RA55 Col. 65 mins.
Director: Peter T. Furst

This film is about a pivotal event in the religious and ritual life of the Huichol Indians of Mexico. It shows a pilgrimage led by a shaman to obtain peyote, a hallucinogenic drug used for religious purposes which is present in a particular type of cactus. Huichol peyote ritual is believed to have much in common with pre-Colombian Mexican ritual.

During the pilgrimage, the participants symbolically return to their origins and play the parts of their own ancestors. The quest for peyote is equated with a deer hunt and the cactus is hunted with bow and arrow. The ritual sequence includes the blindfolding of the novice peyote pilgrims and their subsequent passage through a symbolic gateway, ceremonies at desert springs known as 'Where our Mother lives I, curing rituals, the actual hunt of the cactus with bow and arrow, the communal eating of the peyote, all-night ceremonies and the final ritual dissolving the bond of the peyote hunters. The narration of the film is adapted from a text dictated by the shaman who leads the pilgrimage and so the participants, point of view enters into the film far more directly than is the case in most anthropological films.

P.T. Furst, 1967. 'Huichol Conceptions of the Soul'. Folklore Americas, Vol.27, No.2, pp 39-106.

1968. The Parching of the Maize: An Essay on the Survival of Huichol Ritual. Acta Etlinographica et Linguistica, Nr.14, (ed. Engelbert Stiglmayr), Vienna.

1972. 'TO Find our Life: Peyote among the Huichol Indians of Mexico'. In P.T. Furst (ed.), Flesh of the Gods: The Ritual

Use of Hallucinogens.Allen and Unwin, London.

W. La Barrey 1970. Review of the film. American Anthropologist, Vol,72, p.1201.

B.G. Myerhoff, 1974. Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians. Cornell University Press.