Friday, January 9, 2015

The Navajo Chindi, Part l

The Navajo Native Americans of the southwest have strong religious beliefs. One of their beliefs is that an evil spirit known as Chindi or in their language ch’íidii leaves the dying person’s body with their last breath.

This spirit represents everything that was bad about this person so the Navajo have customs that insure they do not come in contact with it. They believe if this happens it can cause a “ghost sickness” or even death.

Among their death customs is the belief that the chindi lingers around a dead person’s possessions or corpse so they destroy or avoid these items.

After a person’s death their name is never spoken for it is feared if this evil spirit hears it’s name it will come and make the speaker ill.

The traditional Navajo practice was to have a person die outdoors, to allow this spirit to disperse.

They felt strongly that if a person died in a home or Hogan, this building would be haunted by the chindi so in the past this structure was then abandoned.

The Navajo also believe that one can use the chindi spirit to harm others. Navajo witches or “followers of the corpse poison way” were believed to infect others with the chindi sickness.

They did this by taking a piece of the corpse and making it into a bead or powder. They then tricked the unsuspecting by having them ingest it.

It was also believed a Navajo medicine man could call upon the spirit world or chindi to inflect revenge on a person they held a grudge against.

Dust Devil
In the southwest when the wind blows it often picks up dust devils. When seen turning clockwise they are considered good but if they are seen turning counterclockwise they are possessed by a chindi and are considered bad.

Manifestations and Protection

The chindi are sometimes described as shape-shifters that act as a kind of evil avenging angel. It is said they can inhabit any living thing.

If a Navajo sees a coyote standing on its hind legs they know it is a chindi. It is stated any animal that is possessed by this spirit has “dead eyes.”

Another telling sign is the animal’s eyes will not reflect in a car’s headlights. These animals are then avoided.

It is stated if a chindi is set against a person their only defense is to say a prayer. Navajo’s create a medicine circle around them and sing or state a prayer out loud.

It is pointed out the most important thing is a person’s attitude.

If they have a “good heart” and respect all of Mother Earth’s creatures the negative energy of the chindi set against them will just bounce off and return to the person who tried to inflict them.

In Part ll of The Navajo Chindi a famous story about the Long Salt family is shared. A chindi was used to curse and exact revenge against them.

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