The Dance of the Deer Foundation
The Dance of the Deer Foundation, Center for Shamanic
Studies, was founded in 1979 to preserve the shamanic practices
and traditions of the Huichol culture of central Mexico.
The Huichol people are a small ethnic group of some 15,000
individuals residing near Ixtlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains
noteworthy for the preservation of their pre-Columbian traditions.
Integral to Huichol culture is the work of its shamans and
healers, who appear to practice today in the same manner as
their ancient forefathers. Huichol shamanism honors creation,
especially the spirit of nature, and involves healing and empowerment
through personal transformation as well as the
healing of the larger social context. Each individual is pictured
as a miniature model of the whole universe, within whom possesses
the wisdom of the whole. Shamanism teaches its practitioners
to apprehend that arrangement and to understand and
to live in harmony with the natural and spiritual worlds.
The foundation was established by Brant Secunda, who had
been inspired by his grandfather and teacher, Don José Matsuwa
(1880–1990), the renowned Huichol shaman. Don José believed
that the Huichol traditions were available for everyone
with an open heart and hoped that those people who learned
of the Huichol way would want to support the survival of his
people. He commissioned his grandson to continue his work.
For his part, Secunda completed 12 years of apprenticeship
with his grandfather prior to assuming his role as director of
the foundation. He has as a major goal the integration of shamanism
into the world of modern medicine.
The foundation sponsors a range of workshops, pilgrimages,
vision quests, and holistic medical conferences at many
locations around the world. It also works to build an economic
base for the Huichol people so they can continue their primarily
corn-oriented agricultural existence. The foundation is
headquartered at P.O. Box 699, Soquel, CA 95073. Its webpage
may be found at
Dance of the Deer Foundation. http February 25, 2000.