For centuries the Huichol Indian women of western Mexico, or Wixárika, as they prefer to call themselves, have been weaving textiles on backstrap looms. Since precolumbian times their family weaving traditions have been passed down from mother to daughter and from grandmother to granddaughter. Backstrap loom weaving is much more than either an art form or a means of creating utilitarian objects; it is a part of a woman's identity and a way of expressing ancient religious beliefs. Her weavings are a means to spiritual growth as well as a mirror of the changes and transformations she undergoes as she follows her life's path.
In 1985 Stacy Schaefer undertook ethnographic fieldwork apprenticing with master weavers in two Waxárika families. To Think with a Good Heart addresses both the technology of weaving as well the dramas and personalities in a community. This a fascinating journey into a realm of ancient beliefs and traditions woven into the story of a way of life constantly threatened by the outside world.
From the book: To become a weaver is to learn the women's customs, for weaving is the reason for living. When you are teaching yourself to weave you are given the power to think with the gods. It is a very beautiful thing to think this way, because weaving is very ancient. That's how I think.