Navajo Snake Superstitions

Poisonous snakes on Navajo land were a real threat to the Navajo and their livestock. The snake is also a symbol of the lightning people and brings rain to the dry land. While the only significant venomous snakes present are the rattlesnakes, all snakes are avoided. Snakes are seen in Navajo sand paintings and other artworks.

  • Do not cross a snake’s path unless you slide or shuffle your feet because you will have leg aches, other diseases, or bad luck.
  • Do not eat in front of a snake because when you get older your throat will close.
  • Do not watch a snake swallow its food or your neck will swell up.
  • Do not open your mouth when you see a snake or he will jump in.
  • Do not kill snakes or lizards because it will make your heart swell, it will dry up, or you will get crooked teeth.
  • Do not burn a snake because you will get sores or a rash.
  • Do not kill a snake when it is raining or lightning will strike your house.
  • Do not put a snake in the open when it is dead because lightning will bring it back to life.
  • Do not put a dead snake on a rock or you will cause a thunderstorm and it will come back to life.
  • Snakes are an earthly manifestation of the Lightning People and related to the Thunders.
  • They are in communication with the supernatural world. If dead snakes are exposed to the sky, it will draw the attention of the Serpent Spirits.
  • Killing snakes for the no reason will drive away the life giving rains and cause a drought.
  • Do not kill a snake with your hand or your hand will swell up.
  • Do not pick up things between two fingers because only snakes do that.
  • Do not step on a snake because your legs will swell up or get crooked.
  • Do not watch snakes mating or you will go blind.
  • Do not draw in the sand with your fingers or snakes will come to it.
  • Do not talk about snakes or they will come around.
  • Do not laugh at a snake or it will bite you.
  • Do not make faces at a snake or it will bite you some day.
  • Do not spit at a snake or it will come after you.
  • Do not watch a snake crawl out of its skin because you will get sick or jump out of your skin.
  • Do not shoot an arrow at a snake. It will shoot crooked and hit something else.
  • Do not run over s snake in your car or you will have a bad life.
  • Do not snake eggs or the snakes will get you.
  • Do not wear anything made out of snakeskin, especially boots or shoes or you will get crippled.
  • Do not touch a snake because it has nothing and you will have nothing.
  • Do not call a person a snake or one will be bite you.

Source: Navajo Central

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