This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: Barbara Myerhoff
Return to Wirikuta Symbolic Reversal In certain religious activities and rituals the established roles of the actors are reversed. Myerhoff analyzes some NativeAmerican communal rituals by examining the symbolism embedded in the reversals. Peyote Hunt of Huichol Indians Her example comes from a religious ceremony, the peyote hunt, of the Huichol Indians in Northcentral Mexico. The "Peyote Hunt Ritual" The ritual takes place in a place called Wirikuta, which is simultaneously a real as well as a mythical place. Going to Disneyland to visit Mickey's castle. What Happens in Wirikuta In Wirikuta everything ordinary is inverted. The Huichol hunt for a sacred herb called peyote in Wirikuta. Wirikuta as a Paradisical Space In Huichol mythology, Wirikuta is much more than a geographic location: it is in fact the paradisical condition that existed before the creation of the world and the creation of mankind, and the condition that will prevail at the end of time. Wirikuta, like the paradise of other creation myths, is a cosmic totality without barriers of any kind. The Huichol claim that in Wirikuta, "We change the names of everything... everything is backwards." Think Alice in Wonderland Levels of Reversal in Wirikuta 1. 2. 3. 4. The reversal that takes place in Wirikuta functions at four levels: naming. Interpersonal behavior. Ritual behavior. Emotional states of the participants. Functions and Symbolisms of Reversal In the Huichol example, Myerhoff argues, that the function of reversal is to make the mundane sacred. Thus reversals promote the essential attitude of the sacred, i.e. the great unknown. Gods and Mortals in Wirikuta In the Huichol ritual, mortals are transformed into deities because one cannot be in paradisical Wirikuta while being a mortal. ...
View Full Document
- Winter '08