My Wixarika relations (Huichol) are known for their ceremonial relationship with peyote. The mythology and meaning of their spiritual and cultural reliance on the medicine is well documented in ethnographical literature. At the heart of their origin story is the relationship of the deer with peyote.
The essence of this living mythology involves the spiritual elder brother Kauyumari, the blue deer. Sometimes thought of as a trickster, Kauyumari led the original godlike humans into this world, leaving “flowers” (peyote) in his tracks through Wirikuta, the peyote desert. In this way, the forgetful humans, with amnesia of their divine origin, may find themselves again by following the little deer. Nice trick.
They not only follow the deer into the desert, they hunt it. For this reason their annual pilgrimage to collect the sacred medicine is literally a hunt. The first peyote is ceremonially shot with an arrow and its meat divided among the pilgrims. The roots, considered to be the bones, are left in the ground to grow and provide “game” for the future.
For “sophisticated” people, the idea of a deer also being a cactus and leaving sacred flowers in its hoof prints doesn’t sound like anything more than a cute and fanciful story. An animal obviously can’t be a plant too. Or can it?
To me, the story of the blue deer says peyote is not just a plant, and deer and humans are not only animals. Likewise, this is not just a story, it is a relationship. It is a relationship of love, and caring, and gratitude. Acknowledging the divine source of the elements that sustain our lives is a grateful attitude we cannot afford to neglect. The often discussed life cheapening effects of westernized runaway capitalism is based on not honoring these relationships. This is not just some cute story time mythological mysticism, it is practical reality.
Deer is food for the body. Peyote is food for the soul. Deer and peyote are food for the body and soul. The conscious sacrifice made of their lives in exchange for ours is the way we acknowledge our place in Creation.
This morning I paid my daily respects to the medicine growing just outside my door. The sun had yet to rise as I said good morning to the beautiful friends who greet me early each day. I heard a rustle in the grass just a few feet away. There was a young buck, a blacktail deer, looking at me with deep, medicine eyes.
Oh yes, good morning! We all heard that in our hearts. This is the medicine looking at me, us looking at each other. This is me knowing I’m safe here. This is all of us knowing we are.
Oh Creator, thank you for this beautiful day. Keep me in your gratitude and the understanding of your Creation’s beautiful relation to us and all. Open our hearts and our eyes so that our understanding of your sacred web of life may bless our lives.
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