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The Huichol Indians

The Huichol Indians are a small tribe of approximately 15,000 living in central Mexico near Ixtlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains. They are said to be the last tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions. Huichol shamans and healers practice today as they have for generations. In part, their survival is due to the focus of their traditions.

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Huichol Shamanism

Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition and moreover, a way of life. Huichol shamanism honors all of creation, especially the spirit of nature- the power of the animals, the winged ones, the minerals, and plants. This shamanic tradition involves healing and empowerment through personal transformation and direct experience as well as the healing of our families, communities and our environment. By following the shaman’s path, we can truly learn to inhabit the earth and our being with gentleness and respect.

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Huichol Ceremonies

The Huichol way of life is rich with ceremonial practices. There are specific ceremonies for the four seasons, which are intended to bring balance and harmony to each individual, the community and all of life. The ceremonies are a time for the people to come together and focus on the spirit world, this normally hidden universe that runs parallel to our world. The shamans work to bridge these two worlds in order to bring “kupuri” or life force into the bodies and souls of the people. The Huichol say that this in turn imparts good health and good luck to all.

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Sacred Objects

The Huichols use many sacred objects both for ceremonial practices, as well as in their every day life. Most of these objects are woven into their intricate mythology. Below you will find a few examples of these Sacred Objects and a description of how they are used. Hopefully this will give you an insight into the daily life, both practical and spiritual, of this indigenous culture.

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Rattle

In the Huichol language, the rattles are called “kaitsa.” This translates to “sacred voice” or “voice of the spirit.” The rattles are used in many ceremonies as a tool in which to bring oneself closer to the ancient ones and the spirit world. Studies at Stanford University, among other places, have proven the affects of rattles and drums on the human physique. These studies showed a shift in consciousness, which directly relates to the Huichol’s use of these ancient objects.

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Traditional Huichol Drum

Traditional Huichol drums stand on three legs, representing the healing of the individual, the community and all of life. They are carved from the wild Brazil wood. Once the frame is completed, a deerskin is stretched over the top of the drum. The drums can be heated using a lit bamboo torch held under the skin.

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Planting and Harvest

In the late spring, the Huichol Indians commence in the planting of their staple food, corn. The men clear the fields by hand, using machetes and then use digging sticks to make small holes in the soil, where they drop a few kernels of corn and lastly they cover over all these small burrows created for the kernels.

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Huichol Visionary Art

The Huichol Indians are a culture steeped in artistic expression. From the very clothes they wear to the offerings they leave at sacred places of power, there life is like a canvas onto which they paint their visions and dreams. The tribe is famous for its beautiful embroidery and weaving, as well as intricate beadwork, including jewelry and detailed sculptures. The one of a kind “Yarn Paintings” have become well know throughout the world.

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Huichol Cosmology

The Huichol culture has an extremely rich cocmology that has been passed on from generation to generation. It is an oral tradition in which the stories of creation are told over and over again. These stories, believed by the Huichols to be as true as any scientific text, incorporate many elemental gods and goddesses, animal sprits and spiritual practices

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Frequently Asked Questions