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 The Wolf and the Raven



Jessie jotted some notes down in English, translating in her head the conversation that switched back and forth between two different languages. At the moment, SG-7 was in the midst of a meet and greet on Nahane, a planet whose inhabitants were strikingly similar to Native American Indians. While their initial interactions had been impeded by communication difficulties, they were making progress. The people of Nahane understood Goa’uld but considered it to be the language of the evil ones, and they didn’t take too kindly to SG-7’s attempts to communicate in Goa’uld. What saved them from real harm was the fact that Jessie could speak Navajo, which luckily for them was considered the polar opposite—the language of the true gods. As such, she was the one the council preferred to communicate with, although with a little cajoling on her part Jessie was able to convince them to converse with the rest of SG-7 in Goa’uld, since it was the only language they had in common.

Their dealings were limited to four men of the tribe. Dsihltlani, which roughly translated meant "Base of the Mountain", Pinbitho, (Deer Spring), Bithani, (Folded Arms), and Thoyetlini, (Junction of the Rivers). Dsihltlani had spent the better part of the morning with Pisano and Spencer, while Bithani was more than happy to share the stories of legends past with Cam and Jessie. He was more open to conversing in Goa’uld as a courtesy to Cam, but only because it seemed to make the one with ‘eyes of the meadow’ happy. Bithani felt that description fit Jessie much better than her rather odd sounding name. The tales he told about his ancestors being destroyed by giants or demons was definitely in line with the Goa’uld methods of enslavement or destruction.

Thoyetlini was the oldest member of the tribe, and also the shaman. He stood back, letting the others interact with SG-7 as he quietly observed. Even though Jessie was engaged in conversation with Bithani, she kept an eye on Thoyetlini. There was something about the intensity of his gaze--it wasn’t threatening, but it was almost as if he was looking through her instead of at her, which was a little disconcerting. And, it appeared he was talking to himself. Whether he was praying, or in the early stages of dementia, she couldn’t tell.

While technologically Nahane was relatively primitive, the history was intriguing, especially since it seemed to point in the direction of the Goa’uld relocating Indians from Earth centuries prior to this distant planet—another piece of the Goa’uld puzzle that connected their histories.

It was midday when they took a break. Bithani had some things to take care of, so it gave Cam and Jessie a chance to stretch their legs and talk privately.

"So, are we having fun yet?"

Jessie whacked Cam’s arm with the back of her hand. "Behave yourself."

Cam could almost be as impatient as Jack was when it came to the meet and greets. "We came, we saw, we talked. The Goa’uld thankfully seem to have forgotten that these people are here. Is it time to go home yet?" The look Jessie gave him prodded more of an explanation. "My butt’s numb."

"Poor baby," she murmured, not the least bit sympathetic.

Cam grinned, thinking of the similar exchanges Jack and Daniel had gone through over many missions together. "You having a good time?"

Glancing at him, she caught the twinkle in his eye. "Yes, I am." Jessie gestured with her hand. "I mean, look around you; it’s like stepping back in time. From the stories they’ve told us, I’m fairly certain these people originally came from Earth, survived Goa’uld domination, and maintained their way of life. This…" she said as she watched the tribe go about their daily routine, "…this goes beyond digging through ruins, where you’re piecing together information and hoping the conclusions you’re drawing are correct. This takes it to a whole different level…and it helps in understanding civilizations that have gone extinct, seeing how the entire microcosm interacts."

His smile grew as he listened to Jessie, marveling at how engaging she became when talking about things that were her passion. She could take the most mundane things and make them seem interesting.

Before he had a chance to continue, Pinbitho approached them. "Thoyetlini wishes to speak with you." Pinbitho gestured to a trail that disappeared into the trees. "He’s gone up the mountain. If you’ll follow me…"

Cam sighed, but nonetheless followed, walking beside Jessie on the narrow path. They were about halfway there when they met Spencer and Pisano coming back down the trail. Pinbitho waited a respectful distance away while they conversed.

"You going to see Thoyetlini?" Spencer asked.

Cam nodded. "Apparently we’ve been summoned."

"He wants to read your animal totems."

"Our what?"

Spencer shrugged. "Animal totems. They guide or influence a person, or some such stuff. He said it’s his gift to us, honoring our visit here."

"The Native Americans believed that an individual is connected to nine animals, displaying their strengths and/or weaknesses. Different ones come in and out of our lives in relation to the things we need to accomplish or learn on our journey. However, there is one that acts as the guardian spirit, and it stays with you always," Jessie said.

Cam gave her a bemused look. "Is there anything you don’t know?"

Spencer grinned. "You have to keep an open mind about it. Pisano got a little put out when Thoyetlini hooked him up with a rhino, until he explained how it related to wisdom and protection."

Not wanting to keep the shaman waiting, Cam and Jessie continued on until they came upon a large teepee constructed from some type of animal skins. There was a medallion symbol on one side, accented with quills and other items. Pinbitho held the front flap open for them, letting it drop back into place once they were inside. Thoyetlini sat on the far side of the teepee, chanting softly over something smoldering in a metallic bowl, the pungent smoke creating a haze in the muted light. They stood quietly, waiting for the old man to finish whatever he was doing. They didn’t have to wait long.

Thoyetlini raised his head, his eyes surprisingly sharp and alert for a man his age. Sweeping his hand in front of him, he said, "Sit". He waited until they had settled on the blankets before continuing. "It has been many ooljee (moons) since I have seen the raven and the wolf yi’deezh’aazh (traveling together). It is…good."

"You speak English," Jessie said, surprised.

Thoyetlini inclined his head. "It is sometimes better for strangers to think one does not know what they are saying. You…learn more." Thoyetlini took out a small leather pouch and loosened the ties. "We are a simple people, but I wish to honor your visit among us. Our gift to you will be your animal totems, the spirits that influence, guide and protect you." He poured the contents into his hand, chanting as he did, then let the items fall to the ground. It looked like a variety of shells, stones and rough crystals, but apparently signified something much more to the old shaman.

"East, west, north, south, heaven, earth, within, Father, Mother." He turned his gaze to Cam, and once again Jessie was struck by the impression that Thoyetlini wasn’t looking at him, but through him. "You have a very powerful totem, a warrior’s totem. The alligator—it represents primal energy, keeper and protector of knowledge. Fire dragon—mastery, courage, enthusiasm, vitality. Caribou—perseverance, adaptability, tenacity, duality. Jaguar—silent, stealthy, intuition. Painful lessons of the past are transformed, giving a sense of purpose and self. He is home in the dark, moves without fear and teaches us how to trust our personal instincts, awakens the psychic sight. Atsa, the eagle—mental, spiritual and emotional swiftness, strength and courage, wisdom. Awareness of surrounding, sees hidden truths, illumination of spirit, stronger and quicker in actions, responsibility. Rooster—guardian, watcher, protector. Confidence, optimism, persuasion, influence. Scorpion—timing, calculation, vigilance. Defend and attack. Chaos and calm. Strong passion. Psychic touch. Horse—power, stamina, persuasiveness. Communication. Cooperation. But, above all, your guardian is ma’iitsoh, the wolf. The epitome of stamina and strength; intuition, intelligence and order. He is the Grand Teacher, wise, seeking and sharing knowledge and life experiences. His medicine is very ancient, very powerful. He shares the greatest knowledge, but demands honesty, and giving yourself completely."

Taking another pouch from his waist, he emptied some of the contents into his palm and sprinkled it in the bowl, adding to whatever was smoldering inside. He gathered up the shells and stones in front of him, placing them back in the leather pouch before beginning to chant once again

Jessie glanced over at Cam, and saw he was obviously deep in thought. Since he had been complaining about his butt being numb earlier, she was a bit surprised at his reaction to the old shaman’s readings.

Thoyetlini poured the stones and shells into his hand, then let them fall to the ground. "East, west, north, south, heaven, earth, within, Father, Mother." He looked at Jessie, and for the longest time said nothing. Finally, he broke the silence. "You have…a very old soul. Very wise…" He shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts. "Your totem first." Thoyetlini studied the items in front of him. "The bat—transition, rebirth. Navigating the unknown. Sensitivity, observation, meditation, solitude. Water dragon—passion, connection, courage, compassion. By facing painful past experiences, you will achieve a balance, and will find peace. Cricket—finding light within the dark. Intuition, psychic abilities. Your dreams are more than just dreams. Ne’eshjaa’, the owl—silent wisdom. Instinctively knowing motives, actions, people. Balance between waiting and action. When action is taken, it is swift. Biih, the deer—gentleness, love, camouflage, strong connection to children. Knows what action needs to be done in the best interest of all. Mockingbird—a song of experiences, circumstances. Ability to communicate with all around you. Strong protector, fearless. Badger—sees beneath the surface of all things, keeper of stories, written experiences. Persistence, perseverance. Standing up for what is right. Leopard—intuitive, inconspicuous, silent. Strength to overcome inner demons. Communication with the dream world. Listen to what lies within. And lastly, your guardian is the raven. Keeper of secrets, great magic, healing. Extreme intelligence, master of languages. A shape shifter. The raven brings the gift of transformation. He will illuminate the true self, and from the deepest part of you, healing begins. What has been in darkness will now emerge into the light."

Thoyetlini scooped up the stones and put them away before resuming his chanting. A third pouch appeared in his hands, and he held it first in front of Cam, then Jessie, before lifting it up in front of him, the chanting clearly becoming some kind of an appeal to the ones above. Inverting the pouch, the contents scattered in front of him. It appeared similar to the first pouch, except this one also contained what appeared to be animal teeth, small bones and oddly shaped twigs.

Thoyetlini ceased his chanting, the silence stretching out, though he was still obviously engaged in the ritual. He finally turned his attention to the two sitting in front of him.

"Your spirits are strong—together, you have even greater strength; two pieces that fit together to become one. But, in order to maintain that strength, there cannot be anything in between, preventing a complete connection. There are three trials you must face to allow that connection to be whole." Thoyetlini frowned, seeing something neither Cam nor Jessie could see. "They are like shadows trying to hide the path, coming between the wolf and the raven." He looked directly at Jessie then. "One is a shadow past. It has been buried for far too long. You must face the pain, walk into that darkness, and you will find the light in rebirth. You will not be able to make a true union until you have shared the wounds, and let them heal. The wolf teaches transformation, and adds balance and harmony. With the wolf you can face your deepest fears."

The old man shifted his gaze to between Cam and Jessie. "The second is a shadow present. There is one whose jealousy and hatred eats at the very soul. They are yee naaldlooshii, a skinwalker, dark witch. They gain their power through ánt’įįhnii, breaking of social taboo. They use ’adagąsh, put their curse into objects. This shadow is trying to break the link between the wolf and the raven…and will stop at nothing to accomplish this."

Thoyetlini stared at the teeth and bones in front of him as he pulled out a decorated pipe, filling it from another of the pouches at his waist.

"The last is a shadow forthcoming. This possibly could be the most difficult of the three. For the raven, the deer and mockingbird will be strong, leading you where you would normally not go. The leopard and your guardian spirit will help you through the darkness back into the light. For the wolf, the eagle and the jaguar will guide you, divining through the chaos and balancing with acceptance and peace."

Lighting the pipe, the slightly sweet smelling smoke filled his lungs before he passed the pipe to Cam. "No matter how dark these shadows seem, as long as you do not lose sight of your true bond, you will be able to overcome the obstacles."

Cam took the pipe from the old man, holding it carefully so as not to disturb the items that adorned it. The bowl looked as if it had been carved from an antler, while the stem had been crafted from wood, worked until it was perfectly smooth. Strips of leather were wrapped around the middle, from which hung a tooth, a feather, some fur and several beads. Bringing the pipe to his mouth, he drew slowly on the stem, wanting to honor the old shaman’s ways, but not having to cough up a lung over it. Eyes watering slightly, he passed the pipe to Jessie.

"The second shadow, the yee naaldlooshii, I cannot see who it is, but I can read their totem." Thoyetlini shook his head. "Your totems, you draw from the positive strengths. This skinwalker, they do the opposite. They surround themselves with the negative, the darkness. They are the antithesis of good and light. They try to fool others into thinking that their way is the one to follow, but it is a path to sadness and destruction, chaos and evil." The old man sighed as he began to read. "This totem is focusing on all the negative energies. An ass—normally teaches humility and patience. The opposite would be stubbornness, pride, impatience. A lemming—in this instance, fails to examine life’s lessons, is cowardly by itself. A mink—should show adaptability and balance, but the opposite would be a failure to change. Instead of walking the spiritual world with joy and playfulness, they seek out decay and ruin. The opossum—negatively uses deceptions and illusions to validate the world they have created for themselves. Fearful, unable to cope with mental and spiritual challenges. A weasel—sly, stealthy, attacks verbally. Instead of using discretion to avoid trouble, they seek it out. A loon—cannot discern fact from fiction, reality from illusion. They are stuck in a world of their own creation, refusing to see what is real. A lark—song and sorcery, words spoken take on greater power, greater magic. The negative aspect of this turns one’s back on one’s own sacred song, twisting it into something evil. A cicada—uncovers hidden truths and secrets long forgotten. Normally one would emerge into the light of truth and understanding. The opposite would be staying in the dark, refusing transformation, surrounded by lies and deceit. Last, is the vulture—if positive, it would purify the mind, body and spirit, uncover truths, give confidence and stand with dignity. Negatively, one caught in the darkness will continually undergo an eternal death, will wallow in the perversion, and in turn the stench will cling to them. Unless they let go of the darkness and move into the light, their entire time in this life cycle will be consumed with chaos and destruction."

Thoyetlini took the pipe from Jessie, and reverently unwrapped the leather cords. Motioning Cam forward, he slipped one over Cam’s head. The cord had a canine tooth hanging from the center. "This is the tooth of the wolf. It will serve as a reminder of your guardian spirit, and of the lessons learned here." Turning to Jessie, he slipped hers over her head. "This is a feather from the raven. It, too, will serve as a reminder of your guardian spirit, and the lessons learned here."

"Remember the bond you share. Even when it seems like all is lost, the bond is still there. It can only be destroyed if you let them destroy it. Once you have passed through the three trials and emerged on the other side, there will be another transformation. It will be an unexpected gift…a rebirth. The negativity, the pain, it will all be washed away, as if it had never been."



Jessie was deep in thought as they made their way back down the trail. While many people would have laughed off the old shaman’s predictions, likening it to a reading by a fortuneteller at a carnival, neither of them was laughing. Whether it was an effect of the herbs Thoyetlini had burned, or the solemn timber that hung in the air, it felt like the information the old man conveyed had been literally pulled from them. She was still trying to shake that creepy feeling when Cam froze beside her, automatically reaching out and pushing her a half step back. At first she saw nothing out of the ordinary, but when Cam went into a slight crouch, she followed his line of sight, her breath catching in her throat.

Not fifty feet away from them was a wolf. In a word, he was…beautiful. And big. Really, really big. Jessie was already running through her mind what the ramifications would be if they had to shoot this animal in defense. The wolf was considered sacred—however, given the size of this one, he might be considering them as lunch. The thick fur did nothing to hide the powerful muscles in his back and legs, varying shades of gray and white, but it was his eyes that drew her attention…haunting, silver eyes…ones that looked at them, and through them, just like Thoyetlini’s. Before they had a chance to react, there was a flapping sound, followed by the sight of a large black bird, soaring on flat wings. It landed silently next to the wolf, eyeing the two humans with a slight tilt of its head.

Jessie stared in disbelief at the scene in front of her. A wolf…and a raven. Even Cam, who had been in a tense, crouched position, slowly stood, eyes transfixed on the pair. Almost as if the raven knew the fear the wolf had instilled in their observers, it turned and tweaked the tail of the wolf with its beak. The wolf whirled around, its gaze focused on the large bird, and in turn the raven let out several high metallic tok sounds, strangely reminiscent of a person clucking their tongue at someone in chastisement. Jessie couldn’t help it…she laughed. There was just something so—human—about that interaction. When the wolf turned back to them, it had opened its mouth, tongue lolling out, and gave the distinct appearance of grinning. With that, it turned and disappeared into the trees, the raven taking flight and silently following its companion.

Cam let out the breath he had been holding. What had started out as a mundane meet and greet had turned into something…more. He reached up and ran a finger over the wolf’s tooth hanging from his neck, his eyes coming to rest on the feather Jessie wore. As much as he wanted to make light of what had been said, what they had seen, he couldn’t do it. The old man had talked about shadows. And after what he had just seen, he knew those shadows were real. Remember the bond you share…it can only be destroyed if you let them destroy it.

Suppressing the chill that ran down his spine, he reached out and took Jessie’s hand. "Come on…it’s time to go home."

To be continued

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