By Alan R. Sandstrom
"Drawing upon 20 years of analysis between Nahua-speaking peoples of Mexico's northern Veracruz, Sandstrom presents the most special and compelling photos to be had of recent Mexican Indians". -- selection.
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As portals to the supernatural realm that creates and animates the universe, caves have continuously been held sacred through the peoples of Mesoamerica. From precedent days to the current, Mesoamericans have made pilgrimages to caves for ceremonies starting from rituals of passage to petitions for rain and a abundant harvest.
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Extra resources for Corn Is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a Contemporary Aztec Indian Village
As a longtime resident in the village, I was invited to contribute to the eﬀort and to document the ritual events. In this chapter, I will discuss the logic of the pilgrimage in the context of contemporary Nahua religion and worldview. In particular, I would like to oﬀer an interpretation of how Nahua views of caves, pyramids, and sacred mountains oﬀer insight into indigenous thought in the Mesoamerica culture area. I make the case that contemporary beliefs and prac- 36 Central Mexico tices of the Nahua and other Native American groups provide valuable information by which we can better understand enigmatic aspects of the rich archaeological and ethnohistorical record of Mesoamerica (Heyden 1981:28; see Stone 1995:11–12, for a discussion of cultural continuity in Mesoamerica).
Romero was also a curandero, a healer, as his daughter Joseﬁna would become. Curing was done by ﬁrst sprinkling holy water—brought from the nearby Saint Augustine Church—on the ﬂoor of the cave, then by sweeping the ﬂoor; after this, cleansing ceremonies, limpias, were performed with diﬀerent herbs and ﬂowers. One of the major ceremonies carried out in the cave was the ritual dance, the Concheros. This dance, in which men, women, and children participate, and which supposedly is reminiscent of Aztec rites, is dedicated both to religion and to pleasure and is performed along semimilitary lines, with strict control over the participants.
Brujos, or sorcerers, can ‘‘steal the soul’’ of individuals and perform other diabolical acts, but if the persons who have ordered these fail to cover the cost of the oﬀerings and the brujo’s work in the cave, the maleﬁcio—the evil act or spell—has no eﬀect (Aramoni Burguete 1990:157). The Mixe area, like most of Mexico, is dotted with caves, all of which play a signiﬁcant role in religion and myth. They are used for curing and other rituals. The presence of archaeological objects indicates long, continued use.