Citation: Leo. "Wirikuta Calling: An Experience with Peyote (exp2136)". Erowid.org. Jun 26, 2000. erowid.org/exp/2136
Nearly a decade ago, I first journeyed to Wirikuta, the sacred land of peyote. The name Wirikuta has similar meaning for the Huichol people of Mexico as does our word heaven. Members of this tribe have been ceremonially re-enacting the peyote 'hunt' for as long as they can trace their origins. So it was that my interest in peyote and peyote people led me to this desolate, but magical desert valley.
Traveling to Mexico was definitely not in my plans that fall. Work, finances, and family made it a pretty sure bet that any traveling I did would be done close to home. Enter Prem Das, an American married into the Huichol tribe who at that time was based in Tepic, Nayarit. He had originally contacted me by phone after reading an article in a popular magazine which I had provided information for. The article had been about peyote and its legal use in Arizona.
Prem Das had been an avid student of peyote for several years. He let me know that if I shared his interest, I should make my way to the sacred valley of the Huichol as the next step in my own relationship with the sacrament. He listened patiently to all my reasons for staying home and being too busy to be bothered with spiritual travel adventures. One day, while visiting my home, Prem Das pulled an airline ticket out of his bolsa. (shoulder bag) It was my ticket to Puerto Vallarta, flying with him and his wife to go visit their Huichol family. I was very happily surprised, but also disappointed with myself for knowing that I couldn't just pack up and hop on a plane within 48 hours, no matter how much I might like to. Life was way too complicated, and I, way too previously occupied for that. I politely declined his generous offer.
That night we attended a peyote ceremony co-hosted by myself and members of a local artisan community. Prem Das was the roadman for the evening. I mentioned to my artist acquaintances the airline ticket and my inability to accept it. Out of friendship and the concern for Prem Das's wasted purchase, I asked my artist friend, Sharon, to travel to Mexico in my place. She somewhat hesitantly agreed after hearing out my situation. I had not however, counted on the working of the spirit of peyote...
The medicine was very strong that night. During the peak of the ceremony, while my body sat apparently content, my inner being was in great turmoil. I sensed my life as I knew it had reached its natural conclusion. All my roads were leading nowhere. Life for me, had become a charade. The driving tone of the water drum and Prem Das's chanting, normally very comforting, now seemed to stir my pot of doubt and insecurity until I could feel my spirit boiling over and evaporating into emptiness. Nothing in the world could at that moment have quenched my thirst for meaning, my hunger for purpose. Nothing, that is, except the hand of God.
In my mind's eye I saw a weeping child (me) surrounded by empty space. Into that loneliness, a white, silvery eagle suddenly appeared. It swept down towards my vacant self, coming in for the kill, I thought. After all, my life felt more corpse-like than alive. As the sharp talons opened to grab its human prey, I suddenly felt the lifting of my self pity and perhaps even fear. I was glad just to be able to let go and die in peace. Unexpectedly, I began to feel the eagle warm and bless me rather than scattering my soul to the void. A physical and spiritual blessing radiated from the eagle into my body, beginning where its formerly frightening talons now gently touched my head. I felt the peace of heart and mind that only God's Spirit can bring. Instantly, I realized that it had been too many years since I had fully bathed in God's healing light, too long running on my own knowledge and neglecting the daily blessings of Spirit.
I awoke from my vision with tears streaming down my face. I looked across the fire as the drum beat on and saw my friend Sharon watching me, smiling. I spent the rest of the night in meditative prayer, thanking God for the simple miracles of life.
In the morning, everyone who had participated in the ceremony visited with each other and shared some of their experience. I sought out Sharon to thank her for standing in for me and accepting Prem Das's gift. 'I want you to see what I drew last night around the fire' she said.
She opened up her sketchpad which she often carried, artist that she was. With an understanding smile she showed me a pencil drawing of a white eagle coming to rest on the shoulders of a kneeling man. 'That's what I saw when I looked at you last night, when you wept.' she said. 'I think you should go with Prem Das yourself.'
Almost in shock, I agreed. That was when Wirikuta welcomed me into itself and began to shape a new creature from an old lump of clay.
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