[ Guest post extracted and edited from the work of Gary Witherspoon of the University of Washington, Department of Anthropology. Link below. May you walk in beauty, harmony and well-being! ]
The Navajo are a Native American society of about 250,000 people
residing in the southwestern portion of the United States…
The Navajo are famous world-wide for
their beautifully and delicately woven rugs,
their finely sculptured jewelry,
and their ceremonial painting in the sand.
The focus of Navajo ontology…(1)
[is] on the whole and the links,
the connections and the relationships
that unite the parts of a whole.
In Navajo ontological perspective,
it is the wholes which are the primary reality
and the parts which are contingent and temporal.
Hózhó refers to the holistic environment
characterized by beauty, harmony, and well-being. ….
Hózhó means ‘beauty’ or ‘beautiful conditions’,
but this term also expresses the intellectual notion of order,
the emotional state of happiness,
the physical state of health,
the moral condition of good,
and the aesthetic dimension of harmony. (2)
The Navajo do not look for beauty;
they … find themselves engulfed in it.
When it is disrupted, they restore it;
when it is lost or diminished, they renew it;
when it is present, they celebrate it.
The Navajo say … :
shil hózhó, ‘with me there is beauty';
shii’ hózhó,‘in me there is beauty’;
shaa hózhó, ‘from me beauty radiates’.
The Navajo express and celebrate this ‘beauty’
in speech and prayer,
in song and dance,
in myth and ritual,
and in their daily lives and activities,
as well as in their graphic arts.
This integration is best expressed in a common Navajo prayer/poem:
With hózhó before me, I walk.
With hózhó behind me, I walk.
With hózhó above me, I walk.
With hózhó below me, I walk.
From the East hózhó has been renewed.
From the South hózhó has been renewed.
From the West hózhó has been renewed.
From the North hózhó has been renewed.
From the zenith in the sky hózhó has been renewed.
From the nadir of the Earth hózhó has been renewed.
From all around me hózhó has been renewed.
(1) on·tol·o·gy (noun) the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ontology
(2) Ho- refers to:
(1) the general,
(2) the whole,
(3) the abstract,
(4) the indefinite, and
(5) the infinite….
Many thanks to Gary Witherspoon of the Department of Anthropology,
University of Washington for these excerpts from his work entitled :
DYNAMIC SYMMETRY AND HOLISTIC ASYMMETRY IN NAVAJO ART AND COSMOLOGY @ this url for this post:
Thanks for the following contributions:
For the sunrise pic and the hózhó prayer here as part of the closing of a traditional ritual: http://talking-feather.com/2009/12/24/walking-in-beauty-a-navajo-prayer/
For a third example of a hózhó prayer: http://groups.google.com/group/holistic-quantum-relativity-hqr/browse_thread/thread/bf5e20f337804d33
The rug pic comes from here: http://cumuseum.colorado.edu/Exhibits/NavajoWeaving/highlights2.html
The woman sprinkling corn pollen came from here: http://www.myspace.com/navajosongs80/photos/588444
The sand painting mandala comes from here: http://yogainmyschool.com/tag/social-studies/