If you read my article "Everyday Huichol Wisdom" in Llewellyn's 2012 Magical Almanac, you already know just how much I appreciate the Huichol. So for everyone else, this post is going to be a short introduction to this tribe and why, as a Pagan, I am so attracted to their culture.
The Huichol, because they are a shamanic culture, are like natural Hedge Witches. For thousands of years their tribe has been living in isolation according to their traditional way of life: tending their crops, taking peyote, making art, and communing with nature. They are a gentle and spiritually evolved people (supposedly there isn't even a word for "war" in their native language) who have really never wanted anything from the outside world except to be left alone. They have rich and deeply-rooted religious beliefs that foster their connections with each other and with the natural world around them, but they don't have any religion!
|Huichol Yarn Painting|
I was first introduced to the Huichol culture many years ago through their artwork, which is now quite famous around the world and easily recognized. Making art is another spiritual activity for the Huichol, because most of their artwork is about their legends or the visions obtained from taking the sacred peyote. Although the Huichol make many kinds of art (even their vibrant traditional dress could be considered artwork) their most sought-after pieces are yarn paintings and beadwork, with their folk art themes and psychedelic colors.
|Beaded gourd offering bowls|
Because peyote is so central to the spiritual life of the Huichol, the annual pilgrimage to the desert of Wirikuta (the Huichol ancestral homeland) to gather peyote is one of the most important events of the year. Along the way the shaman(s) will guide the pilgrims in fasting, praying, leaving offerings at sacred sites, and observing various codes of conduct for the journey (such as refraining from alcohol, salt, sex, etc.) A secondary and more modern reason for the pilgrimage is so that the Huichol people can band together to pray and do ritual that will help to offset the harm currently being done to our world by human beings collectively. It is their hope that in this way, the Huichol can placate their gods, and by doing so, intercede on all of our behalf so that they do not become angry with us and destroy us all to cleanse the Earth.
|My version of Huichol beadwork (for sale on Etsy)|
I see in the Huichol tradition so many of the same ideals that I value as a Pagan, and believe that it would be criminal if this culture were to die out or become forgotten. If you would like to know more about the Huichol, you can read my article in the Magical Almanac, and click on any of the links below. Some have information about active campaigns aimed at helping to preserve Huichol culture and what you can do to help. Thanks for reading.