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High Times on the Peyote Trail

A Huichol shaman blesses a new village officer by circling a cup of tequila around his head.

"This is in the village of San Andrés Cohamiata (map), on the first day of the changing of the officers' ceremony" [which celebrates the yearly replacement of the village officers].

"A couple of hundred Huichols processed slowly from the outskirts of town to the town square, stopping frequently along the way. Each time they stopped [the waypoints mark the five sacred points of Huichol cosmology], the new officers and their wives would either sit down or stand while a shaman blessed them by circling cups of tequila around their heads, which they would then drink."

—Photographer Rachel Cobb

Photography Notes

  • Film: Fuji Provia 100
  • Camera: Canon EOS-1N
  • Lens: 20-35mm
  • Time of day: About noon
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Shutter speed: 1/500

"We'd been waiting since dawn for the ceremony to start, and when it did, it began in the worst possible light. [Better light later on made this photo possible.] You can use a flash to fill in some of the shadows, but I don't like the fill-flash look, and a flash would have been even more obtrusive."


August 2002:
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