Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 475
“May It Be Beautiful All Around,” in Grandmothers of the Light , is one of eight stories in which Allen demonstrates the role of ritual magic in the interplay between humans and supernaturals. Allen has stated that “the essential nature of the cosmos is female intelligences,” and she has created...
(The entire section contains 475 words.)
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this May It Be Beautiful All Around study guide. You'll get access to all of the May It Be Beautiful All Around content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
“May It Be Beautiful All Around,” in Grandmothers of the Light, is one of eight stories in which Allen demonstrates the role of ritual magic in the interplay between humans and supernaturals. Allen has stated that “the essential nature of the cosmos is female intelligences,” and she has created the word “cosmogyny” to represent this enduring and transformative gynocentric cosmos.
Navajo chantways are intricate healing ceremonies based upon the knowledge that reintegration with the inviolate inner forces of the land and the natural elements restores a diseased individual into balance with the sacred order. The chantways can last from two to nine days and can involve fifteen or more trained practitioners. Although many chantway rituals are shared, each chantway belongs to a specific healing group and contains its own songs, stories, herbal medicines, prayers, and curative processes.
In “May It Be Beautiful All Around,” Older Sister and Younger Sister have been pledged to two strong but old warriors whom they do not love. During a raid, the two sisters are separated from their family. Although they are afraid, they ignore tribal knowledge to consider the possibility that they might not have to fulfill their uncle’s pledge to marry the old warriors, Bear Man and Snake Man.
As the women search the mountains for their family, two handsome young men appear and offer their help. Because the hour is late, the four decide to take shelter until daybreak in nearby ruins, where Older Sister and Younger Sister are each joined by a virile warrior for the night. In the morning, despite omens that all may not be as it seems, Younger Sister follows her young warrior to a rock that opens at his four knocks (four being the most sacred of numbers) onto another land.
The warrior leaves her at his home to help his mother with her tasks. For the next four days, she is given a different chore each day. Although the tasks are simple ones, she fails every time through inattention, impatience, and undisciplined behavior. Each time, her mother-in-law responds with serene patience. On the fifth day, her warrior-husband offers to teach her a ceremony that she can take to her people.
This time, Younger Sister works diligently to learn every movement and every sound of the ceremony. After four days of right action, she is successful. Her husband, now old and bent, leads her home. As she and her family talk, Younger Sister learns that she has been gone for months, not days. She is rejoined by Older Sister, who has been with Bear Man’s mother all these months, and the two women return with their knowledge to their people. After the sisters have taught their ceremonies to their brothers, they rejoin their supernatural husbands, and “because of their continuing thought the ceremonies continue to have the power to heal.”