine pierce an opening on the east-facing wall as the beam of light was channeled directly onto the stone column on the opposite side. Tentatively at first, then with a sacred luminosity, the sun’s rays proceeded directly up the column while remaining perfectly centered. Only on the solstice would there be no light spilling over the edges of the column.


Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter Two:
The trickster lived the life of an outcast. His small dwelling was in the shadow of the trash midden. It required a powerful calling to undertake such a rigorous way of life, but it was a great honor. Valued for his comic relief and his mastery of the healing power of humor, there was always something laughable about his appearance. His hair was long and unkempt, with matted strands and errant spikes angling away from his head in all directions. Kee had seen him appear in public with an abandoned bird’s nest attached to one of the spikes. During winter months he was typically underdressed for the weather, in only a breechcloth, and fanning himself with a huge fan of turkey feathers. In summertime he could be counted on to appear bundled in several layers of clothing, complaining bitterly of the cold.
As they drew near, the trickster’s arm emerged from behind the doorway, but the rest of his body remained hidden behind the entrance curtain. His hand was curled, forming the head of a snake, and two fingers were extended to form a forked tongue. His arm swayed like an angry serpent. Two charcoal smudges on the edges of his hand formed eyes. The trickster slowly extended his arm, stretching his fingers until they curved like venomous fangs. It was mesmerizing.
The threatening buzz of a rattlesnake sounded an angry warning until a hollow gourd containing dried seeds rolled to a stop against Kee’s feet with a dying hiss. The trickster’s arm slithered back into the tent. When the snake reappeared, it was silent and missing its eyes. Blindly, it began groping. The snake found Neeva’s carrying sack and rooted through the contents with an exaggerated amount of effort.
All playfulness disappeared when the snake withdrew the knife. The trickster stepped outside, an uncharacteristic frown replacing his normal self-effacing grin. Any pretense of humor had disappeared abruptly.
For the first time, Kee saw the mortal man behind the honorary title, and he was afraid.


Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter Two:
Had the sun suffered a mortal injury, never to rise from its sleeping mat again? At this fragile moment, the storyteller donned a black cape and moved into the shadows at the far edge of the plaza. A barrage of loud cracks and pops burst from the fire. Acrid smoke clouds filled the plaza. When the smoke cleared, the body was gone, and the storyteller was revealed. The hooded black robe obscured his features but couldn’t disguise his imposing height.
The storyteller was welcomed in every village, and his arrival might restore hope to a village besieged by witchcraft. A trusted elder, the storyteller knew the history of every clan and wielded tremendous power…

From Chapter Thirteen:
The moonlight crept up Threatening Rock and spread to where a ghostly silhouette perched at the edge of the overlook. Indistinct curves became lines and angles before metamorphosing into the shape of a man huddled against the cold. As the moonlight reached the shadowed figure, it stepped away from the cliff with the economy of movement of those who have spent their lives traveling. Despite the many layers of winter clothing, there was no mistaking the angular figure of the storyteller, tall and thin. Unerringly, the storyteller moved into the shadows, coming to rest where the trickster was concealed. Neither man spoke for a moment, for witches are cunning and opportunistic. These were desperate times. With trust comes the danger of betrayal.


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