The Wixarika Nation
In the early 2000’s I began part of my training in Mexico, and in particular in the desert at a sacred site called the Wirrikuta. For the Wixarika (Huichol) nation, the Wirikuta is where the sun rose for the first time and the world was created. It is their most sacred site. The Wixarika re-enact this journey of the first humans, from the birth place of the sun, every year and pilgrimage over 500km from their homelands high up in the Sierra Madre. On this journey, they visit many sacred sites along the way, giving offerings and cleansing themselves, so that when they enter the desert, they are able to meet the spirit of the Wirrikuta free of the distractions and burdens of every day life. And free form the poisons that create sickness. When there, they then ‘hunt the deer’, which is to say they gather Hikuri (Peyote), their sacrament and present final offerings to the sacred mountain.
The Hikuri is seen as the heart of the deer, Kuayumari, who is the messenger spirit between the Wixarika and their gods. The deer is viewed as the purest energy in the universe, and therefore is the one who can assist humans in living in good relationship with all of life, reminding them of their sacred duty to keep the world in balance. Alongside the fire- Tatewari- Hikuri can teach the people, and in particular, the Marakames (shamans) everything they need to know about the mysteries of life. It is central to their culture.
The Wixarika are a rare tribe in Meso America, in that they managed to resist both the Aztec and Spanish empires and keep their culture and traditions alive. They did this largely because they didn’t have a warrior cult, and therefore no one to fight. So they retreated to the most inhospitable areas of Mexico, where the land was the most difficult to farm and, as they say, fought the colonisers on the invisible level with their feathers (their magic.) This means they have largely an unbroken lineage stretching back probably thousands of years (no one is sure how long) and are still self governing to this day. In order to further safe guard their culture from the encroachment of the modern world, they have since remained extremely protective of their traditions.
When I was first in Mexico, I was learning from an English teacher, Daniel Stone, who had lived in Mexico for many years and built a small centre in the desert. It was still difficult for westerners to connect to the Wixarika then as they were still intensely protective, and they occupied a semi mythical status in my and a lot of others imagination. So I learnt directly from the land, but not the Wixarika. In fact it was the desert that gave me the vision to pursue this path in a proper way.
Then, more than a decade later, having been on a long journey and having learnt from many different teachers and cultures across the world, through a series of synchronistic circumstances I was introduced to a friend of a friend called Rodrigo, who was connected and had worked with a Marakame, Don Santos for many years. He had first brought Don Santos over to the U.K. the year before, having lived here previously.
We met in the woods where I teach, and the first thing we saw was a deer on the path in front of us. This, we both agreed, was a good sign and we began co-hosting the marakames as they shared their culture for the first time ever on these lands.
It seems Kuayumari had tracked me down back in the UK, all the way from the Wirrikuta, and was wanting some proper offerings! My payment was late (over a decade) and well overdue! This was six years ago now, and the friendship has grown and developed in many different ways over this time.
Why Indigenous People are Coming over to the West
There were several reasons that the Wixarika had changed their previous policy of ultra safe guarding of their traditions and were now out sharing their teachings and culture. The main one being that, like with many indigenous people, especially those removed from the modern world, they were getting messages that humanity was in grave danger. Tatewari, the fire, was informing them that the earth was sick, and unless humanity changed its course and started showing respect to Her and living in proper balance, She would have teach us a lesson. Which could threaten our survival as a species.
At the same time, they were receiving these messages, the Mexican government granted mining concessions to a Canadian corporation for their sacred (and supposedly protected) mountain in the Wirikuta. The combination of these events pushed several Wixarika out in attempt to educate those responsible (us in the West) for the collapse in relations between the human and non human world. In return, we have been able to offer financial and other practical assistances to their cause. (See the film below for more information about this ongoing struggle).
This friendship and collaboration is ongoing. Initially, Don Santos committed to coming to the UK and working with the spirits here for five years. Five is the Wixarika’s sacred number and all commitments are made in five year periods. This has now been extended for another five years (after receiving the message from the spirits here) and several other elder marakames have now visited these islands and many places across Europe.
This commitment is huge on their behalf as they have to leave their families and communities for long periods of time, travel non stop and work harder than anything I have ever seen. I once witnessed two senior marakames, in their 60’s and 80’s, hold and an all night ceremony outside in literally freezing conditions (the water had turned to ice), then start personal healings in the morning for people which went on all day until the late afternoon. They treated over a hundred people between them, without sleep and having worked all night! This level of hard work and endurance is quite common. Something we in the West could learn a lot from.
Over the last six years, we have shared many adventures, including in 2015 a pilgrimage across the sacred sites of the UK organised by Dr David Luke of Greenwich University and Adam Malone. I wrote an article on this pilgrimage and the renovation of the land project which it was part of for the magazine Sacred Hoop. We have also visited the communities and made commitment to the spirits of the land there.
The Wixarika, like many indigenous communities that are coming to the west to share their teaching, have a unique role in helping us to reconnect to our own ancestors and lands spirits here. There are many people doing this across the UK and Europe and doing great work. However, traditions that are unbroken and have the rich heritage of a thousand years old animistic culture behind them, can teach us a great deal in this.
But we have to also give back in return. When I was in the communities an elder was telling us how they did open up once before, in the ‘70’s, when a lot of anthropologists came and stayed with them, often launching their careers on the back of the field work done there. ‘They made all kinds of promises to help us’ the elder said, ‘but they never kept one of them, so we closed down again. We’ll see if you lot are any better and it’s different this time.’
This page is then dedicated to the ongoing collaboration, and will update on the various events taking place, see below. If you have any questions, or anything you feel you can offer, please get in touch. If you are interested in this rich culture, I encourage you to watch the film below “Huicholes- Last Guardians of the Peyote.’ Which includes our dear friend Eusabio sharing his traditional music.
For the first time this year, we will be organising a weekend long seminar in the summer, where several marakames and elders will be sharing in great detail the culture, stories and teachings of the Wixarika people. The purpose of this will be to offer a deep understanding of the cosmology of an ancient shamanistic culture, and is suited for those on this path or for educational professionals. This will be held in the Welsh mountains.
Please click here for more information
Community Bus Fundraiser
There is currently a GoFund Me page to help raise funds for The Wixarika Ceremonial Center of Tunuwame, located in San Andres Cohamiata in Jalisco, Mexico. This to help the community with the Wirikuta pilgrimage every year, which involves huge financial outlay. Funds will be used for:
· The purchase of a bus
· Bus Maintenance and renovations/modifications
· Registration, inspection, insurance for transport
· Travel costs for bus driver and team.
More details here: