Traditional Navajo Taboos
Witchcraft and Ghosts
"All of these are NOT in common use! -2002"
- Do not cross the path of a coyote because you will have band luck or be
- Do not go where you hear an owl hoot at night, or look at an owl in the
daylight because owls are spies for the evil spirits.
- Do not talk to animals because they might talk back and kill you.
- Do not keep a cottontail for a pet because they are ghosts' pet.
- Do not keep a bluebird for a pet because they are ghostbirds.
- Do not bother or kill moths because they are spies for the evil spirits and
you could die.
- Do not leave clothes around that have been chewed on by a mouse because
mice are helpers of the evil spirits and you could die.
This has some history in fact as the virulent Hanta Virus is spread by the
feces and urine of deer mice.
- Do not mention a dead person's name the ghost will come and visit and
- Do not talk about a person you do not know because it might be a dead
- Do not burn wood from "chindi" hogan because ghost will get you
and you will get sores.
- Do not use driftwood for a fire because it might be from a bad place, or a
- Do not take things from a dead person or the bad spirits will get after
- Do not go into a graveyard or walk on a grave because the evil spirits will
- Do not touch a human bone because the bad spirits will get after you.
- Do not step on a human bone or you will get a leg ache.
- Do not touch a dead baby because it will come back to life some day.
- Do not let small children see a dead person because children are weak and
it will have a bad effect on them such as nightmares.
- Do not wash, cut your hair, or mend your clothes for four days after a
death because you will kill the person all over again, you are disrespectful,
and the ghost my bother you.
- Do not thank people who help with a funeral or they will be the next to
die, or they will die soon.
- Do not stack rocks up because Ghosts do that and it also indicated a
- Do not pretend to pray or cry for no reason because someone in your family
will die. If you pray for no reason, then you are wishing for that to
- Do not talk about killing yourself because someone else in your family will
- Do not leave a broken window unmended because Ghosts and other bad things
might come in.
- Do not chop wood at night because evil spirits will make you hurt yourself.
- Do not go to bed with your hair hanging straight because Ghosts do that.
- Do not call a whirlwind names because evil spirits will get you.
- Do not run around a hogan because only ghosts and evil spirits do that.
- Do not put ash powder in a tree or you will see a ghost there.
- Do not poke or dig in your ear because an evil spirit might push your hand
and break your eardrum
- Do not say "chindi" (evil spirit) or one will come to you.
- Do not eat with your left hand because only ghosts do that.
- Do not put your clothes on inside out or backwards because dead people do
that and you will go crazy.
- Do not comb your hair at night unless there is a special occasion like a
Squaw Dance or evil spirits will bother you.
- Do not was you hair after sundown because only ghost do that.
- Do not shake bedding at night because it will attract ghosts.
- Do not walk on a steep mountain alone or the evil spirits will make you
- Do not eat in the dark at night because ghosts will cover your mouth or
- Do not walk alone at night or evil spirits will bother you. If a
Navajo must travel in the dark, juniper ashes smeared on the face might help,
or juniper berries in the mouth. Beads made from the husks of juniper
berries found in packrat nests are strung together and might afford protection
from the evil spirits. This type of necklace is referred to as
- Do not point an unloaded gun at anyone because the evil spirits can make it
- Do not look outside at night or you might see a ghost fire and this is bad
- Do not whistle at night because ghosts whistle at night and they might come
- Do not sleep with your head pointed to the north because North is the evil
direction and you might die. Dead people lie that way.
- Do not step on a bear track or you will become a skinwalker.
- Do not try to shoot a wolf man without putting ashes on the gun or the gun
will not shoot and he will not die. He will witch you for trying to hurt
- Do not let a strange dog follow close behind you or you might turn into a
wolf man. The dog might be a skinwalker.
- Do not play with fire at night because it will attract witches and give you
- Do not look in a mirror at night because you might see a witch or a
ghost. Your shadow might leave you and then you will die.
- Do not trace drawings in the sand or on rocks because evil things will use
them to witch you.
- Do not tell a lie about a person because they might be a witch and get
- Do not tell stories about witchcraft because they might come back to you.
- Do not shake hands with a stranger because he might witch you.
- Do not eat anything that a stranger offers you because it might poison or
- Do not sleep at the home of a stranger because he might witch you.
- Do not break birds' eggs or you will get witched.
- Do not throw hair or fingernails on the ground when you cut them because a
witch can use them to harm you.
- Do not spit any where, especially at night, because the witches will use
- Do not leave picture lying around because you can be witched with them.
- Do not throw wash water out at night because witches can use it. It
can also bring bad luck.
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