by Zaya Vald
Navajo mythology is woven into
the Navajo culture and its legendary rugs.
Source: Oscar Ghost / Adobe Stock
Around the globe, many
mythologies talk about gods that came from the sky and their
Navajo mythology also falls under this context.
In the present day,
Navajo Indians are in a population of approximately 150,000
individuals who live in a large desert reservation that spans the
Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado,
most important Native American tribe in the US.
The Navajo Indian
reservation is larger than France and Navajo mythology offers
numerous fascinating insights into their culture.
It is said that,
in the distant past,
when humans and animals had a common language, there was a dark
first world illuminated by fires which burned inside
From here, the insect
people started towards other worlds such as that of birds and
Therefore, this narrative involves travels to unknown
worlds, via portals and through other dimensions, and their
fascinating cosmic evolution.
In the fourth world the first humans of the Navajo people were
created, a myth which explains the mysterious origins of this
people. The crossing of the worlds by the first beings
represents the journey towards the “Shining World from the
As for the other
worlds, these were destroyed because of the disrespect of the
laws given by the gods regarding coexistence with others, with
those from the same people, as well as with those from other
peoples and other civilizations.
Just like in other
the rules given by the gods must be respected to avoid
destruction, but there is also forgiveness which allows for a new
beginning in a new world...
Navajo mythology origin stories
begin with the first world of darkness.
It had four corners, and over these appeared four clouds.
These four clouds contained within themselves
the elements of the first world.
The four corners were colored black, white, blue,
and yellow. (Navajo People)
Mythology Talks About Several Worlds
Navajo mythology talks about the existence of several worlds.
Therefore, before the
discovery of other planets, the Navajo Indians accepted the idea of
the existence of other worlds animated by life and other
According to Navajo myths, in the first world lived the peoples of
the bees, ants, dragonflies, scarabs, crickets and flies.
The appearance of the
idea of flight in this world is explained by the legend of the
dragonfly which made wings for itself and began to move them,
raising itself off the ground.
It flew towards the
sky and the other beings from this world followed its example,
beginning to fly as well.
Wanting to escape from this first world of hot craters in order
to colonize other worlds, its inhabitants flew until they
reached the highest part of their world looking for an exit out
of the sky. Still, the sky was solid at that point, and they had
to search until they saw a blue light from which a blue head
came out, which was a crossing point or a portal to another
In this way, the
inhabitants of the Navajo first world succeeded in crossing over
to the second world where the war against the birds began.
The second world in Navajo mythology was entirely blue and was
inhabited by birds. The bird people did not allow the other
peoples from the first world to settle in their world.
Because of famine,
the war with the birds started and the insect peoples were
massacred. The remaining insects flew away once more in search
of a new world to live in.
Again, they found a portal in the sky, and they reached the
third world where everything was yellow and where the locust
Here, the people
lived in peace and harmony, by accepting each other and getting
along. However, eventually a conflict made the locusts send away
Accompanied by four
locusts, they left, again through a portal, to the fourth world.
This new world, the fourth world, was white and black and it was
very bright. Here lived the stag, the wild turkey and the Kisani,
strange humans who knew how to build houses and cultivate land.
This world was very big, and it contained numerous mysteries.
So, up to this point, one
can observe the fact that Navajo mythology refers to a multitude of
worlds and transitional moments.
These include the moment
in which a world can become uninhabitable, the necessity of leaving
a world for the survival of civilization, portals, wars between
inhabitants of various worlds, alternative dimensions, and other
things which, in the present day, represent study topics for
Navajo Yebichai dancers
Edward S. Curtis, 1900,
signifying the arrival of the Navajo fourth world
S. Curtis / Public domain)
The Creation of Man
in Navajo Mythology
In Navajo mythology, gods have a human body.
Among them there are,
White Body, Blue
Body, Yellow Body and Black Body.
These sacred beings revealed
themselves to the insect people, but in an incomprehensible sign
language of the gods was based on signs that were different from
the sign language of the insect people. Finally, seeing that
they were not understood, the gods addressed the insect people
through spoken language.
They announced to the insect peoples that they were soon going
to create humans who would look exactly like the gods
According to the
promise, the gods were to return in 12 days. The insect peoples
prepared themselves and the gods returned. On a stag skin the
gods placed two corn cobs with their tops facing east.
After the action of
the winds, from the yellow corn cob the first woman appeared and
from the white corn cob the first man appeared.
As for the wind, it brought life by entering through the head
and by leaving through the feet, which represents the same life
force which humans possess.
When the life force
no longer enters and no longer comes out through the mouth, the
After the creation of humans by the gods, in time more people
were born, and the Navajo civilization developed. Therefore,
according to the Navajo mythology, man was created by a much
more advanced civilization, namely that of the gods.
the flood would hit the fourth world and humans
would have to leave for the fifth world.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park:
is the primary, traditional dwelling
/ CC BY-SA 4.0)
World of the Navajo Mythology
As the waters from
the flood were growing, living beings had to climb through a
stair system towards the sky.
Humans had to find an
opening in the solid arch of the sky, a crossing point to the
fifth world. Finally, a portal was created, and beings could
cross over to the new world.
Arriving safely in the fifth world, the first peoples were
packed closely on an island located in the middle of a big lake.
Surrounding the lake was land, but they could not get there.
Then, the Blue Body
god, who had brought along four sacred stones from the fourth
world, threw the stones in the four directions.
In this way, the
waters of the lake drained through the holes made by the stones
until a muddy road linking the island to the land emerged.
So, the gods
undertook a kind of
terraformation process (literally, an
"Earth-shaping" process) to make the fifth world inhabitable
The road was muddy, but the wind came to help dry it.
In this way,
humans could reach land.
together with Blue Body and Black Body modeled the mountains
by using soil taken from the sacred mountains of the fourth
So, by using
materials brought from the fourth world, the fifth world was
prepared and modified in such a way that it would correspond to
the living needs of humans and other beings.
The dangerous mountain of fire
key role in Navajo mythology
dealing with the challenges of the fifth world.
/ Adobe Stock)
When the first winter
came to the land of the deer, all living beings began to suffer
from the cold.
Among these there was
the Coyote, who was thinking that he would no longer suffer so
badly if he could obtain a spark from the mountain of fire.
Here a very
interesting element appears because many mythologies and legends
of old talk about these mountains of fire.
The Coyote managed to convince the woodpecker to go fly above
the mountain of fire with a bunch of twigs in its claws. When
the sparks would jump on the twigs, they would catch fire, and
the woodpecker brought fire back.
But she had to avoid
the fire-people who could notice her and fire upon her with fire
Having reached above the mountain, the woodpecker saw the two
monsters assigned by the man of fire to guard the flames who
resembled two giant flies. As the eyes of these monsters never
closed, they noticed the woodpecker and fired sparks upon her.
dropped the bunch of twigs and flew back.
Navajo mythology is woven
the Navajo culture and its legendary rugs.
/ Adobe Stock)
After this failed
attempt, the hawk went to discover who were the guardians of
fire. He studied them in detail during flight and returned to
tell the others.
After he heard the
description of the monsters, the Coyote decided to try and bring
back fire himself. He asked the birds to tie a bunch of twigs to
his tail and left.
Having reached the mountain of fire, the Coyote managed to fool
the two monsters, blinding them.
Then, when the flames
climbed to top of the crater, he slid the bunch of twigs through
fire. It became lit and the Coyote could bring back fire.
This fragment from Navajo
mythology is interesting because many mythologies talk about
mountains of fire or mountains of metal.
In general, it is said
that inside mountains metal gods dwell, when they have come to the
These mountains are
guarded by monstrous beings, the guardians of the gods, and at the
time when the gods wish to leave, they disappear along with their
mountains of iron.
As for the mountain of fire from Navajo mythology, this could have
been just a simple volcano, but it could have also been even more
It could have been a
place where another more advanced civilization unknown to humans lay
hidden and which had as guardians the two monsters.
Only one thing
the truth can never be known exactly in the worlds of