Festival, Family, Peyote and the Huichol Medicine Man

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher Lokkal

We attended last Sunday's Fuego y Familia (Fire and Family) Festival 10 minutes outside of town, just before the turn to Escondido on the road to Dolores. We got there early, 10:00am, to set up my girlfriend's stand to sell her woven clothing. The hot water gushing out of the pipe had already filled the primary pool and was spilling over the far edge on its way to filling the lower pool. I did my morning yoga poolside, while Veronica set up the stand. Then, after the man who tends the fire finished his ablutions, we were the second and third persons into that pristine, warm flow.

I don't get out of town enough. The open, country space had a therapeutic affect on me. The aguas termales added to the affect. We had put off our breakfast to arrive early and then, again, to take the waters. Returning to our stand, I reached into the bag with our food and, instead of breakfast, emerged with a bag of dried, powdered peyote. It just seemed like the right space and time.

With these things much depends on the dose. It is widely rumored that workers, at least, workers at a certain level, in Silicon Valley (think Google) regularly take micro-doses of LSD on the job. My neuro-anatomy professor taught that the brain is best thought of as a reducing filter. It must deal with an overwhelming amount of information, without being overwhelmed. It does this by stereotyping perception, that is, glancing quickly and categorizing, often prematurely, and by saying “no”; “Is this something I need to consider further?” “No.” “Do I need to think about this at all? (send it to the frontal cortex?)” “No.” Drugs function as neuropeptides. They say, “yes.” They pass along that neural impulse, that perception or germ of a thought for further observation or contemplation. For better or worse they stimulate the brain in new, surprising ways. This can be very helpful, if you are trying to think outside the box, at Google or elsewhere. We took more than a micro, but less than a full dose; maybe a third. Then we ate breakfast and watched the people, including lots of kids, arrive. All in all it was a lovely bucolic scene, with live music, from a not too distant stage, pleasantly drifting over all.

There was a lot to do, or, at least, a lot to watch being done: adolescent theatrical performances, a yoga class, a capoeira demonstration, an arial yoga performance, performances along a 15-meter strap stretched taught across and one meter above the pool... Add to that, food stands and vendors stalls, 6-7 different musical bands, kids having a ball in the water and very colorful attendees all over the grounds. We frequently left the stall with me rushing back now and then to attend someone. We chatted it up with lots of folks The sun shone down over all benignantly. The “family” in the title of the event, for me, did not just refer to the actual biological families (“kid-friendly”), but denoted the family vibe that encompassed us all that day. It was a really groovy day; a micro-dose at a micro-Woodstock. We came down as the sun went down. The cool evening helped us sell a few shawls. We packed up and went home happy.

These days I am all about my Lokkal project, both here in SMA and globally; event calendars and local networks around the world. Regarding this, at the festival I made some very good local connections and reinforced others. Then, yesterday, Wednesday I made what was perhaps my best connection yet. I met with a very accomplished business person, somewhat new to SMA. We spoke of the local possibilities and groundwork of the project, his enthusiasm increasing as each new facet of Lokkal was revealed to him. “Hold on now, because we are going to fly,“ I cautioned before introducing the global possibilities and what I have done to advance those. And fly he did. It was good to get a sober, business-like, enthusiastic corroboration of my starry vision, from someone with the drive and capacity to help realize it. It gets a little lonely, here, holding such large ambitions almost all by myself.

After our meeting I jumped in my car to pick up Veronica and take her up the hill towards the mall to meet with a Huichol Medicine Man, who was visiting SMA, staying with a friend of hers. She was to pick up a sacred implement from him to deliver to another indigenous group far away. Arriving, we knocked on the door. Timidly he opened it and invited us in. His hostess was away. I sat silently, respectfully while Vero explained who she was and what was her mission. Recognizing a kindred spirit, he entered into dialogue. Things really loosened up when Vero asked to see his jewelry. Soon we were like old friends. On the table, along with the beaded jewelry and bowls was a pile of shredded, drying peyote. I told him that I had always had a special relationship with peyote, ever since a large bag of it came to me at university in New England; muy frio (very cold) I told him, opening my eyes wide to emphasize how incongruent such an arrival was for a desert plant. He reached into a pouch and pulled out a bag of dried, powdered peyote, just like what we had taken at the festival. He spoke of the ceremonies he leads. He spoke of his taking a daily micro-dose of peyote, every day... for the last forty years; that it was medicine. Then, with him, and a few times earlier in the week, I felt again like I was on peyote, just a healthy, fluid sensation in and behind my sinuses, somewhere in my head.

Then, he opened his rectangular ceremonial basket and took out the feathered wand which was for Veronica to take. He took out three bottles of water, from the mountains, the sea and the church, and poured a little of each into a very small, painted ceramic pot. He took out and lit a short candle. He took out the stiffened tail of a white-tailed deer, and he began to bless us. He chanted short phrases in Huichol as he dipped the tip of the deer tail in the water and sprinkled it first on Veronica, front and back, up and down, and then on me. He spent twice as long chanting and sprinkling me as he did Vero. Later at her house, when she noted the difference, I suggested that I needed more work than she did. But I like to think that, fresh from my meeting with my new associate, he was blessing Lokkal, a project which I expect will change the world's consciousness. When it was over. He was very cheery, very familiar, inviting us to visit him in Jalisco, stroking my long, white beard. We took our things (including a bowl and earrings) and went home happy.

As a physician, I advocate that my patients take a non-aggressive attitude to their dis-ease. Too often we are towards our dis-eased self like an arrogant colonialist who believes he has nothing to learn from the natives. James Hillman, the former dean of the Zurich Jung school, said, “You find that, paradoxically, what you have been running away from, turns out to be your authentic self.” Today it is precisely from indigenous cultures that our dominant, colonialist, capitalist society needs to learn, needs to learn balanced coexistence with nature and each other. The big-wigs at Google are taking the micro-doses of consciousness-expanding substances that the Huichols have been taking daily since ancient times. That's a good sign. I believe that my network of local websites around the world will provide a planetary, consciousness-expanding experience, like traveling without the airplane. It might be just a dream, but it helps me sleep at night.

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Dr David started his long publishing career as the editor of his prep school newspaper, which he immediately changed into a monthly magazine with feature length articles. He published nearly a million copies of a health magazine, Living Well. He moved to SMA six years ago this November and started publishing San Miguel Events six months later. Please visit his new project, the "new" Lokkal: www.lokkal.com/sma/magazine/2017/september/welcome.php

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