What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Navajo Witchcraft and European Witchcraft Beliefs? Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1495 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Native Americans

Navajo and European Witchcraft: A Brief Study

As might be expected, there are some similarities to be found between Native American Navajo witchcraft and European witchcraft. The reason being, of course, that "witchcraft" denotes a term that is supernatural in nature, unique as to the individual or individuals possessing that nature or power, and because it is a condition that suggests people who do not possess that nature or power might be fearful of that which they do not know or understand, it empowers the person who does possess the witchcraft to in some ways manipulate or control others. In this way then we might expect to find some similarities as well as differences as suggested by the term between two distinctly different cultures and geographical locations. This essay will explore some of the similarities and differences between Navajo and European witchcraft in order to identify the similarities and differences.

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TOPIC: Term Paper on What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Navajo Witchcraft and European Witchcraft Beliefs? Assignment

There is a hypothesis about how the Navajo came to be on the North American continent. Believed to be descendants of the North Asian race of Genghis Khan, it theorized that members of the clan crossed the frozen Bering Sea, making their way into North America where they flourished as a race (Coolidge, Dane and Coolidge, Mary Roberts, 1930:3). "The archeological proof of this migration is still lacking, and may be for years to come, but no one who is acquainted with the legends of Dineh can doubt the evidence they offer (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3)." The Navajo are of Athapascanian stock, whose people reside "From the Bering Strait, to the shores of the Hudson Bay and from the Arctic Ocean to the American line (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3)," down the Pacific coast, however never along the coast itself, but inland; and they are then traced along a trail of a southern migration (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3). Thus, it is believed was the path and people who are the ancestors of New Mexico's Navajo Nation (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3).

Dineh" translates to "The People," the Athapascans of the north refer to themselves as Tinneh, and their Apache relatives call themselves N'de or Tinde; but with some dialectic variations, most notably on the accent (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3). They, like their Mongolian ancestors, were raiders who scourged the land using force and violence (Coolidge, 1930:3). Eventually, with the colonization of America and the westward movement, they were subdued by European descendants who had colonized America (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3). While the two groups, the Navajo and the white Americans, proved formidable adversaries, the documented descriptions of the Navajo by the whites bear testimony to the Navajo strength, courage and intelligence (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930:3). It should be noted here, too, that the title of "Navajo" is one of Spanish origin, and not a title accepted by "The People (Coolidge and Coolidge, 1930; 12)."

Navajo Traditions in Witchcraft

Navajo prayer and ceremony are structured in a way to bring about certain changes in geographical location, individual or individuals, and especially to disperse or remove foreign or native malevolence (Gail, Sam D., 1981: 37). The elements of prayer have been studied and documented by researchers as (Gail, 1981: 37):

Association/identification with a holy person.

Injunction to effect.

Assertion to effect.

Removal and dispersion of foreign malevolence.

Procurement of protection. Removal and destruction native malevolence. Recovery and restoration of the lost Earth Surface Person.

All Navajo prayers, of which there are many, can be classified into these groups. Only holy people can invoke the prayers, and, if affected by the invocation, only a holy person may remove the prayer (Gail, 1981:38). Those which would occur without the invocation of the holy person are deemed to be committed by witchcraft (Gail, 1981:38).

A theme which emerges with increasing urgency as the emergence of journey proceeds is the need to establish dependable relationships to bring about an orderly world. The sequence of acts which lead only to watery chaos begins by negative means to determine the necessary character of the desired world. The people who are to direct the creation of a new world upon emergence, First Man and First Woman, are born and are given the sacred objects from which will arise the form of the new world. Yet along with their acquisition of certain powers of creation, First Man and First Woman also learned the ways of Witchcraft (Gail, 1981:51)."

In other words, there are worlds above, below and within; and it is man and woman in the world… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Navajo Witchcraft and European Witchcraft Beliefs?."  Essaytown.com.  November 10, 2007.  Accessed September 24, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/similarities-differences-navajo-witchcraft/42938.