Most Navaho ceremonies are conducted, at least primarily, for the purpose of healing disease; and while designated medicine ceremonies, they are, in fact, ritualistic prayers. There are[pg 078] so many of these ceremonies that no student has yet determined their number, which reaches into scores, while the component ritual prayers of some number hundreds. The principal ceremonies are those that require nine days and nine nights in their performance. Of the many now known the names of nine are here given: KlÃ©jÄ• HatÃ¡l, Night Chant;4 TzÄlhkÃÌ†chÄ HatÃ¡l, Mountain Chant; HozhÃ³nÄ HatÃ¡l, Happiness Chant; NatÃ³i HatÃ¡l, Shooting Chant; Toi HatÃ¡l, Water Chant; AtsÃ³sÄ HatÃ¡l, Feather Chant; Yoi HatÃ¡l, Bead Chant; HochÃ³nchÄ HatÃ¡l, Evil-Spirit Chant; Mai HatÃ¡l, Coyote Chant. Each is based on a mythic story, and each has four dry-paintings, or so-called altars. Besides these nine days’ ceremonies there are others whose performance requires four days, and many simpler ones requiring only a single day, each with its own dry-painting.
This, the first of the dry-paintings employed in the rites of the Mountain Chantâ€”a nine days’ healing ceremony of the Navahoâ€”as in the Night Chant, is used on the fifth night, when the purpose of the performance is to frighten the patient, and thus banish the evil within him. The name of this painting, “Frighten Him On It,” is identical with that of the one used at the corresponding moment in the Night Chant.
The whole represents the den of a hibernating bear. Inside the ceremonial hogÃ¡n is thrown up a bank of earth two or three feet high, with an opening toward the doorway. Colored earths picture bear-tracks leading in; bear-tracks and sunlightâ€”sun dogsâ€”are represented at the four quarters, and the bear himself, streaked with sunlight, in the centre. The twigs at the entrance of the bear den represent trees, behind which bears are wont to dig their dens in the mountain side. Everything tends to make the patient think of bears. He enters midst deep silence and takes his seat upon the pictured animal. The play of his imagination has barely begun when a man, painted and garbed as a bear, rushes in, uttering hideous snarls and growls, in which all assembled join. Women patients seldom fail to faint.