What Are Some Traditional Navajo Ceremonies?

The Navajo Way contains four major ceremonies, which are called the Mountaintop Way, Grandfathers’ Ceremony, the Enemy Way and the Lightning Way. The Blessing Way is a separate ritual used to complete each of the other four ceremonies.

The Navajo belief system is focused on ideas of harmony and balance, and each ritual is designed to restore that harmony. Rituals were traditionally used to cure diseases and other ailments, and are still used to complement modern medical practices.

The ceremonies are performed by a medicine man or woman, also known as a singer. Many Navajo ceremonies also include sand paintings, which are drawn with precision and erased immediately after the ceremony. Navajo ceremonies are long, typically lasting between two and nine days depending on the specific ceremony.

Although the Blessing Way is used to conclude other rituals, it is also used alone by itself, often as a celebratory ritual, such as when it is performed on pregnant women. There are also smaller rituals used for regular activities, such as building a new home or planting crops.

Since Navajo ceremonials are passed on orally and practitioners tend to be secretive, some chants have been lost to time. However, the Navajo Nation has an apprenticeship program to encourage young Navajos to learn the remaining ceremonies and rituals.