Tom Benedict, a freshman at William and Mary, intends to write about Indian folk medicine for an anthropology class. He drives to Charles City County, home of the Chickahominy Indians. There he tracks down an elderly medicine woman, Granny Blow, and her fifteen-year-old apprentice, Luney.
Luney barely tolerates Tom’s questions until he brings books about her ancestors from the college library. When Luney introduces Tom to a stylish black woman and her followers from Richmond who meet in a camper in the neighboring forest, Tom is sure the group is a cult. Luney, however, sees parallels between their ritual dancing and the customs of the Virginia Indians.
When Luney goes out in a snow storm to retrieve a scarf she has left hanging on a tree limb and doesn’t return, the reactions of Granny Blow, Luney’s friend Charlie Littlebean, and Tom have unexpected consequences.