63% of $18,000 goal
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Indigenous sacred practices are being diluted, exploited, and lost. As a result, they are at risk of physical and cultural extinction. Indigenous territories are rapidly becoming privatized and sold, which is making it difficult for the Wixárika tribe to engage in their traditional practices.
We met Don Aurelio about 6 months ago in Tepoztlan, Mexico. We have come to know him as a spiritual leader for the Wixárika, an indigenous tribe of México (a sibling tribe of the Hopi). Through their ceremony and pilgrimages, the Wixárika are deeply committed to the balance and well-being of all beings on earth. They are the caretakers of Wirikuta, which is the world´s most biodiverse cactus garden and the home of their sacred sacrament, Peyote.
Don Aurelio trained for 25 years as a Marakame (shaman) and has been leading ceremony for over 30 years. He is a leader in his community and served the role equivalent to the Pope for a term of 5 years. When we asked Don Aurelio how we could support the Wixárika, he already had a plan of action.
The Wixárika are extremely resilient people. They live in some of the harshest conditions on earth. From the time they are children, they go on extreme pilgrimages under the blazing sun and pass days without eating or sleeping. Although they are strong individuals, Don Aurelio told us that their culture could disappear within 1 generation if the younger generation did not participate in the pilgrimages.
For thousands of years, the Wixárika lived peacefully and simply. They grew their corn and beans, they hunted deer, and they traveled everywhere on foot. Before modern advancement, the Wixárika could walk everywhere in their territory. There were wild deer that they could hunt, fresh springs that they knew they could access drinking water, and safety for their women and children.
Now, most of the land within their territory has become privatized. On top of this, Narcos have moved into their territory and will rob and assault them if they are on foot. Walking within their territory has become unsafe and nearly impossible for the Wixárika. They are now forced to take transportation to complete their pilgrimages, which is a cost that never existed for them until recently.
The deer is essential to their cosmovision, ceremony and their diet. Their hunting lands have quickly become diminished, and the deer population is disappearing. Many men will spend days or weeks searching for deer in the small wild areas and will give up in desperation. The community is then forced to buy a deer from a rancher to nourish the community and complete their ceremony (which costs upwards of $500).
Every 5 years a new group of pilgrims is chosen to complete the duties for their ceremonial center. This requires them to travel for 6-8 months and cover the entirety of the costs for traveling, lodging, food, and ceremony offerings while still providing for their families. Many of the younger generation fear that they will not be able to take care of their family and meet the demanding cost of the pilgrimage. Instead, many are choosing to leave their communities to find work.
Don Aurelio believes that if we cover the basic needs and costs of the pilgrims and their families, then the younger generation will be more likely to commit to the duties that are required for the preservation of the Wixárika tradition.
A little bit of money goes a long way for the Wixárika. By supporting them financially and valuing their tradition, our team believes that we can help the youth move from a mental state of surviving into thriving.
With their tradition comes art, music, culture, dance, language, wisdom, and ceremony. We believe it is essential to help them preserve their traditional ways of life, so they are empowered to continue sharing their prayers and all the beauty that they bring into this world.
To guarantee that we can support the pilgrimage for the rest of this year (2023), we calculate that we will need a minimum of $18,000. This will provide Quetzalli with the necessary resources to support the ceremonial center of Don Aurelio with transportation, offerings, food and lodging for the pilgrims, and food for the families of the pilgrims.
Many of our wonderful supporters have donated items that will be auctioned off beginning June 20th to help us raise funds. Please click on the tab above to access the silent auction!
The Wixárika are creators of unique and amazing art. Their pieces tell the stories they bring back from their journeys with peyote. We connected with an artist Micaela to source the art we are sharing in the auction. The money that we paid Micaela will be used by her to buy material for her garden, a sheep, a cow, and offerings for her upcoming ceremonies. Micaela is dedicated to the Wixárika way of life. She is sweet, open hearted, and full of stories. All her pieces of art are filled with her prayers. Please take some art home with you and help us to support Micaela to continue to share her stories, prayers, and art with the world.
*All donations received are tax deductible. You will received a tax-deductible receipt upon completing your donation.
**Donors who purchase items at a charity auction may claim a charitable contribution deduction for the excess of the purchase price paid for an item over its fair market value.
***If you are participating in the silent auction, please understand that all the physical items will be with us in Denver, Colorado at the Tandava Fundraising Event and the MAPS conference. If you are not physically at these events and cannot receive the items in person, please contact me before you bid at [email protected] to see if we can ship it to you.