A fire glow in the clear and silent night sky points to the rim of the star-wound where I was born, and in my mind’s eye I transform into an archaeologist whose job it is to unearth the secrets of the early Indian civilization, the “Fort Ancient” American Indians, the bits and pieces of their lives contained within the great mound of the serpent lying there in the cradle of the debris of that long ago meteor strike. With the delicate tools of the trade in hand, I imagine myself beginning to dig. Will I find her? I wonder. Will I find that other woman, that Indian woman whom, like me, was born on the rim of this star-wound? Among arrow heads and shards of pottery, I imagine I find a small bone: a section of one of her fingers, then remnants of her jawbone lying beside a rock that reveals itself to be a pillow for her head. A group of four small and nearly matching stones fairly tumble into my hand when my trowel scrapes away a knot of finger roots of a tree. Each of the stones is punctured with a little hole at its center, the jewelry for her necklace, I realize. Yes, four stones: the sacred number of those early people—the number four symbolizing the four directions of the world—the four seasons. I declare kinship with that Indian woman, and in that new sisterhood, I feel buoyant and lifted, taken above and beyond this material world as our joined spirits float on the silver mist blanketing the panorama before me....
The above excerpt of the final pages of my novel GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS (http://goo.gl/imUwKO), published in 2012, and re-released in 2015, laid the groundwork for my current novel CRADLE OF THE SERPENT (goo.gl/i3UkAV), a story whose protagonist is a contemporary North American archaeologist named Lily Light. Her work centers on the mounds of the Ohio Valley, with special emphasis on the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, USA. It is an endeavor that sets my archaeologist on a remarkable journey through time to the prehistoric period of the American Indian architects of the mysterious serpent effigy, and specifically to White Flower, the young woman to whom I refer in the earlier novel. To this indigenous culture, the mound is not only a critical component of everyday life, but also a link to the stars, which they believe to be their pathway to immortality.
CRADLE OF THE SERPENT is written in the voices of Lily Light and her psychotherapist Michael Neeson. A patient of Michael’s, Lily’s therapy is based on her estrangement from her husband Jacob, also an archaeologist at work on a project in Arizona. Early in Lily’s therapy, Jacob is injured in a violent shooting at the edge of the Navajo Reservation there, and is left permanently paralyzed from his shoulders down. Lily also learns that a woman murdered at the scene of the crime was Jacob’s mistress.
During several of Lily’s therapy sessions with Michael, Lily experiences dreamstates or time-travels in which she takes on the bearing of White Flower, and through the process, finds her way to the other side of her shattered life wrought by Jacob’s infidelity and its numerous catastrophic consequences.
I wrote the initial version of GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS when it was still generally accepted that the Great Serpent Mound was constructed by the Fort Ancient people. The current analysis, based on radiocarbon dating conducted in 2011 and made public in 2014, is that the mound was built by indigenous people of the Adena civilization about 1,400 years earlier than previously thought, making it as old as Aristotle of Greece.