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Navejo

The Rainbow


In the traditional teachings of our people, there is a sacred teaching about the rainbow. The rainbow is a very special symbol, representing the way the holy people communicate with us. In our language, we call the rainbow “not illit.”

It is depicted in many ways through colors. When we see a rainbow in the sky, we point at it with our thumb. The rainbow often touches the earth at two points, sometimes forming a full circle. We also use our thumb to point at sacred things like the medicine bundle, a newborn baby, and sacred ceremonial objects such as dry paintings.

There are many teachings about the rainbow.

It symbolizes the invisible ways the holy people communicate with us.

Although we cannot see the holy people, we may sense or hear them as individuals. This communication is invisible in any physical setting, representing their purity, clarity, and truth.

During the coming-of-age ceremony, young people are told they can now see “not the hasli,” meaning they can see the opposite gender in a new light. The seven sacred colors of the rainbow symbolize the seven Beauty Way ceremonies. These ceremonies are considered very sacred and are only fully explained during the coming-of-age ceremony. Afterward, individuals can ask questions throughout their life.

At the start of a new day, we use white cornmeal as a prayer offering, symbolizing the female’s role in giving birth to a new day. In the evening, we use yellow cornmeal, symbolizing the pollen provided by men for the reproduction of life. These teachings about the rainbow and corn pollen are integral to our traditions.

Inside a corn pollen pouch, there is usually a small piece of rock crystal. In ceremonial settings, we use full-sized rock crystals.

When light shines through these crystals, it reveals seven colors, representing the seven sacred ceremonies given by Changing Woman. Stirring sticks kept in the home provide protection against hunger and various harms, safeguarding the family spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The teachings emphasize that besides the seven visible colors, there is an eighth color: clear Crystal Light. This concept aligns with the traditional teaching that all things come in multiples of four, up to 32, based on the sacred number four. These traditional teachings highlight the importance of the rainbow and the coming-of-age ceremony.

We learn that there is male light that shines on males and female light that shines on females. Reproduction, the fundamental law of the universe, requires both male and female. This principle is taught during the coming-of-age ceremony, with the rainbow playing a significant role in this teaching.

These are the things we are taught.

Credits: navotraditionalteachings.com