Ceremonies form a major part of Huichol life. The Huicholes are constantly performing ceremonies: “Our life is sacred,” they say, “and we do ceremonies to please the gods and to obtain life force (kupuri)”.
Many of the ceremonies performed by the Huicholes are corn ceremonies, as corn is now their principal source of food. The Huicholes say that “kukuru”, Mother Dove, is the mother of corn and gave corn (iku) to the Huicholes long ago. Their myth relates that long ago a young boy was hunting when suddenly he saw a dove and was about to shoot it when the dove revealed herself as the mother of corn. The mother dove (kukuru) told the boy that she would give him one of her daughter who would then become corn. For this reason, all ears of corn are seen by the Huicholes as girls or representations of the daughter of kukuru who became corn.
Today, when performing a corn ceremony, the Huicholes leave offerings for “kukuru” (Mother Dove), “Nakawey”, Grandmother Growth, and Tate Urianaka, Goddess of the Earth. These Huichol ceremonies are joyous celebrations of life, bringing all the participants in close contact with the divine. The Huichols say, the gods themselves, arrive and take part in the ceremonies if the proper offerings are left for them in the various gourd bowls, often beautifully decorated.
The Gods arrive traveling through the niarika (sacred tunnel way to the realm of the gods). At all Huichol ceremonies, the Shaman (mara akame) looks into the niarika while chanting as the niarika acts as a “mirror” and reflects sacred knowledge. The shaman himself may also travel through the niarika with hi sally kauyumari (the magical deer) to the realm of the gods in order to bring back kupuri (energy) for his people.
The Huicholes perform ceremonies to insure the growth and purification of their crops. (Also, to please the gods) through this, their whole essence, their roots are connected to the whole cosmic process of the universe. Grandfather Fire (Tate Wari), Grandmother Growth (Nakawey – participant in the original creation of this world) and Tate Urinaka (Goddess of the Earth) all form an integral part of Huichol life that gives meaning and direction to an ancient people who live on mountaintops in order to be near the gods that have given them tradition.