The Traditional & Medicinal Use of Peyote in North America with Oscar Matzuwa

Oscar Matzuwa is an expert on the Wixarika (Huichol) people of North America, and how they use peyote for its medicinal and entheogenic properties. Here he shares some of his wisdom…

Oscar Matzuwa was taught spirituality as a child, and he remembers a vision of the heart of mother earth, and seeing all beings connected by roots to this heart. This left him with a feeling of purpose; a calling to explore spirituality more deeply in his life. He started connecting with different tribes of the Americas, and gained permission from various elders to serve medicine. Here, he shares with us his experiences of the Wixarika (Huichol) people – see the full interview below.

Peyote, the sacred medicine of the Wixarika people, requires five years of service (assisting in ceremonies) before you can ask for permission to serve. Oscar describes this process, involving many years of learning from the plant; developing a relationship with peyote and the land in which it lives.

Oscar describes his own unique style of ceremony: combining the knowledge of three different major indigenous lines of people who use peyote. He explains that his dream is to unify these three lineages, connecting the wisdoms of different elders. After all, they all come from the same root!

The traditional medicinal uses of peyote are extensive: muscle pain, warts, bites, infections, fever, depression, anxiety, addiction, migraine… these are just some of its applications. Oscar suggests that compared to the potential benefits, the risks are minor – although there is always the danger of a negative psychological experience, which can be mitigated by a good facilitator.

Finding a good facilitator can be a challenge, especially for people who are new to peyote. But Oscar highlights the most important things to know: how committed is your facilitator? Are they supported by a community of elders? Where did they study, and for how long?

Next, Oscar explores a little bit of the Wixarika cosmology for us: every year a particularly important peyote ritual is performed in a specific place – it takes a pilgrimage through many sacred points to get there, involving many days of preparation and travelling. The spirit of the deer is invoked during this ritual – the deer is the protector of the peyote medicine, and this spirit asks for commitment above all else. 

Finally, Oscar gives us his perspective on the evolution of peyote traditions. He describes how every group will say that their way is the original way. But new traditions are constantly being invented, just like our current traditions were invented in the past. Traditions are dynamic and can change every day. It’s more in the spirit of the medicine for things to be always changing.

About Oscar Matzuwa

Oscar Matzuwa was born in Ahome – Sinaloa, Mexico, home of the Yoreme culture, which he descends from on his mother’s side. He grew up partaking in spiritual rituals, ceremonies and sacred dance. Since an early age, he was interested in learning about indigenous cultures and their spirituality around the world. This led him to study anthropology in the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico City, where he met different indigenous leaders who became his teachers, and together, they organized sweat lodges and sacred ceremonies in Cuicuilco pyramids, an ancient site part of the university grounds. At present, Oscar is the director of a cultural association in Barcelona called Roots of the Heart of the Earth, dedicated to bridging knowledge of indigenous cultures and organizing events where elders can meet and share their wisdom.

Where to Find Oscar Matzuwa | Facebook

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