Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians.
Myerhoff, Barbara G. (1974).
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Description: First edition,
285 pages. Symbol, Myth and Ritual Series.
Contents: Foreword by
Victor Turner, 6 chapters, illustrations, preface, bibliography,
main goal," writes the author, "is to help fulfill Ramon's
most cherished wish-that of presenting and preserving something
of the power and beauty of his customs, his symbols, his stories,
so that one can see why despite all the physical hardships and
privations of his people, he maintains the conviction that `it
is not a bad thing being a Huichol.'" Attractively illustrated,
and filled with information about Huichol culture, this book conveys
the complex meaning and richness of the Huichols' religion and
world view. (cover)
These losses require a moral explanation, an answer
which realigns the "ought" and the "is." A
religion can provide such an answer by postulating some sin because
of which man forfeited a privileged past, thus granting assurance
that life as it is deserved; whether good or bad, it is understandable.
Or an afterlife may be conceived of as compensating for the sufferings
of the present transient and inconsequential reality. A third
alternative is that manifested in Huichol religion-denying the
gratuitous and cruel losses by refusing to relinquish the past.
Their most precious religious heritage-their beginnings-is idealized
and recovered. Even if only for a little while, by means of the
peyote hunt, Paradise may be regained. Through the deer-maize-peyote
complex, the deer and a life dedicated to hunting the deer is
still a fact of present-day life rather than a fading, shabby
memory chewed over by old men at the end of the day.
The Huichols are aware that they are destitute while
outsiders prosper, and their religion also manages this moral
paradox. In spite of great privation, they do not see themselves
as victims of blind chance or of the inexorable forces of history.
With rare confidence the Huichols move through the world, acknowledging
no one as better or master, and this although it is hard to imagine
a people with less actual control over their fate or more at the
mercy of forces beyond their power and comprehension. Yet they
pity those who live a life different from their own, so sure are
they that their present life is beautiful and significant, just
as their past life was perfect. A great part of this conviction
may be attributed to the deer-maize-peyote symbol complex. The
deer as the past life of perfection, the maize as the mundane,
human dimension, and the peyote as the spiritual, private, and
free part of life merge-the mundane is elevated and refined by
its association with the divine, and the gods themselves become
accessible, knowable, and even mundane. Thus the realm of the
senses is refined while the spiritual is made tangible. Because
of the contact between these realms the dichotomy between them
disappears. (pages 262-263)
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP