Talking God

View all products related to this legend

Talking God cautions the hero that when his voice is heard in the future it will be an ominous sign, that something will happen to him or to his people on that day. Pg. 159, Nightway.

Navajo Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.

Talking God and Calling God left the people, saying: "This is the last time that you have seen the diyin (holy beings) and you shall not see them again ...... But when you hear the twitter and chatter of small birds, you will know that we are nearby." Pg. 82

Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region; 1992, Robert S. McPherson.

The meaning of the word hashch'e (Holy Ones) as employed in the names of some of the gods is not generally known. Moreover, it is not generally made public by the knowing ones who guard its meaning as a secret. Hashch'eltqii, the Talking God of the east, is the child of hayolkhal hastqin and hayolkhal esdza, to the Dawn Man and Woman.

The spirit of life (nlchi) having been breathed into them, the Corn-beetle was charged to give speech or voice to the others. When they attempted to speak, however, Hashch'eltqii could utter only "wuuhu;"

When these speechless divinities were leaving for the holy places they made the imprint of their faces upon white shell, turquoise, and other precious stones. At present these imprints are represented by the masks. Pgs. 383-384

An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navaho Language; 1910, The Franciscan Fathers.

Talking God (xa'ctc'e'ltihi, xa'ctce'eltihi, xa'ctc'e'edli, ye'i' bitcei) (P) in myth frequently communicates with Earth People in words in spite of the injunction that a man impersonating him must use only gestures. To speak while wearing his mask is tantamount to suicide. As grandfather of the gods, Talking God is the tutelary of the Night Chant. He has control of dawn and the eastern sky, of rare game and corn. He gave corn to the ignorant girls of the Eagle Chant.
Talking God had a counterpart called White Body in the third world. According to one myth, Talking God was the son of Changing Woman. He was transformed from white corn, which she placed at the top of a mountain where fogs meet.
Talking God, one of the great gods, acts as a mentor, often directing mythical characters, warning them, or telling them the answers to test questions which they would not otherwise have known.
He is the only god I have found with a sense of compassion. When the gods of the White House asked Talking God why he pleaded for the Stricken Twins, he answered, "Because they are pitiable. One is blind and carries the one who cannot walk. They are poor, hungry, and helpless. It makes me sad to look at them. Someone should take pity on them. I pity all the people on the earth."
Though he has charge of many of the most valuable of earth's treasures, Talking God is modest. He acknowledges the superiority of other powers, apparently without exerting force.
His leadership is outstanding. The ordinary mode of travel is on a rainbow or sunbeam which he furnishes. He stands at the helm, so to speak; Earth People, and often the other gods, take their places behind him while xactc'e'oyan, his frequent companion, brings up the rear. He is acknowledged leader of the gods in the dances of the Night Chant. Though mild, he is firm, as in warning First Woman, when she threatened to bring harm to man, "You must not talk [make threats]. If you do, we will know about it." He meant that if she did he and xactc'e'oyan would come to man's aid. When the Eagles protecting Scavenger of the Bead Chant myth discovered he had been shot by Turkey Buzzard and Black Eagle, they said, "Talking God will never forgive us if anything happens to him and he does not return to earth."
Talking God is characterized by playfulness. He looks funny; his sound is amusing, as are his motions and actions. He may tease a person whom he actually plans to help.

The youthful hero of the Mountain Chant myth, escaping from the Utes, who had taken him captive, had come to a canyon with high, steep walls and could see no way of crossing. At daylight he saw a tall spruce tree and was thinking of climbing down it when Talking God appeared. The young man stretched out his hand to grasp it when it swayed in the opposite direction. Then Talking God looped it with a rope of lightning and drew it close to the cliff. Talking God met the Navaho at the base of the cliff and told him to go to his dwelling, but the bottom of the canyon was so rough they could not traverse it. The god blew a strong breath and at once a great white rainbow spanned the canyon. The Navaho tried to step on it, but it was soft and his feet went right through it. Talking God stood beside him and laughed.
Finally, after he had sufficiently enjoyed the sport, he blew another strong breath, the rainbow hardened, and together they crossed the canyon on it.
The god then showed the youth a small hole which he said was the entrance to his house. The noise made by the Ute pursuers terrified the boy because he thought he would be grabbed at any moment. He made desperate attempts to enter Talking God's cave home, but Talking God clapped his hands and roared with laughter. He blew a breath and the hole became large enough for the two to enter together.

Talking God teased the adults when The Twins were born. He took Firstborn aside and washed him. As he did so, he laughed and pretended he was cutting the baby in slices. The gods challenged The Twins when four days old to a race around a mountain. When the boys weakened, the gods beat them with twigs of mountain mahogany. Talking God won this race and promised to try the boys again in four days. This time the boys won and scourged the gods. Talking God and xactc'e'oyan laughed and clapped their hands to show their satisfaction.

Talking God had coiled strings that, when thrown, uncoiled and rewound, returning to his hand like a yo-yo. As the Visionary of the Night Chant was walking along in the company of the Hunchback Gods, he suddenly disappeared. When the gods failed to find him, they appealed to Talking God, who brought six magic strings, each wound loosely in a separate ball. He threw the white one to the east and it returned, then the blue to the south, the yellow to the west, and the black to the north, and each returned. He threw the spotted string down and the end stuck, showing that the Navaho was in the earth, a captive of the Winds. Another time when the same youth disappeared from an assembly of the gods, all five strings returned to Talking God; he then threw his second blue string up; it stuck at the zenith and they knew the boy had been taken to the sky.

The tale of the Stricken Twins is a moving account of Talking God's family relationships and the effect of kinship on the other gods.
When he coaxed the mother of the Stricken Twins to marry him, he induced her to keep his fatherhood a secret by telling her, "You need tell no one about it and I also promise not to tell. Such is the custom of my people [the gods]. We marry in secret and tell no one."
As the Stricken Twins, offspring of this mating, wandered from the home of one god to another begging for aid, Talking God did not admit that they were his sons. Had he done so, the gods would have helped them. Nevertheless, he watched over them, seeing to it that a few bits of supernatural food came their way, and giving broad hints to the gods about their relationship: "These children may even be your relatives."

Talking God is generally addressed as 'maternal grandfather' and he calls Earth People 'my daughter's children'; to give Monster Slayer and Child-of-the-water the assurance of full kinship privileges, he called them 'my son's children' as well. Corn Girl is mentioned as his daughter.
The versatility of Talking God's power is demonstrated by his interest in Changing Woman and The Twins when they were infants, his officiating at Changing Woman's nubility ceremony, his frequent aid to The Twins and other heroes throughout their career, his composition of songs, his gifts of jewels and prayers to the mountains.
There are various kinds of Talking gods, which may be duplicates -Whiteshell Talking God, White Wind Talking God, Rock Crystal Talking God, Mirage Talking God.
Various homes of Talking God are described, places where other gods lived with him. At one the walls of the house in the rock were of brilliantly glittering rock crystal. Another, of four rooms, was at the base of a high cliff and had a very small entrance. Another, over a large spring, was of corn pollen with a ceiling supported by four white spruce trees. The door was of daylight. Within the house rainbows were stretched in every direction, making it gleam with their bright colors.
Red God is another name for Talking God, or there is, perhaps, a Red God group of Talking Gods.
xactc'e'edli is another name for Talking God. It means God-turned-back-from-fright (tla'h) (Matthews 1887, pp. 106, 140, 397-9; 1897, pp. 68-9, 82, 86, 105-6, 163-4; 1902, pp.9-10, 190, 193, 199, 204, 222-3, 231; Newcomb 1940b, pp.51, 55, 73; Goddard, pp. 149-53, 156, 162; Hill 1938, pp. 19, 99; Stevenson, p. 277; Haile 1938b, pp. 83, 85, 89, 93, 123, 163; Reichard 1939, p.31; Sapir-Hoijer, pp. 171, 183, 193).

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

View all products related to this legend

Printable View

Free Shipping on all orders $250 or more (USA only).

Shopping Cart
Your Shopping Cart is Empty

Friendly people waiting to answer your questions.


This site was last updated on September 27, 2020.

Subscribe to e-Mailer

Twin Rocks on Facebook @TwinRocks_Bluff on Twitter Twin Rocks on Google+ Twin Rocks on Linkedin

credit card acceptance marks