Shamanic Journeys into the Otherworld of the Archaic Chichimec


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date


Publication Title

Latin American Antiquity

Volume Number


Issue Number



A spatial analysis of rock art located within the lower Pecos region of southwest Texas and northern Mexico reveals the presence of a recurring motif that depicts anthropomorphic figures passing through an opening in a serpentine arch. An extensive review of the ethnographic literature and archaeological record of cultures within Mesoamerica and the Gran Chichimeca indicates that this motif is widespread and generally associated with specific beliefs about the shamanic journey into the spirit world. Based on analogies drawn from the ethnographic literature, the lower Pecos region motif can be interpreted as a pictographic representation of the shamanic journey made by Archaic Chichimecans into the spirit world. The evidence also indicates that the cosmologies of the cultures within Mesoamerica and the Gran Chichimeca were well established in the Chihuahuan Desert at least 4,000 years ago.

Document Type