Crazy Kieri: Wolves of Good & Evil
Datura, Solandra, and the Wolves of Kieri
In the Sierra Madre of Mexico are the Huichol Indians who have lived and thrived for as many years on their own and unaffected by western influence. Within this culture work shamans and healers alike. There is a story among the Huichol about a mythic battle between a hero Kauyumarie, a good spirit, and Kieri or Crazy Kieri, an evil spirit. There have been reports of Kauyumarie as being associated with the deer and peyote (Laphophora williamsii). And Kieri being associated with the wolf and Datura inoxia or Solandra (Solandra spp.).* Solandra is another tropane-based plant in the Nightshade Family (Solanaceae).
Although there are different versions of Kieri and which plant was the true Kieri, It has been said that Kieri also had two sides. One side being the good spirit aspect under the Solandra, and the evil spirit aspect under Datura inoxia. The Crazy Kieri plants were said to be used only in sorcery and brujeria, to poison and bring delirium and deceit, but this is not always the case.
As Crazy Kieri has been associated with Datura, there has also been an association with the wolf. In Lightning In My Blood James Endredy tells of a story of being poisoned by a jealous Huichol, Umberto, who blows either Datura inoxia or Solandra into his face and falls into a deep slumber not promised to return. During the few days of being deeply immersed in the world of Datura poisoning, James recalls being eaten by wolves and after his death is born as a wolf. He experiences being a wolf. The experience to James seemed completely vivid and real which is not uncommon for such a poisoning.
Upon awakening, James is surrounded by his Huichol teachers who watch over him as he recovers:
“…You’ve been gone for four days; we thought you might not come back. people who are attacked with Kieri usually either die or come back crazy.’
I rolled to the right so that I could see Jose Luis sitting next to me. ‘What’s Kieri?’ I asked.
‘Kieri is the powerful spirit that lives inside a plant with white, funnel-shaped flowers and spiny seed pods. The plant grows in steep, rocky cliffs and is very rare. Evil sorcerers like Umberto’s father sometimes make a powder from it to attack their enemies. It can make a person crazy or even kill.’
I thought about what Jose Luis said , but thinking about the experience I just had with the Kieri, it didn’t really treat me badly, except for the splitting headache I had. I remembered what it was like to live as a wolf, and a smile crossed my face.
‘What are you smiling about?’ Jose Luis asked.
‘I was remembering the dreams I had. I was a wolf, and it was fantastic.’
‘A wolf!’ exclaimed Jose Luis. ‘What color?’
‘Well, first I was a white wolf. She ate me after her mate, the black wolf, killed me. Then I was a black and white wolf- their son.’
A few minutes later, Nichu came with a few of the Jicareros and a couple of elders. One of the elders I had seen briefly once before. She was a large women dressed in a fully embroidered Huichol dress that showed her status as an elder. The elder woman came and knelt beside me, looking into my eyes. ‘Jose Luis tells us you were dreaming of wolves’, she (Marta) said in a strong and melodious voice that told me right away that she was a singing shaman.
I nodded my head yes in response and then added, ‘But the dreams seemed more real than any I’ve ever had. It felt like I was a wolf for many weeks, and I can still remember each day and everything I did and felt.’
‘Marta knows more about the Kieri than anyone else in the Sierra’, Nichu said. ‘She has been watching over you the whole time you were traveling in the land of the Kieri, and she has kept away the wolves.’
‘The vibration of the Kieri is very close to the wolves’ Marta said. ‘In the old days, the users of Kieri were called wolf shamans, as it was said that they could transform into wolves by using the power of the Kieri. Not many shamans use the Kieri anymore, it is not easy to make friends with that spirit, and it is extremely dangerous. We have all been very afraid for you.”
Other writings corroborate this claim saying that Kieri’s role as “an ally of shamans who train to receive their power from wolves (more correctly the wolf-people),“** in describing this specialized, rare form of wolf shamanism among the Huichol. This Datura cult has almost certainly disappeared since it was probably more common when wolves were more prominent in the Sierra Madre, before they were hunted and eradicated due to the loss of cattle in the area.
There has been much speculation about the true Kieri being either Solandra or Datura, and in some circles, even Brugmansia. While we may never have a definitive answer to this question, it is safe to say Kieri worked through one or many of the tropane-based Nightshade plants. The Crazy Kieri is truly a plant for her Spirit, and the wolf can be a viscous but beautiful creature, deserving respect much like Lady Nightshade…
*Yerba del Diablo: The Enigmatic Datura : John McCloy http://www.tripzine.com/listing.php?id=datura
**Furst P. “Kieri and the Solanaceae: Nature and Culture in Huichol Mythology.” Erowid.org/plants/solandra/solandra_article1.shtml
Endredy, James. Lightning in My Blood: A Journey into Shamanic Healing & the Supernatural. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2011. Print.