11. Why make the peyote pilgrimage and how does a pilgrim prepare?
On the peyote pilgrimage the participants are united, and together they undertake this journey to visit the gods and ensure luck, health, and abundance for themselves, their families, and their community. The pilgrimage is also an opportunity for individuals and undergoing their specialist training, whether learning to become a shaman, a master artist, or a master musician, to seek a special communion with the deities and acquire sacred knowledge from them. Before setting off on this trek, the pilgrims must fast, abstain from sex and bathing, and confess before the whole group any sexual transgressions they may have had. Each individual is given a kind of “confession” cord for this ritual. As wach pilgrim speaks aloud the names of his or her sexual partners, and the leading shaman ties a knot in the cord for each wrongdoing, while the group recites the names. The cord is then burned in the sacred fire. Since the purfication rite bonds the pilgrims as a single entity, it is important that everyone participate; otherwise, great harm could befall all the pilgrims.