Saturday, November 19, 2011

Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé/Estsanatlehi/Changing Woman

Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé (IPA: [àsʦã́ː nátˡèːhé]) (also spelled Ahsonnutli, Estsanatlehi, and Etsanatlehi in older sources)[1], meaning "the woman who changes",[2] is one of the creating deities of the Navajo. She helped create the sky and the earth. The second word in her name can be read simply as "who changes", or as directly meaning that she is nádleeh ("hermaphroditic"[3]).

From: Wiki
The Apache called the earth goddess by this name, for she never grew old. When her age began to show, she simply walked toward the east until she saw her form coming toward herself. She kept walking until her young self merged with her aging self and then, renewed, returned to her home. Among the Chiricahua Apache, the name of this eternal goddess was Painted Woman. "Turquoise woman" was the Navaho sky-goddess, wife of the sun. She lived in a turquoise palace at the western horizon, where each night she received her luminous husband. Sister (or twin or double) of Yolkai Estsan, the moon's wife, Estsanatlehi was able to make herself young each time she began to age, thus her name, which means the "self-renewing one."

Here is her story: the ancestral goddess Atse Estsan, discovering Estsanatlehi on the ground beneath a mountain, reared her to be the savior of earth's people. When she was grown, Estsanatlehi met a young man; each day they went to the woods to make love. When her parents looked on the ground and saw only one set of footprints, they knew their daughter had taken the sun as a lover.

Delighted at the honor granted their family, they were delighted again when Estsanatlehi gave birth to twins, who grew so miraculously that eight days after birth they were men, ready to seek their father. But when they found his house, the twins found another woman there. Angry at the intrusion, she threatened them with their father's anger as well.

Undeterred, the twins remained and won from their father magic weapons, which they needed to clear the earth of monsters. This they did. After dancing with their mother in celebration, the twins built Estsanatlehi a magnificent home at the sky's end, so that the sun could visit her again.

But the twins' wars with the monsters had depopulated the earth. Estsanatlehi brushed the dust from her breasts. From the white flour that fell from her right breast and the yellow meal from her left, she made paste and molded a man and a woman. Placing them beneath a magical blanket, Estsanatlehi left them. The next morning they were alive and breathing, and Estsanatlehi blessed the creation. For the next four days, the pair reproduced constantly, forming the four great Navaho clans. But the creative urge of Estsanatlehi was not fulfilled. She made four more groups of people, this time from the dust of her nipples-and the women of these clans were thereafter famous for their nipples.

Feeling her creation to be complete, Estsanatlehi retired to her turquoise palace from which she continued to bestow blessings on her people: seasons, plants and food, and the tender sprouts of spring. Only four monsters survived her sons' wars on evil: age, winter, poverty, and famine, which she allowed to live on so that her people would treasure her gifts the more.

From: here
According to Navajo Native Americans, Estsanatlehi, whose name means "Changing Woman", created the first man and woman from pieces of her own skin. She is the wife of the Sun god, Tsohanoai and the mother of the two Navajo heroes, the twins Nayenezgani and Tobadzistsini.

Her home is on an island far to the west where Tsohanoai meets her every evening as he sets. She is said to become old each winter and to rejuvenate each spring. This curious peculiarity is related to the changing of the seasons.

It is believed that Estsanatlehi eventually became the goddess of the underworld.

From: here
Changing Woman is the Navaho Goddess of time and the changing of the seasons. She is also known as Estsanatlehi (pronounced es-tan-AHT-lu-hee). She is the daughter of the Sky and the Earth, and wife of the Sun. She lives in the West with the Sun, in a house that she built with Wind and Light. The East part of the house is made of white shell; the West of yellow abalone; the North of black jet; and the South of turquoise.

Changing Woman and the Sun had twin boys, Monster Slayer and Child of the Water. They grew to adulthood in only eight days, as Changing Woman herself had. They left their mother to go and fight the monsters that populated the world at the time. One day, feeling lonely without her sons, Changing Woman decided to create some company for herself. She brushed some dust from her breasts—from the right came flour and from the left came cornmeal. She used the flour and cornmeal to make a paste, which she formed into four pairs of men and women, who became the ancestors of the four Navaho clans.

From: here
The highest place in the Navaho pantheon is held by Estsanatlehi, the " Woman Who Changes " — for, like the Phoenix, when she becomes old, she transforms herself again into a young girl and lives a renewed life. Though she originated on earth, her home is now in the west, on an island created for her by the Sun-Carrier, who made her his wife. From that direction come the rains that water the Navaho country and the winds that foretell the spring; and it is therefore appropriate that the goddess of nature's fruitfulness should dwell there. The younger sister of Estsanatlehi is Yolkai Estsan, the White Shell Woman, wife of the Moon-Carrier, Klehanoai. The white shell is her symbol, and she is related to the waters, as her sister, whose token is the turquoise, is akin to the earth; white is the colour of the dawn and the east, blue of midday and the south, and it is with the magic of these colours that the two sisters kindle the sun's disk and the moon's — although, according to Navaho myth, which is by no means always consistent, the Sun-God and the Moon-God were in existence before the sisters were created.

From: here
One of the most important figures in Navajo (Dineh) tradition; the mother of the warrior twins known as Monster Slayer and Born for Water. Different informants describe the parentage of Changing Woman in different ways.

Sometimes her father and mother are given as the sky and the Earth; at other times, they are given as Long Life Boy (Sa’ah naghai), the personification of thought, and Happiness Girl (Bikeh hózhó), the personification of speech. Combined, the names of the latter two—sa’ah naghai bikeh hózhó—mean “an all-encompassing environment of beauty” and express the Navajo (Dineh) goal of life, to live in harmony surrounded by beauty. Long Life Boy and Happiness Girl are identified with the inner forms of all living things.

First Man and First Woman planned Changing Woman’s birth and raised her. First Man held up his medicine bundle toward Gobernador Knob (Ch’óol’íí) in New Mexico at dawn, and that was where Changing Woman was born. When she reached puberty (in four days, according to legend), a puberty ceremony was held for her that formed the basis of the puberty rites held for all young Navajo (Dineh) women.

Changing Woman was the personification of the Earth and the natural order of the universe. She represented the cyclical path of the seasons—birth (spring), maturing (summer), aging (autumn), and death (winter)—and was reborn each spring to repeat the cycle. The various dresses into which she changed corresponded to the changes in the seasons and gave her the other names by which she was known: White Shell Woman, Turquoise Woman, Abalone Woman, and Jet Woman. Her Apache counterpart is White Painted Woman.

After reaching womanhood, Changing Woman was impregnated by the Sun and by Water and gave birth to Monster Slayer and Born for Water. Although Born for Water had a different father, he was considered Monster Slayer’s twin and, with him, a son of the Sun. When her sons were grown, Changing Woman asked for and received the Mountain Soil medicine bundle from First Man. Then she moved to a hogan that had been built for her at the base of El Huerfano Mesa and conducted the first wedding ceremony, the mating of corn. After this ceremony, she moved to a house her sons had built for her in the west. Growing lonely there, she used the power of the medicine bundle to create the first four clans of the Navajo (Dineh) people from skin she rubbed from various parts of her body. (See Navajo [Dineh] emergence.)

Changing Woman is central to the Blessingway ceremonial and the girls’ puberty rite that is a part of it. Other Navajo (Dineh) ceremonials in which Changing Woman plays a part include Beadway, Eagleway, Monsterway, and Shootingway.

From: Native American Mythology A to Z
Also see:
The Navaho Genesis
The Navaho And Their Gods
Creation of the Horse
Some info
Google Books with previews that mention her
Diné Bahaneʼ
Navajo Changing Woman
PDF How White Shell Woman / Yoołgaii Asdzáán Became Known as Changing Woman

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