Encyclopedia Article


In some versions of Navajo traditional medicine, when a person is thought to have been contaminated by coming into contact with an enemy or enemy witch, he can be taken to a diagnostician known as a hand trembler. The hand trembler will determine if the Enemyway ceremony is needed to cure the patient of any ailments thought to derive from enemy contact. The blackening rite is then conducted to determine if the Enemyway Ceremony will cure the patient’s ailment. This rite consists of mixing tallow and ash and spreading the mixture over the cursed victim. By painting the patient in ash, the patient comes to embody Monster Slayer, a young warrior who fights his way toward saving the Navajo people in various tales that comprise the Navajo origin story.

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"Charcoal in a hand" by magnold is licensed under CC BY-SA.

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