The United States is about to be engulfed in a solar eclipse that will lead to darkness across the nation. But for the Navajo, the eclipse isn’t simply a novelty of nature. It’s a serious moment of reflection and rebirth.
In Navajo culture, the sun and moon are deities responsible for the universe’s stability. The eclipse is a moment where the sun passes away, and then comes back to life. But that intimacy is sacred and personal, so many will remain silent indoors, treating the eclipse as a moment for themselves, the Associated Press reports.
“It’s a time of renewal,” a Navajo woman named Bobbieann Baldwin told the AP. “Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything.”
Navajo culture also teaches that one should not look at the sun during the eclipse, both because it can harm tribal members’ eyesight, but also because the eclipse can cause long-term spiritual and personal damage. Many Navajo Nation employees have Monday off in commemoration of the day, according to AP, and schools around tNavajo reservations have adjourned to let children understand the seriousness of the moment.
“You’re welcoming negativity into your life, or turmoil, or troublesome times ahead of you, as well as socially, health-wise and spiritually,” Baldwin told AP. “You’re observing something that should not be observed.”
Baldwin says she plans to bring her children into her living room, tell Navajo stories, and have her children think about life.
“There’s a little conversation, but there’s that constant reminder that we need to be quiet,” Baldwin said.