Support Project for Wixarika Ceremonial Center

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Document written originally in Spanish
(Explanation on words indigenous to the bottom of the page)

PROJECT 3:

SUPPORT TO KAWITEROS1 FROM THE WIXARIKA CEREMONIAL CENTER
OF SANTA CATARINA CUEXCOMATITLAN, JALISCO, MEXICO

MAIN IDEA

This pilot project consists on granting a monthly financial support to at least two elders and one coordinator who, with their knowledge will support, the Group of Jicareros2 of the Ceremonial Center of Santa Catarina Cuaxcomatitlán (Tuapurie), throughout a full year, with the possibility of yearly renewal.

JUSTIFICATION

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In the Wixárika community, the continuity of their spiritual traditions is largely ensured, through the efforts of members of the community whom for five years participate in the group of the so called Jicareros2, The "Jicareros" must be guided and advised by the most experienced and knowledgeable elders of the community, about the right way of carrying out the pilgrimages and ceremonies.

Due to the extreme poverty condition in which most of the wixárika indignous people live3, the participation of elders giving support to the work of the Jicareros becomes increasingly difficult, because in order to be present in the constant and prolonged activities of the Jicareros they must frequently leave their milpas4 (the land where they sow and harvest corn) and therefore, put their own livelihood at risk.

One of the saddest things that I heard in my recent visit to Santa Catarina (April of 2014), was when Felipillo, a young and enthusiastic Jicarero, shared this concern with me:

"It's been very difficult for us to carry out our duties as Jicareros, because we do not have a Kawitero.
-How is that possible, Felipe?
– It's because the elders are so poor that they are afraid of leaving their milpa to come and help us..."

The Kawitero is a highly respected elder among the wixárika, whose wisdom consists in knowing and sharing the "story of the world" (cosmogony) for the jicareros and the community, during the pilgrimages and ceremonies. From this cosmogony arise the tasks, forms and procedures that the Jicareros must carry out as part of their responsibility.

That is why I came to think if we could provide some monthly financial support so that these elders could regularly support the young Jicareros, we would be contributing in a modest, but practical way, to the survival of a spiritual tradition that is important not only for the Wixárika people, but to all human beings.

THE JICAREROS

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The Jicareros are group responsible for five years to carry out the ceremonies and fiestas5 of the community, as well as making annual pilgrimages to the sacred sites, such as Wirikuta (Municipality of Catorce, San Luis Potosí), Hauxa Manaka ( in Cerro Gorgo, Durango), Tatei Haramara (Isla del Rey, San Blas, Nayarit), Xapaviyeme (Lake Chapala, Jalisco) and Teekata (Sierra Wixárika, Jalisco).

The Jicareros gather regularly at the Ceremonial Center or "kaliwey", which physically is an area that at its center has a circular building made of adobe with a very high conical palm roof. In the kalihuey they take care permanently of Tatewari (the grandfather fire) and many ceremonies take place throughout the year, besides the frequent meetings and deliberations of the jicareros which are required for the organization of their tasks.

The work of the Jicareros is difficult, because it implies many hours of work and many expenses to fulfill his spiritual obligations on behalf of the entire community, while at the same time they have to continue with their work as peasants to plant and harvest corn, which is the basis of their diet. Let's make it clear that the Jicareros do not receive any sort of salary or payment. for their work but on the contrary, they are people living in great poverty, who on top of their daily economic difficulties, they have to comply with their obligations as Jicareros. Among these obligations are -for instance-, participating in the traditional ceremonies and fiestas, elaborate offerings and take them to their sacred places, participate in pilgrimages to sacred sites that can last several weeks and which can take place several times a year, etc., In this context, one of the greatest threats to the continuity of the spiritual Wixárika tradition is the extreme poverty in which they live, due to the uneven development that has marked the Mexican nation since the 16th century.

Among the Jicareros there are different responsibilities which depend of the jicara7 which each member of the group is entrusted with. Among them are the Kawitero; who is the elder responsible of 'telling the story of the world' (cosmogony) and the Marakame who is the singer shaman responsible for giving voice to the Grandfather Fire and help the communication between the people and the Poderios6 of nature.

RELEVANCE TO MANKIND

In addition to the inherent value that all spiritual heritages have, the Wixárika tradition in particular is of huege value for all human beings, especially because its existence gives us the opportunity to raise our awareness about the essential nature of the spiritual experience: the feeling of being connected - without intermediaries- to something that transcends us and connects us to everything around us.

The connection with the energy fields of nature, which in this context are experienced as manifestations of the sacred, allows us to recover a spiritual sense of harmonious co-existence with nature and with other human beings, which is not only necessary, but truly urgent to successfully respond to the many challenges and threats that we face in the western urban societies of the 21st century.

The example of the indigenous wixárika spirituality, can inspire us to rescue, the real spiritual experience; which so often gets lost between the ideological labyrinths of the main religions of the world and their constant fighting against other ways of thinking.

That is why their survival is like a treasure for all human kind that we must contribute to preserve.

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GOALS OF THE PROJECT

In its initial stage, the project aims to gather enough funds to provide a monthly support of $250 USD per person, for two elders and one wixarika coordinator. Additionally, the project seeks to provide US$ 3000 dollars for the payment of the bus that the Jicareros of Santa Catarina, use for their yearly pilgrimage to the sacred territory of Wirikuta.

REQUIRED FUNDS

The yearly funds required for this project are the following:

  • Annual support for elder 1: US$3000 (US$250 per month).
  • Annual support for elder 2: US$3000 (US$250 per month).
  • Annual support for indigenous coordinator: US$3000 (US$250 per month).
  • Yearly support for the renting of the bus to Wirikuta: US$3000.
  • Estimated extra expenses: US$3000.

Total: US$15,000 PER YEAR.

DURATION OF THE PROJECT

The project is initially planned to run for five years.

The first year will be the pilot phase, after which we will evaluate the results and assess what adjustments we need to make.

If the project is successful, it could become permanent and eventually expand to other ceremonial centers in the wixárika region.

IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

IMPLEMENTATION STEPS:

1. PROJECT DESIGN.
2. PROMOTION OF THE PROJECT AND FUNDRAISING.
3. OFFICIAL PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT IN THE CEREMONIAL CENTER OF SANTA CATARINA CUAXCOMATITLÁN.
4. SELECTION OF ELDERS.
5. DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS FOR THE ELDERS AND THE INDIGENOUS COORDINATOR.

The tasks of the indigenous project coordinator will be:

1. To serve as a the link between the non-indigenous members of the project and the indigenous community.
2. To inform the community about the project and promote the active participation of the community members on it.
3. To search and find the appropriate elders to help the new Jicareros to the preservation of their tradition.
4. Make a brief monthly report for the coordinator of the project, about the progress and results of the project within their community.

Due to the specific characteristics required, the indigenous project coordinator will be appointed by the general coordinator of the project.

The kawiteros elders may be suggested by the indigenous coordinator or by any member of the Jicareros group, but in any case his election must be approved by the Group of Jicareros.

The tasks of the elderly advisors of the ceremonial center will be:

1. Go to the ceremonial center once a week to share their knowledge and support the Jicareros in carrying out their responsibilities.

2. The duration of the visit of elderly advisors to the ceremonial center, will be determined by themselves in agreement with the group of jicareros.

The tasks of the non-indigenous project coordinator will be:

1. To design the project
2. Promotion of the project
3. Seek for supporters and donors
4. Monitor and support the functioning of the project for the first three years
5. To find responsible supporting individuals to execute the project
6. Gathering and distributing the funds
7. Search for a successor that would give continuity to the project
8. Issue a monthly report of the project's progress, directed to all donors and supporters.

How you can help

To support the project with single or recurring donations, or to support it in some other way, please send us a letter us using the contact form in the menu above.

The deadline to get the funds for this project is: 1 in January of 2015.

If you wish to donate right now, You can:

1. Use the donations to the right button, at the top of this page.
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2. Go to a page on a web site of collective funding (youcaring.com), where can you monitor progress towards our goal of economic. It is easy to make and will take you only a minute or two reviewing the information contained.

TO GO TO THE PAGE WIXÁRIKA IN YOUCARING.COM:

PLEASE CLICK HERE

Project General Coordinator: Victor Sanchez

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Notes about the meaning of the words in wixarika language and some other special words in this text:

1. Kawitero. It means “storyteller”, It is the wise old man who knows the “story of the world” and who because of his long experience, knows the ways and procedures to be followed by the members of the community during ceremonies and pilgrimages. Every group of Jicareros should have a Kawitero, who is almost always the oldest member of the group. It is precisely the lack of a Kawitero with the necessary experience, what is creating uncertainty in the Group of Jicareros of Santa Catarina.

2. Jicareros. They are the ones who, for five years are responsible of organizing the community ceremonies and pilgrimages to the sacred places during five years. After five years, they are replaced by other members of the community, who are are choosen by the “grandfather fire” in special ceremonies. Thay are called Jicareros because, together with their women they care one “jicara” which is a bowl made from the bottom of a gourd or guaje in which sacred objects are kept and passed to the new jicareros. Thay have been preserved from generation to generation. Symbolically, since the times before the conquest, the jicara represents that which contains and protects something sacred. For this reason, the jicareros are responsible to protect and maintain the wixárika spiritual tradition. Every jicarero a roll that represents some poderio or deity and their behavior must be in accordance to the characteristics of the deity they represent. The jicareros are usually around thirty, although their number may vary. The group includes their women and their children. The woman is considered the gourd or jicara (and she keeps the physical jicara) and the man is considered “the arrow”, the role of both is equally important for the community.

3. Wixarika. It is the way this indigenous people call themselves. They live in the mountains of the North of the State of Jalisco. Mexicans and foreigners most time know them as “Huichols”, but out of respect we always call them Wixárika or the plural: Wixaritari (the X is pronounced like the double R in Spanish, although in a softer way, represented by the X).

4. Milpa. It is the name of the cornfield and has a sacred value because it is from the milpa that the Wixarika they get their livelihood. The relationship with the corn is that of reciprocity, because in the same way human beings need the corn to live, the corn also needs the human beings to live, because it doesn't grow by itself in nature. The relationship of the wixárika with their milpa, is deeply emotional, because they dont see corn just as a resource, but as something sacred.

5. Fiestas. The word fiesta in Spanish is as “the word party” In English, however the wixárika fiesta is not about dancing, have fun or drink alcohol, but on the contrary, they call fiesta to their spiritual celebrations and ceremonies, which often times last for several days and in which the entire community participates. They include the Fiesta del Tambor or Ceremony of the drum (Tatei Neirra), the Ceremony of the Rain or Fiesta de la Lluvia, the farewell to peyote (hikuri neirra), among many others.

6. Poderio. It is word similar to “power” but is not the same, because it represents the fields of energy of nature, which are considered sacred. There are many types of poderios, as for example the poderío living on a mountain or in a water spring. However the most important ones are “the big five” which are: Grandfather Fire, Father Sun, Mother Earth, Brother Wind and Mother Water.