Food for Grandfather

Chanting and praying, Ramón piled up bits of brush which quickly caught fire. The others, meanwhile, arranged themselves in a circle with their pieces of firewood and began to pray with great fervor and obvious emotion. We saw tears course down Lupe's face, and there was much sobbing also among the others. Such ritualized manifestations of joy mixed with sorrow were to recur several times during our stay in Wirikuta, especially at the successful conclusion of the "hunt," and again when we were getting ready to take our final leave. After much praying, chanting, and gesturing with firewood in the sacred directions, and a countersunwise ceremonial circuit around the fire, the individual gifts of "food" were given to Tatewari and everyone went off to prepare for the crucial pursuit of the Deer-Peyote.

It was midmorning when Ramón signaled the beginning of the hunt. To my question how far we would have to walk to find peyote, he replied, "Far, very far. Tamatsi Wawatsari, the Principal Deer, waits for us up there, on the slopes of the mountain." I judged the distance to be about three miles.

Everyone gathered up his offerings and stuffed them in bags and baskets. Bowstrings were tested. Catarino Rios, the personator of Tatutsi (Great-grandfather), one of the principal supernaturals, stopped playing his bow to help his wife Veradera (Our Mother Haramara, the Pacific Ocean) cut a few loose strings from the little votive design she had made from colored yam on a piece of wood coated with beeswax, to be given as a petition to the sacrificed Deer-Peyote. The design depicted a calf. Catarino's bow music, we were told, was to make the deer happy before his impending death. Ramón conducted the pilgrims in another circuit around the fire, during which everyone laid more "food" on the flames and pleaded for protection. Ramón entreated Tatewari not to go out and to greet them on their return. Then he led the companions away from camp toward the distant hills.

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