Witchery Way of the Navajo Skinwalker

Most societies have folklores and legends of witches, werewolves, Sasquatch, and creatures that walk amongst us. The Navajo Indians or Deni’ people have Skinwalkers. They are those who trot along here and there on all fours, those who change skins depending on powers they seek, those who follow the ‘Witchery Way’, the ones that the Navajo people defer from talking about for fear of reprisal. The Skinwalkers are the Witches Witch, the Highest Priest or Priestess who turns evil, who practice cannibalism and necrophilia, those who are no longer human – but are profound deviants – pure evil.

Yenaldlooshi - Navajo call Skinwalkers

Yenaldlooshi - Navajo call Skinwalkers

Yenaldlooshi, as the Navajo call Skinwalkers, literally means “it that walks/travels like an animal – He who trots along here and there on all fours.” It is said that skinwalkers transform into the animal they want to utilize particular powers from. The skinwalker dons the fur of the animal while un-clothed underneath, and the transformation begins. A variety of animals are favored: the bear for strength, coyote for speed and cunning, wolf for heightened sense of sight, hearing and smell, cat for stealth and agility, and so forth. Any animal can be chosen. Yet when the skinwalker transforms they never get the gait and the rhythm of the animals walk exactly right, so it is said they can be tracked while they are traveling on the ground just not when soaring with the vultures.

Besides transforming into animals, the skinwalker has other powers. He/she can read your mind, control your mind, bring forth disease, destroy your home, even cause death. Trained in both physical medicine for the body and spiritual medicine for the spirit, they wrap the two tightly together in their practice. Most are trained high priests or priestess who then choose to follow the skinwalker’s path. Initiation into this deviant life is normally through killing a member of their immediate family, usually a sibling. They believe this provides them access to the powers of the skinwalker. Not all Navajo witches are skinwalkers, but all skinwalkers are witches.

Transformation to animals is not the only power the skinwalker has. They can sound like a baby crying or like any animal to get one’s attention, and they have their potions and spells. They use a mixture some call “corpse powder”, others call an immobilization powder, to blow into their prey’s face. This powder causes the tongue to turn black and swell, then convulsions, paralysis, and eventually death. Corpse powder is believed to be ground human infant bones which are powdered and made into a potion. Sometimes if the skinwalker chooses to target a whole family, the powder will be poured down the chimney or smoke hole of a home onto the waiting fire below. This brings sickness and possible death to all who are within.

Revenge and jealousy are the motivation for skinwalkers. The only ways to be rid of a skinwalker is to hire an expensive good medicine man to cleanse your home and perform ceremonies for protection. The only other way the Navajo get rid of the skinwalkers is by learning their identities and calling out the full name of the skinwalker. It is believed the skinwalker will then die in about three days. The Navajo say to shoot the skinwalker with bullets dipped in white ash. This doesn’t usually kill them, but when the skinwalker returns in everyday dress, the gunshot wounds make him/her recognizable so they can call out the skinwalker’s full name and destroy the evil amongst them.

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  1. NavajoJoe says:

    I have had an encounter with the Navajo Skinwalker. It was when I was a child living on the reservation. My brother, Ashkii, was out hunting on the reservation when he spotted a wolf.

    He was using the way of the bow and arrow head, he tracked it around a bend when he noticed strange prints by the creek bed. He said that the paws changed mid stride into human foot prints.

    He returned and told my father, white feather, he was not happy and called the counsel to discuss what they discovered.

    See in our tribe it is known to us of a group of Navajo that practice the dark ways they left our tribe before i was born. They kill our people so we are not to wander far into the reservation.

    We gathered a party, to try and pick up the trail of the Yenaldlooshi The skinwalker was spotted on sitting hill,she wore the hide of a wolf. This hill is sacred to our people as we bury our dead up there. We can not hunt up there because of this.

    We came back the next day an found tracks, they lead deep in to the reservation so we did not persue further.

    Later that year I was out swimming with my brother and saw someone behind a tree, I noticed that it was her, she that wears wolf hide. She changed into a wolf and bit my brother. I ran back to help him and we were able to drown the wolf.

    I helped my brother back to the villiage and my father took a group of men to the spring to were we were swimming. They found she who wears wolf hide, floating face down.

    Soon after my father made us move off the reservation, he said that the skinwalkers would not stop until they found and killed my brother and I for what we done.

    I live in fear and pray that they don’t find us. I burn incense and chant the holy chant to keep us safe.

    We can never return back to our home, the Navajo Reservation. It fills my heart with great sorrow but it is better to be safe.

    • carmen says:

      what is a skin walk?

      • Zombiefu says:

        Read the article to find out. Also thank you for sharing that story. I hope everything works out for you and your family.

      • M says:

        I wish to remain anonymous right now, as I am of different heritage/ tribe and I practice white magic and earth magic to help others, and will NEVER harm another as that is not the nature of the magic I practice. I have looked a few things up about these evil walkers, it has mentioned time and time again ‘black magic’ or ‘dark arts’. I have dealt with those who have used black magic/dark arts/dark ways before, though not of this sort. For protection : I have used black onyx, an excellent and very strong protection stone because two of the things that it does for me is offer protection and helps to banish negativity. Folding my arms across my chest and crossing my legs has also been helpful as it helps to block access to your heart and other areas on a spiritual level and has helped deflect some of the psychic/mental damage/manipulation directed towards me. These are just a few of the things I have done, and there is more, but I am not sure what else to say on that and do not wish to offend. Talk to a medicine man/woman more about this and seek help on that. Do Not let anything of any sort or any one keep you away from your people, those you care about and love – especially not something like this. Divide and conquer is what I see happening. Things also like feeding off of fear the most, and yes anger as well ( Fear and anger can make something stronger until it has the ability to inflict SEVERE spiritual and physical harm to point where death occurs or close to it – and it’s full from feeding off of someone as if it was feasting.) – though if my brother were attacked, I would have done the same thing to it as well – I love and care very much about my family and there’s NOTHING I would not do to protect them or save them. I know I am replying awhile later, but I hope you read this, and that you can get as much help as possible. I wish you well and sincerely hope you are able to over come this – the chanting and incense you are doing are a big help. Smudging with white sage helps too – I have done it from time to time. With the utmost respect I offer my thoughts, prayers,healing and positive energy.

    • Anonymous says:

      What part of the Rez are u from?

    • Doug says:

      Lol! Say the truth navajojoe… I’m a full blooded navajo. Your story seems untrue. We don’t villages. But towns or bands of navajo. Its way to “white” to believe. Kind of like a short story novel.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hello, I have been putting together a collection of creatures for my book of shadows to be passed down alongside my witches Tomé. I’m going through the creatures as I stumble across them, and have come to these types of spirits. Seeing as the Navajos have a better depth of knowledge, I was hoping to get as much information as I could about them. I’ve been listening and reading stories I could find online and piecing together what was similar, including the ash thing. If you could help or direct me to someone that would be willing to help I would be extremely grateful. You can find me on facebook, kale frost from Indiana, I keep my Halloween costume as my profile photo.

    • slayer says:

      The newer generation of the skinwalkers do not seem to fit this story. what have we become.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dude!! This story sounds so bogus! First off, Navajos don’t have villages! Second! A Navajo named “White Feather”? Really? HA!! umm… no! :/

  2. Anonymous says:

    after reading this..it just reminds me of how much we actullly know about the Dine’ (Navajo) the picture depicted as “Yenaldlooshi – Navajo call Skinwalkers”….
    if you have a slightest clue, you know by noticing the marking on this Yei’be’chei…..that is Naayee’neizghani…Monster slayer..or destroyer of enemies…
    and Navajojoe….SO untrue…if it was true…it wouldnt matter if you lived off the rez…

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, I think he killed somebody and then got banished. Skinwalkers are not limited by the boundaries of the Rez.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Haha… I’m Navajo (born and raised on the navajo reservation) and I find this all too funny. I don’t believe in skinwalkers, never seen one, and who knows how it’s practiced unless you are one I guess… Fun scary stories told regardless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ashkii means boy by the way… I don’t believe I know anyone with that particular name, NavajoJoe. Haha.
    I have never heard of Skinwalkers affiliated with cannibalism and necrophilia, gross. The thought of my grandparents telling these stories as a child; it sickens me how twisted stories become over time with people making things up to make it seem more interesting.

  5. you guys are idiots says:

    you are guys are real idiots real Yenaldlooshi use crystal to travel and not skins, and know one knows how to do these things anymore. skins was just used recently that was taught by the Utes, and other surround tribes.

  6. Vanessa says:

    All tribes have their way of skinwalkers. In my experience they do travel in skin. Not in daylight, they are normal humans. At night is when they come around it starts off by hearing the dogs bark, but sometimes they are already there picking on you without the dogs barking. You can hear what they can do, I hear loud stomps on the top of the roof, loud thumping as it is running on top, scratching and taping on the windows and doors. I also hear knocks on my door and windows, usually one good loud knock and enough to know that ain’t no tree branch hitting the door from the wind. I can hear the dogs barking and most times the dogs barking running around the house as if they dogs chasing them. It’s is true they make noises such as a baby crying, loud screams, just that screaming sound is awful, like a women and old lady screaming at once. It’s hard to see a skin walker in the flesh, they hardly reveal themself, that is why you usually hear stories about them. For the people who see them, they are usually alone or with someone. People who do encounter a skinwalker usually freeze at the time, and they can be in shock for a couple of mins. At night especially when your home alone you can feel the fear.
    My grandfather owns a land in on the reservation, I know that they who walk on all four envy my grandfather for his land. I can say is “we” my family and I experienced many times of what “they” can do. But my grandparents don’t fear them and my parents don’t either. I do, and that’s bad for me and good for they who walk on all four.

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  8. Brian says:

    About this photo captioned as a skinwalker.
    Ok, it’s kinda sad when an old beligana has to educate young Diné their culture. Straight up, no real yenaldlooshi would ever stop and allow itself to be photographed by anyone, you should know this. This is a photo from 1904 of Nayenezgani from yebichai dance.
    Your first clue that this was not a skinwalker was the fact that THERE’S NO DAMN SKIN!! LOL
    sigh… children.
    Walk in beauty.

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