“Frozen” by ~RuslanKadiev

“Mina Koya’s themes are weather, health, ghosts and blessings. Her symbol is salt. The salt Goddess of the Pueblo Native Americans, Mina Koya is often venerated during autumn festivals for Her power to cleanse, protect and preserve things, including our homes and traditions. Her healing power becomes all the more important as winter’s chilly hold gets stronger.

A New Mexican festival, Shalako is an all-night ritual of dancing and chanting to bless homes, commemorate the dead, bring good weather, and improve health for all participants. One tradition that honors Mina Koya and draws Her well-being into the sacred place of home is that of noise making. Take a flat-bottomed pan and sprinkle salt on it. Bang this once in every room of the house (so some of the salt shakes off). This banishes negativity and evil, replacing it with Mina Koya’s blessings. To improve the effect, chant and dance afterward, sweeping up the salt and keeping it for the weather charm that follows. Or, flush the salt down the toilet to flush out any maladies.

If it’s been wet or snowy and you need a reprieve, bind a little salt in a white cloth and bury it. The weather should change temporarily soon thereafter. This bundle will also protect your home and its residents from damage by harsh weather for as long as it stays in the ground nearby.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

I could find no information on a Goddess called Mina Koya.  I did however find a related Goddess (similar attributes – perhaps same Goddess, just a different name?) called Ma’l Oyattsik’i.  Ma’l Oyattsik’i is a Zuni Goddess and is called “The Salt Mother. Annual barefoot pilgrimages have been made for centuries on the trail to Her home, the Zuni Salt Lake.” [1]

Aerial photo of Zuni Salt Lake [AirPhoto]

On Preservationnation.org, it states: “Located in a remote region of western New Mexico, Zuni Salt Lake and the surrounding area (known as the Sanctuary Zone) are considered sacred ground by no less than six Native American tribes. The lake is particularly significant to members of the Zuni Tribe, who believe that it gives life to Ma’l Oyattsik’I, Salt Woman, one of the tribe’s central deities, and has long been an important source of salt for domestic and ceremonial use. In recognition of the sites’ significance, the National Park Service listed Zuni Salt Like on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.” It is currently on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. [2]

Art by josephxengraver

I found a lovely story on Sacred-texts.com about the Goddess of Salt that I’d like to share with you.  “Between Zuni and Pescado is a steep mesa, or table-land, with fantastic rocks weathered into tower and roof-like prominences on its sides, while near it is a high natural monument of stone. Say the Zunis: The Goddess of salt was so troubled by the people who lived near Her domain on the sea-shore, and who took away Her snowy treasures without offering any sacrifice in return, that She forsook the ocean and went to live in the mountains far away. Whenever She stopped beside a pool to rest She made it salt, and She wandered so long about the great basins of the West that much of the water in them is bitter, and the yield of salt from the larger lake near Zuni brings into the Zuni treasury large tolls from other tribes that draw from it.

Here She met the turquoise god, who fell in love with Her at sight, and wooed so warmly that She accepted and married him. For a time they lived happily, but when the people learned that the Goddess had concealed Herself among the mountains of New Mexico they followed Her to that land and troubled Her again until She declared that She would leave their view forever.

She entered this mesa, breaking Her way through a high wall of sandstone as She did so. The arched portal through which She passed is plainly visible. As She went through, one of Her plumes was broken off, and falling into the valley it tipped upon its stem and became the monument that is seen there. The god of turquoise followed his wife, and his footsteps may be traced in outcrops of pale-blue stone.” [3]

In another version of the story, Salt Woman gave salt to the priests who followed Her and instructed them in the proper way to gather salt.  According to the Navajo, Salt Woman was one of the Diyin Dineh, or Holy People. [4]





Native American Mythology A to Z, “Salt Woman“.

Preservationnation.org, “Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary Zone“.

Schubert, Rebecca. Zunispirits.com, “The Salt Woman“.

Skinnner, Charles M. Sacred-texts.com, “Goddess of Salt“.

Wikipedia, “Zuni Mythology“.



Suggested Links:

Bastian, Dawn Elaine & Judy K. Mitchel. Handbook of Native American Mythology, “Salt Woman“.

Indianstories.awardspace.com, “Salt Mother Story“.

Skinner, Charles M. Myths and Legends of Our Own Land, Vol. 2, “Goddess of Salt“.

St. Clair, Jeffrey. Counterpunch.org, “The Battle for Zuni Salt Lake“.

Twinrocks.com, “Salt Woman“.