hand trembler

Encyclopedia Article


In the Navajo tradition, before a singer, or medicine man (called a hataałii in Navajo), is requested to perform a healing ceremonial, a hand trembler, or ndilniihii, usually a woman, will diagnose the source of illness. Through prayer, concentration, and sprinkling of sacred pollen, her hand will tremble and pinpoint the source of an illness, which then determines the proper ceremonial cure.

A hand trembler is one of three different types of diagnosticians among the Navajo who may be consulted to diagnose the cause of an illness and recommend the proper ceremony to cure it. Star gazers and listeners are the other two types of diagnosticians. Any of these specialists may be consulted for advice about sickness, identifying witchcraft, dreams, lost items, or any unusual happenings.

Photo Credit: 

"Working hand, July 15, 2012" by Staffan Scherz is licensed under CC BY.

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