The ancestors of the Huichol left their world,
Waletuanal for it was soon to be destroyed by a great flood. After five years of struggle they reached
the central platform from where a new land was expanding over the old. Watetuapa became the underworld, the ocean
and the seacoast.
The ancestors gathered in Wirikuta, center of the new world. Here we see how
they rooted themselves into Our Mother Moist Earth (Tatei Yurianaka) and into
all the Mothers of Water (Tateteima).
Everything comes and lives from water. The first ancestor to reach
Wirikuta was Elder Brother Dee-Tail (in red center). There he transformed into soul of the gods
(not seen). From his heart-thought
(iyari) emerged Tamatsi Kauyumarie (second deer head) spirit of the gods and
keeper of the words of all beings, and creator of the new order. Tamatsi Kauyumarie divided himself into
his second form, a man (beneath double headed deer in green).
The deer spirits' breath (iyaya) exparted Mother Earth (above center) to her
present size, and in turn her breath engendered our Mother Peyote, Tatei
Hikuri (green circle above Earth's head).
Her cactus flesh, when eaten by seekers of knowledge who are pure of
heart, reveals the words of Tamatsi Kauyumarie. Tamatsi Kauyumarie and Tamatsi Iaxakuaxi set roots into Mother
Earth (symbolized by two white antlers on her sides) as their soul life
(kupouri) begins to form in the new world (two flowers in the red
center). The tears of the two
antlered gods transform into Our Mother-who-is-like-his-tear (Yukaima; orange
human figure attached to the right of the oval). She is the original candle come to consecrate the divine being
of all the ancestors who reached Wirikuta.
She is the mother of seven different bee species (vertical band, left
of center) whose combs (hanging from the upper frame, right of band) were
formed into candles.
Two candles adorned with paper flowers flank Mother Earth. The ancestors who made it to Wirikuta died
to be reborn there as god-spirits, while their bodies changed into the
features of the earth. In this way,
each became a necessary being with definite functions in the life of the new
world, Wirikuta, where these became hallowed ground protected by the
gods. Thus it was that when Tamatsi
Kauyumarie stopped to speak with Wakuri Kitenie (yellow person below center)
he changed into one of his manifold aspects Kauyumarie Aikienie (red
person). These two gods became hills
forming the gates to Wirikuta, holy land of the gods, and to this day they
bar the entrance with their outstretched arms to all but the clean of
spirit. Both gods have a nierika
(small spoked circles by their heads) which is a sacred "mirror"
revealing truth behind appearance.
Nowadays Huichol pilgrims on their way to Wirikuta must confess all of their
carnal sins in this spot or they will be severely punished. This is where first time pilgrims entering
the Holy land with eyes, covered by a band, get a glimpse of the sacred
Kauyumarie Aikitenie watches over them with a large nierika in hand which
reflects faces of the sacred. Wakuri
(yellow person) cried as his spot is consecrated (spots behind his head
symbolize his tears). At the same
time, he proclaimed, “We will root ourselves in the earth and help put the
world in order. But how will we be
Through his headdress of deer antlers and ears, he appealed to Our Mother
Eagle Girl (Tatei Werika Wimara) flying above him. Then the third world of the Sky, Taheima, was born, and Mother
Eagle received the spirits of the gods into her abode. These are the two yellow flowers, one of
which hangs from her beak. In this
area of the nascent sky (loop around bird) three red dots signify that the
souls of devout Huichol also come to rest here. Our Mother Eagle Girl still bestows heart, memory and soul upon
us from hollow reeds in the sky (above bird). Four antlers were placed in the sky (attached to loop) so the
gods could watch over the earth.
Young Morning Star (Xurawetemai; person with green face, upper right)
appeared in the sky. He used the tip
of his arrow (insect-Iike figure before him) to strike a spark (wavy line
descending from "insect") and the spark ignited Grandfather Fire's
heart into a flame on the earth.
Fire's flaming heart is symbolized as a tilted green head without a
body (opposite side far left). In
this way Grandfather Fire (Tatewari; with flowing white hair) was reborn in
our world and his burning heart came to rest inside the tobacco-filled gourd
carried by all Huichol shamans, Grandfather Fire agreed with Tamatsi
Kauyumarie to keep vigil on the earth "to make sure everything is
complete". While Kauyumarie
looks to the right (green figure in red center) Grandfather Fire looks to the
left. Waves of communication pass
between Grandfather Fire's heel and Kauyumarie's nierika. Their constant vigil is expressed by two
arrows with antlers attached holding up a prayer mat (itari; above Fire's
The powers of Fire on the Earth are held in check by South Rain Spirit (right
corner) who sends down showers of rain (chains of descending dots). The arrows of Morning Star and of the rain
god are seen in the extreme top right corner. These are the ancestors who gave us our life. Watakame the first cultivator (below the
two arrows) survived the flood by following the advice of Great Grandmother
Growth (below him). Now he is in
direct contact with Elder Brother Deer Tail (attached to the left of
Watakame). As the Earth greens
(budding reed at bottom right), Watakame sows new life (four flowers) in
accordance with Deer Tails words.
Great Grandmother Growth (Tacutsi Nakawe) who precipitated the flood,
removes its waters from the area of growth (green patch) with two bowls. Great Grandmother Growth's will was not in
harmony with the other ancestors however, and so she prepared to leave Wirikuta. She delegated her responsibilities to Our
Mother Dew Soul (Hautsi Kupuri; seated left of Tacutsi). Dew Soul separated the lives of Great
Grandmother Growth, who is mother of all the gods, and of her companion
Watakame, from the rest of the gods in Wirikuta.
Watakame left for the sea coast to plant corn, and Tacutsi Nakawe disappeared
beneath the ocean. With the advent of
Our Mother Dew Soul, the division between the new world of the highlands,
called Heriepa, and the old, Watetuapa, was consumated. She is holy water and soul
personified. Her hand casts five
white dew-drops into a votive bowl.
An arrow denoting her power is seen to the right below her dress. Our
Mother Dew Soul is the essence of all water holes, which she feeds from a
large vein (red, below her). To her
left she nourished the large circular waterhole of
Our Mother-who-watches-over-us (Tatei Matinieri). lying near the entrance to
the desert holy land this waterhole is a nierika, for all being is reflected
on her. The deer snare (below her)
catches the holy game and is also a nierika, since its purpose is to trap
Kauyumarie's progeny. The snare has a
heart (orange tip) and a soul (the flower below). A reed (small post-like figure) grows strong with its
connection to Tatei Matinieri’s water, and to the snare with which the Blue
Deer's blood is captured.
These precious liquids that nourish the reed instill in it the power of
sacred arrows to hunt deer and convey the words of the gods. Indeed, the budding reed issues forth from
the combined heart/memory of the ancestor-gods. The Blue Deer, after being caught in the snare, is sacrificed
(upper left of painting) and is offered as sustenance for the gods. The blood
of the deer coagulates beneath his heads as he expires. Vulture Person
(Temaiku) stands over the deer whom he originally sacrificed. The various
designs, which mark the faces of the gods with their specific attributes
stream in different colors from the spiney bush (right of sacrifice). They
descend over Paritzikatsie, where the Lord of the Hunt and of the Deer
transformed into a hill. Paritikatsie is an altar of the gods who gather by
it (as five dots to the left) to be revealed by the pilgrims who come to find
The gods set the example for men to follow for when they set roots in the
earth they laid the foundations for mans life. The lives of the gods on earth (seven flowers bottom left) and
their roots (two wavy lines issued from below) took shape after the flood. A plant bearing flowers grows where the
gods dwell. The Mother of the Rains
and Lightning (Iiuariwame) stands the left of Aitsarikal who gave birth to
the first children.
In the corner stands the Mother of Fish and Rivers, and above her is Tatei
Our Mother Doe Soul, whose menstruation gives the earth fertility and who
bears Aitsarika. Our Mother Corn
(Tatei Niwetsika; above) is the daughter of Nuariwame. Her flesh feeds our bodies like the deer
nurtures her and the soil with his sacrifice. From her hang threads of corn silk. These were the gods who met in Wirikuta whose heart is the red
center in the beginning of time.
After they left their roots, we lay our own, walking and resting on
Mother Earth who gave us our soul.