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Full text of "The prayer of a Navajo shaman"

















THE PRAYER 



A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 



BY 



DR. WASHINGTON MATTHEWS, 



TJ. S. 



FROM THE AMKRICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, VOL. I, No. 2, APRIL, 1888. 



WASHINGTON, D. C. : 

JUDD & DETWEILEB, F RENTERS. 

1888. 



// 



THE PRAYER 



OF 



A NAVAJO SHAMAN 



BY 



DR. WASHINGTON MATTHEWS, 



TJ. S. 



FROM THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, VOL. I, No. 2, APRIL, 1888. 



WASHINGTON, D. C. : 

JUDD & DETWEILER, PRINTERS. 

1888. 



,v 



I 



/3 8 
Bancroft Library 




Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 



THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN.* 

BY DR. WASHINGTON MATTHEWS, U. S. A. , ARMY MEDICAL MUSEUM. 

The literature purporting to represent the native devotional ex 
pressions of our North American aborigines so far published is very 
meager, and much of this scanty material is of doubtful authenticity. 
For these reasons I offer to the Society for its consideration the 
Prayer of a Navajo Shaman. 

It is a composition unique in form and bearing internal evidence 
of purely heathen origin. It shows no trace of extemporaneousness. 
That it is the carefully considered ritual composition of a priest well 
informed in the knowledge of his craft a priest who, in the lan 
guage of the Scripture, "sought to find out acceptable words" I 
cannot doubt. I have only the word of my informant, who is now 
over seventy years of age, for its antiquity. He learned it in youth 
from an old shaman, who, in. turn, had it transmitted from an elder 
man. It is not, however, of sufficient antiquity to contain (except 
perhaps in one word, qonicqa'de) obsolete terms, which we so often 
encounter in the prayers and hymns of Navajo medicine-men. 
The language of rogation is common to the prayers of the Navajos, 
as it is to the prayers of all other peoples ; but this prayer, it will 
be seen, is not in the form of a supplication. It is a narrative, in 
which the present tense of the verb is used from the beginning 
almost to the end. It is evidently primarily intended to coun 
teract witchcraft. My informant said it was the most potent prayer 
that he knew. So sacred is it held that no one may repeat it, or 
any part of it, twice on the same day, nor may any portion of it 
be repeated by itself. It must be said through from beginning to 
end without stopping. These are conditions which added much to 
the labor of noting the prayer and obtaining an exact translation. 

* In the Navajo words, as they appear in this paper, the vowels have the Con 
tinental sounds; there is only one diphthong, at; ' denotes an aspirated vowel ; 
c- has the sound of sh in shine ; d before a vowel has the sound of th in this ; 
I is always aspirated, as if spelled hi; n above the line ( n ) is nasal; q has the 
sound of German ch in machen ; t before a vowel has the sound of th in thing ; 
the other letters have the ordinary English sounds. 



6 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

With other Navajo prayers in my collection the act of supplication 
is preceded by the offering of a sacrifice, and in the prayer the god 
is reminded of the votive offering and told what blessings are ex 
pected in return. With the prayer under consideration, no reference 
is made to a previous sacrifice and, as far as I could learn, none pre 
cedes it, although a song in praise of the war god is sometimes sung 
as a prelude. 

This prayer came to my knowledge almost by accident and per 
haps contrary to the wishes of the supplicant. I first heard it at 
Fort Defiance, Arizona, 'from a venerable Navajo shaman, well versed 
in the mythic lore of his race, thoroughly imbued with the super 
stitions of the savage and the faith of the uncontaminated pagan. 
He had been engaged for some weeks previously in recounting myths, 
and explaining to me various medicine practices which I had wit 
nessed in the lodges. In none of my interviews with him had he 
shown any impatience with my demands for explanations as we pro 
gressed or with interruptions in our work. He lingered long 
over his meals, lighted many cigarettes and smoked them leis 
urely, got tired early in the evening, and was always willing to 
go to bed as early as I would let him. When, however, he came 
to relate the creation myth all this was changed. He arrived early; 
he remained late; he hastened through his meals; he showed evi 
dence of worry at all delays and interruptions, and frequently 
begged me to postpone minor explanations. On being urged to 
explain this change of spirit he said that we were travelling in the 
land of the dead, in. a place of evil and potent ghosts, just so long 
as he continued to relate those parts of the myth which recount the 
adventures of his ancestors in the nether world, and that we were in 
danger as long as our minds remained there ; but that when we came 
to that part of the tale where the people ascend to this the fifth and 
last world we need no longer feel uneasy and could then take our 
time. His subsequent actions proved that he had given an honest 
explanation. 

It was near sunset one afternoon and an hour or more before his 
supper time that he concluded his account of the subterranean wan 
derings of the Navajos and brought them safely through the Place of 
Emergence, in the San Juan mountains, to the surface of this world. 
Then he ceased to speak, rolled a cigarette, said he was tired, that 
he would not be able to tell me any more that night, and left me. 

After his departure I learned that he had announced to some of 




Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 7 

his friends during the day that he would have to pray at night to 
counteract the evil effects of his journey through the lower world. 
After his supper he retired to the apartment among the old adobe huts 
at Defiance in which he had been assigned room to sleep. I soon 
followed, and, having waited in the adjoining passage half an hour 
or more, I heard the voice of the old man rising in the monotonous 
tones of formulated prayer. Knowing that the rules of the shaman 
forbade the interruption of any prayer or song, I abruptly entered 
the room and sat down on the floor near the supplicant. He was 
seated tailor-fashion in front of the hearth, on which a bright fire 
blazed, surrounded by two or three Indian listeners. His hands 
rested on his knees; his head was bent slightly forward; his face 
wore an anxious expression, and his eyes were steadily directed on 
the floor at a point about two yards in front of him. He did not 
even raise his eyes when I entered and never changed his position 
until he had done. Then he made the sign for complete or finished, 
and entered unconcernedly into conversation, complimenting him 
self on his ability to say a prayer well and make no mistakes. I 
had no difficulty in inducing him to repeat the prayer for me after 
wards on several occasions under the conditions mentioned. 

The prayer is so iterative that, long as it is, it contains only about 
a hundred Navajo words, not counting incorporated particles 
(which are defined separately in the appended glossary). For this 
reason it was not considered advisable to give the original text in an 
interlinear or double-column form. It was thought that a clear un 
derstanding of the composition as well as economy of space could 
be best secured by the following method : The Navajo form is placed 
immediately after the translation for each separate paragraph ; in 
most cases the often-recurring passages of the original are printed 
but once. A glossary is given, by consulting which the student 
may discover what liberties have been taken with the original in the 
endeavor to produce a smooth and intelligible English translation. 

THE PRAYER OF THE RENDITION (QA-YA'-TYl). 

I. From the summit of Jemez mountain Nagaynezgani comes for 
my sake. From the summit of San Francisco mountain Thobaji- 
scheni comes for my sake. 

Tsisnadjini bilatade Nagenezgani cikadeya. Dokooslid bilatade 
Tobajistcini cikadeya. 



8 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

II. On this side thereof, on the top of Black mountain, Nagay- 
nezgani comes for my sake. On this side thereof, on the White 
ridges, Thobajischeni comes for my sake. 

Gostcisde, Dsil-Lijin bakade Nagenezgani cikadeya. Gostcisde, 
Lakai-Dinlade Tobadjistcini cikadeya. 

III. Again on this side thereof, on the summit of the Carrizo 
mountains, Nagaynezgani comes for my sake. Again on this side 
thereof, on the summit of the Carrizo mountains, Thobajischeni 
comes for my sake. 

Adostcisde, Dsilgi-Qojoni bilatade Nagenezgani cikadeya. Ados- 
tcisde, Dsilgi-Qojoni bilatade Tobajistcini cikadeya. 

IV. Again on this side thereof, in the Place of Emergence, Na 
gaynezgani arrives for my sake, Again on this side thereof, in the 
Place of Emergence, Thobajischeni arrives for my sake. Although 
Smooth Wind guards the door, Nagaynezgani with his black wand 
opens the way for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Tho 
bajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake 
he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, Qadjinai bitagi Nagaynezgani cikaniya. Adostcisde, 
Qadjinai bitagi Tobadjistcini cikaniya. Niltci-Dilkohi dadinlagi, 
Nagenezgani bikic dilyilgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikaniyago. Bikede 
Tobajistcini bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Yecikaniyago. 

V. Again on this side thereof, through the first chamber, made 
of the black cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the 
way for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni 
with his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives 
with him. 

Adostcisde, kos dilyilgo la'adibe daqonikade binakade Nagenezgani 
bikic dilyilgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikaniyago. Bikede Tobadjistcini 
bikic dolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Yecikaniyago. 

VI. Again on this side thereof, through the second chamber, 
made of the blue cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobaji 
scheni with his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he 
arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, kos tolijgo nakidibe daqonikade binakade. (The 
rest as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 9 

VII. Again on this side thereof, through the third chamber, made 
of the yellow cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the 
way for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni 
with his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives 
with him. 

Adostcisde, kos litsogo tqagidibe daqonikade binakade. (The 
rest as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

VIII. Again on this side thereof, through the fourth chamber, 
made of the white cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobaji 
scheni with his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he 
arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, kos lakaigo ti n dibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest 
as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

IX. Again on this side thereof, through the first chamber, made 
of the black mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way 
for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with 
his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with 
him. 

Adostcisde, a'dilyilgo la'adibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest 
as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

X. Again on this side thereof, through the second chamber, made 
of the blue mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way 
for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with 
his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with 
him. 

Adostcisde, a'tolijgo nakidibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest 
as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani. ) 

XI. Again on this side thereof, through the third chamber, made 
of the yellow mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way 
for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with 
his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with 
him. 

Adostcisde, a' litsogo tqagidibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest 
as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XII. Again on this side thereof, through the fourth chamber, made 
of the white mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way 



10 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. ]. 

for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with 
his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with 
him. 

Adostcisde, a'lakaigo ti n dibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest as 
in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XIII. Again on this side thereof, through the Red Rivers Cross 
ing One Another, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way 
for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with 
his blue wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with 
him. 

Adostcisde, Tolitci Alnaosgli n de binakade. (The rest as in V, 
beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XIV. Again on this side thereof, through the first chamber, made 
of the black mountain, although Red Bear guards the door, Nagay 
nezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He arrives for 
my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the 
way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, dsil dilyilgo la'adibe daqonikade binakade, Cac-Lit- 
cigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in V, beginning with the word Na 
genezgani.) 

XV. Again on this side thereof, through the second chamber, made 
of the blue mountain, although Great Red Serpent guards the door, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He ar 
rives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue wand 
opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, dsil tolijgo nakidibe daqonikade binakade, Lictso- 
Litcigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in V, beginning With the word 
Nagenezgani.) 

XVI. Again on this side thereof, through the third chamber, 
made of the yellow mountain, although Red Coyote guards the 
door, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. 
He arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, dsil litsogo tqagidibe daqonikade binakade, Mai-Lit- 
cigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in V, beginning with the word Na 
genezgani.) 

XVII. Again on this side thereof, through the fourth chamber, 
made of the white mountain, although Red Hawk guards the door, 






Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 11 

Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He 
arrives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue wand 
opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, dsil lakaigo ti n dibe daqonikade binakade Tsandildjehe- 
Litcigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in V, beginning with the word 
Nagenezgani.) 

XVIII. Again on this side thereof, in the entry of the red-floored 
lodge, the house of Woman Chieftain, Nagaynezgani with his black 
wand opens the way for me. He arrives for my sake. Behind him 
Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. For my 
sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, qoganya-qotci, Estsan-nata n bagan tceti n gi. (The rest 
as in V, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XIX. Again on this side thereof, at the edge of the lodge, Na 
gaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He arrives 
for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens 
the way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, qogan bahastlade. (The rest as in V, beginning with 
the word Nagenezgani.) 

XX. Again on this side thereof, beside the fire-place of the lodge, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He ar 
rives for my sake. Behind him. Thobajischeni with his blue wand 
opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcisde, qogan qonicqa'de. (The rest as in V, beginning with 
the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXI. Again on this side thereof, in the middle of the lodge, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He ar 
rives for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue wand 
opens the way for me. For my sake he arrives with him. 

Adostcide, qoganya qalnigi. (The rest as in V, beginning with 
the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXII. Again on this side thereof, in the back of the lodge, Na 
gaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He arrives 
for my sake. Behind him Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens 
the way for me to where my feet are lying, to where my limbs are 
lying, to where my body is lying, to where my mind is lying, to 



12 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

where the dust of my feet is lying, to where my saliva is lying, to 
where my hair is lying. 

Adostcisde, qogan tsetlagi, Nagenezgani bikic dilyilgo yecadaa- 
naiyeglago. Cikaniyago. Bikede Tobadjistcini bikic tolijgo yeca- 
daanaiyeglago, cike silagi, citcat silagi, citses silagi, cini'silagi, ci- 
hetcin silagi, cije silagi, citsiga silagi. 

XXIII. Nagaynezgani places his great stone knife and his talking 
kethawn (ketan-yaltigo) in my hand ; with them he turns me around 
as the sun moves until I face him. ''Woman Chieftain ! my grand 
son is now restored to me. Seek not to find him. Say not a word. 
Now we start back with my grandson. He is restored to me." 

Nagenezgani pecdolgas ketan-yaltigo da'cabikego cilagi yilago 
yeitcinasisyizgo. "testsan-Nata n ! kat citsoi cinasle. Tobikeqadil- 
galda. Toqadidsi'da. Kat citsoi biltaqandictaj. Cinasle." 

XXIV. Again on this side thereof, in the middle of the lodge, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He goes 
out returning before me. I go out returning behind him. Behind 
me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. He 
goes out returning behind me. They go out returning with me. 

Adostcisde, qoganya qalnigi Nagenezgani bikic dilyilgo yecadaa- 
naiyeglago. Citsidje ni'yenatsago. Bikede ni'yenistsaga. Cikede 
Tobajistcini bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikede ni'yenatsago. 
Cilni'yenataj. 

XXV. Again on this side thereof, at the edge of the lodge, Na 
gaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He goes out 
returning before me. I go out returning behind him. Behind me 
Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. He goes 
out returning behind me. They go out returning with me. 

Adostcisde, qogan bahastlade. (The rest as in XXIV, beginning 
with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXVI. Again on this side thereof, through the entry of the lodge, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He goes 
out returning before me. I go out returning behind him. Behind 
me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. He 
goes out returning behind me. They go out returning with me. 

Adostcisde, qogan tceti n de. (The rest as in XXIV, beginning with 
the word Nagenezgani.) 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 13 

XXVII. Again on this side thereof, through the first chamber 
made of the white mountain, although Red Hawk guards the door, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He is 
returning before me. I am returning behind him. Behind me 
Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. He is 
returning behind me. They are returning with me. 

Adostcisde, dsil lakaigo la'adibe daqonikade binakade,Tsandildjehe 
Litcigo dadinlagi, Nagenezgani bikic dilyilgo yecadaanaiyeglago. 
Citsidje tsenatsago. Bikede tsenistsago. Cikede Tobajistcini bikic 
tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikede tsenatsago. Ciltsenataj. 

XXVIII. Again on this side thereof, through the second chamber, 
made of the yellow mountain, although Red Coyote guards the door, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He is 
returning before me. I am returning behind him. Behind me 
Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way 'for me. He is 
returning behind me. They are returning with me. 

Adostcisde, dsil litsogo nakidibe daqonikade binakade, Mai-Lit- 
cigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in XXVII, beginning with the word 
Nagenezgani.) 

XXIX. Again on this side thereof, through the third chamber, 
made of the blue mountain, although Great Red Serpent guards the 
door, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. 
He is returning before me. I am returning behind him. Behind 
me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. He is 
returning behind me. They are returning with me. 

Adostcisde, dsil tolijgo tqagidibe daqonikade binakade,. Lictso- 
Litcigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in XXVII, beginning with the 
word Nagenezgani.) 

XXX. Again on this side .thereof, through the fourth chamber, 
made of the black mountain, although Red Bear guards the door, 
Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. He is 
returning before me. I am returning behind him. Behind me 
Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. He is re 
turning behind me. They are returning with me. 

Adostcisde, dsil dilyilgo ti n dibe daqonikade binakade, Cac-Lit- 
cigo dadinlagi. (The rest as in XXVII, beginning with the word 
Nagenezgani.) 



14 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

XXXI. Again on this side thereof, through the Red Rivers Cross 
ing One Another, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way 
for me. He is returning before me. I am returning behind him. 
Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. 
He is returning behind me. They are returning with me. 

Adostcisde, Tolitci AlnaosgliMe binakade. (The rest as in XXVII, 
beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXII. Again on this side thereof, through the first chamber, 
made of the white mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. 
They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, a'lakaigo la'adibe daqonikade binakade Nagenezgani 
bikic dilyilgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Citsidje qanastsago. Bikede qasist- 
sago. Cikede Tobajistcini bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Ci- 
kede qanastsago. Cilqanastaj. 

XXXIII. Again on this side thereof, through the second chamber, 
made of the yellow mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. 
They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, a'litsogo nakidibe daqonikade. (The rest as in 
XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXIV. Again on this side thereof, through the third chamber, 
made of the blue mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the 
way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up re 
turning .behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand 
opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. They 
climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, a' tolijgo tqagidibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest 
as in XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXV. Again on this side thereof, through the fourth chamber, 
made of the black mist, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 15 

opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. They 
climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, a'dilyilgo ti n dibe daqonikade binakade. (The rest 
as in XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXVI. Again on this side thereof, through the first chamber, 
made of the white cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning, behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. 
They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, kos lakaigo la'adibe daqonikade. (The rest as in 
XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXVII. Again on this side thereof, through the second chamber, 
made of the yellow cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. 
They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, kos litsogo nakidibe daqonikade. (The rest as in 
XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXVIII. Again on this side thereof, through the third chamber, 
made of the blue cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for fhe. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. 
They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, kos tolijgo tqagidibe daqonikade. (The rest as in 
XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XXXIX. Again on this side thereof, through the fourth chamber, 
made of the black cloud, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens 
the way for me. He climbs up returning before me. I climb up 
returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning behind me. 
They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, kos dilyilgo ti n dibe daqonikade. (The rest as in 
XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 



16 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

XL. Again on this side thereof, through the Place of Emergence, 
although Smooth Wind guards the door, Nagaynezgani with his 
black wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning before 
me. I climb up returning behind him. Behind me Thobajischeni 
with his blue wand opens the way for me. He climbs up returning 
behind me. They climb up returning with me. 

Adostcisde, Qadjinaide Niltci-Dilkohi dadinlagi. (The rest as 
in XXXII, beginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XLI. Again on this side thereof, at the place called Coyote Race- 
Course, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. 
He goes out returning before me. I go out returning behind him. 
Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. 
He goes out returning behind me. They go out returning with me. 

Adostcisde, Mai-Algacitaj qolgede. (The rest as in XXIV, be 
ginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XLIL Again on this side thereof, at the place called Two Hang 
ing Gourds, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for 
me. He goes out returning before me. I go out returning behind 
him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way 
for me. He goes out returning behind me. They go out returning 
with me. 

Adostcisde, Ata-Dasila qolgede. (The rest as in XXIV, begin 
ning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XLIII. Again on this side thereof, at the place called Brown 
Pinnacle, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for me. 
He goes out returning before me. I go out returning behind him. 
Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way for me. 
He goes out returning behind me. They go out returning with me. 

Adostcisde, Lapa-Deza' qolgede. (The rest as in XXIV, begin 
ning with the word Nagenezgani.) 

XLIV. Again on this side thereof, at the place called Breeze 
Under a Tree, Nagaynezgani with his black wand opens the way for 
me. He goes out returning before me. I go out returning behind 
him. Behind me Thobajischeni with his blue wand opens the way 
for me. He goes out returning behind me. They go out returning 
with me. 

Adostcisde, Tsi n ya-Doyol qolgede. (The rest as in XXIV, be 
ginning with the word Nagenezgani.) 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 17 

XLV. Again on this side thereof, at a place where I see the di 
rection in which my lodge lies, Haschayalthi with his white wand 
opens the way for me. He goes out returning before me. I go out 
returning behind him. Behind me Haschayhogan with his blue 
wand opens the way for me. He goes out returning behind me. 
They go out returning with me. 

Adostcisde, cagan bitciqaisti n de Qastceyalti bikic lakaigo yeca- 
daanaiyeglago. Citsidje ni'yenatsago. Bikede ni'yenistsago. Ci- 
kede Qastceqogan bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikede ni' 
yenatsago. Cilni'yenataj. 

XLVI. Again on this side thereof, among the many trails that 
lead towards my lodge, Haschayalthi with his white wand opens the 
way for me. He goes out returning before me. I go out returning 
behind him. Behind me Haschayhogan with his blue wand opens 
the way for me. He goes out returning behind me. They go out 
returning with me. 

Adostcisde, cagan bitcidainti n de. (The rest as in XLV, begin 
ning with the word Qastceyalti.) 

XLVII. Again on this side thereof, in the middle of my broad 
field, beautified with the white corn, beautified with the yellow corn, 
beautified with the round corn, beautified with all kinds of corn, 
beautified with the pollen of the corn, beautified with grasshop 
pers, Haschayalthi with his white wand opens the way for me. 
He returns upon it before me. I return upon it behind him. Be 
hind me Haschayhogan with his blue wand opens the way for me. 
He returns upon it behind me. They return upon it with me. 

Adostcisde, cita'ke qotyel alnigi, nata alkai beqaqojogi, natalitsoi 
beqaqojogi, nata ditcol beqaqojogi, nata altqasai beqaqojogi, tqadi- 
ti n beqaqojogi, aniltani beqaqojogi, Qastceyalti bikic lakaigo yeca 
daanaiyeglago. Citsidje yikinaitsago. Bikede yikinaistsago. Cikede 
Qastceqogan bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikede yikinaitsago. 
Cilyikinaitaj. 

XLVIII. Again on this side thereof, in the entry of my lodge, 
made of the daylight, Haschayalthi with his white wand opens the 
way for me. He goes in returning before me. I go in returning 
behind him. Behind me Haschayhogan with his blue wand opens 
the way for me. He goes in returning behind me. They go in re 
turning with me. 

3 



18 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

Adostcisde, yayolkalbe ciqogan, qogan-tceti n gi, Qastceyalti, bikic 
lakaigo yecadaanaiyeglago. Citsidje yahanatsago. Bikede yahanast- 
sago. Cikede Qastceqogan bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikede 
yahanatsago. Cilyahanataj. 

XLIX. Again on this side thereof, at the edge of my lodge, Ha- 
schayalthi with his white wand opens the way for me. He goes in 
returning before me. I go in returning behind him. Behind me 
Haschayhogan with his blue wand opens the way for me. He goes 
in returning behind me. They go in returning with me. 

Adostcisde, cagan bahastlade. (The rest as in XL VIII, beginning 
with the word Qastceyalti.) 

L. Again on this side thereof, beside the fire-place of my lodge, 
Haschayalthi with his white wand opens the way for me. He goes 
in returning before me. I go in returning behind him. Behind 
me Haschayhogan with his blue wand opens the way for me. He 
goes in returning behind me. They go in returning with me. 

Adostcisde, cagan qonicqa'de. (The rest as in XLVIII, begin 
ning with the word Qastceyalti.) 

LI. Again on this side thereof, through the middle of my lodge, 
Haschayalthi with his white wand opens the way for me. He goes 
in returning before me. I go in returning behind him. Behind me 
Haschayhogan with his blue wand opens the way for me. He goes 
in returning behind me. They go in returning with me. 

Adostcisde, cagan ya qalnigi. (The rest as in XLVIII, beginning 
with the word Qastceyalti.) 

LII. Again on this side thereof, toward the back of my lodge, 
Haschayalthi with his white wand opens the way for me. He sits 
down before me. I sit down after him. Behind me Haschayhogan 
with his blue wand opens the way for me. He sits down after me. 
They sit down with me on the floor of my lodge, where my feet are 
lying, where my limbs are lying, where my body is lying, where my 
mind is lying, where the dust of my feet is lying, where my saliva is 
lying, where my hair is lying. 

Adostcisde, cagan tsetladje, Qastceyalti bikic lakaigo yecadaa 
naiyeglago. Citsidje nanastago. Bikede nanictago. Cikede Qastce 
qogan bikic tolijgo yecadaanaiyeglago. Cikede nanastago. Cilni- 
denespin cagan intse'tagi, cike silagi, citcat silagi, citses silagi, cini' 
silagi, cihetcin silagi, cije silagi, ci-tsiga silagi. 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 19 

LIII. To my feet I have returned, to my limbs I have returned, 
to my body I have returned, to my mind I have returned, to the 
dust of my feet I have returned, to my saliva I have returned, to my 
hair I have returned. 

Cike bananistsa, citcat bananistsa, citses bananistsa, cini' banan- 
istsa, cihetcin bananistsa, cije bananistsa, citsiga bananistsa. 

LIV. My feet are restored to me, my limbs are restored to me, 
my body is restored to me, my mind is restored to me, the dust of 
my feet is restored to me, my saliva is restored to me, my hair is 
restored to me. 

Cike cinasle, citcat cinasle, citses cinasle, cini' cinasle, cihetcin 
cinasle, cije cinasle, citsiga cinasle. 

LV. The World before me is restored in beauty, 
The World behind me is restored in beauty, 
The World below me is restored in beauty, 
The World above me is restored in beauty, 
All things around me are restored in beauty, 
My voice is restored in beauty, 
It is restored in beauty, 
It is restored in beauty, Bancroft 

It is restored in beauty, 
It is restored in beauty. 

Citsidje qojoni qasle, Cikede qojoni qasle, 
Ciyagi qojoni qasle, Cikigi qojoni qasle, 
Cinagi daltso qojoni qasle, Cijat qojoni qasle, 
Qojoni qasle, Qojoni qasle, 
Qojoni qasle, Qojoni qasle. 

The argument of the prayer is this : 

The suppliant is supposed, through the influence of witchcraft, ex 
ercised either in this world or in the lower world when in spirit 
he was travelling there, to have lost his body or parts thereof not 
his visible body, nor yet his soul, his breath of life for both of these 
he knows himself to be still in possession of, but a sort of spiritual 
body which he thinks constitutes a part of him the astral body 
perhaps of our theosophic friends. This third element of man be 
longs not only to his living person, but to things which pertain to it, 
such as his ejected saliva, his fallen hair, the dust of his feet, etc. 
If the witch can come into possession of such things, she can work 
her evil spells through them on the living person. 



20 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

To restore to him this lost element, which is now thought to be in 
the possession of the goddess of witchcraft in the lower world, the 
principal war-gods of the Navajo Pantheon come to the sufferer's 
aid. These are Nagaynezgani, or " Slayer of the Alien Gods," and 
Thobajischeni, or "Kinsman of the Waters." The one approaches 
him from the mountain which limits the Navajo country on the east, 
the other from the mountain which bounds it on the west. They 
meet at the Carrizo Mountains, in the centre of the Navajo country, 
and proceed thence to the place in the San Juan Mountains where, 
as their traditions state, the first of the human race came up from the 
lower world to this. Here the war-gods descend into the lower 
world, passing through a number of fabled places and by a number of 
direful sentinels, until they reach the house of the Woman-Chief 
tain, the goddess of witches. They pass by virtue of the power of 
their magic wands. Here they secure the bewitched element and 
take it away from the goddess in triumph. Up to this time only 
the two war-gods are named as journeying through the lower regions, 
but thereafter the supplicant speaks of his reunited self returning 
accompanied by the two gods, one of whom walks before and the 
other behind, to guard him from further dangers. They retrace 
their way through the land of shades exactly as they went, and in 
describing the return the prayer carefully reiterates the names of 
all the places traversed in the advancing journey, but in an exact 
inverse order. Arriving at the upper world, the war-gods continue 
to guard him until he gets to the neighborhood of his home. Here 
he is supposed to be out of imminent danger, so the war- gods leave 
him and certain peaceful gods, Haschayalthi and Haschayhogan 
become his guides. These gods bring the spiritual or astral man 
to the home of the corporeal man, where the two elements are 
happily united, and in the language of the prayer all "is restored 
in beauty." 

Descriptions of the gods Nagaynezgani, Thobajischeni, and 
Haschayalthi, portions of the myths where the Place of Emergence 
and the sacred mountains are spoken of, and the discussion of many 
other matters referred to in the prayer may be found in the following 
papers by the author : (i) "A part of the Navajos' Mythology," 
American Antiquarian, April, 1883. (2) " Mythic Dry-Paintings of 
the Navajos," American Naturalist, October, 1885. (3) "Some 
Deities and Demons of the Navajos," American Naturalist, Octo 
ber, 1886. (4) "The Mountain Chant : A Navajo Ceremony," Fifth 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 21 

Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology (in press). To these the 
student who desires further information is referred. 

From my paper on the " Mythic Dry-Paintings of the Navajos' ' : 
the following is quoted, as indicating why the various chambers 
through which the wanderers pass, are spoken of as colored : " Here 
is a proper occasion to speak of Navajo symbolism in color. In all 
cases, as far as I could learn, the south is represented by blue, the 
west by yellow. Usually the east is represented by white and 
the north by black; but sometimes these colors are interchanged, 
and the north becomes white, while the east is black." In this 
prayer we have one instance of this change; here the north is white 
and the east black. This is not formally stated in the prayer ; 
but it is evident from the order in which the points of the compass 
(symbolized by the colors) are named. In all Navajo rites, songs, 
and prayers the east is recognized as first and the north as last. 

In stanza LV the first eight sentences (with slight variations, usually 
in the tense or mode of the verb only) appear in many Navajo pray 
ers. The last sentence, four times repeated, "It is restored in 
beauty," closely analogous to the Christian Amen, ends all formu 
lated prayers that I have yet heard. For this reason they are printed 
in poetic form. 



GLOSSARY. 

a' : fog, mist. 

a-dos-tcis-de' : again from this side thereof see gos-tcis-de. 
al-ga-ci-taj': two constantly racing together, 
al-kai': same as la-kai', q. v. 
al-ni'-gi, or el-ni'-gi : in the middle of. 
I'd-a-nil-ta'-ni: grasshopper, grasshoppers. 

A-ta' Da-si-la": Two Hanging Gourds (lit. gourd, on high two lie;), 
the name of a locality in or near the San Juan Mountains. 

ba-gan': her house see qo-gan. 

ba-has-tla'-de : at the edge of the lodge, inside; where the roof of 

the Navajo hut meets the ground, 
ba-ka'-de: from or at its top. 
ba-na-nis-tsa' : I have returned to it or to them, 
be: a particle either prefixed or suffixed, signifying "made of," 

"made by means of," etc. 



22 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

be-qa-qo-jo'-gi : made terrestrially beautiful by means of (in it). 

bi-ke'-de : behind him. 

bi-kic': his wand. 

bi-la-ta'-de : from its pointed summit, from its peak. 

bil-ta-qan-dic-taj' : with him, two together, we start back, or begin 

to return. 

bi-na-ka'-de : through it toward me. 
bi-ta'-gi or bi-tqa'-gi : within it. 

bi-tci / -da-in-ti n '-de : among the trails that lead everywhere toward it. 
bi-tci / -qa-is-ti n/ -de : from a place where I can see in its direction. 

ca: forme. 

cac : a bear. 

ci, c, s, or si : I, my, sometimes to be translated me. 

ci-he'-tcin : the dust of my feet. 

ci-je': my saliva. 

ci-ka: for my sake. 

ci-ka-de'-ya : he comes or approaches for my sake. 

ci-ka-ni'-ya: he arrives for my sake. 

ci-ke': my foot, my feet. 

ci-ke'-de : behind me. 

ci-ki'-gi : above me, my above. 

cil: with me. 

ci-la'-gi : in my hand. 

cil-ni"-de-nes-pin : they sit down with me. 

cil-ni"-ye-na-taj': with me they go ou-t, returning, two together. 

cil-qa'-nac-taj' : with me, they go up, returning, two together. 

cil-tse'-na-taj': with me they go through, returning, two together. 

cil-yi'-ki-na-i-taj': with me they go on it, returning, two together. 

ci-na'-gi: around me. 

ci-nas-le': restored to me. 

ci-ni": my mind. 

ci-qo-gan' : my hut, my lodge. 

ci-ta'-ke: my garden, my field. 

ci-tcat' : my leg, my legs. 

ci-tses': my body, my trunk. 

ci-tsi'-dje : before me. 

ci-tsi'-ga : my hair. 

ci-tso'-i: my grandson. 

ci-ya'-gi: beneath me. 

ci-zat' : my words, my voice. 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 23 

da'-ca-bi-ke'-go : a figurative equivalent for "as the sun moves;" 
according to the solar course. 

dal'-tso: all, everything. 

da-qo-ni-ka'-de : from or through the chamber or apartment. Da- 
qonika: a room or story in a pueblo dwelling. 

de: a particle which may be translated from, at, in, etc.; it implies 
motion toward the speaker or person spoken of, and is gener 
ally suffixed. 

dil-yil', dil-yil'-go : black. 

di-tcol': round, globular. 

Do-ko-os-lid' : San Francisco Mountain, a high peak in Northern 
Arizona, considered by the Navajos as bounding their country 
on the west. A sacred place. See Fig. i, p. 148. 

dsil: mountain, mountains. 

Dsil'-gi-Qo-jo'-ni or Dsil'-yi-Qo-jo'-ni : lit. Beautiful (terrestrially) 
in the Mountains; the Carrizo Mountains in Northwestern New 
Mexico, or a locality in these mountains. 

Dsil-Li-jin': lit. Black Mountain, a place in the Navajo country. 

Es-tsan'-Na-ta n/ : lit. Woman-Chief, the Navajo goddess of witches 
and of disease. 

gi or yi : a suffix usually to be translated by the English preposi 
tion "in." 

go : a suffix conveying the idea of present and progressive action or 
condition. 

gos-tcis-de': on this side (thereof) ; nearer than the place last men 
tioned. 

kat : now. 

ke-tan'-yal-ti'-go or ke-taivf-yal-ti': lit. talking kethawn, talking sac 
rificial-stick ; a sacrificial and probably mnemonic symbol 
supposed to be borne by many of the gods, and carried by the 
medicine-men. See fig. 2. See also p. 452, Fifth Annual Re 
port of the Bureau of Ethnology, in press. 

kos: cloud, clouds. 

la"-a-di-be : the first in order, made of. 
la-kai' or la-kai'-go : white. 

La-kai'-Din-la-de : at the White Ridges, a locality in the Navajo 
country. 



24 THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. [Vol. I. 

La-pa'-Dez-a': something brown sticking up; Brown Point, Brown 
Pinnacle, a natural object somewhere in the Navajo country, 
a proper name. 

Lic-tso': Great Serpent; lie, serpent; tso, great. 

li-tci' or li-tci'-go : red. 

li-tso', li-tso'-go, or li-tso'-i : yellow. 

mai : coyote, prairie wolf. 

Na-ge'-nez-ga-ni : Slayer of the Alien Gods, the first in importance 

of the Navajo war-gods. Anglicized Nagaynezgani. 
na'-ki-di-be : the second in order, made of. 
na-nes-ta'-go : he sits down, 
na-nic-ta'-go : I sit down, 
na-ta': Indian corn. 

Nil-tci-Dil-ko'-hi : Smooth Wind, one of the Navajo wind-gods, 
ni'-ye-na-tsa'-go : he goes out returning, 
ni'-ye-nis-tsa'-go : I go out returning. 

pec-dol-gas': the great stone knife which the war-god is supposed 
to carry, and which is actually carried by the man who repre 
sents him in the rites. 

Qa-dji-nai': Place where they came out, Place of Emergence. A 
locality in the San Juan Mountains. 

qal-ni'-gi: in the middle, on the ground; from qo and al-ni-gi. 

qa-nas-tsa'-go : he goes up or climbs, returning. 

qa-sis-tsa'-go : I go up returning. 

Qas-tce'-qo-gan : a peaceful Navajo god. Anglicized Haschayhogan. 

Qas-tce'-yal-ti : a peaceful and beneficent god of the Navajo my 
thology. In other papers I spell this name less correctly, as 
I now believe Qastceelti. Anglicized Haschayalthi. See 

% 3- 
qo : a prefix denoting that the surface of the earth is referred to ; 

terrestrial ; hence often locative, 
qo-gan': a house, a Navajo lodge or hut. 
qo-gan'-ya: within the house ; lit. under the house, hence qo-gan'-ya- 

qo-tci'. See qo-tci. 
qol-ge'-de: at the place so named. 
qo-nic-qa"-de : at the place around the fire, in the centre of the 

lodge, a religious or poetic form of qo-na-pa' . 



Apr. 1888.] THE PRAYER OF A NAVAJO SHAMAN. 25 

qo-tci': terrestrially red, red on the ground. See li-tci. 
qo-tyel': terrestrially broad, broad on the ground. 

si-la'-gi : where it lies, where they lie. Properly a dual form, but 
used here also apparently as a singular form. 

ta-din-la'-gi : in the doorway /. e., on guard. 

tce'-ti : the passage-way or entry to a Navajo hut; hence tce'-ti-gi ; 
in the entry. 

ti ll '-di-be : the fourth in order, made of. 

To-ba-djis-tci'-ni : Kinsman (Cousin) of the Waters. The second 
in importance of the Navajo war-gods. Anglicized Thobajis- 
cheni. 

to-bi-ke'-qa-dil-gal'-da: find not his trail /. e. , seek not to find 
him. 

to'-da or do'-ta : no, not. This negative is commonly divided so 
as to embrace the qualified term as in a parenthesis, as, for in 
stance, in the word immediately preceding. 

to-lij or to-lij'-go : blue. 

To-li-tci' Al-na'-os-gli n -de: Red Rivers Crossing One Another : to, 
water; litci, red; alnaosgli n , they cross one another. See de. 
An imaginary locality in one of the lower worlds. 

to-qa-di'-dsi-da: make no sound i.e., say nothing. 

tqa-di-ti 11 ' or ta-di-ti n ': the pollen, especially the pollen of corn. 

tqa'-gi-di-be: the third in order, made of. 

tsan-dil-dje'-he : a large hawk of undetermined species. This word 
may be a variant of tsi n -ya-il-dje'-he (lit. he hunts under the 
trees), which is the name of Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperi. 

tse-na-tsa'-go : he goes through returning. 

tse-nis-tsa'-go : I go through returning. 

tse'-tla or in-tse'-tla: a part of the hut beyond the fireplace as you 
enter; the back of the lodge. Hence tse'-tla-dje, toward the 
back of the lodge, and tse'-tla-gi, in the back of the lodge. 

Tsi n '-ya-Do-yol': Under-a-tree-Blowing ; the proper name of a lo 
cality. 

Tsis-na'-dji-ni: Jemez Mountain in Northern New Mexico, a sacred 
mountain of the Navajos, considered as bounding their country 
on the east. 

ya-ha-nas-tsa'-go : I go in returning, 
ya-ha-na-tsa'-go : he goes in returning. 
4 



26 



THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST. 



[Vol. I. 



ya-yol-kal'-be : made of daylight. 

ye: with; by means of ; usually pronounced as if incorporated. 

ye'-ca-da-a-nai-ye-gla'-go : with, for me, nevertheless, he opens it, 

or clears the way. 

ye'-ci-ka-ni-ya'-go: with (him) for my sake, he arrives, 
ye'-i-tci-na-cis-yiz'-go : with (the talking kethawn) he turns me round 

so as to face him. 
yi-ki'-gi: upon it. 

yi'-ki-na-is-tsa'-go : I go upon it returning, 
yi'-ki-na-i-tsa'-go : he goes upon it returning, 
yi-la' or yi-la'-go: he places it. 









II 










FIG. 2. The talking KethaAvn. 



FIG. 3. Qastceyalti 



-._.._ /*