belief in omens is reflected in a Supernaturals instructions to the hero that
ringing ears or twitching nerves are warnings to be still and wait for a message.
The bulk of cautionary statements warn against misuse of ceremonial knowledge
or disregard of taboos. That maintenance of ceremonial rules and taboos should
thus be valued is implicit in the psychological nature of ritual itself, which
acts to reduce emotional insecurity and anxiety. Pg. 49
Instructions are given that prayersticks will not be acceptable to the gods if
a menstruating woman enters when there is a ceremony. Pg. 160, Visionary.
During this ceremony the children cry out in joy as they realize that the cure
is taking effect, thus breaking the taboo on talking in the sweathouse. Everything
vanishes and they are left blind and lame as before. Now they cannot be cured
without payment (given as the reason why the Navajo today have to pay for curing).
Pgs.163,164:The Stricken Twins.
Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.
when everything on the earth was good and beautiful the people saw the first
death. They remembered what the Sun had said. He had claimed the lives of all
the living in payment for his light. The people wondered where the dead would
go. "Is there another country ?" they asked among themselves. Now
there came two beings called Alke'na ashi, Made Again, who looked like the Yei.
82 They were sent to the East to look for the dead body. They returned and said
that they had not seen it. They were sent to the South and they brought back
the same report. They were sent to the West and the North without success. They
were asked to look into the Yellow World where they had come from. As they were
about to start they felt the flesh around their knees pinched; but they went
on. They had a strange feeling of sound, like a rale, in their throats. They
felt rather than heard this sound, but they went on. Then there was a sensation
in their noses, like an odor, but they went on to the place of emergence, and
they looked down. Way below them there was someone combing his hair. He looked
up and gave a little whistle, and they both experienced a strange feeling. When
the Alke'na ashi returned from the lower world they said that they had seen
the spirit of the one who had died. They told just what they had felt and seen.
They warned the others saying that they must not try to return to the Country
of the Past for it was not well to experience such sensations nor to see such
things; and if in the future someone were to hear a whistle when no one was
about that whistle came form an evil source, and a prayer should be said at
once. If anyone should be so unfortunate as to see their double, or the form
of a near relative in a vision, it would be a sign that dangerous things were
about to befall them. Should this happen a chant must be held and prayers said
in order to ward off the trouble. Pg. 31
82- Interpreter's note: The Alke'na ashi were originally the White Corn Girl
and the Yellow Corn Girl, children of the White Shell Girl and the Wolf. They
had been killed; But after twelve years the Holy Ones revived them, hence their
name meaning Made Again. But they were revived as a boy and a girl. It is said
that the Sun has their masks; and that their faces are never represented. This
story is one of black magic; and these two are connected with death and evil.
Matthews (1897, p.76) : "To behold the dead is dangerous." Franciscan
Fathers (1910, pp. 453-456) Pg. 31
Myths of the Navajo Indians, 1926; Aileen O'Bryan.
not eat the intestines, heart, or liver of deer, nor kill or eat woodrats or
rabbits, nor eat anything that died naturally or was killed by another animal,
or by accidental means, and you must not ever watch anything suffering or dying......
this last is most important. Pg. 133
of the Gila Monster, Navajo Ceremonial Tales; 1993, Gerald Hausman.
(jaashzhini), those building fires at Squaw Dances, and the fire dancers who
carry torches in the Mountain Chant cannot come near the fire pit or help with
the digging. If they do, the cake may not cook; it may stay all mushy. Jaashzhini,
fire eaters, and the clown of the Yeibichai are forbidden to dig that hole.
They are considered to be people who go wild all the time and who do not observe
rules. Pg. 363
A Study of the Navaho Girl's Puberty Ceremony; 1993, Charlotte Johnson Frisbie.
liver, and entrails of a slaughtered animal are never cooked and used for food.
These are called "coyote food" and are generally tossed into a ditch
out of sight and left for the dogs and coyotes to quarrel over. Sometimes a
midwife takes the heart of a goat or a beef and boils it over a slow fire. Then
she cuts it into strips which are allowed to dry, after which they are ground
into powder. This she carries with her on her "cases" to make broth
to strengthen the new mother. Sheep or lamb hearts are not used. Pgs. 69-70
Klah, Navajo Medicine Man and Sand Painter; 1964, Franc Johnson Newcomb.
('ate' el'i) is generally meted out by supernaturals for offenses against them;
if imposed by human beings, it is explained as necessary for success with the
gods. An offended power summons a hero by saying, "Bring him to me so I
can punish him," yet when the culprit is brought, he is instructed, his
chastisement being ritualistic discipline, ending in a contribution to future
Some punishments, however, seem to be final decrees of fate that explain what
happened to individuals.
Gambler was punished by being shot to the sky by Wind, as he said, "You
have bet yourself and lost. You are my slave. You are not a god, for my power
has prevailed against yours."
Buzzard was punished for his voracity by disintegration.
Punishment for the excesses committed during the separation of the sexes was
the birth of the monsters, but Stephen reports more specific retribution-men
who copulated with the deer does were struck by lightning and burst open, those
who copulated with the antelope does were killed by rattlesnake bites, and those
who copulated with mountain sheep were killed by bears (Overdoing, Whipping;
Leighton-Kluckhohn, p. 52ff.; Matthews 1897, p. 86; Reichard 1939, p. 60; Endurance
Chant ms.; Newcomb 1940b, p. 68; Haile 1938b, p. 95; Stephen 1930, p. 99).
Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950