The sacred cactus

Lophophora williamsii – Peyote

The peyote ceremony for the Huichol begins with their journey to find it. The land where this sacred plant grows is located hundreds of miles fromwhere they live in the remote desert of San Luis Potosi. The Huichol call this area “Wirikuta” and it is to this location that they make their annual pilgrimage to collect the sacred peyote. Once, this long journey was made by foot but today vehicles are used to travel to the general vicinity of where the plant grows.

Peyote is not an easy plant to find. It grows under bushes and its color, a gray-green hue, blends impeccably with the surrounding terrain. Sometimes peyote is ingested in order to find the plant and traditionally a shaman leads the group of people looking for it.

The quest to locate peyote is considered a hunt and the Huichol seek spiritual guidance from the blue deer, an animal that is a major deity in their cosmology. Bows and arrows are oftentimes carried by the Huichol while on their search for peyote, to symbolize the intent of the hunt. In addition to the blue deer, which is depicted frequently in their artwork, the other major deities found in the religion of the Huichol are maize, the eagle and the sacred plant, peyote.


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