Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Coyote Spirit

on January 24, 2022

In Navajo culture, Coyote is an “ancient deity” — essential to maintaining the order, balance, and harmony of the world. He is the creative force that created the world and provided the first humans with the basic essentials of food, plants, medicine, animals, fire, and light. As a multi-dimensional character, he is both good and evil; human and god; unpredictable and ambivalent — traveling easily between the human, animal, and sacred worlds.

Coyote is the embodiment of human consciousness and the reservoir for all knowledge. As the original sacred Being, he initiated chaos and death, disrupted the positioning of the stars, and acted to ensure the survival of the human race.

As the trickster, his adventures test the boundaries of the cosmic order, reaffirm the harmony of the world, and expand the possibilities for human interventions and activities in the world. His characteristics of egoism, greed, excessive sexual lust, gluttony, rudeness, interference, and unrestrained curiosity, playfulness, and restlessness mirror his human counterparts. He is intelligent, perceptive, adaptable, flexible, and cunning, all characteristics necessary for survival. Coyote trickster stories are told to children and adults alike to impart important moral lessons.

When the Navajo depended on hunting, Coyote was the powerful, positive impetus that brought success in war, hunting, and running. But when agriculture became the main means of subsistence, Coyote became an evil force that prowled around in the darkness of night, destroying crops and livestock.

Coyoteway is an ancient healing ceremony that is sometimes performed by Shamans to heal illness. While Coyote is capable of healing disease, he is also the one who sends disease when the Coyote People (coyotes, foxes, and wolves) are displeased.

The most frightening entities in Navajo culture are the Skinwalkers — witches who pray to Coyote, shapeshift into coyotes, and enchant people by throwing coyote skins over them. In this regard, Coyote is considered a negative and evil entity. On the other hand, Coyote sends helpful messages to humans through dreams, omens, and signs. His malleable nature allows him to align himself with both good and evil forces.


The Coyote and the Giant

“Once a giant was terrorizing the land, and eating people, especially small children. Coyote convinced the giant that if he allowed Coyote to break his leg and then heal it by spitting on it, he would be able to run as fast as Coyote. However, this was one of Coyote’s tricks, and the giant thereafter found it much more difficult to outrun anything, even small children.” ( from Coyote Stories of the Navajo People, 1974)

In this story, Coyote uses his tricks to help humans and becomes a hero.

According to Coyote storytellers in the Navajo tribe, Coyote stories can only be told during the winter, from October to February.

Coyote Superstition

A coyote traveling in any direction but north that crosses your path can be a good omen. However, many Navajos believe that ANY coyote crossing your path means trouble ahead. Beware of the trickster!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

13 responses to “Coyote Spirit

  1. utahan15 says:

    sly as a fox
    a jew with lox
    red river

    Liked by 2 people

  2. WOW Dawn, what an interesting compilation about the tale of the Coyote. There are so many wonderful things in Native American culture we have yet to uncover. 🙏🏼 All of the amazing facets about what we think, feel or didn’t know about the coyote is simply mind-blowing! Thanks so much for sharing another piece of historical highlights I didn’t know about! 👏🏼🐾🐺

    Liked by 3 people

    • When I was researching this, the symbolism and meaning of Coyote turned out to be very profound and complex. I was amazed by how much meditation and reflection went into his character and stories. Ancient people had to be intelligent, creative problem solvers in order to survive. Thank you, my friend! Have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dawn, isn’t is so refreshing to learn something so profound and symbolic that brings a new awareness and meaning to what we thought we knew and what things truly are?

        After finishing up my maternal genealogy treeline, I understood my foreparent’s survival in a whole new light. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The ancients weren’t distracted like we are with our gadgets, so they did a lot of critical thinking, soul searching, problem solving, and respecting mother earth in a way we could not imagine. Thanks so much for sharing your discoveries of life in a whole different light! Have an awesome day my friend. 🌞🌺🤗

        Liked by 3 people

  3. balladeer says:

    Very nice! I loved your take on this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Timothy Price says:

    I used to read the Coyote tales to our daughter. Pueblo folklore and stories are a lot of fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If I’m remembering right, the Pueblos have a more positive and playful view of Coyote. For the Apaches, he was the spirit guide for war and survival. But all natives admire his intelligence and ability to survive. And they are so right!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. […] Coyote Spirit — Dawn Pisturino’s Blog […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh yes the ancient native mythologies, what a treasure trove of stories for adults and children alike. We must cherish and look after them, so they may not be lost to the whirlpool of today’s spreading ignorance.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. wjwingrove97 says:

    I’m learning a lot from your posts ..there’s a 1993 live Velvet Underground song called “Coyotes” I’ll send the link, if you want ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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