Whirlwinds/Breathing


After the bow and arrows of lightning were returned to the Sun, Hasjelti and Hasjohon came to First Man and First Woman and asked them what they thought about all that had happened. "What will take place now will be your plan," they said. "Yes," answered First Man and First Woman, "Now it must be our plan. We will think about it." The Sun brought a turquoise man fetish and gave it to Yol gai esdzan, the White Bead Woman. She ground white beads into a powder and made a paste with which she molded a fetish like the one the sun had given her, but it was a woman. When it was finished they laid the two side by side. Then they took the white corn which was brought up from the Dark World where the First Man was formed and they laid it beside the Turquoise man fetish. And the yellow corn from the Dark World, which was formed with First Woman, was laid by the side of the White Bead Woman fetish. Here the chanting begins. 6 It covers the two fetishes and the two ears of corn and the four clouds and the four vapors. There are many chants sung here. They were sung before the fetishes could move. Then the two fetishes, the Turquoise Man and the White Bead Woman, and also, the two ears of corn, white and yellow, moved. 7 When they began to move the Coyote came. He jumped on the bodies and put something first up one nostril and then up the other nostril. He said to the first nostril: "You shall be saved by this." To the second nostril he said: "This shall be your shield." The first turned out to be the trickery of men; the second, the lies that they tell. But once in a while they are saved by their own lies. That was what the Coyote had in mind. The fetishes and the ears of corn moved but they were not able to rise. So word was sent to all the Holy Beings and to the Upper World where the Five Chiefs of the Wind dwelt. Gifts were offered to the Winds and they accepted them. they sent the Little Breeze down, and it entered the bodies of the two fetishes and the two ears of corn. Little, fine hairs appeared over the bodies, for it is through these that air comes out of the body. It was after that, that the four, the two fetishes and the two ears of corn. became human beings.
6- Informant's note: A ceremony called na tdan'y analia took place so that the people would multiply. The subject being:how to increase human beings upon the earth after the monsters had been destroyed.
7- Informant's note: Rarely is much white or yellow corn planted at one time because it is the most sacred. Pg. 103


The Dine': Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians, 1956; Aileen O'Bryan.

As for the gods, they repeated their visit four days in a row. But on the fourth day, Bits' iis lizhin the Black Body remained after the other three departed. And when he was alone with the onlookers, he spoke to them in their own language. This is what he said:
"You do not seem to understand the Holy People," he said.
"So I will explain what they want you to know."
"They want more people to be created in this world. But they want intelligent people, created in their likeness, not in yours." "You have bodies like theirs, true enough." "But you have the teeth of beasts! You have the mouths of beasts! You have the feet of beasts! You have the claws of beasts!"
"The new creatures are to have hands like ours. They are to have feet like ours. They are to have mouths like ours and teeth like ours. They must learn to think ahead, as we do." "What is more, you are unclean!" "You smell bad." "So you are instructed to cleanse yourselves before we return twelve days from now."
That is what Bits' iis lizhin the Black Body said to the insect people who had emerged from the first world to the second, from the second world to the third, and from the third world to the fourth world where they now lived. Accordingly, on the morning of the twelfth day the people bathed carefully. The women dried themselves with yellow corn meal. The men dried themselves with white corn meal. Soon after they had bathed, they again heard the distant voice coming from the east. They listened and waited as before, listened and waited. Until soon they heard the voice as before, nearer and louder this time. They continued to listen and wait, listen and wait, until they heard the voice a third time as before, all the nearer and all the louder. Continuing to listen as before, they heard the voice again, even louder than the last time, and so close now that it seemed directly upon them, exactly as it had seemed before. And as before they found themselves standing among the same four Haashch eeh dine'e, or Holy People as Bilagaana the White Man might wish to call them. Bits' iis dootl izh the Blue Body and Bits iis lizhin the Black Body each carried a sacred buckskin. Bits iis ligaii the White Body carried two ears of corn. One ear of corn was yellow. The other ear was white. Each ear was completely covered at the end with grains, just as sacred ears of corn are covered in our own world now. Proceeding silently, the gods laid one buckskin on the ground, careful that its head faced the west. Upon this skin they placed the two ears of corn, being just as careful that the tips of each pointed east. Over the corn they spread the other buckskin, making sure that its head faced east. Under the white ear they put the feather of a white eagle. And under the yellow ear they put the feather of a yellow eagle. Then they told the onlooking people to stand at a distance. So that the wind could enter. Then from the east Nilch' i ligai the White Wind blew between the buckskins. And while the wind thus blew, each of the Holy People came and walked four times around the objects they had placed so carefully on the ground. As they walked, the eagle feathers, whose tips protruded slightly from between the two buckskins, moved slightly. Just slightly. So that only those who watched carefully were able to notice. And when the Holy People had finished walking, they lifted the topmost buckskin. And lo! The ears of corn had disappeared. In their place there lay man and there lay a woman. The white ear of corn had been transformed into our most ancient male ancestor. And the yellow ear of corn had been transformed into our most ancient female ancestor. It was the wind that had given them life: the very wind that gives us our breath as we go about our daily affairs here in the world we ourselves live in! When this wind ceases to blow inside of us, we become speechless. Then we die. In the skin at the tips of our fingers we can see the trail of that life - giving wind. Look carefully at your own fingertips. There you will see where the wind blew when it created your most ancient ancestors out of two ears of corn, it is said. Pg. 49, 50, 51

Dine' Bahane' , The Navajo Creation Story: 1984; Paul G. Zolbrod.

The nature of man was explained by A as follows. The plant kingdom (representing the soil) plus wind equals life and the three together equals man. At death man (the symbol but not the body) returns to the three elements mentioned, in human form, to the underworld. DS elaborated this as follows. First he told how Changing Woman scraped cuticle from various parts of her body and wetting it with saliva and an infusion of four plants fashioned the image of a man, with prayer and song. Then she put Wind People into him to make him move, telling each Wind how it should work in the body. In the spirals on the ends of the thumb and fingers are located the Winds which move the legs and feet, black Wind on the thumb, blue on the forefinger, yellow on the middle finger, white on the third, spotted on the little finger. These Winds stay in the body directing its movements until death and then emerge through the spirals. Then there is one big Wind which goes through the body and comes out through the hair whorl on the back of the head (or goes in through the hair whorl and comes out of the mouth). This one governs speech. This is the good part of a person, it is part of the sun or dawn and looks like light, and goes back to the sun, etc. (v.s.) at death. It has two names be' i' na' ni (by means of which there is life) and be' nahidi' dzhi (by means of which one breaths). This life principle plus the breath factor makes man. Pg. 14-15

Breath is the manisfestation of life, "life and breath are one and the same." When good people die their breath goes to a good place where our holy people go. Pg. 14

Every person (at least from childhood until old age, v.i.) releases a ghost at death, no matter how good he has been throughout life, for some evil must have become attached to him through thoughts or unintentional or unknown breach of restriction, if not through deeds. Navajos, therefore, abhor the grave of a benevolent and beloved relative as much as that of an admitted scoundrel. Aged people, however, who have been respected throughout life and who die a natural death may not be feared when deceased. Four informants suggested that the ghost of a good person might be less dangerous than that of a bad one, and DS said that a good man's ghost might not return to earth. "Good people's thoughts turn into whirlwinds (na' oldisi) and have a separate place to live up north, northeast of the bad people's place." Numerous denials of this, however, are in our field notes and DS admitted the the Navajos are "all mixed up" about it. Pgs. 12-13

It is the breath or "wind" which leaves the body and goes to the afterworld. Breath is a manifestation of life. Pg. 14

The University of New Mexico Bulletin, Navajo Eschatology: 1942; Leland C. Wyman, W.W. Hill and Iva Osnai