Huichol Indians of Mexico and the Peyote

The Peyote cactus is the centerpiece of their sacred ritualism. It is the vehicle by which they obtain their mystical union with the gods. It has been revered for centuries by the Huichol for its curative properties and its ability to "enlighten" the one who partakes of it.
The Huichol do not have a word which corresponds to what we of the Western tradition have called hallucination. Our definition of the word would be unthinkable for a Huichol who knows nothing of such foolish terms concocted by a paranoid establishment and its "paid for" psychologists. The flow of sacred imaging through the mind's eye is always present within the individual as can be seen by the various ways of accessing it around the world through shamanic, religious, meditative and various forms of physical manipulation and chemical means. The Huichol have practised this way of seeing beyond the normal physical realm for eons and live in communal balance long before the Europeans arrived with their chains.

José Benitez Sanches

In the past thirty years, about four thousand Huichols have migrated to cities, primarily Tepic, Nayarit, Guadalajara and Mexico City. It is these "citified' Huichols who, because of the need for money have drawn attention to their rich culture through their art. To preserve the ancient beliefs and ritual ceremonies, they began making detailed and elaborate yarn paintings. The Huichols have only an oral tradition and no written language (thus the many differing spellings of Huichol words). "Through their artwork, the Huichol Indians encode and document their spiritual knowledge." notes Susana Eger Valadez in 'Huichol Indian Sacred Art'. In their artwork the Huichol express their deepest religious feelings and beliefs acquired through a lifetime of participation in ceremonies and rites.
By Angela Corelis

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