Snake Luck: the Yarn Painting
It was my third year to Wirikuta, the sacred lands of the Huichol Indians who live along the western Pacific coast of Mexico. Huichol shamans, or shamans-to-be, travel the long way to Wirikuta for six consecutive years in order to unite with the spirit of Peyote and fulfil their commitment to becoming a shaman. Wirikuta is an inland desert south of Texas stretching a few hundred miles into Mexico. As synchronicity would have it, I found this place three years earlier. This year it came to me to go to the sacred lands alone and take the sacred peyote for further instructions.
This was done. I traveled down by air to San Antonio, Texas, and then by bus to Real De Cortorce, an ancient city in the mountain range along the eastern side of the desert, Wirikuta.
This was my third year to Wirikuta. I was on a mission to complete the six-year pilgrimage. It seemed at the time, that the calling came from a deep place within my soul. During this particular time in the mythological world of peyote, I was given the opportunity to throw myself into the abyss with the possibility of no return. This was the way of the warrior. I took the plunge.
There was no “Patrick Wey” left within this realm. The “I” was gone. Spirit was in charge, wielding strength only the soul can know. I had to go. This was my mission.
Twice in the night snakes saved me from an endless fall into nothingness. The first time, I was soaring downwards into complete darkness, void of anything, when suddenly there was a rope dangling in front of me. I grabbed it and as I began to climb upwards to who knows where; I realized this rope was made of hundreds of snakes woven around each other. By the time I reached a plateau, I held a dead snake in my hand’s grip. At that moment a wolf came along. I tore pieces of the snake apart and fed it to him by hand without question or motive. This all happened as real as dream with no questions asked.
I returned to “Patrick” feeling honoured, amazed by the more than life-like reality of it all. These experiences still ring with a reality that caresses a destiny embedded in my heart.
I sat there by the fire and let the spirit of Peyote continue within me. Later another trance-like experience took shape. I again had the opportunity to jump into the abyss of a new life or no-life or death or whatever may come about; a brave leap, what some may consider a “leap of faith”.
This time, after falling endlessly which seemed a long time, possibly years, timeless in a world-less state of dark space and silence, a feeling of nothingness within my mind, there then, a huge snake sailed along beside me and allowed me to take refuge upon its back. It was as if it was send to help me from my endless fall. I was on top of the head of the gigantic dark snake and could see nothing but darkness. I could feel the moist texture of its skin and the frayed shape of its head. The dark space smelt of deep moist cave, fresh clay earth and energy like the perfume of spirit.
After roaming about for sometime, left and right and then a sudden soaring upwards it reached a ledge where it smoothly stopped. The entrance to a cave and without hesitation i knew this was my exit. It allowed me to run across the top of its head onto the rocks of the ledge. I looked back as I was running, in reverence and thanks for saving me, when the huge snake, with a quick hiss from its tongue, spurted an electric sensation from its tongue to my behind and through a telepathic message implanted within my spirit it said, “now get going”.
I ran into the future with the strength and confidence to live a strong life no matter what arises. This meaning, this feeling of confidence and strength has kept itself alive all these years inside my heart. When I find myself in troubled times or without the will to go on, it reappears.
This is Snake Luck.
In the morning, I travelled to the summit of the most sacred space of the Huichol. A mountain just outside of Real De Catorce. I sat in my spot within the sacred circle—the same spot that I found the previous year. I felt the presence of the earth within my soul and i pondered there without much thought and after an hour or so I decided to descend. I was no further than a few hundred yards down the trail when a strong message emanated from within to go back to that very spot within the circle and lay down and sleep. I walked back up the mountain and no sooner had I sat down than I immediately fell over and into a deep sleep.
My mind went over many situations and images from my very early youth to the present day, showing me all the moments that were interwoven to eventually get me here to this spot in time, this place, this mission, this fate. It all made sense and resonated with a true continuity—the one that holds this universe together—like a web of sacred moments interspersed along my path with almost irrelevant or wasted time between. It seemed as if I could do whatever I pleased between these moments, but with regards to the sacred moments I had no choice; these sacred moments would occur, is my destiny, no matter what I did, i had no choice.
So here I was sitting on a mountain in Mexico where thousands of Huichol had sat before me. All with their missions and fates rustling in the wind off the plains of Wirikuta. I felt great, alive, like a nobody with a somebody emanating within, like a super being emerging from my soul, the winds across the horizon.
I was told in this space that it was not my path to return here for six years, as i had wished, but that soon, something else would come to lead me along my trail. I could return for reverence, but this was not my path, not my way.
All too soon, upon my return to Canada, things changed drastically.
After my time in Wirikuta I decided to travel to Tepic, near Puerto Vallarta in the Sierra Madre Mountains near Itxlan to visit Prem Das the Shaman with whom I travelled to the desert in my second year to Wirikuta. Prem Das has an amazing story himself, married to the niece of Don Hose Matsuwa, the 110 year-old Huichol Medicine Man and whom Prem Das spent 12 years in the Sierra Madre Mountains with, after returning from India. I spent a few very interesting nights with Don Hose the year previous, accompanied by a few friends I met in the desert with Prem Das.
Prem Das told me that my friends Leo and Raven (from that previous year in the desert) were in town gathering Huichol Yarn Paintings from Cristobal Gonzalez, Don Hose’s nephew and a Huichol Shaman Yarn Painter. I connected with them and went with Leo to Cristobal’s house to visit and gather Yarn Paintings for the very first showing of Yarn Paintings in New York City.
Leo gathered all of the 25 or so paintings and I helped him load the pieces into his vehicle. As we were saying goodbye to Cristobal, I noticed this one painting left against the wall. It was in plain view, yet unnoticed until now. It was a picture of two snakes emanating from a fire curled into a circle and it was spitting energy into a Marakami (Shaman).
After my recent snake experiences, it definitely caught my attention. I asked Cristobal about this painting and he told me that when a person goes for the first time alone into the dessert and into peyote’s abyss they often encounter the reptilian world.
Neuroscience calls this pre-animal evolutionary state, the “reptilian brain”.
In the yarn painting the two snakes are hissing into the ears of a Shaman to wake him up and get him moving. Cristobal said that when snakes save someone, he or she could expect some great luck to appear.
I later asked Leo why he didn’t take this particular painting. He had taken every other painting that Cristobal had there. Leo said he didn’t see it; he said, “it must have been meant for you.”
I took it home with me and to this day it hangs in my bedroom. As I wake in the morning, I often fall into this mythological world that is so much a part of my life. It seems to always reconnect me to a world deep inside myself.
The quantity of peyote I took was four large buttons about two and a half inches wide and a few inches long. The first time that I ingested this amount I became aware that this was maybe ten times more potent than any LSD or Mescaline I had taken in the sixties or seventies.
This amount puts you in a state of no return; the spirit takes over and the familiar-you is not there, here any longer. I became aware that this is the best way to deal with the relationship between you and it, the spirit of Peyote. The mind is not ours; it belongs to the evolutionary process of the earth, the universe. I am not brave, I fear the release of the ego as much as any ego does, but I am not afraid of facing the fear and letting the ego melt into the night, as it will, when death comes upon me, as it will to all of us.
In later years events accumulated and added more mystery to this story, my story.
Below is an excerpt from my journal dated 2005-03-17…St Patrick’s Day.
Ever since I was a young lad, I considered myself some sort of anti-St. Patrick and years later…
In the dessert with peyote around my skull and the underworld within my head, I headed straight into the abyss. My deep self took the chance, the chance of no return; I don't know why, it seemed like it was meant to be. I headed into nothingness, into darkness. I was falling fast; there was nothingness everywhere inside out, upside down, falling. Twice in that desert night snakes saved me from the darkness of where everything begins.
My visions are personal, of no use to anyone but possibly myself.
Years have past into years, dreams and visions took site of the serpent, in the reality of the earth, in the magic of my mind; she lured me into the silence, the serpent, the earth dragon presented herself often throughout the sliding, winding years.
Much later, through synchronicity, I ended up in Ireland. I ran a sweat lodge there for eight months. I traveled to all the Celtic Sacred Places where St. Patrick desecrated the space with his Christian dogma. He drove the snakes off the island, and with them, the symbol of the power of woman. Throughout the centuries his masculine god-fearing religion spread itself across the land like a disease. I, Patrick Thomas—named after the nurse's dead fiancé from county Cork, the nurse-woman that helped bring me into this world, and in the spirit of that name—I, Patrick Thomas, was born in Canada, brought back the spirit of “snake.” I carried the snake back into the land. This was part of my mission; it revealed itself along the way as a river does, curving in and around the land.
Green beer and a few billion scars are mostly all that remain of St. Patrick’s Day!…but that will change!
Cristobal Gonzalez http://www.glueyarn.com/site/Hildo_Bautista_and_Others.html#27
Snake Luck: the Photograph
For the Snake Luck piece, I used a piece of styrofoam, two feet by two feet, and an inch thick; first I painted the sides flat black and floated the original Yarn Painting on it. The scenic power line vista is one I see on my drive into town.
I knew that the right moment would arise for another of my puddle-reflection photographs. After a heavy rain, I packed up the Yarn Painting and just before sunset, I headed out to this spot. I floated the yarn painting onto the water and moved it into composition position with a stick. I knew what I wanted with this shot. It represents the magic and truth of the underworld of indigenous peoples of North America (predominately the Huichol since it features this particular Yarn Painting by Cristobal Gonzalez and the spirit of Peyote which spread into the north in the late 1800's).
This image is symbolic, not only of my personal mythical unfolding, but also a truth to which we can all relate; a universal unfolding of truth. The hydro robots represent all the comfort and false securities being hauled into town in the form of an archaic electrical energy possibly to be surpassed by a more earth-friendly form of science. This is the good luck of the snake, the earth dragon, that will turn the focus back toward feminine energy. Thus, the picture represents the dichotomy between the currently grossly misused dominant masculine energy that is an explosive, fire, technological system versus the cool inwards vortexing water, implosive, levitational system evolving in the shadows of the earth.