Native American Deities – Estsanatlehi

“Woman who changes”. Sometimes referred to as an Earth goddess but really the Navajo seasonal deity. Year ’round her appearance would change from youth to maturity to old age as the seasons changed from spring to summer to fall and winter. Each winter she would be old and haggard but with the coming of spring her youth would be restored and so it would go year after year. She was the most respected deity of the Navajo Indians – hunters living in the semi-arrid area of Arizona. Eventually Estsanatlehi lived on the great water in the west in the square house of her husband, the Navajo sun god Tsohanoai, who would join her each night when his daily journey across the sky was done. According to Navajo myth Yebaka (First Man) and Yebaad (First Woman) once observed a black cloud descend on to a mountain. Investigating, they found a baby girl there, Estsanatlehi. She was the daughter of the Earth goddess Naestsan and the sky god Yadilyil. The couple took the baby home and she grew to adulthood in just eighteen days. In some myths contradicted by others Estsanatlehi created the rest of the Navajo people from pieces of her own skin. Alternate origin myths exist however. Estsanatlehi was associated with the Navajo female puberty ritual as her sister Yolkaiestsan is associated with the Apache female puberty ritual.

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