Navajo Woman

navajowoman1280The Navajo indians tradition of story telling, songs and their drawings down through the centuries has given the world a glimpse into the psyche of the true native americans and their rich culture. Some of the drawings date back over a thousand years ago. The songs, stories and legends are even older than that. They have their own story of creation and the first couple, which doesn’t star Adam and Eve in the lead roles.

The Navajo version of creation tells of a world that existed before this one, far down in the bowels of the Earth. In that world live six beings. There was First Man, First Woman, Salt Woman, Fire God, Coyote and Begochiddy, the golden haired child of the sun. It was in that first world below the surface, that Begochiddy built four mountains. To the north was the black mountain. To the south was the blue mountain. To the east was the white mountain, and to the west was the yellow mountain. Then Begochiddy populated this first world with insects and plants, but conflicts arose, and they chose to abandon it and its darkness.

The first six being gathered all of Begochiddy’s creations and crawled inside of a hollow reed. The reed grew and grew until it reached the second world, which was blue. Begochiddy created even more new things including the Cat People. But when the Cat People fought with the newcomers, First Man used magic to overcome them. Begochiddy unhappy with the conflicts in the second world gathered his creations and crawled back into the hollow reed. He commanded the reed to grow, and eventually it opened up into the Third World, which was beautiful and filled with light.

It was there that Begochiddy created animals, birds, rivers, springs, trees, lightning and many types of human beings. When the men and women began to quarrel Begochiddy separated them. Before long, both the men and the women were so alone and unhappy that Begochiddy reunited them. But he warned them that the Third World would be flooded if there was any more trouble. Needless to say, trouble visited the Third World.

It was coyote who caused the trouble. One day when he was walking along the river, he spotted a baby with long black hair and coveted it. When no one was looking, he took the baby and hid it under his blanket. Storms and torrents of rain started to pour from the skies in every direction. Seeing that the Third World was flooding they raced to the safety of the hollow reed, which along with Begochiddy’s creations grew upward. But the reed stopped growing before it reached the Fourth World. So Begochiddy called the locust to help make a hole in the sky that led to the Fourth World. While the waters were rising around them, Begochiddy demanded to know who had angered the water monster. Coyote tightened his blanket around himself, but said nothing. Begochiddy ordered him to open it. There was the water baby. Begochiddy ordered Coyote to return the water baby to the Third World, and the waters started to recede.

But Begochiddy let his creations to the Fourth World, which was an island surrounded by water. There he place the mountains, the moon, the sun and the stars. To avoid the fighting, Begochiddy taught everyone the right way to live, including how to care for plants such as corn, squash and beans. He also taught them how to give thanks.

This story of creation dates back far before the first white man ever set foot on this continent. Long before missionaries spread the word of the bible. Yet even this far remote group of people knew of a great flood, even though it didn’t star Noah and his ark. The island surrounded by water is something even newer in our sciences discovery that at one time all the continents were a single large land mass. An island surrounded by water. Are some truths so self evident that all the people of the world have stories about it, that reflect their culture and beliefs?

But there was a dark side to the Navajo people as well. The witches of the Navaho are called skinwalkers. It is hard to get information about them, because the Navajos do not talk about the powers of the dark side of their culture. The Navajos believe that life is like a kind of wind blowing through you. Some people have a dark wind and tend to be evil, others a light wind and are kind. The way of telling the difference is varied, but those of the tribe who have more than they need, but do not help their kinfolk are thought to be evil. If they are initiated into a witchcraft, they develop powers quickly. Depending on the circumstances they can fly, disappear, or turn into an animal, which is usually a dog.

Part of the ritual in becoming a skinwalker is the wearing of the skin of a dog over the person’s shoulders, and the skull of a dog as a cap. It is considered taboo to even talk of skinwalkers, because you never know who is one, and they might want to get even with you.