Being mentored by Huichol shamans & by Reuben Snake changed my life. Here are excerpts from my recent interview with Jan Irvin:  http://www.gnosticmedia.com/?s=Jay+Fikes  … The Huichol have a very important message for us. We are ruled, unfortunately, by mediocre and sometimes pathological leaders. We are obsessed with using money to make money. We don’t have enough commitment to this wisdom that the Huichol shamans have preserved, which is: we are integrally connected to every other creature, every plant, every animal, to the sun, the rain mothers, we are a part of an incredibly intricate beautiful system…we’re part of this world that sustains us. We have to develop rituals of thanksgiving like the Iroquois, like the Huichol have for the first fruits. We have to celebrate the fact that we are part of this system and that we now need to be responsible for maintaining it. And this is what the shamans have to teach us that would make us reform our own society. …and that takes transparency and trust, so we’d probably have to start with these rituals for establishing trust and transparency, like the Huichols have been doing for centuries with their peyote [ritual]. Overcoming fear is probably the key to learning, because if we start with the idea that the spirits already know what we want to do, or what it is we’re thinking of doing or what it is we’ve done, or hiding, then there is no reason for us not to be honest to ourselves and other people. That is the true basis for community, and that’s what the shamans are about--is maintaining those relationships of trust that create and maintain communities, and not just the people community but all the plants and animals that live on this planet with us.


I have repeatedly asked Dr. Peter T. Furst for evidence to support anomalous allegations he made.  Recently I asked him for documentation of three more claims he published about Ramón Medina's waterfall stunts and their supposed meaning (in  a letter I sent to him on August 12, 2011 and resent on February 12, 2012).  His pseudo-answer to my letter, which he provided to disparage me to a reporter who interviewed him for the Santa Fe New Mexican, is evaluated in my last letter (dated May 13, 2013). I sent my last letter to both Dr. Furst and to Ana Pacheco, the Santa Fe journalist. All my requests to Dr. Furst for unpublished materials are based on my respect for mainstream anthropological etiquette.  "In 1992 the American Anthropological Association passed a resolution recognizing that "unpublished anthropological materials"  are "irreplaceable and essential for future research and education" (Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties, pages 154-55).  Publishing my two letters to Dr. Furst on my website may move him, or one of his colleagues who may convince him, to deposit his fieldnotes and unpublished materials in a reputable museum or university (as did Dr. Barbara Myerhoff, his collaborator). Here below are the messages I sent to Dr. Furst and Ana Pacheco.

May 13, 2013

Dear Dr. Furst,

Almost one year ago I wrote to Ana Pacheco, the Santa Fe New Mexican journalist who interviewed you. As I mentioned in my letter to her (see below) I was puzzled by your characterization of my letter to you (see below) as my asking you to collaborate with me on a new project.

In addition to whatever Huichol fieldnotes you may have (which I requested you deposit in a reputable museum, as stated in my letter to you, sent again on Feb. 12, 2012), your personal archives surely have much of interest to scholars who will be researching the origins of the “psychedelic movement”. It is for that reason that I am requesting that you make available your tape recordings or notes of any of the public lectures given by nine prominent researchers in a lecture series you evidently organized for UCLA in the spring of 1970. Dr. Carlos Castaneda gave the first two lectures in that series on entheogen use. Other lecturers in that series included you, Dr. Michael Harner, Dr. Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Dr. William Emboden, R. Gordon Wasson etc. This was an unusual lecture series, full of ideas & anecdotes that are of great interest to me and other students of entheogens & shamanism.

I encourage you to take all steps necessary to make these and other important materials in your archives available to me and to other scholars who will consult them at whichever museum you may deposit them.


Jay Courtney Fikes 5-13-2013

Dear Ana Pacheco,

I found your recent article on Peter T. Furst of great interest. I decided to send you my request for documentation, which I sent to Dr. Furst several months ago (and resent to him on Feb. 12, 2012). I found his characterization of my letter (included herewith) amazing...."Six months ago, I received a letter from Dr. Fikes asking me to collaborate with him on a new project". ...

I regarded this letter I sent to Dr. Furst as part of my continuing effort to document fraud, or lack of routine documentation expected by anthropologists, in his published work and that of his former colleagues (Myerhoff, Castaneda & Delgado).

Perhaps someday we can talk about my perspective on his career as an anthropologist. I am glad he responded to my request for documentation, albeit in a rather indirect and self-serving manner.

Thanks for your consideration of my views.


Prof. Jay Fikes

August 12, 2011 (sent again February 12, 2012)

Dear Dr. Peter T. Furst,

I recently found your website, peterfurst.com, and read your "The Chasm Between the Worlds”, which was Chapter 2 in your recent book, Rock Crystals and Peyote Dreams (University of Utah Press, 2006). Some of the information contained in that chapter and in an “Afterword” you published on your website will contribute significantly to the ethnographic record on Huichol shamanism; provided it is verifiable. Accordingly, I am keenly interested in reviewing carefully all ethnographic data you collected during four separate incidents (which refer to four different times and places). Three of those incidents were described in your chapter “The Chasm Between the Worlds”. The fourth incident was mentioned in your Afterword.


1)The summer's day in 1966 (can you please provide the precise date?) when you and Dr. Barbara Myerhoff witnessed Ramón Medina’s actions or performance near a waterfall which you located about one hour's drive from Moyahua, en route to Guadalajara.

2) The day following that performance at that waterfall. The location was evidently Ramón Medina’s rancho. As you situate it, “The next morning’s storytelling session began…in the shade of the ramada. … quoting Ramón: ‘Those who do not have balance, they fall and are killed’”.

3) On June 27, 1989 in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the home of Ada Browne. At that time and place Guadalupe Rios “repeated pretty much word for word what Ramón had said about the shaman not being afraid of falling”. Guadalupe also explained something about a little bird—“uitzi”—who showed the first peyote hunters the way to descend from the place where Ramón Medina had demonstrated shamanic balance for you and Myerhoff in 1966 (as described in number 1 above).

4) In your Afterword "On another visit to Santa Fe" (can you please provide the precise date?) you mentioned a “norteamericano” whose name Guadalupe Rios could not remember. That “nameless norteamericano turned out to be Jay C. Fikes”.

I would very much like to have access to copies of any audio tape recordings or film footage you have which preserves details you collected during these four incidents (identified above). Do you have such documentation about these four incidents? If you do, would you be so kind as to make all such documentation available to me? For your convenience you could deposit copies of said documentation in a reputable museum of your choice; such as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. or the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe. I look forward to your assistance.

Jay C. Fikes

Professor of Anthropology

Yeditepe University



I want to interpret two untrue assertions Dr. Furst made; two false claims of his which I did not include in my 1992 grievance letter to the AAA Ethics Committee. Dr. Furst's letter to me dated August 23, 1989 falsely stated that Dr. Lorraine Boyle was the “current head of the AAA’s Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility”. My inquiry letter directed to AAA Membership Services was answered by Lynne Greabell. In her letter to me dated October 26, 1989 Greabell stated that she did not find Lorraine Boyle’s name in the AAA membership records; i.e., Dr. Lorraine Boyle was not an AAA member. Dr. Furst's second mistaken statement was that copies of his August 23, 1989 letter to me were also sent to Dr. Lorraine Boyle and to four other persons. There was no Dr. Lorraine Boyle to whom he could have sent a copy of that letter. Two of those other four persons answered my letter asking if they had received any letters from Dr. Furst, within the time frame encompassing Dr. Furst’s August 23, 1989 letter to me. Dr. Richard Ford and Dr. David Givens each replied that they had never received any such letter from Dr. Furst. Neither of the other two persons (Dr. Alfonso Ortiz and Dr. Joyce Marcus) ever answered my letter. This did not surprise me inasmuch as each of them was Dr. Furst's friend. Their refusal to answer my letter does not necessarily mean Dr. Furst sent them copies of his August 23, 1989 letter to me.

My wife and I deduced that Dr. Furst’s incorrect assertions in that letter, in addition to a disturbing tone we detected in other letters Dr. Furst sent me in 1989, were probably intended to intimidate me. For example, Dr. Furst’s June 16, 1989 letter to me ended with “I trust you have a good lawyer.” Dr. Furst’s less than cordial communications were one reason I cancelled a symposium I organized for the 1989 AAA annual meeting. Another reason I called off that symposium was because Professor Vine Deloria withdrew, probably after hearing false or defamatory statements about me from Dr. Furst; an inference based on Dr. Furst's testimony (legal deposition, page 212). Dr. Vine Deloria’s withdrawal from the AAA symposium made it less interesting, as Dr. Furst acknowledged in his September 25, 1989 letter to me. Dr. Furst insinuated in that letter that he was going to "bring a memo" to the symposium to identify what he alleged was "generally sloppy scholarship" in the literature review of my doctoral dissertation.

I apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced by my cancellation of that symposium. Perhaps those people who wanted to attend that symposium will pardon me after reading this brief explanation about what events and statements motivated me to abandon it.

Response to Dr. Furst’s review of Huichol Mythology (click below to purchase).


We are responding to the review by Dr. Peter Furst of the English edition of Robert Zingg's collection of Huichol myths, along with our commentary. Our book, Huichol Mythology, was published in 2004 by the University of Arizona Press (Tucson). We offer corrections to several statements Dr. Furst made in his review in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 11, No. 4.

Two of Dr. Furst’s false opinions concern the origins of Dr. Zingg's original unpublished 370 page manuscript and his black-and-white photographs. Dr. Furst stated that the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico is the source of the manuscript that we utilized. In fact, copies of Zingg's manuscript are housed in a number of different localities, among them the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. We know of at least two copies available in Mexico. Aside from the variability of the margin notes (which were not published or used in our book), the content of each version of the manuscript which we have examined is exactly the same. Since there are many extant copies, we felt the most ethical procedure would be to acquire the publication rights from Mrs. Emma Zingg, Robert Zingg's widow. Dr. Jay Fikes visited her in her home in El Paso, Texas on February 18, 1996 and reached an agreement that culminated in his receiving the manuscript and a written transfer of the rights to the manuscript from the executor of Zingg's estate. This manuscript is identical to the one available at the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe.

The provenience of Zingg's photographs was specified in our Acknowledgments. The Laboratory of Anthropology does not, as Furst wrongly stated, own "the photographs used as illustrations". The photographs we published in Huichol Mythology had been thrown away in a dumpster behind the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. They were recovered by Dr. J. Charles Kelley in 1968 and taken to the University Museum of Southern Illinois University (S.I.U.) for restoration. That tedious task was accomplished by the Weigands in their laboratory at S.I.U. Copies were then made. One set was housed at S.I.U. Another went to the Weigands. The originals were delivered to Dr. Charles Di Peso, who was then leading the Amerind Foundation in Arizona. The originals are still housed there. For Huichol Mythology we utilized the Weigands' set of Zingg’s photographs.

Dr. Furst seriously misrepresented some of Dr. Jay Fikes' research. In his review, Furst claimed that there "is no basis in fact" for Fikes' finding that to qualify as a healer five years of service (one term in a tukipa or native temple complex) is required, and to qualify as a singer, or ritual leader, ten years (or two terms) are needed. This material is presented in Fikes' 1985 doctoral dissertation, which constitutes an analysis of the tukipa ritual cycle in Santa Catarina, a traditional Huichol comunidad indígena. The Weigands made similar observations during their research in San Sebastián in the 1960s as did Peter Collins in San Andrés in the early 1970s. Dr. Furst's lack of orthodox field research within any traditional Huichol comunidad indígena in addition to his reliance upon a single urbanized Huichol informant probably led him to dismiss data Fikes obtained during his fieldwork in Santa Catarina in the late 1970s.

In his review Dr. Furst also ignored the evidence presented in various archaeological and linguistic projects completed within western Mexico that directly pertain to Huichol origins and ethnohistory. These publications--in Spanish, French, and English--are widely available. We are puzzled about why he did not address them in a scholarly way.


Martin Terry (et al. 2006: 1020) ** reports that figurines or effigies containing peyote found in Shumla caves in south Texas have been radiocarbon dated to 5,200 B.P. Terry corrects Peter Furst’s estimate of radiocarbon dating to 5,000 B.C. (7,000 B.P.) for that peyote-effigy (which Furst wrongly assumed was peyote).  When I checked Furst’s latest assertion (1996: 56), that peyote from Shumla caves dated to 5,000 B.C., I noticed Furst referenced his previous publications of 1976 (Hallucinogens and Culture) and 1989 (a book review of Omer Stewart’s Peyote Religion: A History). This misinformation about peyote has evidently been circulating for some 35 years.

In my essay originally (1994) titled “Origins and Development of the Native American Church” I cited Virgil Franklin’s 1991 essay asserting that peyote buttons from Shumla Cave were radiocarbon dated to 5,000 B.C. Huston Smith deleted my reference to Franklin’s essay when he published my essay with the title “A Brief History of the Native American Church” (pages 167-173) in One Nation Under God (Clear Light Publishers, 1995). Sometime (probably in 1991-1992) before I finished writing my essay, I contacted Roberta McGregor at the Witte Museum in Texas (which was the source of Franklin’s erroneous date for peyote from Shumla Caves). McGregor told me Peter Furst was responsible for the dating of that particular peyote. Because I was already in conflict with Furst, I did not contact him about the dating of the peyote mentioned by Franklin. Several years later I contacted representatives of the Witte Museum again. My request for information about the radiocarbon dating of that peyote was ignored or neglected.

I learned of Martin Terry’s research on this topic a few years ago when he and K. Trout asked me to identify my source for the 5,000 B.C. date published in 1995 in  One Nation Under God. I was not surprised when I read what Terry and his co-researchers had discovered: that “the original UCLA laboratory identification number had been lost and the report of the assay was effectively irretrievable” (Terry 2006: 1020). Did that legendary homework-devouring dog invade the UCLA laboratory? I apologize if the misinformation I passed on has harmed anyone.

** Martin Terry, Karen L. Steelman, Tom Guilderson, Phil Dering and Marvin W. Rowe. "Lower Pecos and Coahuila peyote: new radiocarbon dates." In Journal of Archaeological Science 33 (2006) p. 1017-1021.

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