When Coyote Placed the Milky Way

Barry Simpson from Twin Rocks Trading Post asks Navajo Weaver Peggy Black about her latest basket.

When Coyote placed the stars is an important part of the creation story.  He was being naughty, but as is often the case, when Coyote is naughty it turns out working out fine in the end.

Regardless, Coyote is the archetypal trickster!

When the Great Flood Deluged Navajoland

Many cultures have a story about a Great Flood

The Great Flood Hits Bluff

Most people around the world hold the story of the Great Flood as part of their basic belief system.  And, every tribe’s story is somewhat similar to our own tribe’s story of the Great Flood told in the Bible.

Water, in the legends, is a primary world, a preworld, a world that gives birth to the present one. Through the energy of water, man is forced or driven to rise to a higher plane. In many origin stories, The People are (as in the Biblical tale) indifferent to their plight, and thus only the worthy, the “listeners” — men, animals, birds, and insects —  are brought up into the next world.

The Great Flood, as known the world around, is a purifier which illustrates that the earth’s creatures are out of balance. In the Creek Indian legend, The People fish from their housetops until they are drowned. Later, they are turned into mosquitoes.

The Navajo version shows how Coyote stole two Water Monster babies and brought on the flood by stealing from the Water Monster mother. Water, in all of the stories, is a complement to Fire, a mysterious power that must be understood in order to be used properly.

Luana Tso, magnificent weaver, presents her own interpretation of the Hero Twin known to us mortals as Monster SlayerWith his brother, Born-for-Water, this brave warrior became a hero in legend to the Navajo.  Directed by their father, the Sun Bearer, and with some very nasty implements of war, the boys purged the most dastardly beasts to extinction. 

No wonder this bad-boy-hero-of-the-desert inspired the mellow weaver, Luana.  Might there be more untapped emotion beneath her tranquil surface than we guess? We would say a large YES!, and we can’t wait to see what Simpson weaving Luana conjures up next on her loom!

The Navajo Ways Protection

Navajos still make baskets with protective powers that attract protective gods and keep away the evil gods.

A Navajo Basket with Rams Offering Protection

Navajos have many forms of protection from people, events, and spooky beings. So, we at Twin Rocks, thought we’d start sharing a few tips with you, and show you art that’s been created to boost the protective energy.

The word “ambush” has a pretty interesting beginning.  The word itself is an old word that means a shelter that’s formed by two trees or shrubs whose branches intermingle. Thus, it’s a good place to lay in ambush for someone, or to keep from being ambushed.

This leafy ambush is a setting that occurs repeatedly in myth. And, from the ambush, people have learned or invented protective rituals including herbal magic, frames, hoops, pokers, prayersticks, and pieces of carved wood.

A hero, hoping to shoot a ram or other animal that he did not recognize as a god, lay behind the ‘ambush trees.’ When the animal appeared, the hero was numb until it had passed. If the animal turned out to be a god, it would reveal himself as a deity to the hero. Then, the god would begin to teach the hero ceremonial lore and wisdom. In the once-were-coyote episodes, the intertwined trees become a shelter for the hapless hero who was bewitched into becoming a coyote.

The ceremony, or chant, to cure this is called Hoops of the Night Chant. The hoops are made of the ambush woods, which appear again in the pit-baking, and they’re associated with the wood samples of a healing herb.

In this remarkable basket woven by Jonathan Black,  the rams offer protection from deities who might be waiting to ambush an unsuspecting person.  Thank you, beautiful rams!