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The ancient art of pilgrimage can be found across all cultures. By approaching a “place of power” with positive affirmations, we can empower both the place and ourselves.

When we leave offerings and making prayers at a mountain, a lake, or a river, we wake up the energy of that place and are in turn present to receive the blessings of that place. By connecting with the spiritual world of nature through pilgrimage, we internalize the life force of the places we visit and carry the power with us where we go.

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Brant Secunda

Brant Secunda

Shaman & Healer

Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer, and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. He completed a 12-year apprenticeship with Don José Matsuwa, the renowned shaman who passed away in 1990 at the age of 110. Brant Secunda is the adopted grandson of Don José and was chosen by Don José to take his place to help carry on Huichol Shamanism. He is the co-founder of the American Herbalist Guild, and the founder of the Huichol Foundation. Since 1979 Brant Secunda has been the Director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies and leads seminars and pilgrimages worldwide. His work has been documented on television, radio, and in articles and books throughout the USA, Europe and Japan. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Fit Soul Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You.


  • Adam White, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

    Adam White, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.


Adam White Brant, I was hoping you could share a little bit about the importance of going to places of power in Huichol Indian shamanism with us today.
Brant Secunda That is such an important part of the culture and the tradition of Huichol shamanism. You go to sacred places of power to pray, to ask for lessons for your life, to make positive affirmations at a place of power. Pilgrimage is such a vital and essential part of practicing Huichol shamanism.
Adam White When you travel to sacred places of power, do you go alone? Do you go with the village or with others?
Brant Secunda You can go alone, but you hopefully will go with another shaman or people from the village. It's a group effort. That's what's so beautiful about a pilgrimage. It brings together the individual person with a community, his family or her family, and it brings you together with members of your village. In that way, you all go together. You might have different prayers, different hopes, different wishes, but you are on a pilgrimage. You are on a sacred journey to a place of power together as one heart. As one spirit, we say.

You go with the shaman hopefully because the shaman will bless you at the place. The shaman will give you the power of the place. A shaman knows how to capture the power, the energy of the place, and give it to all the people, the pilgrims, who are on this journey.
Adam White The focus is to have a communion with nature.
Brant Secunda Right. Exactly. A communion with a specific place of power.
Adam White That has a specific energy.
Brant Secunda Like the ocean, a river. Yes.
Adam White Is there a difference between something like going to an ocean in terms of its energy and how it affects our lives?
Brant Secunda Yes, one place ... The ocean is water. Water has the power of beauty. You might go to the ocean for certain things, or you might go to a mountain for certain things. It's like in our modern world, some people prefer going to the beach for their holiday. Other people like to go to a mountain resort, let's say, for a holiday. Depends what you feel and how you are happily affected by a place. Same with the Huichol. They will sometimes go to the ocean if they're feeling drawn to the ocean, or they might go to a mountain place of beauty or place of power. They might go to a river.

It just depends on the individual person. The Huichols are free to choose themself where would they like to go to. If someone wants to go then he or she might round up a shaman and family members who want to go.
Adam White What do they do when they're trying to get ready to go to a place of power like this?
Brant Secunda If they can, they will make a prayer arrow. What they call an URU, which means arrow of light. You make a prayer arrow to bring to a place, and then you leave it there as a way to empower the place, but as a way for you to ask for something as well.
Adam White When you ask for something, is it something that we would go to a place of power to pray for? Is this what we do with the prayer arrow?
Brant Secunda Yes, you go and you might ask for something like good luck in your life or blessings or healing, or whatever. Something positive. You would go there and do that. You also might leave chocolate at a place of power because chocolate represents love. When you give chocolate to a human being, chemicals are activated in your body, which are the same chemicals that when you are physically or emotionally in love with another human being. You will leave maybe a little chocolate at a place of power and maybe a beeswax candle, or a prayer arrow.
Adam White When we arrive at a place of power.
Brant Secunda Yes.
Adam White What do we first do? We put the arrow down or we put out some chocolate?
Brant Secunda No, you pray first.
Adam White You pray first?
Brant Secunda Yeah.
Adam White And then leave the offerings?
Brant Secunda Yes.
Adam White Uh huh. When we ask for things, is there something in particular the Huichols tend to ask for or to pray for?
Brant Secunda They might ask for energy. What we talked about before, kupuri, life force. They might ask for memory. Memory of who they are, of who we are as a person. That we are sacred, that we are connected to our universe. You might ask for ... If you're pregnant, a woman might as ask for a healthy baby, or she might go together with her husband and pray for the baby to come. You might pray for good luck. Something like that.
Adam White Those are some of the more common things people might ask for on a pilgrimage?
Brant Secunda Yes. Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.
Adam White This pilgrimage process, is that central to Huichol life?
Brant Secunda It's a big, big part of Huichol life, and it brings together, we said before, the individual person with their community or family and with the whole village and mother earth. You're going to a place on the earth. It's very important for the Huichols because it's one way to connect with nature, which, as we know, is a big part of shamanism. Connecting with nature, finding your true nature that is inherently connected with nature.
Adam White This is especially empowering to the individual when they travel with a shaman.
Brant Secunda Yes.
Adam White This is what I'm not sure about. They have ways of helping us connect with that power when we get there, when we go to that place of power.
Brant Secunda Shamans?
Adam White Yes.
Brant Secunda Yeah.
Adam White They help the people who go with them.
Brant Secunda Yes, they, Shamans, have learned during their apprenticeship to capture the power of the place and give a transmission of energy from that place to the people who have come with them.
Adam White Wow. Well, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about the power of pilgrimage and places of power with us today.
Brant Secunda Great. Thank you.