Shaman's Mirror

by Hope MacLean






Foreword, by Peter T. Furst

vii to x


Sierra Madre

1 to 18








Gifts for the Gods



Sacred Yarn









Making Yarn



Colors Speak



Sacred Colors



Artist as Visionary



Deified Heart



Arte Ma`gico



Shamanic Art






Antient Aisthetics





Foreword, by Peter T. Furst

vii to x

p. vii pilgrimage

"There were seventeen Huichol peyoteros in our party ... on the left bank of the Ri`o Lerma. ... . .. Ramo`n Medina Silva, ... artist, ... led this pilgrimage, as he had in December 1966, when the later Barbara G. Myerhoff and I had the great good fortune of being the first anthropologists to witness the peyote hunt ... .

For Ramo`n ... had pledged five peyote pilgrimages to ... Tatewari, Our Grandfather, the ritual term for the old fire god ..., and [to] Tayaupa`, the Sun Father, and this would be his fifth, when he would have the right to call himself a mara>akame".

pp. vii-viii homeland

p. vii

"the sacred peyote desert in the north-central Mexican state of San Lui`s Potosi` ... Huichol call ..."Wirikuta," ... convinced that it was the homeland of their ancestors."

p. viii, fn. 1

"studies have shown this to be "real history" ... . See C. Jill Grady and Peter T. Furst, "Ethnoscience, Genetics, and Huichol Origins ...," Ethnohistory 58, no. 2 (Spring 2011):283-291."

p. ix ritual meditation by a female artist

"she was taking her time before returning to everyday consciousness, so much so that ... hostile witches ... might try to steal her soul while it was traveling out-of-body to Otherworlds. It was not the only time that she kept her companions waiting ... for the return of her soul, and on each occasion her companions saw to it that she was protected by a ring of "little Tatewaris." ...

Verdadera ... took her little yarn painting ... and ... placed it on the fire, watching intently as, in its reincarnation of art as prayer {for it was expected to be transmuted by the fire into a prayer and thus arrive at the abode of deities}, it was consumed by the flames ... .

{cf. the usual and customary practice among Taoists of burning printed paper prayers in order to convey such prayers to the deities}

To make sure that not only Tatewari ... but also the Sun Father received her gift, Ramo`n gestured ... in the direction of the summit of an extinct volcano towering over Wirikuta, from which, in the time of the ancestors, the sun was born in a fiery explosion."

p. x bees'-wax backing for yarn embroidery

"for the wax into which {while heated} the yarn is pressed, the Huichols much prefer that of the indigenous stingless bee. Of that little insect ..., there is a treasure house of sacred stories."



Sierra Madre

1 to 18

p. 3 visionary experiences by a Cree healer in Canada

"David E. Young was doing innovative research with a Cree healer named Russell Willier (Young et al. 1989). Willier was trying to describe how he healed, and his explanations included accounts of his visionary experiences with spiritual beings."

Young et al. 1989 = David E. Young; Grant C. Ingram; Lise Swartz : Cry of the Eagle. U of Toronto Pr.

pp. 4 & 7 Wic^ol, and other AmerIndian, artwork

p. 4

"Susana Eger ... had written [1992] about her then[-]husband, the Huichol artist Mariano Valadez."

p. 7

"The Haida refused to allow the use of sacred themes in their argillite carvings ... (Kaufmann 1976, 65-67). To the Pueblo tribes, weaving has kept its ceremonial significance, and has never become a commercial product. ... (Kent 1976, 65-67)"

Eger 1992 = Susana Eger & Mariano Valadez : Huichol Indian Sacred Rituals. Oakland (CA) : Dharma Enterprises.

Kaufmann 1976 = Carole N. Kaufmann : "Functional Aspects of Haida Argillite Carvings". In :- Nelson Graburn : Ethnic and Tourist Arts. Berkeley & Los Angeles : U of CA Pr. pp. 56-84.

Kent 1976 = Kate Peck Kent : "Pueblo ... Weaving Traditions ...". In : Graburn : Ethnic and Tourist Arts. pp. 85-101.

p. 9 visionary deer-heads, envisioned by the authoress (H.M.)

"gave me peyote, and I had a vision of multicolored deer heads falling ... out of the sky. They were preparing the way for a deer spirit who was on his way. ... Many years later, I told Eligio Carillo about my vision, and he .... said he had seen it too. He told me that the deer is a spirit called Tu:ki, who gives off ... tiny multicolored deer."

[cf. infra p. 52 (quoted from Zingg 2004, p. 32) "they began to encircle the deer ... . ... . ... a spray of foam sprang up. This was the deer, which was an enormous peyote. One side was green, one white, one red, another black, another yellow. ... These colors are the life ... and made them curers."]

Zingg 2004 = Robert Zingg (ed. by Jay C. Fikes; Phil C. Weigand; Acelia Garci`a de Weigand) : Huichol Mythology. Tucson : U of AZ Pr.

pp. 9-10 visionary moose- spirits of the Dene (Atabaska) in Canada

p. 9

"Years after ..., I discovered a similar description of multicolored spirits of the deer family in a book on Dene shamanism by Robin Ridington (1988, 103). A dreamer was describing the moose spirits that live under the ground around springs where moose like to congregate.

p. 10

[quoted :] ... those moose under the ground are lonesome. ...

Even if it is frozen with ice, they just break through. ...

They are white with red eyes or

some of them are just blue when they come out. ...

Some of them are really blue,

some of them white, and

some of them pure yellow." .

Ridington 1988 = Robin Ridington : Trail to Heaven. Vancouver (BC) : Douglas & Mcintyre.

pp. 11-12 vision by an anthropologist of a corpse drumming in Africa; vision by an anthropologist of a dead girl

p. 11

[quoted from Grindal 1983, p. 68] "From both the corpse and the goka [shamans] came flashes of light ... . ... Then I felt my body become rigid. ... Stretching from the ... fingers and mouths of the goka, strands of fibrous light played upon the head, fingers, and toes of the dead man. The corpse, shaken by spasms, then rose to its feet, spinning and dancing in a frenzy. ... The talking drums on the roof of the dead man's house began to glow with a light so strong that it drew the dancers to the rooftop. The corpse picked up the drumsticks and began to play."

"While attending a lecture by a Me'tis healer, Jean-Guy Goulet (1998, 178-179) had a vision of a Dene girl who had died; after he described his vision to Dene

p. 12

consultants, he found that they were much more forthcoming in sharing their own visionary experiences.

{They (and indigenous peoples generally) have become aware that most persons of European extraction are materialists hostile to any mention of (and especially to any description of personal encounre with) the praeternatural; so that they warn each other not to describe such encountres of their own to any person of European extraction, unless and until that outsider shall have demonstrated a personal commitment to the same.}

David Young and Jean-Guy Goulet (1994, 328-329) call on anthropologists to develop ... such experiences."

Grindal 1983 = Bruce T. Grindal : "Into the Heart of Sisala Experience". J OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 39, no. 1:60-80.

Goulet 1998 = Jean-Guy Goulet : Ways of Knowing ... among the Dene Tha. Vancouver : U of BC Pr.

Young & Goulet 1994 = David E. Young & Jean-Guy Goulet (edd.) : Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters : the Anthropology of Extraordinary Experience. Peterborough (ON) : Broadview.

p. 12 visionary deer, envisioned by the authoress (H.M.) at a Wic^ol caerimony ; likened by the authoress to a spirit-antelope at envisioned a San caerimony

"while participating in a ceremony, I suddenly saw a deer standing in the middle of the circle, facing the shaman."

[p. 253, n. 1:6 : "Fagan (1998, 65) cites a San shaman in southwest Africa who drew people's attention to ... during a trance dance, ... a spirit eland that was standing in the semidarkness beyond the fire."]

Fagan 1998 = Brian Fagan : From Black Land to Fifth Sun. Reading (MA) : Helix.

pp. 13-14 possible quaestions for verification of genuineness of shamanic convincements

p. 13

"if a person reports seeing a deer spirit, the researcher may ask what kind of deer, what it said or did, what it meant to the person, and so on."

{These quaestions might be answerable only if the encountre were sufficiently close and long-lasting. Though I saw a deer-spirit myself once (the head of a deer, peering briefly around a corner in our apartment in DC, in the mid-1970s), I could hardly reply directly to such quaeries. I could only surmise that my having read of Rama-ayana deer-god MARIC^a, combined with my having noticed /MARIC^i/ as Tarahumara word for 'deer', induced a spirit-deer to put in a brief appearance.}

"Does the person live according to shamanic principles? ...

p. 14

For example, does he or she have a clear and consistent explanation of the activities of deities? Is visionary experience a regular part of family discourse? Do people dream and then talk about it with their families in the morning?"

p. 14 informants' ready willingness to confide in anthropologists

"the artists ... were also willing to tell me about visionary or dream experiences. The key factor was that

I asked for an explanation and was willing to listen to the response ... without interrupting. ... Sometimes I asked artists why they were telling me certain things, and their answer was ... : "Because you asked." I have concluded that a sincere and interested questioner will ... be given an intelligent and comprehensive response."

{In the past, anthropologists risked being dismissed from their universities (in addition to their results remaining unpublished by those universities) if they were to inquire of their informants too much information about the informant's attitudes about deities. But by now (as a result of a worldwise liberalizing trend in politics), the universities' restraints have been relaxed.}

"Indigenous consultants have sometimes confided dreams and visionary experiences to anthropologists. ... As a result, accounts of visionary experience occur ..., such as when an ethnographer wrote down what a shaman or other visionary said."

p. 15 instances of anthropologists' records of informants' dreams and visions

"Ruth Underhill (1938, 1939, 1979) ... recorded remarkable material about Papago dreams and visions.

The Yaqui ... have been very open in describing ... a spiritual flower world to ... Muriel Painter (1986) and Edward Spicer (1980)."

Underhill 1938 = Ruth M. Underhill : Singing for Power : the Song Magic of the Papago Indians. Berkeley & Los Angeles : U of CA Pr.

Underhill 1939 = Ruth M. Underhill : Social Organization of the Papago Indians. NY : COLUMBIA U CONTRIBUTIONS TO ANTHROPOLOGY, 30.

Underhill 1979 = Ruth M. Underhill : Papago Woman. NY : Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Painter 1986 = Muriel Thayer Painter (ed. by Spicer & Kaemlein) : With Good Heart : Yaqui Beliefs and Ceremonies. Tucson : U of AZ Pr.

Spicer 1980 = Edward Spicer : The Yaquis. Tucson : U of AZ Pr.

pp. 16-17 attitudes of deities about colors

p. 16

Authoress (H.M.)'s introduction to the principal male informant (E.C.V.) :- "my credentials, including my letter of introduction from the Instituto Nacional Indigenista" he "read ... carefully ... . ... He gave me some of my most important clues to the inner meaning ... . ... At the end of our interview, he described a dream he had had several times over the past week. He saw a woman in white walking up the path to visit him.

p. 17

When he saw me coming -- ... I was dressed all in white -- he turned to his wife and said, "Watch what will happen. This is the one I was dreaming about."

{The dream-deities had been so much impressed with the authoress (H.M.) that they sent a dream of introduction about her to him, so that he would know that she was favored by the deities -- so favored on account of her willingness to publish about visions which she herself had seen (as well as visions by others) of divine beings.}

His dream was the reason he decided to answer my questions. ... Since then [he] has given me an enormous amount of information on Huichol philosophy ... . We have discussed the nature of the soul, shamanic {supernatural} healing, and the inner structure of {praeternatural} energy in the Huichol shamanic universe."

{In the past, both praecognitive dreams by informants and metaphysical expositions by informants were not tolerated by universities (and had to be suppressed from any anthropologists' reports, for no university press would publish either, while the anthropologist would be dismissed from the university). But recently, university-restrictions on such affairs have been diminished.}

p. 16, Fig. 1.3 attitudes of deities about colors

"The Huichol say that the colors in their clothes replicate the colors of the clothes the gods wear. The gods are pleased when they see humans wearing the same kinds of clothes that they do."


Hope MacLean : The Shaman's Mirror : Visionary Art of the Huichol. U of TX Pr, Austin, 2012.