Cardinal Points in Wixarika Culture and Their Meanings

The Wixaritari, or Huicholes, recognize several important sacred places associated with the cardinal points and vital elements for their subsistence and spirituality.

East: In Huichol cosmology, the East direction is linked with fire and rebirth. It is associated with the place of origin of the sun, Wirikuta, a sacred site located in the desert of San Luis Potosí near Real de Catorce. Here, the Huicholes undertake a pilgrimage every two years to collect peyote, which is essential for their ceremonies and spiritual rituals. This place is considered the site where the first ancestor, the Blue Deer, sacrificed himself to become peyote.

West: The West direction, in Nayarit, is related to water and the end of life. The Pacific Ocean, often referred to as Tatei Haramara or Mother of the Sea, is a sacred place associated with this direction. In some Huichol communities, ceremonies of thanksgiving to the sea and the water goddess are performed to ensure rain and the prosperity of crops.

North: The north, in Chapala, is associated with air and wisdom. It is often linked to ancestors and the wind.

South: The South is related to Mother Earth and abundance. It is often associated with corn, an essential crop for the Huicholes. Tatei Yurianaka, the mother of corn, is often revered in this direction.

In the center of these four points lies the "fifth" point, representing the connection between earth and sky, or the spiritual realm. This point is often associated with the Fire Temple, a sacred place in each community where important rituals and ceremonies are performed.

Pilgrimages to these sacred places are an essential part of Huichol life, and often involve rituals and offerings to the gods to ensure harmony and balance in the world. In some cases, these rituals may include animal sacrifices, such as chickens, but the main focus is on offerings, chants, dance, and prayer. In the time leading up to the pilgrimage, they gather offerings: god's eyes, gourds, arrows, and candles to take with them and offer, ensuring blessings for the next two years.