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Our Mission

The mission of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies is to preserve the Huichol culture and its shamanic practices and traditions. The foundation was established in 1979 by Brant Secunda to carry on the vision of his grandfather and teacher, Don José Matsuwa, the renowned Huichol shaman. Don José’s vision was to leave Brant in his place to carry on the sacred traditions and to teach Huichol shamanism.

Don José believed that the healing traditions are available for everyone who has an open heart. He also believed that when people learn about the inherent beauty and healing power found in the Huichol way of life, they would want to support the cultural and spiritual survival of the Huichol. To bring Don José’s visions to life, Brant Secunda established the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies.

The foundation sponsors Brant Secunda’s workshops throughout the world, including pilgrimages, vision quests, and holistic medical conferences. Participants learn the sacred Huichol traditions. These traditions reunite people to the source of all life in order to help heal the earth, our communities, and ourselves.

Supporting the Huichol Tribe

The Dance of the Deer Foundation works with several villages to provide economic solutions which help the Huichol people to return to their land, their traditional way of life and their ceremonies. The foundation’s efforts have made it possible for the Huichols to move further away from town, to live more traditionally, to preserve their corn farming and sacred art traditions so that they are not forced to work on tobacco or coffee plantations or in other industrial areas.

For this reason, proceeds from all the foundation’s activities go directly to the Huichols, to Don José’s village and extended family. The Dance of the Deer Foundation is helping the Huichol to maintain both their rich cultural heritage and their spiritual and healing traditions.

The Shamanic Path

  • Spiritual Practices

    Purge yourself of negativity and learn to absorb positive energy from the natural world around you.

  • View Nature in a Whole New Light

    Be able to not just be in nature, but to connect with nature in a way that will allow you to be more aware and conscious of life.

  • Ancient Traditions

    Walk paths and experience ceremonies that have remained true for thousands of years.

  • Shamanic Wisdom

    Gain ancient wisdom teachings that have been passed on for thousands of years.

  • Art & Culture

    Take in the beauty of authentic Huichol artwork, history and dance. Listen to stories of indigenous cosmology, passed down through generations.

Brant Secunda

Brant Secunda

Founder • Director

Brant is at the center of the Dance of the Deer Foundation. He guides all of us on a daily basis and it is his life that inspires the work we do.

Don José Matsuwa

Don José Matsuwa

Co-Founder • Visionary

Together Brant and Don José founded the DDF in order to carry shamanism in the modern world and to give back to the Huichol people. Don José’s life and vision continue to guide us. He passed away in 1990 at the age of 110.

Meet the Team

We are a team dedicated to sharing shamanism with the modern world, while giving back to our ancient heritage

Nico Secunda

Nico Secunda

Managing Director

As Brant’s son, Nico was born into the Huichol tribe and carries the same strong familial ties to the Huichol as his father. Nico oversees all day-to-day operations within the organization and guides our team in all aspects of our mission.

Utah Dörsch

Utah Dörsch

European Programs Manager

Utah has been involved with the DDF for decades. She manages all of our European events and communications and translates for Brant at many events. Come to one of our events in Europe to meet her.

Marilyn Del Duca

Marilyn Del Duca

Programs & Healing Manager

Marilyn has been with us for many years. She has been a long-time student of shamanism and is a member of our East Coast Intensive Study Group. Her extensive business and management background helps guide our programs and maintain a strong balance of professionalism and kindness. Marilyn is also the Executive Manager of Shaman Chocolates, our sister company.

Will Schutt

Will Schutt

Business Systems Manager

Will has put his studies in Cognition and Neuroscience to good use on our team; helping us to constantly scale new technology and refine our use of complex tools to find simple solutions.

Christoph Monecke

Christoph Monecke

Transportation Manager

Christoph first met Brant while attending medical school in Germany. Since then, he has been a dedicated student and moved to Santa Cruz to be closer to Brant. Christoph assists in countless ways and participates in many of our events.

Carola Sieglin

Carola Sieglin

EU Project Assistant

Carola was literally born into our foundation and she has been practicing shamanism her entire life. She interned at our headquarters in California and traveled with us worldwide for over two years before going to University. Her wealth of experience provides our team with an invaluable resource for running our day-to-day operations. Carola’s mix of humor and intelligent focus allows our North American and European offices to stay in sync.

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Greg Goodman

Greg Goodman

Social Media Manager

Greg enjoys pretzels, kombucha and laughing! Hailing from New York, Greg has traveled the globe, utilizing his photographic skills to capture the beauty and culture of the places he encountered. When not overseeing our social presence, he’s spending time with his wife and son at the beach or in the redwoods.

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