Brant Secunda & Mark Allen:

Episode Detail
Listen Now
Living Dialogues episode 89: Brant Secunda (Huichol Shaman and Healer) and Mark Allen (Six-Time Ironman Triathlon Champion) guests: Part 1 Fit Soul - Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You

Subscribe with RSS Subscribe with iTunes Download

Episode Detail
Listen Now
Living Dialogues episode 90: Brant Secunda (Huichol Shaman and Healer) and Mark Allen (Six-Time Ironman Triathlon Champion) guests: Part 1 Fit Soul - Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You

Subscribe with RSS Subscribe with iTunes Download


Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. He completed a 12-year apprenticeship with Don Jose Matsuwa, the renowned shaman, who died in 1990 at the age of 110. Since 1979 Brant Secunda has been the Director of the The Dance of the Deer Foundation, Center for Shamanic Studies. Having worked with the World Health Organization and the American Holistic Medical Association, Brant is integrating shamanism into the world of modern medicine. He is an internationally recognized shaman and healer. Brant Secunda leads seminars and retreats worldwide. His work has been documented on television, radio, and in articles and books throughout the United States and Europe.

Brant has dedicated his life towards preserving the Huichol tradition as a living culture by working to integrate the ancient tools of shamanism into the modern world. Members of the international medical, religious and educational communities have recognized Brant’s commitment -- as well as his knowledge -- by inviting him to be a featured speaker, workshop leader, and participant at various conferences worldwide. Moreover, Brant Secunda has created and maintains a working model for preserving Huichol culture through the auspices of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies.

The Apprenticeship

Brant Secunda completed a twelve year apprenticeship with the late Don José Matsuwa in 1978 to become a shaman and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition. Living in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, the Huichols are considered to be one of the last tribes in North America to have preserved their pre-Columbian traditions. Don José was a renowned Huichol Indian tribal elder and shaman who died at the age of 110

Together, Brant and Don José made pilgrimages to numerous holy sites throughout the Huichol Sierras, Europe, and the United States. For over two decades, they made the annual pilgrimage to the Huichol holy land, Wirikuta. This high desert region, according to Huichol cosmology, is the home of the mountain where the sun was born. Brant’s apprenticeship culminated in a village ceremony in 1978. During this ceremony, Don José honored Brant with the gift of his ceremonial belt, which was given to don José by his teacher. He then publicly announced that Brant would take his place in the world and certified him as a Huichol shaman and lineage holder.

The Dance of the Deer Foundation - Center for Shamanic Studies

Don José emphasized to Brant that the cultural survival of the Huichol people depended upon external awareness of the Huichol way of life. In 1979, Brant Secunda established the The Dance of the Deer Foundation, Center for Shamanic Studies to disseminate and preserve Huichol culture, practices, and traditions and to provide direct assistance with the goal of promoting self-sufficiency and economic independence. As executive director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation, Brant Secunda instituted and maintains the functions of the foundation and conducts seminars, pilgrimages, and retreats on Huichol shamanism worldwide. For the last 17 years, Brant Secunda has taught ongoing study groups in the United States and Europe at places such as Crete, Greece, Alaska, Mt. Shasta, CA, Big Sur, CA, Mt. Rainier, WA, and Teton National Park in Wyoming, among many other places.

The Projects of the Foundation

The Dance of the Deer Foundation works with several villages to provide economic solutions which help the Huichol people to return to their land, their traditional way of life, and their ceremonies. The foundation's efforts have made it possible for the Huichols to move further away from town, to live more traditionally, to preserve their corn farming and sacred art traditions so that they are not forced to work on tobacco or coffee plantations or in other industrial areas. For this reason, proceeds from all the foundation's activities go directly to the Huichols, to don José's village and extended family. The Dance of the Deer Foundation is helping the Huichol Indians to maintain both their rich cultural heritage and their spiritual and healing traditions.

In the early 1990’s when a road encroached upon doña Josefa’s family village, Brant arranged for the village members to make the unprecedented return back into the Sierra Madre Mountains. Here, the Huichols are able to preserve their traditional lifestyle and sacred art traditions. The Dance of the Deer Foundation purchased boats, rented trucks, and provided the supplies necessary for the move. Through these and other efforts by Brant Secunda, families are not separated by work on tobacco and coffee plantations and industrial chemical exposure problems are eliminated.

Today and into the Future

Brant Secunda shares Huichol traditions with people worldwide and initiates projects to preserve Huichol culture. For over two decades, the Dance of the Deer Foundation has documented Huichol culture on film, video, and audiotape in an ongoing effort to archive the material in books and in a Huichol museum for future generations. With one video already completed and released, Brant plans to edit footage for a second video and to complete various CD’s of Huichol folk music. Brant would also like to further develop an infrastructure within the Huichol villages to establish economic autonomy while producing the materials for their artwork.

Further Reading
*Brant Secunda - biography of Brant Secunda.
* The Dance of the Deer Foundation, Center for Shamanic Studies
*Huichol Indians       


The Ironman Triathlon, held on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the most difficult one day sporting event in the world. It starts with a 2.4 mile ocean swim, followed by 112 miles of cycling, and then finishes with a 26.2 mile marathon. For most of the 1500 men and women who compete in the Ironman, crossing the finish line amounts to a victory.

Mark Allen had a different destiny. His first six attempts, all losses, were casualties of everything from flat tires to internal bleeding. Yet, each defeat served to galvanize his commitment to fulfilling his dream of becoming the Ironman Champion. Finally on his seventh attempt Mark won, beating Dave Scott in triathlon's greatest race ever.

Mark Allen went on to win a total of six Ironman titles in six attempts. His final victory came at the age of 37, making him the oldest champion ever in this incredibly challenging event! Mark completed a 15 year career in the world of elite athletics with a 90% top three finish record, going undefeated in 20 races over a three year span from 1988 1990. He was named "Triathlete of the Year" six times, and after retiring in 1996 was called "The World's Fittest Man" by Outside magazine.

Still living the principles that enabled him to turn adversity into success, Mark Allen was recently awarded the highest ranking any speaker ever receives from Northwestern Financial Network for a keynote address he gave to their advisors. Mark works for NBC Sports as an expert analyst each year at the Ironman and provided commentary at the Sydney Olympics for triathlon's debut at the Games.

Mark Allen also authored the successful book on lifestyle fitness titled Workouts for Working People, and Fit Soul, Fit Body, co authored with American Huichol shaman Brant Secunda, published in 2009.