Navajo Bat Story

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Bats were included in the first World. The first worlds were small and moved rapidly, making the inhabitants dizzy.

Bats were part of the council called upon to mediate after the war between Dark Thunder People and then Winter Thunder group. As a representative of the "great gods", Bat who occupied the humblest seat near the door, consented to go and sue for peace to both Thunder groups.

Innumerable beings assist deity, man, and even the evils. One type, which bridges the supernatural distance between man and god and plays a major role in instruction, I call 'mentor'. Mentors are few and, like the gods, each may be a single aspect of a single idea. Bat sometimes substitutes for darkness and are considered night protectors as are Big Fly and Sunbeam.

Mentors are described as ever present, although invisible at assemblies. When, after four nights of discussion, no constructive plan has been achieved, a voice from near the door or from some concealed place in the ceiling gives a clue to the proper offering and the god to whom it should be presented. The suggestion is sometimes enigmatical, but furnishes enough information to be understood if the people concentrate. Eventually the voice appears, embodied as Big Fly, Wind, Bat, or Darkness, and explains itself as a guardian of the house of some powerful supernatural, all of whose secrets he knows.

The mentors differ from the gods in that they do not themselves require an offering or payment, but volunteer their aid. On the other hand, characters that serve as mentors do not always act in the same capacity; they may resemble Holy People, contribute rites or ritual, and accept payment. Talking God has been noted as a major deity, but he often serves in multiple roles.

Bat may sometimes be identified as messenger for both Sun and Talking God and has the ability to penetrate where ordinary beings cannot go and the power of feather and wing motion.

The mentors--- Wind, Bat, Big Fly--- are in a sense the personification of deception, for they whisper the answers to examination questions their proteges would otherwise fail. In this respect the mentors enable novices to deceive Sun himself. When superior powers ask how Earth People knew the details of the offerings they demand, the People say they just knew, that no one told them, whereas the mentors have instructed them.

Bat helped Rainboy of the Hail Chant to escape a beating by the townspeople, then turned him loose to live by his own skill. Rainboy was attracted to the home of Winter Thunder, whose wife seduced him. In revenge Winter Thunder destroyed him and the Hail Chant was devised to restore Rainboy. The whole purpose of the story seems to be to demonstrate the innocence of the hero, for he was lassoed by the woman with a supernatural rainbow. It took great effort on the part of many gods to render the extreme jealousy of White Thunder harmless.

After the Bats killed Coyote they ground up his skin with soil from undesignated places and scattered the mixture in every direction.

When Black God went with Bat to offer the prayer stick to Winter Thunder he threw down his fire drill with great force and so much smoke filled the house that it became completely dark.

The color brown is representative of Bat.

When Bat prepared to take the offering to Black God for the restoration of Rainboy, he dressed himself completely in flint. At the ends of his wings were zigzag lightnings, which, with the light of pre-dawn, deprived those beholding him of their courage.


Bat (djabani', dja'abani, dja'aban') was a personage in the lower world. JS says he was affiliated with the insects "as a helper; he is the same as Big Fly."

Bat has several functions, usually helpful, besides that of mentor or guardian. In the sandpaintings he (or she) is one of the eastern guardians. A yellow diamond on the body represents a small yellow skin Bat received as a reward for helping the winning side when Gambler was overcome.

Bat Woman rescued Monster Slayer from the ledge where he slew the Cliff Monsters. She appeared with her burden basket fastened with a tumpline only as thick as a grocer's string. After persuading Monster Slayer that it would hold, she carried him down the side of the cliff. He rewarded her with token feathers of the Monster Bird, which eventually turned into all kinds of birds.
Bat helped the Spiders and Swallows to catch Coyote after he got away from the Brothers. As a reward they were given pieces of his skin, which they placed on their backs.

Bat was an important helper of the Hail Chant, in which she served in various capacities. As mentor she rescued Rainboy from the wrath of his family and the villagers who were going to beat him to death.
Bat may have the same relation to Darkness, the pair symbolized for Night, as Wind and Big Fly have to Day. This seems likely, since Big Fly is a feather made to vibrate by Wind, and Bat has a wing hook or a 'vagina wing' by means of which she clings to rocks and makes an 'embarrassing' noise.
When the Stricken Twins were going to their father, Bat called to them, but Little Wind told them not to listen. They followed the directions of Little Wind and arrived at a place where Talking God met them and accepted them as his children (Reichard 1939, PI. IX; Shooting Chant ms.; Endurance Chant ms.; 1944d, p. 3; Newcomb-Reichard, pp. 64-5, Fig. 5, 8; Goddard, p.143; Haile 1938b, pp. 119, 121; Matthews 1897, p.121; 1902, p.242).


Navajo Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950

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This site was last updated on September 27, 2020.

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