Changing Woman is one of the most revered Deities amongst the Native American Indians. She is the Goddess of all fertility, a wonderfully benevolent figure for it is Changing Woman who gifts the people with abundance and provides teachings that allow them to live in harmony with all creatures. Estsantleki, Her Navaho name, means "self-renewing one" for She is believed to be capable of changing from a child to a young woman to a crone at will. But, despite this trait, Changing Woman is not usually considered a Triple Goddess. Instead, this capacity for renewal links Her to the seasons. She is the Goddess of Cycles. These include the seasons, lunar, and women's menstrual cycles, as well as the cyclical path of birth, maturing, growing old, and dying only to be reborn again in the Spring.
Her tale is one of an interesting beginning. She is the daughter of the First Woman and the First Man, who, when they first came into the world, were followed by some horrible monsters who had been born from their self-abuse in the previous world. And, before long, it seems that the monsters had devoured everyone except for First Woman and First Man.and four others. First Man was hoping for the Gods to help, but First Woman doubted it because they did not yet know what pleased or displeased the gods. So, one morning, when First Man noticed that a dark cloud was covering the crest of their mountain, he ventured out to investigate saying he would protect himself by surrounding himself with songs. Amidst all the thunder, lightning, and driving rain, he managed to reach the peak of the mountain. Suddenly, he heard an infant crying, and, despite the blinding storm, he discovered a small piece of turquoise in the form of a female. He picked it up and took it to First Woman, instructing her to care for it.
And, in during a rather elaborate ceremony, a female baby was created from this small piece of turquoise; this baby would become Changing Woman. And, the infant grew into adulthood in four days. And, when She came of age, a ceremony, which is called Kinaalda to this day, was held in order that She would be able to bear children. And She mated with the Sun and bore twin sons who fought the monsters and slew them, but the earth had few people left.
Changing Woman brushed the dust from Her breast, and from Her right breast came a white flour, and from Her left, a yellow meal, which She mixed with water to form a paste. And out of this paste She created man and woman who reproduced in plenty so there were enough people to populate the world. And, when Sun came to Her and asked Her to go to the West with him so they could be together each day after his labours, She refused and explained that She is of the Earth and must change with the seasons.
Kinaalda continues to be the initiation ceremony of Navajo women. At this time, the initiate takes in the power of the Changing Woman so that she might learn the values of love, hospitality, and generosity...and to know that she herself is a source of food and harmony. And the songs that were sung for Changing Woman ran are still sung today for young women at their puberty ceremonies. Changing Woman remains the ideal for which all women strive. She shows us that it is possible to find new ways of being when we feel stuck in our roles or relationships. We are able to change.
There is a Woman, She rides the night sky.
See Her spin, watch Her fingers fly!
She is within us, beginning to end:
Our grandmother, our sister, our friend