Jesús González, shaman
Beyond Peyote: Kieri and the Huichol Deer Shaman is anchored by the biography of a Huichol shaman who did not depend upon peyote, a manifestation of Tamatsi (Our Elder Brother). Instead, at age seven Jesús González unwittingly ingested psychoactive honey made from the nectar of a more potent divine plant, Kieri, in the genus Solandra. Eating such singular honey allowed González to discern that the spirit of Kieri—revered by Huichol as their “Elder Brother”—was selecting him to serve as a shaman. His detailed description of seeing and hearing Elder Brother’s invitation to become a shaman provides a glimpse into the world experienced by Huichol shamans. Some 45 years later, Jesús González and his second wife became sick, a sign they were being punished for disregarding the gift Elder Brother had bestowed upon him. To atone for failing to heed the shamanic call of his childhood Jesús and his wife began performing rituals to honor Ancestor-Deities controlling natural phenomena vital to Huichol survival. Doing so enabled Jesús and his wife to regain their health. Jesús soon began healing his relatives, after being scolded by his second wife.
González offers abundant information explaining how he treated and diagnosed diseases. He also clarifies how his father and grandfather became shamans. To provide a complete account of Huichol shamanism González chose me to interpret and publish his all-inclusive narrative of the divine birth and life of the first Huichol Deer Shaman. His entertaining narrative of Elder Brother’s birth, from a pollinated Kieri flower, transformed into a boy because of a childless couple’s prayers and offerings, illustrates why Huichol shamans should practice compassion, integrity and truthfulness, virtues indispensable to effectively serve their people. Beyond Peyote cites ample evidence supporting the conclusion that although Huichol venerate both peyote and Kieri as incarnations of Elder Brother, Kieri is perceived as the more powerful and ancient entheogen.
In chapters 7-9 I examine chronic problems stemming from extreme poverty prevalent among those traditional Huichol still inhabiting their rugged mountain and canyon homeland surrounding the Chapalagana River Valley in northwest Mexico. Exemplary in this regard is the involvement of some Huichol in small scale marijuana cultivation, dating to the mid 1980s. Murders and corruption associated with that lucrative but illegal enterprise are revealed in my detailed review of the 1998 murder of Phil True, the American journalist killed by two Huichols whose illegal cash crop was burned, just one year before they murdered True as he hiked alone through their territory. I also document Carlos Castaneda’s influence in stimulating True and many other Americans to visit the Huichol, with the hope they can locate and perhaps become shamans. Buy this book from Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-peyote-kieri-and-the-huichol-deer-shaman-jay-fikes/1140004450
GOING BEYOND THE MAINSTREAM LED TO WRITING BEYOND PEYOTE
Some five years after earning my doctorate in anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1985 I came to value traditional Huichol (Wixárika) and Native American spirituality more than anthropological theories. This "unorthodox" preference intensified as I gradually moved beyond the anthropological mainstream, through rigorous collaboration with four Huichol shamans and Reuben Snake, a Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) leader & Roadman (ritual leader) in the Native American Church (NAC). While my understanding of Huichol spirituality unfolded through continuing ethnographic research, enhanced by having several extraordinary experiences during their rituals and during pilgrimages to sacred sites (Fikes 2011), I came to recognize that perhaps one-third of publications written prior to 1979 about the Huichol by American anthropologists and their supporters were tainted by ethnocentric, superficial and sometimes defamatory statements. This conflict between what I was learning from my shaman-mentors versus the academic/popular representation of the Huichol led me to debunk Dr. Carlos Castaneda and defend the religious freedom of members of the NAC. Consistent with these efforts, my latest book Beyond Peyote: Kieri and the Huichol Deer Shaman serves as an antidote to the defamatory, yet orthodox academic notion that the entheogen called Kieri is evil. Beyond Peyote includes the biography of my shaman-mentor, Jesús González, & confirms that Huichol have revered two psychoactive species of Kieri (in the genus Solandra) since before “peyote pilgrimages” became an annual obligation for Wixarika temple officers. To learn why hearsay about Kieri published by three American anthropologists (Zingg, Furst and Myerhoff) created an obstacle to recognizing Kieri as an entheogen download my free essay here
2020 Wixarika population
Courtesy John P. Schmal
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