Arizonan View: Spider Woman
Posted on June 30, 2010
Some time ago I took my writer’s residence to the Dinetah. The Dinetah is the homeland of the Diné, the People, a.k.a. the Navajo. It lies between the four sacred mountains: Tsisnaasjini’ – Dawn or White Shell Mountain in the East (Blanca Peak, Colorado), Tsoodzil – Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain in the South (Mount Taylor, New Mexico), Doko’oosliid – Abalone Shell Mountain in the West (San Francisco Peaks, Arizona) and Dibé Nitsaa – Big Mountain Sheep or Obsidian Mountain in the North (Hesperus Mountain, Colorado).
At first sight the Dinetah seems a callous rock desert where the living is harsh, but if you look closely you will find myths and legends in every nook and cranny of this strikingly red land. One hot and muggy afternoon I was hiking when the ground unexpectedly seemed to disappear, revealing a stunning canyon: Tséyi or Inside the Rock. I hiked down into the canyon when out of nowhere the darkest shadow fell over me, as if Thunderbird blackened the skies with his gigantic wings. And with each wingbeat a thunderclap roared through the canyon, ricochetting off the cliff walls. A heavy rain, chasing me to higher grounds, flash flooded Tséyi. Seeking shelter in a narrow cave I could not but stand in awe of Thunderbird and his mythical powers. It was in that cave that I knew I had to write about the native myths and legends, it was in that cave that The Sun Spirit, the first volume of the tetralogy Warriors of the Sun, was born.