Huichol shaman

Personal reminiscences of Mexico’s Huichol people III: The shaman

I met several people at the Fiesta de las Plantas Medicinales held at Atotonilco El Alto in 1990, among them Jesus Higuera (Katuza), who had held the impromptu peyote ceremony when the Huichols refused to participate for fear of the federales. It was there I also met Armando Casillas Romo, who was promoting a book he […]

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Panoramic view of Teotihuacan © Rick Meyer, 2001

Personal reminiscences of Mexico’s Huichol people IV: Ritual dance

Some years ago, my parents and I lived at Ana Capri between Tuxcueca and Mismaloya on the south shore of Lake Chapala. Ana Capri was built as a motel but never saw any business because of its difficult location, so we rented it from the owners. There I met Salvador Cardenas, the gardener and caretaker, […]

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Each year the Huichol walk more than 300 miles to harvest peyote for use in 2000-year-old rituals and ceremonies.

Personal reminiscences of Mexico’s Huichol people V: Journey to the sierra

Some years ago, Huichol art became very popular and was being sold at fabulous prices at exclusive boutiques around the world. On one occasion I helped my Huichol friends Nacho and his son-in-law Juventino sell some large yarn paintings. Shortly afterwards I was invited to attend the annual peyote fiesta at Las Guayabas, Nacho’s home […]

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Huichol ceremonial throne, a kind of equipal

Personal reminiscences of Mexico’s Huichol people VI: Peyote Fiesta

The Huichol Peyote Fiesta takes place around the end of May or the beginning of June, the start of the traditional rainy season in Mexico. The main purpose is to assure that the rain gods return to refresh the earth and nourish the newly-sown crops of beans and maize. The Huichols are located in large […]

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A Huichol village

Personal reminiscences of Mexico’s Huichol people VII: Return from the Huichol sierra

I don’t like flying; or rather it’s the going up and the coming down that bothers me most. Once I’m in the air and realize there is nothing I can do about it, I become quite philosophical about it all and try to forget my good friend John Hindmarsh, a skilled pilot, who for no […]

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“You see, my boy,” grandpa says, “this is the way it is done.” A Huichol man and boy in traditional dress on a Melaque street. © Gerry Soroka, 2009

Personal reminiscences of Mexico’s Huichol people I: A disappearing way of life?

I began reading about Indians when I was a boy and my sympathies were always with the underdog, so I warn you that what follows is not a scholarly objective study of the Huichol Indians (probably one of the most studied and least understood peoples on earth) but simply my personal opinions based on my […]

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Huichol religion under siege (again). Part 1

The Huichol Indians of Jalisco and Nayarit have accomplished the almost incredible feat of maintaining their independence and most of their traditional values well into the 21st century. Thanks to the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre mountains the Huichols were able to escape the brunt of the Spanish invasion. They continue to celebrate their […]

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Shamanism and the problem of consciousness

Shamanism is a form of religious or magical ecstasy found in various parts of the world at different stages of development. While rituals and paraphernalia may differ somewhat from one place to another, shamanism is one of the earliest forms of religious experience. Predominant in the religious systems of Siberia and the Ural-Altaic peoples, it […]

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A huichol jaguar, named Waxieve by artist Kupíha'ute-Itzpapalotl, reveals a sea turtle on its nose. The turtle represent the ancient ancestors. © Erin Cassin, 2006

The Obsidian Butterfly: modern Huichol symbolism

Never have I known a name to so perfectly capture the essence of a person as in the case of artisan and philosopher Kupíha’ute-Itzpapalotl. Both parts of his name mean obsidian butterfly — Kupíha’ute in the Huichol language and Itzpapalotl in the Aztec or Mexica language. “The butterfly, or kupí, is the movement, the transformation, the continuous […]

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