NAVAJO MYTHS: THE TRAVELING STONE SERPENT

Welcome to the continuation of this neglected epic myth that Balladeer’s Blog first covered in 2010.

5. THE TRAVELING STONE SERPENT – As daybreak arrived, Tsohanoai grabbed his shield which was the sun, mounted his sky-blue horse and, with Nayanazgeni and Tobadzistsini climbing up behind him, rode out one of the directional doors of his home. Mystically, he and his passengers emerged from the doorway and were instantly flying over the eastern part of the world to begin the sun’s journey westward.

Now, in many versions of the story the Heroic Twins battle Yeitso at this point. I’m taking poetic license, though, and saving their confrontation with Yeitso til the end since he is the Chief of the Anaye. It lacks dramatic impact to take on the main threat first and then the underlings. I’m also having to syncretize two varying types of Anaye into one for this portion of the story. Some versions depict it as “the stone that travels” (which some interpret as a meteor while others interpret it as volcanic rock, like obsidian, since volcanic rock in its flowing lava form is indeed “stone that travels”) and others as a giant amphibious water-serpent (as in its body is made of semi-solidified water) and still others depict it as a fiery underwater stone that emerges from the water to kill its victims. Hence my hybrid description of it as “The Traveling Stone Serpent”.  

Tsohanoai and his sons are flying along on the sky-blue horse when they see the Traveling Stone Serpent preying on people down below. Tshohanoai lets them off on a mountain top and they descend to face their opponent. In all versions of this encounter a very long running fight occurs, with Nayanazgeni repeatedly shooting the Anaye with his lightning bolt arrows and Tobadzistsini slashing it with his knife of petrified sunlight.  The supernatural arrows and knife continuously break off the “scales” and/or “blood” of the serpent, and these bits and pieces of the creature’s body all contribute helpful items to the ancient world. In versions which feature this Anaye as a water-serpent the maimed parts form freshwater lakes and streams (in Mid-American tribes with a similar creature even the Great Lakes are said to have been formed this way) while some of the body parts were transformed into all the lesser snakes by the Heroic Twins. 

In versions which depict it as a meteor or a flowing body made of “lava” of some sort these parts become deposits of obsidian and/or chert. To make it more confusing some versions which depict this being as a water-monster identify it as Tienoltsodi, the Navajo god of fresh water, and say that the Heroic Twins “tamed” him into being a benevolent deity instead of a malevolent one. Summing up, I wanted to get this Anaye out of the way early because of the wildly varying traditions about it. The remaining episodes of the battle with the Anaye should flow along more smoothly.

With this creature destroyed, Nayanazgeni sends Tobadzistsini back to their home plateau to guard their worshippers and their mother (or mothers) while he sets off alone against other Anaye. I’ve mentioned before that in the Apache versions of the Heroic Twins myth Tobadzistsini is the active twin with Nayanazgeni depicted as a coward. The Navajo versions are not as rough on Tobadzistsini, simply treating him as a sidekick or supporting character to the much more active Nayanazgeni.

CONTINUED NEXT TIME AS NAYANAZGENI STANDS ALONE AGAINST ONE OF THE ANAYE. FOR THE COMPLETE STORY AS WELL AS MORE DETAILS ON ALL THE OTHER NAVAJO GODS MENTIONED IN THIS EPIC CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/navajo-myth-clear/ 

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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14 Comments

Filed under Mythology

14 responses to “NAVAJO MYTHS: THE TRAVELING STONE SERPENT

  1. Rose

    Is he related to the Traveling Wilburys? LOL Great story…waiting patiently for more.

  2. Oh my – I want one of those sky blue horses

  3. Incredible post! Confusing at times but I gues it couldnt be helped with so many variables about the monster they fought

  4. Wow that is one long mouthful about the different versions of this monster. I hope your right that the other anaye will be more straightforward.

  5. Once I had read the headline of the blog I was considerably surprised though looking at the entire blog post, I fully understand it accordingly. Truly very interesting content.

  6. A lot of times I end up so exhausted from sorting all the data for myself as well as needing to end up with a concrete thought.

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