Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sacred Space: Cabezon/Tsenajin

Cabezon/Tsenajin, taken by me

Cabezon Peak, as it is usually called by New Mexicans these days, is featured in the mythologies and cultures of the people native to the region. You can see it as you drive on highway 550, and you can hike it if you choose.

The Navahos call the peak "Tsenajin." For them, it is the head of the Big Giant Ye'iitsoh, who was killed by the twins Child Born of Water and Monster Slayer. When the giant died, his blood became the black rocks around Mount Taylor. This mountain marks the eastern boundary of the Navaho world.

Thanks to the twins, many people were saved from being eaten by the giant, and they were able to do this by the help of a variety of important figures, including their father, the Sun. The Sun was also father of the giant, making the twins and the giant brothers. 

What I love about this story is that even the "evil" character is intimately related to the heroes. I appreciate world views that accept evil as a part of the world, rather than as a wholly Other force. 

What I love about the place is that it is so physically connected to the story. (I can't think of any place that has such historical/cultural/religious significance. Except maybe for Jerusalem. But that is very far away and not part of my daily experience.) How would your life change if you had stories for the most beautiful, mysterious features of your world? What places would you choose to mythologize?

See the excellent full epic Dine Bahane for the story, or visit Voyage to Another Universe, Day 7 for a summary. You can also see a interdisciplinary master's project on the area here.

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