Navajo Mythology Twins – Born From Water

This is Born From Water, the second of the twin miracle-performing sons of Yólkaistsán, the White-Shell Woman. His brother is Nayénzgan.

“I pity you, my grandchildren,” said the old woman; “come in here and rest a moment before going on.” She started down the ladder and the boys followed. Twelve ladders were descended before her home was reached. The old woman was Spider Woman, the little grandmother who belonged to the Holy Ones. Her home was well kept, clean and comfortable, and the boys were glad to rest. Said she, “My grandchildren, your journey is long and many trials will beset you before you reach the end. Take these life feathers; they will help you; if difficulties befall you, use them,” and she gave to each two feathers plucked from a living eagle.

Born From Water - Tobadzîschíni­ - Navajo

Born From Water – Tobadzîschíni­ – Navajo

The boys took the feathers, thanked her, and resumed their journey. After travelling a long way they came to a ridge of loose, yellow sand. It afforded poor footing for an ascent, but the boys struggled to the top, only to have the whole side of the ridge slide and carry them back. Three times the bank gave way as they were about to reach its crest; on the fourth trial they bethought themselves of the sacred feathers, and putting them on their feet marched readily over.

They travelled unimpeded then for quite a long distance, in time coming to four rows of tall, thorny reeds with spiked branches. The reeds grew far enough apart to permit travellers to pass into them, but closed whenever the unwary allowed himself to be caught, and he never escaped. The boys marched boldly up to the reeds and started in, then darted back quickly. The reeds closed instantly, but did not catch them. Then they put the life feathers on their feet again and jumped over all four rows.

The next obstacle was a deep canyon with precipitous walls. This, however, was not a serious impediment, for the life feathers, as before, helped them to cross it in one bound. By nightfall the boys had arrived at a broad, beautiful meadow where lived the Wasaka­da, or Grasshopper People, who received them kindly,giving them food and beds for the night. On being asked whither they were bound, the boys replied that they were journeying to the home of the Sun, their father, whom they had never seen.

The Wasaka­da­ cautioned the boys of dangers ahead, and as they were about to depart in the morning gave them little balls of yellow sputum to put in their mouths to prevent poisoning, should they find it necessary to eat or smoke among hostile people, and two sacred wands of turquoise and white shell. Two of the Wasaka­da­ also accompanied them for a time as guides.

They had not been long on their way when they came to a place where the trail ran between two high, smooth-faced bowlders. “These,” said their Wasaka­da­ companions, “are the Bumping Rocks. If you step into that narrow passageway between them they will crash together and kill you.” The boys started as if to enter, but fell back. The huge rocks came violently together, but did no harm. The feint was made three times, and each time the rocks crashed together and bounded back. The fourth time the boys entered they placed their sacred wands of turquoise and white shell across the gap above their heads and passed through, for these held the bowlders apart. As they emerged on the opposite side they saw the Sun rising from his eastern home and he was yet far away.

Soon a wide stretch of water was encountered; so far as they could see there was nothing but water. Here again they used their life feathers and were carried safely over. Four successive stretches of water and land were crossed, and still a fifth sheet of water lay before them. Along its shores paddled many varieties of animals. The boys looked out across the deep and could discern away out in the centre a house of turquoise and white shell, its roof glistening in the sunlight. Certain that it must be the home of their father, they readjusted their life feathers to start across, but found that they had lost control over them. They tried them several times in different places, but to no avail.The thought of not reaching their father’s house when so near filled their hearts with bitter disappointment. Seemingly there was naught that they could do, but they sat and pondered.

Navajo creation story

Books and Posters

The Legend of the Navajo Hero Twins Book Review
Changing Woman Protects Her Sons
The Holy Beings Teach the Navajo Twins Poster
Navajo Winter Storytelling Poster
The Navajo Hero Twins Receive Their Weapons – Poster
Tsidil – Navajo Stick Game
Book Review of  ”The Legend of the Horse”
Legend of the Horse Poster
K’é – Diné (Navajo) Kinship System

Comments

  1. Alexa Rogers Penzner says:

    They pondered and what happened? where can i find the rest of the legend? I came across a reference to Born-From-Water and wanted to find out more. . . The spirituality of the First People is large and multi-faceted. I can’t seem to find references which cover it all. Am i right to figure that the First People have no gods or goddesses (i have seen references which use that term) but spiritual guides? thanks, alexa :}

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