This series of decorative illustrations was inspired by the art of the Huichol (Wixaritari) indigenous group who inhabit a small mountainous area in western Mexico. Huichols depict their mythology using bright colors and sacred symbols including peyote, corn, deer, snakes, eagles, bees, scorpions, flowers, the sun, stars and other abstract shapes that represent deities, important themes and significant forces of nature. The eyes I use on most of the living beings (as well the prominent Sun God figures) throughout these illustrations represent the central Huichol theme of nierika, which can be thought of as the gift of sight, deep visionary wisdom, or the ability to see the inner form of the world.
Pilgrimage to the Sun
Every year, some Huichols undertake a sacred pilgrimage east to Wirikuta, the place in San Luis Potosí near Real de Catorce where they believe life began. Huichols travel more than 550 km to gather peyote (hikuli), the hallucinogenic cactus that they consider one of their primary deities and that they ingest as a sacrament to induce visions and attain nierika. This illustration weaves images of the Huichols’ journey with symbols of peyote (the small green circular forms) and corn plants along with the Sun God as a central creator figure and assorted animals important in their mythology.
Leading the sacred pilgrimage to Wirikuta and the circular peyote dance (hikuli neixa) are shamans, who practice sacrifice and austerity in addition to ingesting peyote order to attain nierika. In this illustration, two advanced shamans carrying feathered healing wands (muwieri) lead the ceremonial dance, their central objective being the gift of sight. The two-headed eagle at the top of the image represents the shaman’s ability to see in all directions, and to reinforce this idea of nierika I have placed an eye in the center of a rhombus (tskuri), which is often thought of as a god’s eye but to the Huichols symbolizes the world. Below are additional variations of this design: