The number 4 is an integral component of Navajo culture. The Dinè people believe that their community passed through three different worlds before they were finally able to emerge in this present age. They refer to it as the Glittering World, which is home to two types of beings. There are the Holy People and the Earth People, which is somewhat similar to the belief systems practiced in today’s largest religions.
The Navajo people believe that the Holy People taught them centuries ago on how to live the right way on their land. This teaching included how to conduct themselves morally during each chose made during their everyday life. The goal is to live in harmony with the Earth and Sky, mother and father respectively, along with the other elements which are present.
The Four Holy Mountains of Navajo Culture
The Dinè believe that the holy people put forth 4 great mountains that are each sacred to their culture. Mt. Hesperus lies to the north in Colorado, San Francisco Peak is the western marker, while Mt. Blanca and Mt. Taylor serve the east and south to form the final barriers. These are the landmarks which create the Navajo Nation.
These four directions are also represented by four specific colors. Jet black represents the north, while White Shell is the color of the east. Turquoise is what represents the south, while yellow Abalone is the color of the west.
These four mountains and the four worlds work with the other components of life that come with this number. The Navajo believe in four seasons, four clans, and four directions that work with the four colors, all working in harmony with one another in the boundaries created by the four mountains.
The Issue of Disorder in the Navajo Culture
Disorder in the Navajo culture represents a lack of harmony with these physical and spiritual components. Herbs, songs, prayers, and ceremonies are the traditional way to bring healing to an individual who is not feeling well. Some community members still prefer this method over the treatments they could receive at a hospital.
There are over 50 different ceremonies practiced by the Navajo Nation today, with all of them performed at various times throughout the year for specific reasons. Some can last as long as nine days.
The foundations of the Navajo culture have helped to build a resilient community that continues to thrive in the U.S. southwest. By understanding more about their history, we can all work together toward a brighter future.