Cosmic art and huichol rituals: the peyote.

Cosmic art and huichol rituals: the peyote.

Huichol art is the representation of the cosmogony of their religion. This is, their textiles, paintings, figures and drawings are the visions that huicholes see when they ingest the peyote, a plant that contains highly psychoactive substances, such as mescaline, from which its famous psychedelic effects are originated. However, more than reducing the ingestion of the plat as a banal source to evade reality, it is necessary to comprehend that ingesting peyote is part of am essential ritual for the behavior, the life and the artistic manifestations of this people.

“The origin of such respected art is found in the nierika, a votive tablet made of dyd wool, in which the huicholes embodied their contacts with the divine through the ingestion of peyote…”

This consumption is made at the end of the most important ritual of this culture: the pilgrimage to Wirikuta, sacred place located in the middle of the dessert of San Luis Potosí, a state in the central region of Mexico. It is there where men may find the peyote, that helps them get in touch with the gods, and may also help to keep balance on Earth, the harmony with nature. An ancestral search of visions that means an induction to adult life and to cosmic transcendence.

The blue deer, known as Kayumari, is the oldest brother of the huicholes, the one who knows their destiny and who shows them the place where they must carry out the hunt, take the peyote and consummate the rite for the encounter with the gods. To find it, one of the most experienced jicareros (name given to the pilgrims), must “find” him (the deer), looking carefully the horizon, where the deer will surrender to be hunted and will turn into the first peyote.

To understand this ritual, we need to mention that the religion of this people is animist, this is, the forces of nature and the living beings are venerated as representations of the divine. In this way, a man can turn into an animal or a vegetable, because they themselves can do it, because they are also men. Men can also turn into one of their ancestors, and when becoming the representation of the gods, (animals or forces of nature), they can even become gods.

The cleansing of the body and the soul is vital for the visions and the search of the peyote be successful. This is why, on their way to Wirikuta, pilgrims keep a waking state and a constant fast. This is one of the sacrifices that must be made to accomplish the mission, besides avoiding any sexual contact five days before the end of the rite. This is how they reach an optimal state to be able to contact the gods, the ancestors and become one of them.

Similarly, a collective experience eases the gathering of visions. The sum of individual visions of every person helps build the whole image that will be represented in their artistic works: vessels, dishes, spoons, wooden animals, embroideries and jewelry on which they create drawings of many forms.

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[1] « México desconocido »

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