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Charles Langley talks to us about Navajo Mysticism and Peyote medicine in his new book Spirit Land: The Peyote Diaries of Charles Langley
The medicine men of the North American Indian Navajo tribe are among the last people on earth to retain ancient and powerful traditional rites, and rituals surrounding the sacred peyote cactus. Shaman, shamanism, or shamanistic, are not words the Navajo would recognize. But that is how the rest of the world would explain the extraordinary powers of the Navajo hataali: the word means singer, or chanter–one who makes enchantments. Among these powers are the ability to see into the past and future, to heal the sick, to summon spirit guides, to fight and destroy the evils of witches and witchcraft, and to conduct sacred peyote medicine ceremonies in which life-changing visions are encountered.
We talk about
- Today’s Navajo
- Peyote Visions
- Skin Walkers
- Navajo Healer Blue Horse
- Navajo Healing Techniques]
- Life on the Reservation
Now, pressured by the modern world, the way of the hataali may be about to end: bringing to a close thousands of years of unbroken tradition that may stretch back to the Ice Age.
In this dramatic first-person account Charles Langley, a former journalist from England, recounts the extraordinary experiences that follow a chance encounter, that led him to become the apprentice to an outstandingly powerful Navajo medicine man named Blue Horse. In this book are descriptions of real witchcraft, divination, and healing, as well as the peyote ceremonies and visions that form the heart of a medicine man’s life and work.
As Blue Horse leads him ever deeper into his world Langley, an anthropology graduate, finds himself living a parallel life, in which it becomes increasingly difficult to cling to the certainties of his western education and upbringing. As evidence accumulates, his dismissive notions about witches, witchcraft, divination and spirit guides, comes under increasing pressure – until he is forced to confront the dangerous and terrifying reality of Navajo witchcraft and medicine.