Navajo Superstitions and Taboos

Here is a nice little collection of Navajo beliefs, superstitions, and taboos regarding the natural world and the weather.

  • Do not look at clouds moving in the sky. If you do, you will be a slow runner.
  • Do not eat when there is an eclipse, or you will have a swollen stomach or stomach problems.
  • Do not sleep during an eclipse because your eyes won’t open again.
  • Do not look at an eclipse, or you will go blind. This taboo is a fact. People can go blind by looking too long at an eclipse.
  • Do not start a fire with a magnifying glass, or you will have a burning in your stomach.
  • It is taboo to stand on high rocks. If traditional Navajos do, they say that the rocks will grow into the sky with them.
  • Do not roll a rock from a mountain. The holy people put them there and it will be bad luck.
  • The monsters that throw people off cliffs, are said to inhabit high places so they are best avoided!
  • Do not use partly burned wood because it might be from a lightning struck tree. If you do it will cause illness or bad luck.
  • Do not stand up when there is lightning. If you sit down it will go away.
  • Do not yell when it is raining or you will be struck by lightning.
  • Do not have a dog or cat in the hogan during a storm because it will draw lightning.
  • Do not look lightning in the mirror because it will strike your hogan.
  • Do not kill a nighthawk or you will be struck by lightning.
  • Do not use aspen wood for a fire because it causes thunder and lightning.
  • Do not stand by the loom when it is raining because the lightning will strike you.
  • Do not weave when it is storming or it will cause lightning. This depends on the pattern being designed on the loom.
  • Do not climb a tree when it is raining because lighting might strike the tree.
  • Do not lean against a wall during a storm or the lightning will strike you.
  • Do not ride a horse during a storm or you will be struck by lightning.
  • Do not touch metal objects when it is raining because you will be struck by lightning.
  • Do not wash your hair when it is raining because you will be struck by lightning.
  • Do not eat an animal killed by lightning because you will be struck by lightning or get sick.
  • Do not play around a lightning struck tree because you will get sick.
  • Do not call the thunder’s name or the lightning will get you.
  • Do not do a rain dance during a rainstorm because you will be struck by lightning.
  • Do not lay facing the sky in a storm or the lightning will strike you.
  • Do not eat corn when it is raining because lightning will strike you.
  • Do not stare at the moon, or it will follow you.
  • Don’t point at a rainbow with your finger. The rainbow will cut it off or break it.
  • Do not watch a river flowing swiftly, or you will get dizzy and fall in.
  • Don’t catch snow when its is falling, or it will keep falling and turn into deep snow.
  • Do not hold out their hands when it is snowing because where your hand is will be how deep the snow will be.
  • If you eat the first snow, you will become sick.
  • Do not shake a flour sack in the winter, or the snow will get big and cause blizzards.
  • Do not look at a shooting star unless you blow at it, or you will have trouble and bad luck.
  • If you look at a falling star, there will be bad luck.
  • Blindness is the punishment of looking to long at the sun. This punishment is a fact on life for all people.
  • Don’t whistle too loud, or whistle for four days in a row. If you do, they say you will be calling up the wind
  • Don’t throw rocks at a whirlwind. It will throw them back and chase you.
  • Don’t call whirlwinds a name. Evil Spirits will get you.
  • Don’t go into a whirlwind. It will effect your heart and carry you off.
  • Dust devils are an evil wind that blows no one any good. They are animated by evil spirits.
  • Don’t whistle or you will call up the wind!

SourceNavajo Central

Raining Cats and Dogs

Where does the expression “Raining Cats and Dogs” come from?

Some authorities tie the idea to Norse mythology. Odin, the Viking god of storms, was often pictured with dogs and wolves, symbols of wind. Witches, who supposedly rode their brooms during storms, had black cats, which became signs of heavy rain. Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” referred to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).

While the story sounds good, the expression didn’t become popular until the 1700s, when Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) used it in a satire. He pictured snobby upper class aristocrats solemnly fretting that it would “rain cats and dogs”. Suddenly the saying caught on. Apparently, the English spent a lot of time chatting about rain and it was the latest hit phrase.

More recently, this bit of contemporary “folklore” distributed in a hoax email put forth the following idea, which has since been disproved:

In the 1500’s, houses had thatched roofs – thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets… dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”


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