Bigfoot Spotted on the Navajo Nation!

The Navajo Indian reservation is home to many amazing creatures.

One of them is called The Howler.  It is a mysterious being believed to have killed dogs and livestock. Elders in the community call these predators Skinwalkers, and others call it the Navajo version of Bigfoot, particularly news people.

The reservation even has a special law enforcement agency that only responds to paranormal reports such as ghosts, witchcraft, UFOs and even Skinwalkers, or if you prefer, Bigfoot.  (Nah, nothing like a Skinwalker…)

 

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!

How to Weave the Clouds with Navajo Wickerwork

Wickerwork baskets have been used for thousands of years to carry water and food.  Some Navajo Artists have created works of art out of the same basket form.

This Wickerwork Basket Weaves the Magic of Cloud World

At Twin Rocks, we feel that Alicia Nelson had her head in the beautiful clouds while weaving this basket.

The Navajo Sky World is often represented by cloud symbols, and it is considered an enchanted place where deities dwell.  The world is a place of intense beauty, majesty and harmony.

Alicia is one of the best Navajo basket weavers around.  Her weave is strong and true, and her symmetry is spot on.  In this work,  Alicia has depicted a magical place upon a majestic form of the carrying basket.

A utility carrying basket is even less frequently seen than the water jar. Tsizis (tsi, hair, and zis, or azis, a bag or pouch, from the mode of carrying it over the hair of the forehead) is used for gathering the hashkan, or yucca fruit, for syrup. The baskets are plaited of willow twigs, the same way our own baskets are, but they don’t have a handle or a finished rim. Instead, a cord is fastened to two of the staves or bows.  The basket is carried exactly like the water bottle, but the cord is slipped over the forehead or scalp.

At times the baskets were strapped as a pack to a horse or a burro, one basket dangling from either side. A basket of the same type is sometimes made in the fields for carrying yucca fruit.

Alicia Nelson took a basket, and its form, and changed it from something to be used daily to an item of immense magic and pleasure.  Thank you, Alicia, for your inspired imagination!

Two Navajo Artists Find Grace in their Folk Art

Navajo carfts, and carvings, teach us about the old gods, the animals spirits and the place they hold in our lives.

Marvin Jin and Grace Begay, Navajo Artists, Find Grace and Fun

Based upon the Navajo Creation Tales, the extraordinary and unique sculptures of Marvin Jim reflect a time long ago, when animals and humans walked and worked together to create this new world.Traditional Navajo stories speak of conversations among all beings, of behaving in a manner of mutual respect, and of all beings having an equal position in the community. These legends are an essential part of the Navajo culture.

The tales are of universal interaction, compassion and tolerance — all the things necessary to live a balanced existence.

The animals played prominate roles in these myths. For example, Coyote is often portrayed delivering fire to humans, a selfish act initially, but one that proved selfless in the end. There was Turkey who kept his wits about him during the great flood. When everyone else grabbed  personal possessions, Turkey gathered life-giving seeds. These seeds made it possible for the people to survive.

The four great rams who dispersed the flood waters into a mirage world, making the earth livable are mentioned. Duck, who dove back into the troubled waters to fetch the forgotten medicine bag of First Man is also an important part of the stories. This act cost him his beautiful plumage, but gave rise to the sacred mountains which guard and protect the people.

Marvin has chosen to recreate these lessons through sculpture. Raised in the traditional Navajo way, this talented young artist, carves his “upright animals” to show that there was once, and will be again, a personal connection to the animal world.

There is a special grace and love in his work that make you feel happy.  Isn’t that a miraculous thing?

Even Mother of All Needs a Break

Creating the World Takes a Lot of Energy

Creating the World Takes a Lot of Energy

Hosteen Klah, wonderful Navajo storyteller and keeper of the Old Stories, referred to the Creation Myth and Changing Woman:

“Great Water of the sunset… When all the Indian tribes had been established on this present earth, the Sun said to Changing Woman, `Your work here is finished.  You may now go to the place of the sunset, where, far out over the great waters, I have built a house for you. I will send powerful guards with you — the Hail, the Thunder, the Lightning, and the Water Ruler.

“‘The Wind, the Rain, the Clouds, and the Light have helped me make a beautiful house for you, and I wish you to live where I can meet you in the evening.’

“This house was built on a beautiful island called `Land that Floats on the Water.’ In it were four rooms and on each was on floor.  And, for each floor there were ladders of black jet, white shell, turquoise, and abalone on all four sides. On top of the house there was a multicolored thunderbird, larger than any that has ever been seen, who was the chief of all thunderbirds.

“On his back he carried small thunderbirds of all the ceremonial colors. In the center of this palace was a large room with an altar decorated with all the colors of every flower that had bloomed and faded on earth, and with the spirits of all the birds. The main entrance was toward the east and was guarded by a white-shell rattle which gave the alarm whenever a visitor approached.

“To this place Changing Woman came to live forever and meet the Sun in the evenings.” — Hosteen Klah, Navajo Medicine Man and Sand Painter.

A nice rendezvous home for a woman who had done her work well and deserved a nice second place to live!

Navajo Wind Energy Basket and Healing

Navajo Wind Energy Basket Relates to Holy Wind, our Breath, and Kinship

Navajo Wind Energy Basket Relates to Holy Wind, our Breath, and Kinship

Just like the Western notion of the soul, Holy Wind exists everywhere. Every living thing is part of it.

The basket pictured is made by Navajo artist Chris Johnson.  As a member of the Betty Rock Johnson family, Chris has been schooled by the finest. Using richly traditional colors of red and black and a wind energy theme, Chris had made an interesting crossover piece. Chris’ weavings do not last long so don’t hesitate.

Holy Wind is the underlying element that unifies all beings. People, deer, buffalo, spiders, stars, clouds, goatheads, fish and pinon trees — everything — are all united by breath and wind. The singe soul sings within it, and us, all.

Because we have kinship with all living beings, we also have the responsibilities that come along with those connections. This means that the earth, animals and plants that live on it (as well as the sky with its entities and phenomena) are related and will take care of us. And, they will provide for us as long as we recognize that we’re responsible for being part of the earth and the sky, too. It’s a two-way street.

Breath and speech are intimately related to the concept of Holy Wind, or nilch’i. There is a holy quality to breath that we don’t often recognize in our culture. Traditional Navajos think of breathing as a sacred act that unite all living beings.

It is possible for a patient in a healing ceremony to breathe in the life-giving power of the sun outside of the hogan, because the chanter’s breath rolls inside the hogan. The intimate relationship between speech and breath is a life principle that makes the very act of speech act sacred.

Words have a sacred, creative power. In Navajo creation stories, the Holy People spoke, sang, and prayed the world into existence. The uniting power of Holy Wind is the same force that fills the Holy People themselves with life, movement, speech, and behavior.

We have direct access to the thought and speech of the Holy Ones through breath and words. That Holy Wind, or soul, is our inner form, and so it is with all living beings. Beautiful.

The basket above is made by Navajo artist Chris Johnson.  As a member of the Betty Rock Johnson family, Chris has been schooled by the finest. Using richly traditional colors of red and black and a wind energy theme, Chris had made an interesting crossover piece. Chris’ weavings do not last long so don’t hesitate.

Kokopelli… The Shocking Truth!

Kokopelli, the fertility god of the southwest and also an ancient trickster

Kokopelli, Wooing Women of the Southwest

Kokopelli was a frisky and fruitful guy.  As a matter of fact, you could say that he was the Johnny Appleseed of the Southwest.

His trade route was large.  He played his music and spread his seed from Southern Utah to Mexico. To the Navajo, Kokopelli is called “Water Sprinkler”, and he is a symbol of fertility in both the natural and human sense.

To the Hopi he is the symbol of the Flute clan, and he adorns pottery, baskets, and Katsinas. And, he is always surrounded by humor. This funny-looking being, with his back hunched, carrying seeds, was somehow able to enchant women into loving him and mesmerize men out of their most prized possessions.

Many women considered it to be an honor to be chosen as his “dreamtime companion” when he stayed in a village until he moved on. If you’d had trouble having a baby, Kokopelli would take care of that. He fathered children left and right.

The Hopi people believe Kokopelli gets his energy and heat from the very center of the earth. And, coming from the center of the earth, he brings love and fertility to all plants and animals.

Kokopelli has the spirit of the Trickster. This hunchbacked flute player is sometimes called the Casanova of the Cliff Dwellers.

His image was cleaned up hundreds of years ago by Catholic priests as they arrived in the Southwest. But, he is still here, etched in petroglyphs, playing his flute for everyone to enjoy.

We believe that Kokopelli is with us still, just beyond our reach but inside our dreams, and that he will continue his journey and trade route into the future.

Oh, magical southwest… We love you.