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Carl Sofus Lumholtz
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 383 pages of information about Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2).

A similar suggestion of antiquity is unmistakably embodied in the deer masks, as well as in the heads with antlers attached, which the same men also may wear.

During Easter week live rattlesnakes are carried about, but the heads of the reptiles are tied together so that they can do no harm.  One man may have as many as four serpents with him.

Chapter XIX

    Plant-worship—­Hikuli—­Internal and External Effects—­Hikuli both
    Man and God—­How the Tarahumares Obtain the Plant, and where They
    Keep It—­The Tarahumare Hikuli Feast—­Musical Instruments—­Hikuli
    Likes Noise—­The Dance—­Hikuli’s Departure in the Morning—­Other
    Kinds of Cacti Worshipped—­“Doctor” Rubio, the Great Hikuli
    Expert—­The Age of Hikuli Worship.

To the Indian, everything in nature is alive.  Plants, like human beings, have souls, otherwise they could not live and grow.  Many are supposed to talk and sing and to feel joy and pain.  For instance, when in winter the pine-trees are stiff with cold, they weep and pray to the sun to shine and make them warm.  When angered or insulted, the plants take their revenge.  Those that are supposed to possess curative powers are venerated.  This fact, however, does not save them from being cut into pieces and steeped in water, which the people afterward drink or use in washing themselves.  The mere fragrance of the lily is supposed to cure sickness and to drive off sorcery.  In invoking the lily’s help the shaman utters a prayer like this: 

“Sumati okilivea saeva rako cheeneserova “Beautiful this morning in bloom lily thou guard me! waminamela ke usugituami cheeotsheloaya drive them away (those who) make sorcery! thou make me grow old! cheeliveva tesola chapimelava otsheloa thou give me walking-stick (to) take up (in) old age rimivelava Matetrava Sevaxoa (that I may) find! thanks exhale fragrance wilirova!” standing!”

("Beautiful lily, in bloom this morning, guard me!  Drive away sorcery!  Make me grow old!  Let me reach the age at which I have to take up a walking-stick!  I thank thee for exhaling thy fragrance there, where thou art standing!”)

High mental qualities are ascribed especially to all species of Mammilaria and Echinocactus, small cacti, for which a regular cult is instituted.  The Tarahumares designate several varieties as hikuli, though the name belongs properly only to the kind most commonly used by them.  These plants live for months after they have been rooted up, and the eating of them causes a state of ecstasy.  They are therefore considered demi-gods, who have to be treated with great reverence, and to whom sacrifices have to be offered.

The principal kinds thus distinguished are known to science as Lophophora Williamsii and Lophophora Williamsii, var. Lewinii.  In the United States they are called mescal buttons, and in Mexico peyote.  The Tarahumares speak of them as the superior hikuli (hikuli waname), or simply hikuli, they being the hikuli par excellence.

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