Tobadzischíni – “Born From Water” – Navajo

Tobadzischíni - Born From Water - Navajo God

Tobadzischíni – Photograph 1904 by Edward S. Curtis

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

“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.

The boys took the feathers, thanked her, and resumed their journey. After traveling 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 traveled 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 travelers 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 cayon 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 Wósakidi, or Grasshopper People, who received them kindly,[pg 101] 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 Wósakidi 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 Wósakidi 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 Wósakidi 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 boulders 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 center 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.