Women of Valor

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Anthropologists/Peyoteros

Barbara Myerhoff, 1935 - 1985

"As mentioned earlier, other anthropologists who worked among the Huichols did not undertake this journey, possibly because there is no place for nonparticipants in the rituals, it was my impression that Ramon solved the problem of what to do with outsiders only after we were en route to Wirikuta [the sacred land where peyote was gathered]. Impulsively, it seemed, he invited Furst [another anthropologist] and me to drink Holy Water and view the Sacred Land along with the other pilgrims just as we approached Wirikuta. From then on, barriers between 'us' and 'them' faded and our participation was profound and exacting. We were no longer exempt from the ritual prescriptions and proscriptions which applied to the other pilgrims."

"Nor were we given the privilege of attending to our work first. Previously, we had been allowed time to change film, make notes, operate the tape recorder and ask questions, but after drinking the Holy Water, Ramon treated us like fledgling Huichols who needed patience, urging, reprimanding, and reminding. For the first time, Ramon seemed more concerned that we 'learn our lessons well' than that we make a technically sound and accurate record of Huichol religion. In Wirikuta we were active novitiates instead of passive recipients and much was expected of us."

Notes: 

1. Quote from Barbara Myerhoff, Peyote Hunt: the Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1974) 116-7.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Barbara Myerhoff - Anthropologists/Peyoteros." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/myerhoff/anthropologistspeyoteros>.