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Observations placeholder

Tree, Isabella - Sliced Iguana – 04 The ceremony



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Gradually, as the day closed, the light grew dimmer in the cave and Juancho began to stir. He tied on his mara'akeme headband and began to daub the rocks with yellow spots from a paste made with the uxa root. Then he laid out a ground-cloth for the altar on a flattish piece of rock midway between the fire and the sacred spring.

With no perceptible change of mood, no ominous announcement or deliberate change of gear, the secular shifted to the ceremonial.

Sacred objects began to materialize from Juancho's bags: a yarn painting; bundles of candles; maize cobs in the five sacred colours; iicara containing a sacred crystal, the 'singing stone of the deer'; other gourds containing water and chocolate for the deer god; the plaited oblong baskets - or takwatsi - containing the shamanic muvieris and other power-objects. Out came the little mirror, a symbol that brought me back momentarily to the Mayan church of San Juan Chamula, to the Purepecha burial chambers in Tzintzuntzan, to the Toltec god 'Smoking Mirror' and Quetzalcoatl's expulsion from Mexico.

Finally, in the centre, in pride of place, Juancho installed the head of the deer, its brow and antlers crowned with flowers.

Gradually everyone came up to add their offerings - circular tablas of dancing deer; votive gourds and arrows; coins bearing the national emblem, that powerful talisman of the Mexican eagle and snake; colourful woven shoulder bags; bracelets and necklaces; neckerchiefs - things they were asking to be blessed and empowered by the gods.

Even now, there was no self-consciousness, no sepulchral hush.

For the Huichol there was no separation between daily and spiritual life, between the sacred and profane; only degrees of religious intensity. There was no church door, no cut-off point, no time or place for stifling a laugh or talking in whispers.  Humour and irreverence would not offend the gods or make light of the ceremony……………….

The source of the experience

Tree, Isabella

Concepts, symbols and science items


Activities and commonsteps