Navaho and Sandpainting: How they access the unseen world
The significance of the sandpainting is that each pattern, and the entity invoked by it, is specific to each cultural circumstance, “the felt human needs that call for it and are often considered in the selection of the sandpaintings”. This means that the painting is not just art unchanged, but an aspect of Navaho tradition, and only one of the “many Navaho ceremonial ways”.
Sand painting also acts as a rite of re-creation for the ailing person. Although forces act against the ailing person, the idea is for the person to learn to live with what they have been given. Therefore, the result is not a life threatening disorder, but a newly molded Navaho with the ability to cope with their ailment. In the center of the sand painting is where the Navaho will be faced with all the tensions of their culture and the wholeness of the universe.
The painting, along with its flaws, becomes a part of the ailing person, and when it’s destroyed and the holy people disappear, the “tensions and imbalances that gave rise to the suffering”, disappear with them.