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Photograph ©Tracy Barnett

TEOTIHUACÁN, Mexico —  On December 18, Mexico City and neighboring Mexico State entered a weeks-long coronavirus lockdown for the first time since the spring. The next evening, I hid in a sleeping bag surrounded by people vomiting in a small park near the famed Teotihuacán pyramids outside the capital, as dozens consumed the psychedelic peyote cactus at a clandestine ceremony.

As archaeologist Phil Weigand puts it, the Huichol and their Cora neighbors had deep roots in the area where they are now settled in a sequence that had begun by the Mesoamerican Classic period (ca. 200-700 A. D.). The Corachol branch of this Uto-Aztecan language family leads linguists like Valiñas, cited by Weigand to consider the relative antiquity of this language group in the area. “This branch of Uto-Aztecan is far more closely related to the Taracahitan and Tepiman branches spoken to the north and west than to the Nahuan languages spoken farther east and south.”1 Furthermore, “In prehistoric times the Huicholes, the Coras and the Tepehuanos formed a single nation with the Opatas, the Tarahumaras and the Pimas” writes historian Salvador Gutiérrez Contreras,confirming the opinions of earlier historians Ignacio Dávila Garibi and Alberto Santoscoy.

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The Source of Sacred Waters ~ Juan Ríos Martínez 1975

A pilgrim prepares to bathe in a source of sacred waters that springs near a volcanic peak named Reu'unax+, Burnt Peak, where Tayeu, Our Father Sun, appeared on the earth for the first time. He deposits votive offerings, symbolized by a candle and a sacred arrow (on opposite sides of the center). He has also brought ears of maize (green figures at lower center) and squash (purple figures below the maize) in order to thank the rains for prior and coming harvests.

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This book was jointly published by the Secretary of Culture for the State of Jalisco, Mexico and the Wixárika Research Center in honor of the Year of Indigenous Languages and to celebrate the exhibit Grandes Maestros del Arte Wixárika: Acervo Negrín at the Museo Cabañas in Guadalajara (June 21, 2019 - January 12, 2020). This is a tri-lingual publication - Spanish, English and Wixárika.