But it was not the ceremony itself that opened the door to making me look at life in a new way. It was what I heard the Huichol shaman whisper to the local shaman in Spanish, for him to translate out loud. I heard the words “listen to” and “sun.” Something about the juxtaposition of the celestial body, the sun, and the act of listening, made me pay attention. Listen to the sun? What did that mean?
The ceremonies and ancient ways of planting and harvesting are not simply undertaken for spiritual reasons; they are a necessity of life. Without a successful crop, the people will go hungry. This is one of reasons why the Huichol shamans are so revered, for without them to call the rain and in this way insure food for the people, the entire tribe is at risk of facing hard times.
The Huichol shaman then approached each of the guests, blessing us in his native language as he dipped a magnificent golden flower in water, and sprinkled it our heads and in our palms. When he had finished, he thanked everyone for coming and for being interested in his ways.
DEER – The spirit guide Kauyumari, who leads the shamans on their visionary pathways and teaches them how to gain their special knowledge. One of the most commonly seen motifs, the deer, maxa, in Huichol, often appear in male and female pairs, symbolizing the unity between men and women on their spiritual journey. Legends about the deer abound in Huichol culture. The deer mother is the guardian spirit, the important animal in Huichol shamanism. She holds tobacco gourds and corn plant, both of utmost importance for Huichol survival. The Huichols believe that deer give their lives willingly to those who hunt them in a sacred manner. After a deer hunt, the hunters have to perform purifying rituals for many days to insure that the animals are properly thanked for giving their lives to the benefit of the people.