Religious Essay Assignment on Pre-Christian Europe and Celtic theology

Outsiders call it peyote. The Huichol an indigenous tribe in western Mexico call it hikuri. And
they teach their children to use it. While most societies outlaw this consciousness-altering drug,
Mexico permits the tribe to use it as the central experience of their religion. The Huichol believe
peyote leads to the spirit world. To get there they must set out on a pilgrimage, one that starts
with the legend. At the dawn of time a Huichol hunter stalked a blue deer, he shot straight but the
animal fled across the desert. In its tracks cactus plants budded. Ever since the Huichol have
visited this sacred desert collecting peyote from the cactus. It is harvest season, tomorrow the
tribe will travel to the distant desert. Parents will explain the journey to children who will taste
the holy cactus for the first time. First, they must fast. And tonight, as with every night on the
road, they will go without sleep. Before entering the land of the blue deer, minds and bodies
must be ready for the sacred trip. The quest takes the Huichol far from their homes in the remote
Sierra Madres to the Chihuahua desert in western Mexico. The tribes shaman, Don Jesus, hopes
to pass on this tradition and its rituals his children, 7 year old Francisco and baby Jesusita. The
Huichol once made the journey on foot, a trip that took 45 days. Now they live in a world of
property lines and must travel by highway, many leaving their village for the first time. 3 days
into the journey they reach their destination. Pure in mind, chastened in body, the pilgrims
prepare to taste the food that summons the gods. With symbolic arrows the Huichol reenact their
creation story. In this ritual the cactus acheives godhood, the incarnation of the mystical blue
deer. The Huichol hunt as if for a wild animal, they believe only the pure of mind can see the
deers new form. The pilgrims easily find the first peyote buttons, perhaps heralding a good crop.
Though they gather a years worth of peyote, the Huichol treat the land with care. They know it
takes these slow growing succulents 4 years to get as big as a dime. In his father’s footsteps, Jose
Luis, quickly learns the art of gathering buttons along with the art of being Huichol. [Translator
for the Father] My son is learning the songs and legends of our people. We are not going to live
forever. As soon as one grows old or one dies, but your path continues through your children,
that is how we live on. And that is why I bring him as a child to learn from the land. [Narrator] Fathers and sons receive the first dose. As their parents did, adults share the peyote with their
children. True visions demand that the pilgrim chew long into the night. The peyote takes hold.
Their sense send them on a journey, not across the land, but inside their heads. Guided by the
shaman, they enter the spirit world and encounter their god. The path of peyote is not a
boulevard of cheap thrills. Their ritual recollects the creation of the world, a time of beauty and
peace. Their offerings have pleased the deer god. Until they return for the next harvest, he
bestows his blessing