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Tayaupa, Father Sun, adored for infusing the world with his light. (Painting on the wall of a Wixarika shrine at a sacred site in the state of San Luis Potosi.)

"Attacks on sustainable societies: the Wixárika answer"

By Adriaan Bronkhorst
President of the Drugs Peace Institute


We are at the start of the 3rd Millennium. Almost all the peoples from the countries that adhered to the post-World War II International Drugs Control Treaties have submitted to Prohibition, the Pax Americana's Wars on Drugs. All? No! Not the indomitable Huichols, the Wixárika people (pl. Wixaritari) as they call themselves, descendants of the First Peoples, who still hold out against the oppressor and its allies, the United Nations of the world. Although life is hard, deep in their mountain refuges of the Gran Nayar in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental, the Wixaritari still succeed to resist the latest waves of persecution of their ancestral way of life. They do so by means of the Lophophora Williamsii, a desert cactus called peyote in English, ”hikuri” in the Wixárika language. This magical plant gives the users supramental insights which so much fulfil the Wixárika quest for life that it keeps sustaining the covenant with the divine ancestors in the Kiekari, their spiritual territory and foundation of their mythical cosmos, in spite of the huge economic costs it imposes on the whole community.

Yet, the new world order posits the grandiose goal of zero tolerance for the so-called evil of illegal drugs as the inevitable means to protect health worldwide. It would therefore seem inconceivable that an indigenous people of merely 45.000 members, a tiny fraction of the world community, upholds, glorifies and steadfastly defends the collective use - children included - of a hallucinogenic plant forbidden as dangerous to all non-indigenous people of the planet. A fortiori when we realize that the hard core of these offenders, the Mara’akate (single ‘Mara’akame’), the shamans who organise the gathering and distribution of these substances with small bands of around 25 of the most arduous fellows represents at most a few hundred people. Was the Mexican government unaware that this 1% of the Wixaritari is undermining the whole fabric of the international drug control regime? Why can’t they heed the great examples and put this 1% behind bars? These mara’akate are all notorious recidivists and even a modest ‘10 times out’ will have the whole gang locked up for good. Are these Mexicans out of their right minds? The Wixaritári certainly are. That is, when viewed from the perspective of strict mind control. But when our focus is on the respect for the fundamental freedoms of religion and cognitive knowledge, the Wixárika ritual use of peyote can be appreciated as the rigorous ceremony of their most sacred quest for life on earth, and the road to return, enriched and empowered with spiritual knowledge and all the blessings of their Gods: Tatewari, Grandfather Fire, Tayaupa, Father Sun, Takutsi Nakawe, Great-grandmother Growth, Tatutsi Maxakwaxi, Great-granduncle Deer-tail and all the Kakauyarixi, the divine ancestors. They put and still keep the cosmos in place and are ever since available for the annual festive family get-togethers with their beloved Wixárika descendants, after the harvest festivals, when the creation is renewed, and the world is saved. It therefore appears equally inconceivable to expect the Wixaritari to forego their time-honoured tradition of consumption of the plant of their gods which feeds and maintains life to their ultimate satisfaction and secures the salvation of the world community, as they keep reminding us. What about that?