Navajos of the past were able to measure the months by the phases of the moon. Very few of our elders still living are still able to do this today. A very simplistic chart is shown below of the Navajo names of a few moon phases. More names exist for names between each of the phases shown. The moon itself is either called "T'éhonaa'éí" or "ooljéé."
The moon along with certain constellations were used to measure the coming of seasons, to signal when to plant, to harvest, when certain weather patterns were expected, and when certain ceremonies should occur. My relatives say that my great-grandfather, Dzitahnii Ray, was an expert at using the moon to tell when babies would be born. He used to be accurate to the day, dajiní (they say).
The first day of the month begins with the moon phase "Dahiitá", which is shown to the right, and ends with "Yi Deezh'áázh", which a complete disappearance of the moon. Yi Deezh'áázh literally means "traveling together." During this time (dah néítííh góne'), the moon is said to be visiting the sun, just as the sky visits the earth in the form of a fog. Click here to read the Navajo story of how the sun, moon, and stars were set by the Holy People.
A figure of the moon phases are shown below, followed by a table of their English translations.