Changing Woman

Changing Woman, or Asdzáá nádleehé, is the most respected goddess of the Navajo people. All Navajo ceremonies must include at least one song dedicated to Changing Woman. She is related to goddesses found in many other Native American traditions, such as the Pawnee Moon Woman and the Apache White Painted Woman.

According to legend, Changing Woman changes continuously but never dies. She grows into an old woman in winter, but by spring, she becomes a young woman again. In this way, she represents the power of life, fertility, and changing seasons. In some stories she has a sister, White Shell Woman (Yoolgai asdzáá), who symbolizes the rain clouds. Ceremonies dedicated to Changing Woman are performed to celebrate childbirth, coming of age for girls, and weddings and to bless a new home.

Changing Woman bears the children of the Sun, Jóhonaa'éí, after he shines his rays on her. Their children are the twin heroes Monster Slayer (Naayéé' neizghání) and Child of Water (To bájísh chíní), who cleared the earth of the monsters that once roamed it. Changing Woman lives by herself in a house floating on the western waters, where the Sun visits her every evening. One day she became lonely and decided to make some companions for herself. From pieces of her own skin she created men and women who became the ancestors of the Navajo people.

See also Native American Mythology .

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