A Bit More About the Huichol Tradition
The Huichol people are a small indigenous tribe of approximately 15,000 people living in the high mountains and rugged terrain in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico.
The Huichol language is Utoaztecan. There are some cultural connections with the Ute, Tarahumara and Cora peoples.
The Huichol call themselves Virarika- the Healing People. To them, all of life is sacred, nothing is taken for granted.
Their commitment to this perspective and way of life has helped them survive and in many ways thrive for thousands of years despite modern pressures.
Some consider them to be the last tribe in North America to have resisted acculturation and survived.
It seems that maintaining their practical and effective traditions is what has helped them thrive.
This includes their visionary artwork, healing traditions, tribal structure, ceremonies and pilgrimages throughout the year that feed their relationship with all of life.
Hence, they can be seen as one of our world’s treasures and a people to be grateful for and to learn from.
Huichol life is a continuous cycle of ritual and devotional practices that help them stay connected with the divine forces or beings that watch over them, their families, communities and the rest of the world.
Their practices are for the greater good of all.
Their growing of food, artwork, pilgrimages, ceremonies, songs and healing work feed the relationship with their extended Divine family: Grandfather Fire (Tatewari), Brother deer who sang the world into being (Kayumari), Grandmother Growth (Takutsi Nakawe), Mother earth (Yurienaka), Father Sun (Tau), Grandmother Ocean, (Tateiharamara) and others.
Corn is life for the Huichol. So, the yearly cycle of preparing the fields, planting, growing, and harvesting the corn in what most would considered inhospitable terrain is surrounded by gratitude, ritual and ceremony, as is all of Huichol life.
Similar to the cycle of planting and harvesting, Huichol art including; beadwork, weaving, embroidery, and yarn painting reinforce their view of beauty, light heartedness and connection with all of life.
The artist receives designs from their vision or dreams and expresses them in their artwork. Their visionary and beautifully detailed art is prayer and a reminder of our connection to the gods and the natural world.
Going on pilgrimages and participating in ceremonies are important ways that the Huichol develop and maintain connection with the Gods, community and their place in the world.
The Huichols go on pilgrimages to sacred places in nature where they bring special gifts also known as offerings in accordance with the original instructions.
This is a way to effectively build relationship with these sacred places and ask for help and support for themselves, others and the world.
For the Huichols, receiving guidance and healing from a shaman or mara’akames is common and necessary for healing and to help restore and maintain balance in the fabric of life.
Both men and woman may become shamans but it requires a calling, apprenticeship and initiation.
In preparation for initiation into this medicine path, the apprentice goes through many years of special preparations including making many pilgrimages and offerings to various sacred places.
This humbles the apprentice, quiets their mind and open their heart to the Divine presence available to call upon in their healing work.
Pilgrimage deepens our love and respect for the natural world that watches over us and that we are part of.
There are obviously many ways for each of us to open our hearts that don’t require pilgrimage.
For some it is through prayer, singing, art, being of service, laughter, play or just being present.
Pilgrimage is but one way of remembering and opening the heart to everything. Pilgrimage is, however, one of the requirements for training and initiation into the Huichol shamamic healing tradition as it provides a source for our healing work.
Marakame or healers of this shamanic tradition ignite the healing healthcare process by removing blocks that interfer with a person’s connection or capacity to connect.
Something as simple as unexpressed or amplified fear or not being able to truly see what is around us can keep us disconnected from living in balance and wholeness.
It seems that when we open our hearts to the natural world, when we feel and experience being a part of the Divine world, a doorway for healing, including physical, opens.
From here we can begin to live a more balanced and connected life.