Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series
The Coosas were the ancestors of the Creeks and Seminoles and other Southeastern tribes. Much of their culture lives on but much of it is gone as well. Charles Hudson, a scholar with expertise on the ancient Southeast, imaginatively reconstructs the religion and rituals of Coosa through dialogues between Annunciacion, a Spanish priest attached to a contingent of soldiers during colonization efforts, and a tribal priest called the Raven. The Spanish priest hopes to learn the Coosa religion and customs in order to better convert the people away form it. As I read, I sensed Annunciacion being swept up in what he wants to change. As the narrator, he comes across as open-minded within the limits of a man of his time and occupation. Though he perceives the Coosa people as needing redemption, and he also sees the coherence and value of their way of life.
The Raven is a marvelous character, a down-to-earth high priest with a pet raven. I was moved by the character of Teresa, the translator, a Coosa woman who was captured and enslaved by the Soto expedition, and is now caught between two worlds. This is a short, simple book, but deep. It is researched with extraordinary depth and detail. The rituals come to life, and the three central characters representing the Spanish, the Coosa tribe, and the outcome of their contact, are vivid. This isn’t a conventional narrative, since much of it is taken up with the Raven’s telling the mythical stories of his religion, stories within the story, illustrating the sacredness of the natural world. I was struck with Coosa world view of a creation made as much by random error as by intention, creation that has mischief and mistakes in it, rather than perfect order. Their name for the Creator is the same one the Seminoles still use: Master of Breath. Inhale. Exhale. Think about it.