Pamparios: A Trip with the Huicholes to Collect Peyote


Watch the full documentary Pamparios on the Huichol journey to Wirikuta, where they travel every year to collect peyote. The pilgrimage takes place with the intention to return to where life originated and heal oneself and the community.

Huichol People, Mexico

Huichols have traditionally believed that in rituals they interact with the primal ancestor spirits of fire, deer, and other elements of the natural world. Image from “Pamparios,” By Emilio Tellez.

Pamparios. Winner of the Sixth Indigenous Film and Video Festival.

This documentary tells the story of the journey of a Huichol (Wixáritari) village, Huejuquilla, (Jalisco, Mexico) to the sacred lands of Wirikuta, where it is believed the world was created. This annual journey is undertaken at the end of the rainy season by the “pamparios,” which means “Giving thanks to God,” in Huichol, or in this case, “the devoted ones in the state of grace.”

The Wixáritari believe peyote will enable a direct communion with their ancestors and deities. Hence, the trip will have with significant consequences for village health, such as purification of sins, change of governorship, and continuance of collective traditions of unification and resistance.

STORY: Journey of Grandmother Rain – World Creation of the Wixáritari (Huicholes)

Pamparios * Documental * Un Viaje con los Huicholes

Pamparios * Documental * Un Viaje con los Huicholes (In Huichol and Spanish)

 “Before reaching Wirikúta, their final destination, they pass by the sacred springs of Tatéi Matiniéri (“Where Our Mother Lives”), the house of the eastern rain goddess. They cross steppes. The first one is the Cloud Gate; the second, Where the Clouds Open.”  — Alfredo López Austin

The Hikuri Pilgrimage – Traditional Religious Practices

Central to the traditional religion of the Wixárika (the adjectival form of Wixaritari) is this yearly pilgrimage crossing the San Luis Potosí desert in the region of Real de Catorce to Wirikuta, the homeland of their ancestors. They would collect and ingest hikuri (the peyote cactus, Lophophora williamsii) as a tool to dialogue with the ancient spirits. Traditionally, on their more or less 17-day walk to the sacred place they fasted, only eating fruits found along the way. In recent times, mining interests, drug traffickers, and private properties have encroached on customary paths rendering the journey on foot almost impossible. Hence, most Wixáritari visit their important sacred place by bus or truck. This spiritual experience which would last almost a month now takes place in a matter of days. Occasionally, small groups of Huicholes still take the risk to fulfill the pilgrimage in the traditional way.

In Wirikuta, they gather and take hikuri / peyote with the intention to deepen their communication with spiritual ancestors, seeking insight and wisdom. The shamans decide if somebody needs the help of peyote and to which degree, or if not. It’s still part of everyday life of many Wixáritari to maintain contact with these divine ancestors through dreams, meditation, sharing their dreams with others, etc.

Use of peyote has been popularly distorted and venerated by North American hippies and counter-cultural literary vision-seekers, but casual use does not resemble Native practices.

STORY: Wixárika/Huichol People: Protecting Sacred Lands of Mexico

Pamparios (Gracias), Un Viaje con los Huicholes.
Documental de Emilio Téllez
Voz Pablo López
Traducción Hilario López
Música Tradicional Huichola José Ramírez e Hilario López
México, 2009.

6th Festival de Cine y Video Indígena
Festival Internacional Visión Frontera 2010

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Updated 23 February 2021

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist and designer, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Partners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt