The People had met for their Summer Gathering at this place as far back as could be imagined. Trickster’s Lodge was the perfect place, it had good hunting, fresh water, plenty of space and firewood.
Trickster’s Lodge was a massive up thrust of volcanic rock towering over the plains and forest below. Legend said that Trickster, in his great vanity, had begun to build a tower to reach the Stars and trap Thunderbird in the lodge he had made.
However, when Great Spirit and Star Woman saw this, they knew that Thunderbird should never be a prisoner. Together, Great Spirit and Star Woman turned Trickster’s Lodge to stone so that he would never trap Thunderbird in his lodge, and to remind The People that vanity was foolish, and dangerous.
Star Singer was ancient, perhaps ten tens of winters old, she still made the trek to Summer Gathering, and was revered for her wisdom and generosity. She still stood straight, and could walk all day and not complain. She had outlived three husbands, and four of her children had gone to be with Great Spirit, her grandchildren’s’ children were beginning to wed and have children, so she never suffered for food or a warm lodge in the winter.
In the summer months, Star Singer had a fine tipi, near the Chief’s tipi, with two granddaughters bringing her food and water every day. During the daylight hours she slowly, carefully painted the Star Songs on a white buffalo hide that her eldest grandson, Many Wolves, had given her.
At night, however, she was in great demand by all of her People. Star Singer knew all of the Star Songs, and would sing until moonset, if she were asked. The children would gather at Star Singer’s feet, everyone sitting on their own hides, and wrapped in blankets against the dewfall.
When they were all comfortable, and relaxing, Star Singer would begin, in her rich voice she would sing to the children, and draw in soft dirt to illustrate the Songs. She used a fine stick of Ironwood that the old Chief had gifted her with many winters ago.
That was the winter that his firstborn son, Bull Battles, was stricken ill and everyone feared they would lose him. Star Singer had sat by his side, nursing him and singing the Star Songs to him in a low voice. Bull Battles eventually recovered and went on to be a great hunter and wise leader.
Bull Battles’ father, now an Elder, was called Sun Shadow, his brother Winter Moon was still the Shaman, and the Shamans of the other clans all bowed to his wisdom and advancing age. Sun Shadow had traded with Western Desert People for the Ironwood stick to gift Star Singer with.
They had arrived at Summer Gathering a scant day ago, tonight children would begin to gather around Star Singer’s tipi, awaiting evening and the first night of many spent stargazing and asking questions of Star Singer.
This year, Speaks Loudly, the youngest son of Hunting Hawk, would be going on his first real Hunt. Star Singer was not surprised at his behaviour about approaching manhood. He had been boastful and goaded by pride since he first began to speak. Time had only worsened this, and it was common knowledge that Speaks Loudly would never be a Chief, or even Hunt Leader because he was so prideful.
Hunting Hawk’s eldest was a daughter, and while this could have been bad medicine for him, the daughter, Sky Eyes Woman, was born with blue eyes, that had stayed blue as she grew up. The big medicine of her blue eyes made Hunting Hawk well liked and he earned the respect of the Elders and Chiefs.
Sky Eyes Woman had begun to listen to Star Singer when she was barely two winters old. She would climb fearlessly into Star Singer’s lap and lean her head to a withered breast. Sitting thus she not only heard the Song, she felt it too, and it moved her spirit greatly. She begged to study with Star Singer, and Hunting Hawk could not say no to his adored daughter.
So it was that Sky Eyes Woman spent her childhood living with Star Singer and being her acolyte. Sky Eyes Woman was blessed with a clear, high singing voice and it blended perfectly with Star Singer’s. She knew that tonight the children would beg, as always, to hear of Star Woman, and see Her in the sky over Trickster’s Lodge.
Star Singer knew this also, and spent her day in quiet tasks and sipped on hot tea made of liquorice root, honey, and dried elderberries. The Medicine Woman, Rising Moon, had taught Sky Eyes Woman how to make the liquorice root tea, and Sky Eyes Woman had added Star Singer’s favourite, the elderberries to make it even more palatable for Star Singer.
The bond between Star Singer and Sky Eyes Woman went far deeper than simply teacher and student, and woman-to-woman, their spirits were as one many times, and together they had big medicine, good medicine. Winter Moon was heard to say, “The good medicine of Star Singer and Sky Eyes Woman is so great, and it has blessed all of our people.”
Daughters were expected to marry, yet Sky Eyes Woman had remained unwed, preferring the company of Star Singer, Winter Moon, and Winter Moon’s son, Falling Stars. For a long time, people made bets as to when Sky Eyes Woman and Falling Stars would wed. Both parties were nearly ten and ten winters old, old to be unwed, and childless.
Within that circle of four agreements had been made. Sky Eyes Woman would indeed marry Falling Stars, but not until Winter Moon and Star Singer could live together, as neither child wanted to leave the Elder they loved deeply.
Star Singer and Winter Moon loved one another, but neither wanted to forgo the autonomy of living alone. They tried very hard to get along for love of Falling Stars and Sky Eyes Woman, but they were both too old and set in their ways.
They were happy in their arguments, never loud or angry, no, their fights involved much laughter and teasing. As the winters rolled by they had mellowed, and now were dear friends, that could share a pipe and fire in companionable silence. The past winter they had all lived Star Singer’s fine lodge, the camaraderie and love almost palpable in the firelight that danced on their lodge’s walls.
Now that summer had come, it would be time for Falling Stars and Sky Eyes Woman to wed, when they could retreat and be the two of them only for a time and not worry after Star Singer or Winter Moon. At Summer Gathering, many hands vied for the honour of serving Star Singer and Winter Moon, so they would be well-cared f0r.