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On the night of March 18, 2022, a full moon rose over the Cerro del Quemado, the mountain known to the Wixárika people as the Birthplace of the Sun, to reveal an unforgettable sight. Hundreds of Wixaritari – elders, youth, children, mothers and fathers with babies in their arms – encircled the concentric rings of stone that hold the secrets of ceremonies from times immemorial.
They were there to pray: to bear witness the Renovation of the World, a ceremony to heal the wounded connection between humans and the Earth, and to receive the messages their deities would deliver to their mara’akate, the shamans who are their spiritual guides. They had come from communities all across the Wixárika territories to commune with their ancestor deities in their own way, with their sacred peyote. They were accompanied, too, by nearly 100 representatives from other indigenous peoples, government and academia, as well as members of the media and collectives who had organized to bear witness and help carry the message to the world.
Such a sight had not been seen on this mountaintop – an epicenter of global consciousness and prayer, and a temple on the scale of the Vatican for the Wixárika people – since 10 years before. That was when a similar ceremony, referred to as a spiritual peritaje or expert report, was organized as a manifestation against the transnational mining companies that were preparing to open massive operations in the sacred desert. Thanks to a powerful organizing effort that culminated in that prayer vigil, the mining operations were suspended by a court order.
But in the intervening decade, industrial agriculture projects invaded the desert, stripping bare thousands of hectares of one of the world’s most biodiverse desert ecosystems and covering the land with pig farms, egg factories, vast tomato and chile operations and a massive wind turbine megaproject. Water supplies have dried up and rains have been increasingly scarce. And the mining companies await their opportunity to reactivate the concessions that were not canceled, only suspended.
Many mara’akate began to see visions that the Candles of Life — a source of life and energy that guides and animates the world — were failing rapidly. This ceremony would be held as an offering, to reinforce the sacred reciprocity the Wixarika people carry out with the constant practice of their culture in connection with the land. And it would be accompanied by thousands from around the world, who would participate in hundreds of “mirror altars” being organized in dozens of countries. In the end, 423 points of prayer were established throughout the Americas and far beyond, with people joining in from Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
The prayer was for an end to the desecration of the sanctity of life on the planet, for a halt to the endless megaprojects that are destroying the essence of Wirikuta and countless other sacred sites around the world. It was for a renovation of all life on Earth, and for the relationship between humans and the natural world.
We are still in time to stop this destruction that is the equivalent of burning libraries with the best of the spirit of humanity.
Zitlali Chino Carrillo. Pronunciamiento de Wirikuta, March 19, 2022
The ceremony was profound, intricate cantos sung in the light of the moon before Tatewari, Grandfather Fire, in the sacred language of the ancients. The form of Kayumarie, the sacred blue deer who is their elder brother and guide, was seen in the clouds above. The sun arose to the sounds of the traditional violin, and people made their way to the top of the mountain to witness the sacrifice of the animals and to make their offerings. Two calves, a goat, several fowls and even a catfish had been carried up the mountain to be sacrificed.
It was past noon when the mara’akate were finally ready to release the long-awaited pronouncement, the answer to their prayer and the prayer of thousands that they had been guided by their deities to share. Mara’akame Ambrosio López Díaz delivered the message in his native language.
“The deities told him that it is up to us if we want the most balanced life; everything is up to us as long as we agree, both the elderly, the authorities, the young, the women, everything is possible,” explained Minjares Valdez Bautista, president of the Wixárika Regional Council. The Council, along with the Committee for the Care and Defense of the Water and Land of Catorce, convoked the gathering.
Zitlali Chino Carrillo, president of the Council of Women from the community of Tuxpan de Bolaños, was selected to deliver the pronouncement, and she took the document and read with a firm voice to the waiting crowd. What came forth was a powerful call for the defense of a sacred treasure at the heart of the Wixárika cosmology, which is under siege from all sides. And all of it will depend on unity.
“Ten years after the traditional peritaje, Wirikuta is the flower of universal consciousness of life. It is the epicenter where the agreements that renew the spirit of everything created are born. Wirikuta is a profound space, full of books that contain the story of how the world originated, medicinal books that heal the heart and strengthen the bond, that approach us like flowers in a great snake. River of light that has neither beginning nor end. Wirikuta is the illuminated head, full of brilliant feathers of the golden eagle that was born as a serpent in the sea and that was sowing fertility in each footprint with the guidance of the deer.
“Our older brother, who lives and speaks in the bitterness of the blue flowers that are born here in this precise garden. Altar of our people and bastion of humanity without borders. An open-air temple. An ecosystem and biocultural treasure where all the deities that support the pillars of our universe are based. This is how our wise men prayed and sang ten years ago in the traditional peritaje. This is how the offerings are given in the more than 20 ceremonial centers and the more than 400 family patios of our people who celebrate every year to honor the collective memory of our ancestors and renew the sacred agreements that give balance to our existence.
“From this sacred space, like a Blue Arrow, we launch this pronouncement to the five cardinal points of our cosmogony, to all the peoples of the world. And we do it by cultivating and weaving our brotherhood with the inhabitants of the Wirikuta plateau, respecting their lives and raising together the same word that asks to love the land that sustains us. We pronounce it with the support of the original peoples of Mexico: Comcaac, Rarámuri, Nayari , Tepehuano, O’odham, Totonaca, Purépecha, Mayan, Nahuatl, who sent representatives as a crown of peoples accompanying us in this ceremony of the renewal of the world, who ask us to commit our deities to maintain life.
“Together we will raise our infinite voice so that our prayer has enough strength to stop the abuses that our sanctuary is suffering. This call is coming from all the continents of the planet. More than 400 groups registered throughout the world as mirror altars, to manifest at this time in the most diverse artistic and spiritual ways and in different languages, that all mining concessions in Wirikuta be definitively cancelled. That no industrial megaproject be installed in the region, not even a tomato farm, or a chile farm, or poultry farms, or wind farms. In a concrete and clear way, all kinds of megaprojects that threaten life must be canceled. And our rejection of these megaprojects is not to stop or slow down the economy of the ejidatarios (collective landholders) of the altiplano or sources of employment, but quite the opposite.
“Our wise Mara’akate know that abundance and fertility are produced here, which have more to do with sustainable and healthy projects for the environment. That is the vocation of Wirikuta and yes, it is possible to create jobs and guarantee a good life for all the local inhabitants. There are ways to do it — and the way that the land of Wirikuta asks for is with projects that regenerate its landscape and in which the inhabitants include themselves in this new way of loving nature. We have a wealth of local knowledge from the campesinos of the highlands, and we offer our spiritual participation and call on scientists from all disciplines to build a great project in accordance with life in Wirikuta, where the wonder of living well is woven like a dream in which we all awaken, like an immense flower.
“We ask that the different levels of government respect and know our peaceful tradition that comes from our origin. We are not pronouncing against anyone; we have no enemies. We ask that the Government of the State and of San Luis Potosí, Ricardo Gallardo and our President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, listen to us. Neither the mining companies, nor tomato farms, nor poultry farms, nor wind farms belong here because they need to strip the sacred landscape and drain its aquifers. We are still in time to stop this destruction that is the equivalent of burning libraries with the best of the spirit of humanity.
“And that is not rewarded with the fact of being a great tomato or egg producer. To maintain and regenerate the landscape in Wirikuta is a great productive decision to guarantee life. The song of our wise men pleads with you to stop, to open the opportunity for us to renew our way of relating to nature. That is the principle to stop so much disease and war. That is the portal that opens to us to walk in harmony with Mother Nature. We will fulfill the mandates that we receive from our pilgrimages and will raise trees of life with our songs. We will continue to fulfill our agreement with the campesinos of Real de Catorce to call rain for their milpas and their animals, and for all the sacred inhabitants.
“Also from this sacred space of Wirikuta we pronounce ourselves in favor of world peace. No more wars between sister nations. Our people are pacifist at any cost and we ask the leaders of the world for no more war in the house of God, of our Mother Earth. We ask that the government exercise its sovereignty and find the way to negotiate with the business sectors to guarantee once and for all that keeping this altar healthy is a matter of the State. The tomato and poultry farms are already there and they provide work. We do not ask that they remove them, but we do ask that not one more hectare be cleared for them.
“We also ask that the entire region no longer be allowed to use anti-rain technology to protect the production of mega-industries. That the government and corporations resolve how to protect themselves from hail and rain. Because rain is sacred food and it is the engine of life here in the semi-desert.
“We do not ask for the impossible. We offer healthy and peaceful solutions. The deities require us to walk together to prevent the massive destruction of our planet. We are the people. We come from very far. We walk with the seed of life. We appreciate and have confidence in the renewal of the world in all the territories of the planet. A new humanity that drinks in the river of the Ancestors.
“There is still time. We will bring this fresh news of love to the altars in all the cardinal points that support us. We will carry it with Tamatsi’s signature, Elder Brother. And with the corn of the unity that made us Mexican men and women, we will give President Andrés Manuel López Obrador the confidence to speak out in favor of life. We will keep this network informed of the commitments we received this dawn, which shows the face and the cultural richness that we represent at this time here in the Potosí highlands. All mining concessions must be cancelled.”
For more information and to follow the continuing activities around the defense of Wirikuta, see Wirikuta Flor de la Conciencia on Facebook and Instagram.