Navajo Creation Story 2 – House God

First Man and First Woman placed two sacred deerskins on the ground as before. On the buckskin a shell of abalone was placed, on the doeskin a bowl made of pearl. The shell contained a piece of clear quartz crystal, and the bowl a moss agate. The objects were dressed respectively in garments of white, blue, yellow, and black wind, and were carried to the end of the land in the east by First Man and First Woman. With their spirit power Astsa• Ha¡sta­n and Astsa• A’stsa¡n sent both the shell and the bowl far out over the ocean, giving life to the crystal and the agate as they did so, directing that the one who would be known as Cha•honaa¡i, the Sun, should journey homeward through the sky by day, shedding light and warmth as he passed; the other, KlÄ•honaái, the Moon, must travel the same course by night. To each were given homes of turquoise in the east and west, and none but the Winds and the gods, HaschaltÄ­ and Haschagan, were to visit them.

Upon their return Astsa• A’stsa¡nn and Astsa• A’stsa¡n were asked if they would leave the sky in so plain a condition, or if they intended to beautify it with jewels. They replied that it was their intention to dot it with many bright stars. All those who had bits of white shell, turquoise, crystal, pearl, or abalone were directed to contribute them for the making of the stars. These were placed upon the two deerskins by First Man and First Woman.

The seven stars of the Great Dipper, Na´hokos Bakaon were the first to be set in the sky. Next, those of Na’hokos Baa¡d, his female complement, were placed in the blue dome. Then followed A’tatso and A’ta’tsaa­, Sa’ntso and Sontsa’a­, and Dalga’hat, the Small Dipper, Sonha’tsÄ­ and Klaka¡i Sta’a­, the Milky Way.

In each instance the arrangement of the stars in the constellation was made when the fragments of precious stones were placed upon the skins, where Ástsĕ Hástĭn and Ástsĕ Ĕstsán imparted glowing light to them and delivered them to the Winds to carry to the sky. Only a small portion of the gems had been thus transformed and sent up, when a fine-looking, well-dressed stranger came up to watch the proceedings. In reply to his question as to what was being done, his attention was directed to the sun, the moon, and the many stars already created, while more were soon to follow. The man was Coyote, son of Darkness. He watched the work for a time, when, seeing his chance, he caught the large deerskin containing the pile of jewel fragments and flung it skyward, blowing into the bits four times ere they could fall, scattering them all over the sky. Thus it is that there are myriads of stars irregular in arrangement and without names. As he strode off Coyote explained curtly that there were already enough sacred things to worship.

Then the Winds were stationed at the horizon to guard the earth, and at the four sacred mountains in the east, south, west, and north, to act as messengers for the Hascha’aa and Hascha’gana Talking Gods and House Gods who had their abodes on them. On the same plane, one behind the other, the Winds were ranged in streaks, White, Blue, Yellow, and Black. Outside of all Coyote placed a streak of Red Wind. This forced itself to the inside many years later and gave rise to disease and premature death, for as the good Winds are life-breathing, so the evil Winds are life-taking. Even now the Red Wind takes the lives of many children every year.

Haschógan - Navajo House God

Haschógan – Navajo House God

Photograph 1904 by E.S. Curtis

Second in general importance only to Haschaalta­ among Navaho deities is the House God, here shown. His position among the gods is quite parallel with that of peace chief among Indians in life. Like the majority of the myth characters he has numerous counterparts in the various world quarters.

The Da’ai†n made their homes near Cha’a­li, close to the place of emergence. It was there that all ceremonies took place. From their homes the people saw a dark Cloud settle and cover the top of Cha’a­li. For four days it kept lowering until the mountain was completely shrouded in dark blue fog. They did not know whether it portended good or evil, but realized that something of moment was at hand. Astsa• Ha¡sta­n ascended the mountain through the fog to learn what it meant, but found nothing unusual. As he turned to descend, a faint, apparently distant cry reached his ears, but he paid no heed. Ere long the same sound came to him again; then a third and a fourth time, whereupon he turned and walked in the direction whence it came. On the eastern slope he found a tiny baby, and wrapping it in rays of sunbeams he carried it home to his wife.

The Cloud that descended was a portion of the sky which had come to meet the Earth; from the union of the two Ya’lkaia’stsa¡n, White-Shell Woman, was born. In twelve days the baby had grown to maturity, subsisting on pollen only.Astsa• Ha¡sta­n and Astsa• Astsa¡n sent messengers to all the Da­ga­n to tell them of the marvel and to summon them to a ceremony which would be held four days later. Word was sent also to the gods on the four sacred mountains.

Ástsa• a’stsa¡n dressed Ya’lkai Astsa¡n in fine garments ornamented with beautiful jewels. At the western side of her hogan she placed a sacred deerskin and laid upon it several wool and cotton blankets, covering the whole with a mountain-lion skin. These were arranged as the seat of honor for White-Shell Woman, for whom was about to be held a ceremony celebrating her maturity.