Friday, November 8, 2013

Chaco Canyon’s Fajada Butte Spirit

Awhile back I wrote a post about Chaco Canyon’s history and ghosts. Recently, I learned about another ghost or spirit that resides in the canyon. The ancient Anasazi Indians saw this spirit while Chaco was still a thriving community over 700 years ago. Some state she still wanders the canyon today. A Navajo elder told one account of this spirit to his grandchild.

Indian Paintbrush
fames Fajada Butte
In my original post I talked about Fajada Butte, which the Navajos call Tse Diyil. This butte located in a remote part of Chaco is a sheer 400 foot cliff that rises above the canyon floor. Along a narrow ledge at the top is a site the Native people consider very sacred.

This spot is Sun Dagger, which is a carved stone that the ancient Anasazi astronomers, a thousand years ago, used to reveal the changing of the seasons by where the suns’ rays hit the circular carvings on the stone. This site was forgotten about once Chaco was abandoned but it was rediscovered recently in 1977.

Sun Dagger
This elder told his relative that this female spirit lives on top of Fajada Butte. The Navajos call her, She Who Dries You Out.” It is said the Anasazi Indians and Native American that came after have only caught fleeting glimpses of her. She is seen most often from a distance. Several accounts mention she is seen walking to a nearby canyon carrying a jug apparently in search of water. The few Indians who have tried to approach her state that she just fades or disappears into the environment.

The legends that surround this spirit always state that she is a very beautiful woman. In ancient times it was stated that she once descended the cliff and joined the community briefly. She then picked out one male she was attracted to and lured him back to her home on top of the butte.

But thing were not as they seem for this female spirit returned to the community the next day with her male victim tied up. It was said she was no longer young and beautiful. Instead she had become an old woman. Her victim was heard begging for water but she refused his request. Instead, she urinated into a bowl and demanded he drink it. Afterwards this man quickly grew thin and died.

Georgia O'Keeffe's
Jimson weed
There is a poisonous medicinal plant in Chaco that grows at the base of Fajada Butte that reminds me of this legend. Jimson weed known as one of the Datura plants is believed “to hold a spirit of a changing woman.” Jimson is sometimes described as a woman who can transform many times. This spirit can take the form of a maiden, a mature woman, or that of a very old woman. 

The Navajos at one time used this plant to induce "visions." They have a saying about it: "Eat a little go to sleep. Eat a little more and go have a dream. Eat some more, and don't wake up." 

Goats that have grazed on it have suffered prolonged painful deaths. The FDA has deemed it unfit for human consumption.

Canyon Jimson weed

No comments: