The Whole Universe Is My Cathedral: A Contemporary Navajo Spiritual Synthesis

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Abstract

This article discusses the three major spiritual healing ways used by Navajo Indians today: Traditional healing practices that have been used for generations and still have a dynamic existence relevant to everyday Navajo life; Christian healing traditions, ranging from Catholic Charismatic to Protestant Pentecostal; and practices of the Native American Church (NAC). The complex relationship among these healing traditions on the Navajo reservation is examined through a case study of a Navajo woman whose personal spirituality includes all three. Faced with serious medical problems, this devout Catholic turned to Navajo Traditional and Native American Church spiritual diagnosis and treatment. This analysis is the occasion for a reflection on the contemporary relevance of the kind of spiritual synthesis characterized in this woman’s experience.