of clay are used by the Navaho ceremonially and otherwise. Dlesh, white clay,
is used as spice with foods, or in painting the masks. The fire dancers paint
their bodies with it on the night of the performance. Pg. 65
Dictionary of the Navaho Language; 1910, The Franciscan Fathers.
had shown him how to cut the stems with an ancient flint blade from the sacred
medicine bundle and to sprinkle pollen which in itself was a prayer. His gather
had told him too that flowers have power, that they belong to Mother Earth and
that they should never be broken without a purpose. He knew that "purpose"
meant "ceremonial," that the plants were as important to a chant as
were prayers, songs and sandpaintings, that their uses had been decreed when
the Navajo were created, and that the decrees were irrevocable.
Woman of the Desert; 1939, Gladys A. Reichard.
Boards: The four wide boards, which will be pressed against the patient's body
while she sits upon the sandpainting to transfer blessings and healing power,
also reflect cosmological motifs. The first wide board depicts a scene from
the myth of the Male Shootingway in which Holy Young Man is being carried through
the skyhole into the sky by one of the Thunder People against a curtain of white
dawn. The second wide board depicts the Sun on one side and Father Sky, with
the Sun's house stripes across his face, on the reverse side. The Moon and Mother
Earth are on the two sides of the third wide board. Finally, one side of the
fourth wide board depicts the black of Darkness on its left (south) side and
the white of Dawn on its right (north side; these two light phenomena are separated
by lightning. The other side of this board depicts Horizontal Blue Sky on the
right (north) side and Yellow Evening Twilight on its left (south) side.
In addition to having a cosmological referent, the symbolism depicted on the
wide boards reiterates the Navajo emphasis on balance and directionality as
well as on pairing: the "male" entities (those embodying the stronger,
more aggressive principle) of Sky and Sun are on the second wide board and the
"female" entities (those representing the weaker, more submissive
principle) of Earth and Moon are on the third wide board; Black Darkness is
paired with White Dawn and Horizontal Blue Sky with Yellow Evening Twilight
on the fourth board.
Other ritual procedures may follow, such as the pressing of the wide boards
(four paddle-shaped objects about ten inches long and about two and a half inches
wide) to the patient's body. Used in conjunction with special songs, the wide
boards further identify the patient with the supernaturals and help to withdraw
illness and/or restore health. The patient then leaves the hogan to breathe
in the sun four times. With these deep breaths, the spirit of the sun is invoked
and its beneficent influence is taken into the patient's body.
At the high point [south of the Hopi mesas] is a rock with a crack running from
east to west. In earlier days the Navajos who had become old or for some other
reason could not use their bows and arrows any longer, placed them in the cracked
rock and left them there. The same thing was true of ceremonial paraphernalia.
When the user of such items died, and no one was left who knew how to perform
his ceremonies, the paraphernalla [sic] was placed in the rock. It was thus
a repository of sacred things and hence a sacred place.
Mythological proscriptions, however, control the use of certain borrowed items;
Flintway singers do not use Shootingway's hide rattle, small bow, or bullroarer.
It is also possible for apprentices and singers to make some ritual equipment
such as whistles, rattles, bullroarers, wide boards, ceremonial pipes, buckskin
pouches, and talking prayersticks.
... it is clear .... that teachers occasionally give students rattles, bullroarers,
buffalo and deer hides, feathers, tallows, and other ritual items during apprenticeships.
1 bullroarer made form a piece of pine which has been knocked down away from
the tree by lightning. Eyes and mouth are simple indentations painted black;
rest unpainted. 30" piece of sacred buckskin string attached to base; end
of string, looped.
Essential Equipment for the Blessingway Rite, and Miscellaneous Paraphernalia
which could also be used in the Windway and the Beautyway Chants. ..... 2 Bullroarers
- made from lightning-struck tree; covered with pinyon pitch and set with turquoise
to mark it with features; makes roaring sound of thunder when swung; device
given to Navajos by the lightning spirit.
As Parsons (1939) and others have shown, many of the ideas and practices in
Navajo religion can be traced to Pueblo sources, including sandpainting, the
House Blessing Ceremony, fetishes, stargazing and listening, prayersticks, dance
grounds, meal or pollen offerings and blessings, medicine bundles, bullroarers,
petroglyphs and pictographs, meteorological and fertility symbols, buffoons,
and other particulars.
Medicine Bundles or Jish: Acquisition, Transmission, and Disposition in the
Past and Present; 1987, Charlotte J. Frisbie
procedures may follow, such as the pressing of the wide boards (four paddle-shaped
objects about ten inches long and about two and a half inches wide) to the patient's
body. Used in conjunction with special songs, the wide boards further identify
the patient with the supernaturals and help to withdraw illness and/or restore
health. Pg. 46
is my Mother, Sky is my Father:Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting;
1992, Trudy Griffen-Pierce.
for some changes in repeated sandpaintings is the stipulation that the chanter
change colors or the color sequence in successive performances, a rule that
accounts for some differences previously though to be errors.
is among the techniques of magical manipulation. Sanction of procedure otherwise
forbidden stresses the importance of opposition and enhances compulsion. It
has already been illustrated as applying to direction and explained as exorcistic
rather than as attracting good. It is most common in the Evil chants, but may
characterize also rites of the Holy chants.
from the chant myths, the negation is as significant a symbol as direction,
sex, or color, and should always be ascertained.
absence of elaboration is mentioned, indicating that the rite or chant in its
complete form has neglected no essential symbol.
Religion, Vol I; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950
of corn meal after the bath is an act of the bath rite. After the patient has
washed his body and shampooed his hair in yucca suds with the attendant ceremony,
he applies corn meal-white for male, yellow for female-to his body, clothes,
and valuables, particularly his jewelry. There is some reason to conclude that
the application of corn meal after the bath symbolizes the donning of new, clean
(white or variegated) clothes (Ch. 12).
Application of corn meal to sandpaintings is done as soon as the sandpainting
is finished, first by the chanter, then by the patient, following the chanter's
direction. The details of such corn-meal sprinkling are very specific-few have
been recorded (Reichard 1944d, pp.93, 99, 109).
Application of pollen is perhaps the most general form of application, being
the formal, as well as the lay, means of asking for blessing. When a person
wants to pray, he takes a pinch from his pollen sack, touches a bit to his lips,
throws a little up to Sun (and Sky), and puts a little on the top of his head
either with or without mumbled words, a shortened form of the full rite that
may be performed by the chanter who applies the pollen to the essential body-parts
at a particular word in the song accompanying the ritualistic act.
The forms of pollen application are too numerous to mention. Various kinds of
pollen are a part of the foam prepared for the bath. Application differs in
detail in almost every rite, although a general plan is east to west and back,
south to north and back, and around, done with one or numerous pollens, even
with other medicines.
Pollen application varies from the simplest act to painting in pollen, as on
the emetic of the War Ceremony, and on buckskin of the Rain Ceremony (cp. Application
to body-parts, Con. B; Pollen paintings: Rain Ceremony, Con. C; Reichard 1944d,
p. 11; Wheelwright 1942, Plates; Oakes-Campbell, Plates; Kluckhohn-Leighton,
Application of sandpainting brings about identification of the patient with
the deities figured. The sand from different parts of the sandpainting figures-feet,
chest, head, arms-is applied to the corresponding parts of the patient's body.
Often the chanter wets his hands with lotion or sacred water before placing
them on the sand so that more of it will adhere (Reichard 1944d, pp.93, 97,
Application to body-parts includes touching any ceremonial item to the patient's
body in a stereotyped manner. Pollen, for example, may be smeared over the lower
jaw, the chanter carrying the substance from left to right from in front of
one of the patient's ears to the other and passing it between the lower lip
and chin. This form of application is called xaya'da" na'idzoh, 'under-the-edge
Pollen and other substances, bundle properties of all kinds, are touched or
pressed to the following body-parts: soles of feet, legs, knees, palms of hands
(hands held out, palms up, in front of patient), arms, chest, shoulders, back,
jaw, mouth, and top of the head. It is said that enemy ghosts often remain at
these points; their presence was shown by the rough spots on the body-parts
of the War Ceremony patient. The application begins on the right and follows
at the left side of the patient or is reversed, depending on whether the rite
is attractive or exorcistic; it is usually accompanied by song, the points being
touched at a particular word of the song (Kluckhohn-Wyman, pp.29, 57, 62; Matthews
1887, p.404; Haile 1938b, p.195; Reichard 1944d, pp.23, 87, 91, 95).
Black Dancers (dja'cjini, tca'cjini), who may put on an accessory act in the
War Ceremony, are included in the myth. Their act is an example of reversal:
they perform daring, shocking stunts, apparently scoffing at the most sacred
decrees. A few additional points may be added to the extant descriptions: mixed
with the mud with which the Black Dancers are smeared is 'dung of every kind
available.' "Those weak in body or mind, though not actually sick, may
be caught, dressed, and thrown, if arrangements have been made by their people."
The informant (AB) was so treated as a small child. "Besides strengthening
those treated, the Black Dancers' performance brings rain" (Haile 1938b,
pp. 34-5, 231, 234-41; Reichard 1928, pp.132-3).
Buckskin (bj'tso lgai do'kakehi') taken from a deer killed with pollen-that
is, without wounding-is an important ceremonial article. Actually, the goods
laid down at certain points in the ritual-unraveling, body painting, sandpainting-are
substitutes for the buckskin. They stand for it, but only rarely does the pile
of goods ('aya' sika'd) include a real buckskin. It is said that in the old
days such goods consisted largely, perhaps exclusively, of buckskin (yodi).
On the other hand, even today a buckskin must be furnished for the rite of Prayer
on buckskin. With few exceptions, the only deerskins now available are purchased
from traders and are from animals that have been shot. After the rite the buckskin
becomes the chanter's property in the Male Shooting Chant Evil and the Big Star
and Endurance chants.
Mythologically buckskin is an emblem of life; ritualistically it is a life symbol:
Creation, really transformation, was accomplished by laying corn, precious stones,
or both between buckskins. Restoration is brought about in much the same way-the
properties and procedure are almost identical for transformation from inanimate
to animate and for restoration from unconsciousness or death to life.
Bits of Rainboy's body were assembled on one buckskin and another was laid over
the parts. A rite with buckskin, described in the Bead Chant myth, transformed
feathers into animals whose skins have since been a chant property. Two buckskins
figured in the preparation of seed for planting, the rite signifying life and
Rites in which the patient stands on a buckskin are described for the visit
of Dawn Boy to the home of the gods and his return to his own home, and for
the two children abducted by the gods so they could visit Changing Woman.
Buckskin must be worn over the shoulders by the person depositing the Rain Ceremony
prayerstick (cp. Prayer on buckskin: Con. C; Matthews 1897, pp. 104-S, 137,
214, 12n; 1902, p. 115; 1907, pp.28, 34; Haile 1938b, p. 71; Kluckhohn-Wyman,
p. 172; Reichard 1939, p. 32; 1944d, p. 9; Hill 1938, pp. 71, 86; Wheelwright
1942, p. 124.
Breathing in ('a'ji yidjij) is a ritualistic act: the patient faces the power,
usually Sun, stretches out his hands, palms up, pulls or draws the power into
himself by cupping his hands and sucking; the motions are repeated four times.
One informant (AB) compared this act to a kiss, signifying acceptance of all
that has been done for the patient and willingness to carry out all ceremonial
requirements (Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; 1944d, pp. 13, 43, 59, 85, 109;
Haile 1938b, pp. 213, 245).
Brushing ('aki' na'alxa'l, 'aki' dini'yo'd) is an act of some of the Holy chants
occurring after the patient and audience have been cleansed by sweating and
emesis and the hogan has been cleared of the embers of the ceremonial fire and
the emetic sand basins. The chanter dips the eagle tail-feather brush into the
chant lotion, taps the end near his hand so that it falls like rain upon the
participants, and, as he utters his chant sound, moves around the house from
the back to the door as if brushing out invisible objects. More vigorous is
the brushing act in the Evil chants with the sound be'be'yo and without lotion
(cp. Kluckhohn-Wyman, p. 72).
Cake ('alka'n, 'alka'd) is a ceremonial mark of respect to Sun in the Girl's
Adolescence ceremony, the Flint Chant, and the Feather Chant. It is not mentioned
in any of the Shooting Chant material (Reichard 1934, pp. 104ff.; Haile 1943a,
pp. 49, 229).
Ceremonial approach to a new place or experience is done in four stages symbolized
by the various approaches to a house, the leading onto a sandpainting, and other
ritualistic acts. Between each act there is a pause for singing.
Big Monster appeared over the eastern mountain so that only his head was seen;
over the southern mountain his head and chest showed; over the western mountain
he could be seen as far as his waist; finally, at the north he could be seen
as far down as his knees. He then appeared fully and went to the lake to drink.
In the same way First Man approached the summit of the mountain where the wonderful
baby lay: he ascended the four sides of the same mountain, showing himself a
little more as he approached from each side.
When Self Teacher crawled into his whirling log to test it, he first put his
head in nearly as far as his chest. The second time he went nearly to his waist,
the third time almost to his knees, and finally, all the way to his feet. The
first three times he started in, Talking God called him out; the last time,
he stayed in (Matthews 1897, pp. 114, 162; Haile 1938b, p. 83).
Ceremonial coup-counting is one of numerous elements in Navaho ceremony that
point to Plains influence. A suggestion of coup-counting appears in names; the
importance of an initial act may be a reflection of the same idea.
When the War Ceremony was first organized and the killing of Burrowing Monster
was to be commemorated, Chipmunk said, "Since I was the first to reach
Burrowing Monster after he was killed, I have medicine."
The details of procuring and decorating the rattlestick remind one of the center
pole rite of the Sun Dance, although counting coup on it is not mentioned.
The first person to arrive running at a slain deer was entitled to its hide
(Reichard 1928, p.106; Haile 1938b, pp. 177, 223; Sapir-Hoijer, p. 323).
Ceremonial indifference is signified by the gods in the same way as anger by
a sulking husband.
Black God sat upright and hummed as he tapped his toe, and Gila Monster assumed
the same position.
Unconcern may also be a means of attraction. When the Corn Maidens of the War
Ceremony story saw the handsome men, they asked for a smoke, but the men paid
no attention. At the second request, the men raised their heads and looked at
each other. The third time, Bear told Snake to prepare a smoke, and the fourth
time, Snake told Bear to do it; they then accepted the girls as mates for the
night (Haile 1938b, 171, 185; 1943a, p. 62).
Ceremonial language is too pretentious for inclusion in this work, for it involves
first the careful presentation of the ordinary language; it is impossible to
judge what is extraordinary
when we do not even know what is ordinary. Here I shall give a short list of
common and ceremonial words to illustrate the most obvious types of the pattern.
Reference is to the ceremony in which each example occurs, since the same idea
may be expressed by different words in different chants (Ch. 16).
Chant lotion (ke'tloh) has several functions. The Male Shooting Chant lotion
contains the same ingredients as the emetic, ground and mixed by a group of
singers who divide the dried mixture and keep it as bundle property. The chanter's
supply contains dried herbs in case the season or place in which the chant is
held is unsuitable for collecting the fresh plants. The bulk of the lotion and
emetic is composed, when possible, of fresh plants to which the small quantities
from the dried supply may be added.
The lotion and emetic of the first day of the Hail Chant, made by those in charge
of the Shooting Chant, were of dodgeweed to which a mixture of hail and ice
rolled in corn meal was added. On the second day hoarfrost was another ingredient.
Black God's fagot was extinguished with the Night Chant lotion (Kluckhohn-Wyman,
p. 51; Reichard 1944d, pp. 51, 57, 87, 99, 105-7; Matthews 1902, p. 28).
Chewing and spraying is a common ritualistic act. The chanter chews a dry substance,
sometimes with water, sometimes without, then sprays the result over the patient
or some particular part of his body.
In explaining the chewed herbs sprayed over the War Ceremony patient, Black
God told the people it was Chipmunk's medicine. It commemorates Chipmunk's help
after Monster Slayer killed Burrowing Monster.
An allusion indicates that chewing and spraying may have aided the Winds to
hold up the world at its creation. They were directed by be'yotcidi to chew
roots and herbs and blow them in various directions.
Scavenger of the Bead Chant, instructed by Spider Woman, chewed and spat dodgeweed
juice at the insects trying to sting him (Haile 1938b, pp. 38, 179, 195; Wheelwright
1942, p. 67; Matthews 1897, pp. 202-3).
Circle (ba's) has been discussed as a division of space to be avoided by the
layman and regulated ceremonially. Here a few examples are given:
Encircling a man's house may cause his death.
When First Man was making the earth, he put guardians first in one, then in
two, three, and finally, four concentric circles around himself and his work.
Coyote broke through each circle in turn, demonstrating that his power was greater
than First Man's.
The Dark-circle-of-branches, symbol of the Fire Dance branch of some chants,
is the most elaborate ritualistic form of the circle. When the rite was performed
for Co of the Night Chant, the Dark Circle had four openings instead of one.
The one made for the first Mountain Chant had power because of its size and
the large number of participants; even though it was six miles in diameter,
it was crowded.
At Sun's direction, temporary circular shades were made of branches where he
met Changing Woman. Similar shades with slight variations of detail were camps
of warriors, hunters, and anyone away from home. The shade may have been a circle
of protection in strange or doubtful country. In the War Ceremony myth, a large
crowd of people rushed up to Black God's camp and piled up pebbles in a circle
so as to make a kind of fort.
The circle was part of a rite to destroy cutworms. Four worms were collected,
impaled, and turned inside out over twigs of the slender sunflower. Then the
cutworms were taken to a cliff ruin kiva, where they were stuck into the earth
flush with the ground, and covered with a potshard. Four circles were drawn
around the arrangement with an arrow-point and it was left. The worms within
the circles would have to disintegrate since they belong to the dead-they were
inside out, they were buried in a place of the dead, and covered with an object
that had belonged to the dead; the four circles left no way for tci'ndi' to
The same ends were sought in restoring a field struck by lightning. A chanter
deposited offerings at the base of a stalk that had been struck, sang songs,
and prayed to lightning. Then with the bull-roarer he drew a circle around three
or four plants near the first one (cp. Ch. 6; Hoop transformation rite, Prayer
on buckskin: Con. C; Newcomb 1940a, pp. 23, 25, 51; Franciscan Fathers 1910,
p. 294; Sapir-Hoijer, p. 83; Matthews 1887, p. 414; 1902, p. 202; Haile 1938b,
pp. 91, 157, 163, 171, 191; Goddard, pp. 153-4; Hill 1936, p. 12; 1938, pp.
Clothes are of great significance in myth and ritual. The representation of
characters in sandpaintings and on prayer-sticks is referred to as' dressing.'
It is clear from the material and the behavior of the chanter and his assistants
that rough directions serve for the sandpaintings, since each element from the
Navaho viewpoint is realistic and easily understood. Directions about the prayersticks
are, by contrast, meticulous, oft repeated and rechecked because their decoration
is largely symbolical, not at all apparent.
Dressing Changing Woman in white and whiteshell indicates a change from profane
After the monsters had been subdued, The Twins heard a song that told them to
put on their ordinary clothes to receive Sun.
When Holy Man visited Thunder's and Big Snake's homes, lie saw their clothes
hanging on the wall of the room.
Even though the prayersticks of Pollen Boy and Corn-beetle Girl are painted
in self-color, the myth has a detailed description of their face painting and
For comparative purposes it should be noted that mythical descriptions of ideal
clothes are Plainslike (Ch. 7; Eagles, Con. A; Newcomb-Reichard, Ch. VI; Matthews
1897, pp. 131, 184, 191; 1902, p. 262; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.;
1944d, pp. 77, 91; Haile 1938b, pp. 87, 105, 213; Goddard, p. 15O; Sapir-Hoijer,
Clouds (kos) figure in almost every field of ritual. In the Hail and Wind chants
they are related to Storm, Wind, and Cactus, portrayed in the sandpaintings.
Generally, clouds are desirable because they bring rain, but they must be ritualistically
controlled. A curb mentioned by Hill for the Rain Ceremony illustrates control
and reversed power. Female rain and white clouds are referred to in the prayer
only if it is exorcistic or for witchcraft, since such references bring hail
and damage to crops.
Clouds, considered as People, are depicted as the major figures in sandpaintings,
such as those of the Wind and Hail chants; in any sandpainting, all the unfilled
background may be filled in with black wavy lines, symbols of clouds (Kluckhohn-Wyman,
Fig. 18, p. 94; Wheelwright 1942, p. 42; 1946, p. 94).
Coals (tsi'd) are an intimate part of the incensing rite. Each ceremony has
a specified number of coals; they must be carefully extinguished with lotion
or water and disposed of; they are treated in the same way as the sweat-emetic
embers. Two coals from a flaming fire are prescribed for the Male Shooting Chant
Holy and Evil, Big Star, and Endurance chants; in the Hail Chant myth two, three,
four, and five are required for successive rites; one is mentioned for the Mountain
Chant (Incense; Reichard, Male Shooting Chant Holy and Evil ms.; Endurance Chant
ms.; Big Star Chant ms.; 1944d, pp. 59, 65, 73, 97, 97; Matthews 1887, p. 421).
Collected substances (....na'ctci'n), such as soil, water, pollen, belong to
the bundle or may be assembled especially for a ceremony. They may appear insignificant
to the casual onlooker; the chanter sprinkles a pinch here, pours a few drops
there quite unobtrusively. Each represents, however, great effort on the part
of someone, usually the chanter himself. Such substances are tokens of the power
embodied in everything for which they stand, often being collected from widely
scattered geographical localities (Wyman-Harris, p. 67; Goddard, pp. 130, 137;
Matthews 1897, p. 223, 67n; Reichard 1944d, p. 81 ; Shooting Chant ms.; Haile
1938b, p. 85).
Cooking utensils prescribed for ceremonial use are another example of ritualistic
thoroughness. We have already noted the prominence of the basket and the restrictions
about food. An old-fashioned straight-necked cooking jar or pot, sometimes provided
by the chanter, is the proper receptacle for cooking on the coals in the ceremonial
hogan. In one text it is specified that the pot have no bulge. This pot probably
represents the small yellow bowl, the inexhaustible food supply of the gods.
Special stirring sticks and the ladle for the ceremonial mush are designated
(Reichard, 1944d, pp. 89, 103, 137; Haile 1938b, pp. 105, 191; cp. Newcomb 1940a,
Cross arrangement and even the cross as a design element are frequently encountered.
A red cross, representing a fire, is a sandpainting indication that the picture
belongs to a Fire Dance branch, although not all pictures in this branch have
it. The parts of the cross may have specific meanings; for instance, the black
and blue cross in the center of Navajo Medicine Man, Plate XXII, represents
wood, and the red cross in the center stands for the fire.
Little crosses of pollen or corn meal are a protection for the hands and knees
of the patient when kneeling in the bath rite and when drinking the emetic.
A yellow cross on the shoulders of the Shooting Chant patient represents Big
After the original performance of the Shooting Chant was over, Holy Man was
taken to the young pinion tree. Before intoning the prayer, the chanter 'made
footprints of pollen for the patient, but for himself only a cross.'
A cross may represent a person's gait, a journey, stars, or a 'spirit' (Newcomb-Reichard,
p. 75, Pl. V; Reichard 1939, Pl. XIV, XVI, XVII; Shooting Chant ms.; Sapir-Hoijer,
p. 251; Wheelwright 1942, Set I, 3; III, 4; Oakes-Campbell, pp. 38, 39, 41).
Cup of any kind may be the container for the chant lotion, according to JS,
but the infusion specific must be administered from a turtle shell or abalone
A small cup, providing an inexhaustible water supply, was sometimes furnished
by the gods (cp. Kluckhohn-Wyman, p. 51).
Cutting (taogic) is a release of evil; the most elaborate rite is the cutting
of the plant garment. Made of knots, the garment represents tied-in power; cutting
the knots signifies freeing the patient and destroying the evil.
A song of the Big Star Chant refers to the cutting of the garment as the cutting
up of the monsters.
The withes for the Big Star Chant hoops should be cut at right angles (a male
cut) for stomach trouble and loss of blood; diagonally (a female cut), for head
The ritualistic cutting of yucca for the Night Chant is explicit, as it is for
the Flint Chant (Reichard, Big Star Chant ms.; Matthews 1902, p. 211; Haile
1943a, p. 54).
of all kinds is ritualistic; when accompanied by the proper sounds and behavior,
it may indicate gloating; in forms such as the Fire Dance, it represents respect
and honor to the deities of the many chants.
The Utes, who captured a Navaho, held a big celebration and danced around him;
the old women whistled for joy at his capture.
In the Night, Feather, and Mountain chants, dancing is a major feature, a form
of symbolism characteristic of the chant (Dark-circle-of-branches; Matthews
1887, p. 395; Reichard 1944d, pp. 116-35).
Dark-circle-of-branches, Fire Dance, Corral Dance ('il nasdj in) is a spectacular
last- (ninth-) night performance of some chants to which other chants send their
specialties ('ali'l). It is a part of the Shooting Chant; the Hail and Bead
chants, though their myths describe it in detail, forbid the Dark Circle events.
Apparently custom has changed the restrictions and requirements of this branch
of the chants.
The Fire Dance branch initiates novices and renews, confirms, and corrects a
chanter's power. Since it agrees with the sandpainting branch in being primarily
attractive of good, one may readily understand why the Evil ceremonies do not
Some chants have their symbol in the Fire Dance. The red feather headdress,
representing sunglow, and a dance with lightnings decorated with feathers are
the symbols of the Shooting Chant in the Fire Dance complex (Ch. 11; Haile 1943a,
pp. 13, 21, 25, 44; Matthews 1887, pp. 432ff.; Reichard 1939, pp. 35-6; 1944d,
pp. 113ff.; Newcomb 1940b, p. 72).
Drum as we usually think of it, a permanent percussion instrument, probably
does not exist among the Navaho; their drum is improvised, a basket or a pot
covered with a skin. The probable reason is that since noises are believed to
drive away evil, it is dangerous to keep a drum. The basket is reversed and
pounded on as a rhythmic accompaniment. According to the Night Chant myth, evil
influences are gathered under the basket that serves as a drum, and once they
have been confined into a controlled space, they are released and blown out
Since the pot drum is feared, it is constructed, used, and disposed of with
The ghost of the Ancient People was killed by beating the pot drum, for when
the Navaho beat it, they beat the face of the enemy (Matthews 1894b, p. 203;
Reichard 1928, p. 132; 1944d, pp. 94-9; Shooting Chant ms.; Kluckhohn-Wyman,
pp. 44, 59ff.; Tozzer 1909, pp. 337ff.).
Drumstick directions are given in the chant myths, for the drumstick, like the
drum, is an improvised object, made each time it is needed (Matthews 1894b,
pp. 202-8; 1902, pp. 59-63; Kluckhohn-Wyman, p. 44; Reichard 1944d, p. 85; Shooting
Chant ms.; Haile 1938b, p. 44).
Fire (ko') is the symbol of annihilation among the Navaho as among most tribes
believing in magic; it is said to burn evil. Fire enters into practically every
ceremony with many variations, from the simplest restrictions to the Fire Dance
with its varied displays of control-the Fire Dance itself, washing the hands
in burning pitch, exposure to intense heat.
Sweating removes evils, conceived as arrows and witch objects, from the body;
the fire into which they fall irrevocably destroys them. A woman subjected to
the sweat-emetic rite was much disturbed because she could not remove her turquoise
earstrings; she made the best of things by wrapping them in rags.
Throwing pollen into the fire is an act of sacrilege; to annihilate pollen is
to destroy hope.
Fire is more powerful than rock, for Traveling Rock, a monster, was overcome
by fire, even after Monster Slayer's flint club had failed to annoy him. Reared-in-the-mountain
encountered a fire made of pebbles in the home of the Bears.
Fire could burn the waters, as Black God demonstrated to Water Sprinkler and
others; burning is a symbol of the universal struggle between fire and water.
Water Sprinkler could divide the waters and get to Water Monster, but he could
not influence the ruler of the water realms once he got there. Black God, on
the contrary, could not get to Water Monster's dwelling with his own power,
but once there, he overcame the chief. Water is the antidote to fire; it soothes
and calms, counteracts the fear inspired by fire, and represents escape.
The sweat-emetic rite includes many fire symbols-ceremonial kindling, fire jumping,
fortitude in enduring heat, pokers as protective lines-but in the Night Chant
Collected Waters branch an entire day's ritual is devoted to the kindling alone;
in the Eagle Chant, to judge by the myth, similar emphasis is placed on burning
incense. Ordinarily, the coals of the sweat-emetic fire are completely extinguished
with water or the emetic, but the Hail Chant prescribes that some coals should
be left to glow.
Fire and flame are ritualistically distinguished. When a sandpainting is prepared
for the Sandpainting branch of the Shooting Chant there should be no flame at
the fire. If necessary the hogan may be warmed by embers, but the fire should
be kept relatively dormant (Hill 1938, pp. 98, 99; Reichard, Shooting Chant
ms.; Shooting Chant Evil ms.; 1939, p. 31; 1944d, p. 73; Matthews 1887, p. 404;
1897, p. 169; 1902, pp. 28, 50ff., 75-6, 172, 209; Haile 1938b, p. 129; 1943a,
p.25; Newcomb 1940b, pp. 71-2; Kluckhohn-Wyman, p. 85).
Fire jumping (ko' bitis dacdi'lyo') is an act of purification; in the sweat-emetic
rite it symbolizes purging the patient of introduced evils-arrows, witch objects,
and the like. In the Evil chants participants must get as close to the fire
as they can, since exorcism is emphasized and fire is one of its chief agents
(Kluckhohn-Wyman, pp. 86-7; Goddard, p. 151; Reichard 1944d, pp. 71-3).
Flute (so's, tsiso's, ndilnih) is not, as far as I know, a property of the chants
with which I am most concerned in this work, but it is referred to in the creation
myth and in the Eagle Chant story. The whistle probably takes its place in the
Shooting, Hail, and Bead chants (Goddard, p. 135; Newcomb 1940b, p. 54; Haile
1938b, p. 48; 1943a, p. 27).
Gourd rattles accompany the singing of the Hail, Endurance, and Big Star chants
and the Shooting Chant Evil. There is doubtless some connection between the
rattle and the species of wild gourd sometimes placed in a hogan to protect
it from lightning. Gourds seem to be associated with stars (Reichard 1944d,
p. 105; Endurance Chant ms.; Big Star Chant ms.; Hill 1938, p. 60; Tozzer 1908).
Hand on heart is a mythological and perhaps ritualistic way of accepting an
When Sun was ready to put the agate man inside Monster Slayer, he first closed
his eyes and placed his hand on his own heart.
In restoring Rainboy, Talking God put one hand over Rainboy's heart and the
other at his back. This act had the same meaning as placing the agate man inside
Monster Slayer (Acceptance of offering; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; 1944d,
Hand over mouth is a gesture ascribed to Talking God and Water Sprinkler. When
a Navaho woman is embarrassed or surprised, she puts her hand over her mouth.
I have never seen a man do so. Talking God seems to make the gesture ritualistic.
When the Visionary of the Night Chant had been snatched from directly under
the noses of the gods by Superior God, Talking God searched the sky for his
grandchild, asking everyone he met if they had seen him. As they disclaimed
knowledge of the boy's whereabouts, Talking God put his hand over his mouth
and smiled. He meant that he knew they were lying, and soon after he found the
boy where he lay hidden in a corner. The gesture showed superior knowledge,
absence of gullibility, or perhaps surprise.
One day the Stricken Twins were awakened by their father's call. When he came
to them, he clapped his hands and put his hand over his mouth-"as if he
were surprised," Matthews adds. The interpretation may be correct, but
I think it means also, "As if he intended to do something surprising."
The text and translation of the Goddard story which includes the gesture seem
to justify my interpretation. When Mirage Talking God came to First Man and
First Woman as he was showing her the baby found on the mountain top, Talking
God put his hand over his mouth, then clapped his hands and said, "Something
wonderful is happening, my grandchildren."
Clapping the hand over the mouth while shouting and bathing in snow is recommended
for boys' training to make them strong. Whooping with hand clapping accompanies
the naming rite in the War Ceremony (Reichard 1938, p. 39; Matthews 1902, pp.
167, 175, 231, 239, 314, 61n; Sapir-Hoijer, pp. 105, 285, 297; Goddard, p. 60).
Haste in performing ritual may be due to fear. When Matthews recorded the creation
myth, his informant, contrary to his usual demeanor, seemed under great tension.
He hurried the narration and was impatient at interruptions, even for eating.
After he had finished the tale, the chanter explained that both he and Matthews
were in danger as long as their minds remained in the lower worlds, but as soon
as they arrived in this world, they could take their time.
The haste of the Shooting Chanter in certain rites-aspersing of sweat-emetic
rite, application of unraveler-may have been due to a similar cause (Matthews
1888, p. 150).
Head feather bundle is a bundle item called by Kluckhohn and Wyman 'chant token,'
a name I consider misleading, since it does not differ markedly from other bundle
items. Called 'enemy down feather,' the head feather bundle of the Hail Chant
was composed of magpie, roadrunner, and red duck tail feathers, and wing feathers
of eagle, turkey, bluebird, and green-winged finch. To its bottom was tied a
little pouch containing dust from the sacred mountains; the pouch is equivalent
to the chant token of the Night and Mountain chants. But in the Hail Chant a
piece of agate tied with the bundle during the sing is kept by the patient as
his token. Hence it must be that the pouch of the Hail Chant is a part of the
head feather bundle retained by the chanter.
The name of the head feather bundle and other features-the way it is tied, for
example-suggest that it refers to a scalp protecting the patient from foreign
The War Ceremony bundle, containing roadrunner's tail sprinkled with pollen
shaken from a goshawk, represents Cliff Monster's feathers, plucked by Monster
Slayer as a trophy to preserve for future ceremonies.
A head feather bundle of owl and eagle feathers, to which abalone and whiteshell
were tied, was worn attached to the warrior's cap in actual warfare. Probably
something like or corresponding to the head feather bundle is an indispensable
item of all ceremonies and bundles (Bundle contents: SC, item 16, Con. C; Kluckhohn-Wyman,
pp. 37-8; Reichard 1944d, p. 103; Haile 1938b, pp. 62, 121, 193, 319, 74n; 1943a,
pp. 27-8 [Headplume]; Hill 1936, p. 8).
Head lifting, a ritualistic act of the Girl's Adolescent Ceremony, may be explained
by a reference in the creation myth. The girl lifts little children by their
heads. Changing Woman, after her puberty ceremony was over, lifted the attendants
present by their heads to thank them for their gifts. Another reference indicates
that the slight stretching is thought to make children grow tall (Curtis, p.
124; Wheelwright 1942, p. 77).
Hoops and rings (tsiba's, so'ba's) play a large part in ceremony, especially
emphasized in exorcistic forms. Provided with a life feather, hoops symbolize
a swift, easy, magical means of travel; they are closely identified with Winds,
Stars, Hail (perhaps when accompanied with flint), Buffalo, and Snakes.
The little rings on the bundle talking prayersticks of the Shooting Chant are
conveyances, as are the feathered hoops carried by Buffalo.
The hoops that appear so frequently in the Big Star Chant represent Stars, as
the name so'ba's, 'star hoops,' suggests. The party that went to rescue the
Big Star Chant hero, who had become a coyote, encountered difficulties in handling
their hoops. They thought the hoops would travel if rolled in the cardinal directions,
but Talking God had to show the people that the hoops had to be laid flat and
turned a ritualistic number of times. The incident is illustrated by the accessory
Prayer on buckskin rite of the Shooting Chant Evil and by a similar rite of
the Night Chant.
Hoop rites commemorate retransformation from a coyote to the hero's deific self
(Circle, Danger line, Con. B; Hoop transformation rite, Prayer on buckskin,
Con. C; Reichard, Shooting Chant Evil ms.; 1939, pp. 31, 69-73, Pl. XXIII; 1944d,
p. 31; Newcomb-Reichard, p. 64, Pl. XXVIII; Matthews 1897, pp. 84, 109, 127,
128; 1902, pp. 68, 96, 259).
Jumping or jumping over is probably only a slight variant of the stepping over
act; both signify transformation or restoration.
The gods, having secured a token quantity of precious stones, arranged them
between buckskins; then they jumped over the whole and it turned into five large
jewel baskets (cp. Fire jumping; Matthews 1902, p. 165).
the circle of frustration. Consequently they occur often in exorcistic rites.
Four cincture rites are described in the myth of the Hail Chant, having taken
place on four successive days. The Twins cut Rainboy free with flint knives.
Patients undergoing the Plant Garment rites of the Evil chants are released
by flints wielded by impersonators of The Twins. Cutting every knot demonstrates
the freeing of the patient and control of the evils that tied him in (cp. Cutting,
Flint; Plant garment, Con. C; Kluckhohn-Wyman, pp. 102-3; Reichard 1944d, pp.
52-5, 60-3, 66-9, 74-5).
Lifting with bundle properties is an act in which the chanter leads the patient
onto the sandpainting. The chanter closes his hand over half a bundle item-bullroarer,
for instance-and holds it out to the patient, who grasps it, is raised, and
is led to his place on the painting; often there are stops at points between
the patient's seat and the goal, during which songs are sung.
Medicine sprinkling is much like pollen sprinkling. For instance, in the Flint
Chant the first line sprinkled over the medicine in the turtle shell represents
the messenger who called the singer; the second, the singer coming to the patient;
the third, the administration of the medicine; the fourth, the patient returning
to his place (Haile 1943a, p. 32).
Mush is required at most ceremonies. The most common kind is ta'nil, 'meal is
placed in water'; it is made of coarsely ground blue corn, dropped into boiling
water and boiled until quite thick. Ashes from juniper wood are added as leaven.
"Without ashes the mush would be just like tortillas without baking powder,"
said RP. ta'nil was eaten for a regular meal (not ritualistically) during the
Sun's House branch of the Shooting Chant.
gad'a'din, 'no cedar, unseasoned mush,' is a thick gruel like that described
above, but with no flavoring of any kind, especially no salt or ashes. It is
eaten at the end of the treatment on the sandpainting of the last day of the
Shooting Chant; each mouthful of mush is followed by a drink of water.
Winter Thunder provided unseasoned mush for Rainboy; seasoning of beeweed greens
was served with it. Rat Woman served it to the Racing Gods, and Changing Woman
gave it for another rite of the Hail Chant; it was eaten also at the Prayer
on buckskin rite.
Unseasoned mush in a rock-crystal basket was offered to The Twins by Dawn Girl
on their first visit to Sun. The boys were urged to eat more and more, but could
not empty the basket because it turned out to be the inexhaustible food supply.
"A patient should eat lots and no mush should be left in the basket."
to'i'yinil, 'dropped into water,' is described as thin gruel, originally prepared
for Black God and now given to the stick-receiver of the War Ceremony to induce
him to carry out his part carefully (Reichard 1944d, pp. 83, 89, 103, 113; Kluckhohn-Wyman,
p. 100; Haile 1938b, pp. 105, 191, 203).
Perfect corn ear (do'xono' tini'h), often required for ritualistic purposes,
is a short ear with all kernels in even rows and completely covering the end
so that no part of the cob is visible.
Pokers (xone'cgic, xonicgie, koniegic) are symbols of the danger line in the
sweat-emetic rite. On the first night of the Big Star Chant, helpers were sent
to gather the pokers and emetic herbs with the instructions: "Get the pokers
from a tree that has been struck by lightning, if it has straight branches;
if not, take them from trees near it. Offer to the tree three jewels, sparkling
rock, blue pollen, and pollen tied in a small piece of cloth. As you sprinkle
pollen, repeat a prayer. Take a poker from each direction and remember from
which it was cut."
The Hail Chant pokers represent forked lightning, rain-streamer, and zigzag
and straight lightning, symbols that prevent the enemy (evil) from crossing.
In the Shooting Chant the pokers lie beside the conveyance symbols, strewn in
sand. All lie near ashes and are applied to the body after poking in ashes,
thus indicating an exorcistic function.
A poker was given the boy raised by Owl to serve as a compass to his mother's
home (Danger line; Kluckhohn-Wyman, p.86; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; 1944d,
p. 51; Sapir-Hoijer, p. 49).
Pollen (tadidi'n, xadidi'n) has been discussed in several of its aspects-composition,
representation of glint or 'light life,' application. Here some additional notes
explain the complexity of its symbolism.
Pollen clears the trail so that a person may walk safely. It opened the way
for the Holy People of the Rain Ceremony. Pollen sprinkling on mush often symbolizes
people and travel: In the Hail Chant myth, Winter Thunder marked the mush twelve
times with pollen for good attendance at the ceremony. On the mush of the War
Ceremony, the pollen represents a means of travel for patient and audience,
and the guidance of the patient's life. Pollen on the bath foam of the Night
Chant stands for the patient's life and thoughts; on the bath foam of the Flint
Chant, for the mind and gait of the one-sung-over, the Sun's course, the messenger
to the singer, the singer, and the medicine he administers.
Pollen increases the power of the person to whom it is applied or administered;
it is commemorative since it represents control (Ch. 15; Feathers, Mush, Pollen
ball, Con. B; Pollen paintings, Con. C; Hill 1935a, pp. 66-7; 1938, pp. 37,
86; Reichard 1944b, p. 13; Matthews 1897, p. 213, 11n; 1902, pp. 41-2, 251;
Haile 1938b, p. 213; 1943a, pp. 36, 219, 282; Sapir-Hoijer, p. 251).
Pollen ball administration is one of the rites of the sand-painting treatment
on the last day of the Sun's House and Prayerstick branches; it was not a part
of the Sandpainting branch of the Shooting Chant. The pollen ball is a synthetic
symbol, something like a large pill, an inch and a half in diameter, consisting
of a number of dry ingredients and coated with pollen. Fish blood is a part
of the pollen ball of the Shooting Chant, named do'tliji', 'turquoise.' RP got
the fish for mine at Ganado Dam: he cut the fish open with a bundle flint, took
a bit of the blood, sprinkled the fish with pollen, and returned it to 'live'
in the water. There were many other medicines in the ball.
The pollen-ball administration is associated with mush eating and pressing with
bundle properties of the last (fifth or ninth) day's ritual. Mythical references
explain the property and the rites.
After Sun had tested The Twins and consented to help them, he shaped a miniature
man of agate and one of turquoise. As he gave Monster Slayer the pollen ball,
Sun placed the agate man in his son for a heart; as he fed mush to his son,
he outlined the position of the agate man inside Monster Slayer's body-"The
mush you ate from the east side of the basket stands inside you as the man's
legs, that from the west is his head, that from the north his left hand, that
from the south his right hand, that from the center his heart. When I said,
'He eats the pollen of Restoration-to-youth and Trail-of-well-being,' I meant
that his mind would be standing within you. When I said, 'He eats the dew of
Dark Cloud, Restoration, and Well-being,' I referred to the intestines of the
man inside you. Nothing is missing; complete he stands inside you."
Sun then identified Monster Slayer with himself and the agate man by pressing
different parts of his body to corresponding parts of his son's body. When the
identification rite was finished, Sun told why he had performed it: "Although
the flint armor will protect you against existing monsters, the man I put inside
you will protect you against existing monsters, the man I put inside you will
make you invincible to any evil you may encounter in the future." Sun placed
in Child-of-the-water a turquoise man with the same ritual and meaning.
Not only is it important that a 'turquoise' be an internal symbol of indomitability,
but it must at all times be kept upright-the reason for pressing with bundle
items. One of Kluckhohn-Wyman's informants explains that the pollen ball stays
in one place within the patient's body like a spirit, a comment that agrees
with the Shooting Chant myth (Mush, Pressing; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.;
Matthews 1897, pp. 232, 109n; Kluckhohn-Wyman, p. 53 and cp. p. 101; Haile 1943a,
is a common procedure, meaning identification by absorption. Kneading or modeling
should be included with pressing. It is assumed that until a person has been
made holy, he is not an image of the power he seeks to control, but after such
a power takes him in hand, kneading, pressing, or massage will make him resemble
the Holy People. Because Changing Woman was molded when she became mature, there
is now a massaging rite in the Girl's Adolescence Ceremony. The Twins were shaped
by their counterparts in the sky. Pressing of the plumed wands to the Stricken
Twins by the two daughters of Broad Rock xactc'e'oyan made them acceptable to
the gods; Reared-in-the-mountain was molded into holy likeness by Butterfly
(Goddard, p. 15; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; Haile 1938b, p. 105; Matthews
1897, p. 409; 1902, p. 262; Sapir-Hoijer, pp. 287, 291; Kluckhohn-Wyman, pp.
Refusal has been woven into ritual. The most obvious is non-acceptance of an
offering either because it is not the proper thing or it is not modest or appropriate
enough. An offering refused by one power may be accepted by another.
A second type is refusal to sing for one who requests help. The Stricken Twins
were turned down by god after god because they had no valuables to pay for treatment
and could not demand it because they did not know who their father was. Monster
Slayer was refused by many singers of the Eagle Chant; the reason is undiscernible.
When, after long journeying, Swallow undertook to sing for him, Monster Slayer's
brothers forced each singer to contribute his power (Reichard 1939, p. 31; 1944d,
pp. 135-7; Big Star Chant ms.; Matthews 1897, p. 219, 49n; 1902, pp. 219, 222-4,
228, 231, 232,234, 240; Newcomb 1940b, pp. 68ff.; Stephen 1930, p. 93; Haile
1938b, p. 183; Hill 1936, p. 14).
Rubbing is a ritualistic act related to pressing. Formerly it was customary
for people to rub their legs after the evening meal with a prayer: "May
they [legs] be lively; may I be healthy."
Legs were rubbed with corn smut to cause plentiful crops. After Reared-in-the-mountain
had knocked out the bears by giving them Ute tobacco, he resuscitated them by
rubbing with the tobacco ash (Hill 1938, pp. 19, 46: Matthews 1887, p. 404).
Scalp (tsi'ziz), the theme of the War Ceremony, has prominent associations also
among the symbols of the Shooting, Hail, and Endurance chants, being related
to the trophies collected from the monsters and war, and to Coyote's fulfilling
Changing-bear-maiden's requirement to obtain Big Monster's scalp. The correspondence
between myth, ritual, and recorded war procedure is remarkable; it corroborates
many of the conclusions of this work.
Despite the phobia of the dead, mythology represents the Navaho as scalp-takers.
According to Hill, scalps were taken from both male and female enemies by anyone
except a Woman or a boy on his first war raid-the individuals whose spirits
were weak. Some warriors took only a small piece of skin; others preserved the
whole scalp including the ears. Other parts of the body, such as the Achilles'
tendon or the neck sinew, as well as the fetus of a pregnant woman, were collected
for ceremonial purposes and witchcraft; they were requisites of sorcery formulas.
Although formerly only the scalp would do in the War Ceremony, now any part
of a dead enemy-bone, hair, even a piece of clothing-may represent the scalp.
These possessions are the enemy's bitcxin and a token is sufficient to cause
an outsider's undoing.
Mythological references confirm the fact that the cedar branch of the rattlestick
stands for the warrior's trophy, often tied to a piece of cedar or laid in a
When the singing over the scalptaking was finished, the trophies were hidden
among rocks where no rain could touch them until they were needed for the War
Ceremony; enemy ghosts adhered to them but had to be guarded to prevent escape
(Haile 1938b, pp. 30, 63-4, 149, 155, 162-9; Reichard, Endurance Chant ms.;
Shooting Chant ms.; Hill 1936, pp. 6, 15, 17; Goddard, p. 177; Matthews 1897,
Smile ('adloh) indicates deific approval of ritualistic acts properly performed.
Sun smiled when Dark Thunder rubbed chant lotion on Rainboy's hair as he sang
the words 'Sun's hair.'
The Racing Gods smiled at each other when they met after completing their run
carrying invitations to the Fire Dance.
be'yotcidi smiled as he created the animals.
Decoy women seduced young men with a sly, tantalizing smile (Reichard 1944d,
pp. 5, 87, 93; Wheelwright 1942, pp. 41, 44, 102; Matthews 1897, p. 175).
Spitting as a ritualistic act seems to have the function of identification.
When a warrior bade his wife farewell, he spat into her hand and mixed pollen
with the saliva. She preserved the pollen in a little bundle, which she held
as she prayed for his safety.
A war leader had his companions rub spittle over their legs, bodies, and weapons.
The spittle and the rubbing strengthened the warriors and their arms. When RP
arranged the four pokers of mountain mahogany around the sweat-emetic fire,
he spat upon the poker, then stuck its end into the fire and laid it at the
left of the sandpainting snake. After all four were in place, he spat in the
four directions and around.
After the smoking test, Sun rubbed his children with tobacco ashes mixed with
Changing Woman brought on a terrific storm by spitting hailstones through hoops
(Hill 1936, pp. 12-3; Haile 1938b, p. 105; Matthews 1897, pp. 128, 202-3; 1902,
p. 308, 7n).
Spread ('aya' sika'd) serves two purposes: it keeps persons and properties from
contact with the ground, and is a reward for assistance. Of the rites I have
seen, sweat-emetic and the first part of the bath have no blanket or spread.
The spread may be of various materials. Formerly it may have been of skins;
now it is of yard goods or, on rare occasions, of buckskin or buffalo hide (yodi).
The greater the value of the goods, the better for the chant. On the 'soft goods'
tobacco, silver money, and jewelry may be laid. The material must be of the
best, since it represents gifts to the gods such as the Stricken Twins got from
the people of Awatobi. In the house of the gods the Stricken Twins were seated
on patterned fabrics, a form of ideal spread.
The patient or his sponsor provides the spread, but guests may add to it; it
is often divided among assistants or singers at the end of a rite (Buckskin,
Covers; Matthews 1902, pp. 243, 246ff.; Haile 1943a, pp. 44, 52).
Stepping on a property is to be distinguished from 'stepping over.' It is dangerous
to step on some properties, helpful to step on others.
Monster Slayer fainted when he stepped on the bull-roarer on which he had drawn
a man, and again when he stepped on a chip left after Traveling Rock had been
subdued. Gambler shot up to the sky when he stepped on a bow given him by his
father, Sun. The hero of the Mountain Chant was given two white lightnings to
stand on, that is, to enable him to do something extraordinary.
The style of the war shield incorporated ritualistic and practical protection.
It had a crease in the middle so it could be opened and closed by stepping on
it (Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; Haile 1938b, p. 137; Matthews 1887, p. 406;
Franciscan Fathers 1910, p. 317).
Stepping over accomplishes restoration, transformation, and increase; it is
invariably an act of the Restoration rite. Related to the rite is the restriction
that one should never 'step over another person's legs' unless he is a joking
relative. Stepping over in the Restoration rite of the Flint Chant represented
Gila Monster's 'pouch' (bundle) as well as Gila Monster's cutting up his own
body and scattering the fragments in imitation of what Winter Thunder had done
to Holy Man.
After cactus and yucca are collected for the bath, the plants should be stepped
over-an act to restore them to normal. When the gods stepped over those killed
in the struggle between Youngest Brother and Changing-bear-maiden, they all
came to life. Stepping over a particular arrangement of corn caused it to change
into people. Stepping over flies transformed them to deer. Stepping over a small
mysterious bundle to the accompaniment of Monster Slayer's flute transformed
the contents into beautiful clothes for his new wives.
When Gambler stepped over a token quantity of precious stones four times, they
became a big heap; stepping over a bit of tobacco in an offering prayerstick
caused it to be greatly augmented (Haile 1938b, p. 133; 1943a, pp. 7, 43, 46-8,
69, 290, 27n; Reichard, Endurance Chant ms.; Matthews 1897, p. 69; Newcomb 1940b,
p. 54; Goddard, pp. 147, 162; Kluckhohn-Wyman, p. 90).
Stirring is a ritualistic act preceding the administration of the infusion specific;
it may be done with the aspergill, the bull-roarer, a bundle property, or the
finger. The singer stirs the infusion, tastes it, sprays it, either over the
sacred properties, over the patient, or over both. In the War Ceremony, the
infusion specific was sprayed over the unraveler herbs after they had been laid
aside (Salt Woman, Con. A; Haile 1938b, p. 213).
Swastika is a favorite Navaho design, probably because the whirling log (tsil
no'oli') is a theme of the Night and Feather chants. The chant symbol of the
Hail Chant is a cross to the ends of which down feathers are fastened, giving
it a swastika-like effect. It (tonaxabil) is the protective device of Winter
Thunder's and Frog's home; according to Wheelwright, it is Thunder's whirling
seat. When angry, Winter and Dark Thunder twirled their seats; when the gods
were good-tempered, the seats became rainbows (Matthews 1897, pp. 62ff.; 1902,
p. 172, Pl. 6; Goddard, p. 161; Stevenson, p. 278; Reichard 1944d, pp. 17, 41,
90-1, 145; Wheelwright 1946, pp. 12, 47, 154, Pl. 2A, B).
Tallows (tlah na'ctci'n), a property of many ceremonies, are a means of applying
body paint. Tallow is ceremonially collected and should contain token quantities
of fat from the rare game and hunting animals.