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Palaxtepetl Pilgrimage 2007 The ritual associated with a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain Palaxtepetl was organized by Nahua ritual specialist Teofilo.

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Presentation on theme: "Palaxtepetl Pilgrimage 2007 The ritual associated with a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain Palaxtepetl was organized by Nahua ritual specialist Teofilo."— Presentation transcript:

1 Palaxtepetl Pilgrimage 2007 The ritual associated with a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain Palaxtepetl was organized by Nahua ritual specialist Teofilo Jiménez Hernández as an offering to Chicomexochitl ("7-Flower"), the corn spirit. It was held March 9-10, 2007, in the village of Cacahuatengo, in the municipio of Ixhuatlán de Madero, Veracruz, Mexico. Photos were taken with a Nikon D50 digital SLR camera by Alan R. Sandstrom and Pamela Effrein Sandstrom. Please do not cite without permission. Alan R. Sandstrom Department of Anthropology Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) 2101 Coliseum Blvd. East Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805

2 Helpers make marigold and coyol palm adornments in preparation for ritual events to follow.

3 Helper constructs marigold and coyol palm star adornment for altars.

4 Ritual specialists cut sacred paper images of spirit entities to be addressed during the offering.

5 Helper unfolds paper image before placing it with others on paper petates (“beds”).

6 Helpers tie marigold and coyol palm adornments on sacred walking sticks as ritual specialists continue to cut thousands of paper images.

7 Altar in xochicali ("flower house" or shrine) showing coyol palm and marigold stars attached to arch.

8 Women undress paper images of seed spirits that are kept permanently by the ritual specialist. The women will wash and dry the clothing before replacing it on the paper figures.

9 Helper undresses paper image of seed spirit before washing and drying clothing.

10 Women tie folded paper “bones” on large paper images of the male and female aspects of the earth spirit before dressing each figure in new clothing.

11 Man ties string of marigolds that connects the main altar inside the xochicali with altar to the sun outside.

12 Photo showing marigold string connecting altar to the sun with main altar inside the xochicali.

13 Closeup of star adornment.

14 Partially decorated altar called cruz afuera ("outside cross") dedicated to the sun.

15 Men make coyol palm and marigold adornments representing 7-Flower and 5-Flower, the male and female aspects of the corn spirit.

16 Closeup of main altar showing cut-paper ventanas ("windows") hanging to the left and right of the arch. Spirit entities observe the ritual and offerings through these portals. Note the small paper images of testigos ("witnesses") hanging from the marigold string who are said to report back to these powerful but distant spirits.

17 Closeup of window through which spirits observe the ritual offering.

18 Women dress paper images of seed spirits with freshly laundered clothes.

19 Closeup of woman dressing paper figure of seed spirit.

20 Two ritual specialists, in foreground, and helpers prepare sacred corn bundles.

21 Ritual specialist wraps sacred corn bundle in bandana.

22 Ritual specialist on left holds sacred walking stick while other women cradle dressed paper images of seed spirits as they dance before main altar in the xochicali.

23 Helpers continue to prepare additional sacred corn bundles.

24 Women adjust clothing on paper images of seed spirits.

25 Women dance before main altar holding water pot, carrying bag filled with dressed seed images and a water pot containing a dressed paper image of apanchanej, the water spirit. Men at right hold sacred walking sticks.

26 People dance before main altar. Thousands of paper figures are wrapped in the petate placed on the ground before the altar.

27 Closeup of petate containing the sacred paper images of the spirits.

28 Woman places candle on ground before main altar in the xochicali.

29 Woman sacralizes corn bundles with copal incense.

30 Two ritual specialists begin to lay out paper figures of disease-causing wind spirits before a generalized cleansing prior to the major offering inside the xochicali.

31 Darkened figures in foreground of the cleansing array are aspects of death. The large darkened figures are tlacatecolotl ("owl man") and his wife, leaders of the dead in mictlan, the underworld.

32 Ritual specialists chant over cleansing array on which offerings have been carefully arranged.

33 Ritual specialist on left holds sacred herbs as colleague, right, rings a bell to awaken the spirits.

34 Inside the xochicali, women dance before the altar holding the dressed paper images of the earth and seeds.

35 Ritual specialist spreads offerings directly on paper images of wind spirits.

36 Everyone in attendance must pass through a vine and marigold loop to cleanse them of polluting wind spirits.

37 Everyone passes beneath a branch of stinging nettle in an act of cleansing.

38 Ritual specialist rests after dedicating offering to wind spirits.

39 Female ritual specialist cleanses her colleague with sacred herbs.

40 People dance with coyol palm and marigold adornments before the main altar prior to dedicating a major offering to the spirits.

41 The dance with palm and flower adornments is called the entregada, "delivery of the offerings."

42 Sacrificial victims undergo mock combat in front of the main altar.

43 Dance continues before main altar with ritual specialists and helpers holding fowl to be sacrificed.

44 The birds' throats are cut and the blood is carefully spread on each one of the paper figures that have been laid on and beneath the altar.

45 Closeup showing bloodied paper figures.

46 Ritual specialist carefully brushes each paper figure with blood from the sacrificed birds.

47 Ritual specialists sign their names in blood upon the paper figures.

48 Helpers then decorate the altar on top of the blood-spattered paper figures.

49 Main altar after being decorated.

50 Water pot containing dressed paper image of the water spirit apanchanej along with offerings.

51 Blood is also spread on the "windows" framing the altar.

52 Image of apanchanej is symbolically connected to water in the pot by coyol palm and marigold adornments.

53 At dawn, the participants pack offerings in preparation for the trek to Palaxtepetl.

54 Woman censes the participants with copal smoke.

55 Ritual specialists lead the way at the pilgrimage begins.

56 Woman censes with copal as man shakes rattle during pilgrimage.

57 The procession stops at a nearby spring and village water supply to dedicate an offering.

58 Woman dances with dressed paper images of seed spirits during offering at spring.

59 A small altar is constructed at the spring with the image of the water spirit placed at the center.

60 Ritual specialists chant before altar at spring.

61 The trek continues toward Palaxtepetl.

62 Participants cross a cattle pasture on way to the sacred mountain.

63 The trail becomes steep up the side of the mountain.

64 At the summit of Palaxtepetl participants unload their burdens.

65 Ritual specialist lays out paper adornments and sacred paper figures on altar at summit of Palaxtepetl.

66 The sacred paper figures are neatly stacked in bundles and tied with palm fiber. They will be carefully laid out on top of and beneath the altar before receiving the offerings.

67 Ritual specialists chant before altar while holding paper cuttings.

68 Closeup of ritual specialists chanting before altar on Palaxatepetl.

69 Ritual specialist neatly lays out sacred paper images of spirits on altar on Palaxtepetl.

70 Ritual specialists also lay out sacred paper images beneath altar table.

71 Photo showing rows of sacred paper images on and beneath the altar. Scraps from cutting the images also form part of the array.

72 Ritual specialists hold sacrificial fowl before altar on sacred mountain Palaxtepetl.

73 Participants dance before altar with birds about to be sacrificed.

74 Ritual specialist force feeds sacrificial victim some soft drink as an act of respect.

75 Ritual specialists spread blood of sacrificed birds on paper images.

76 Helpers carefully spread blood on each paper image.

77 Ritual specialist signs his name in blood on the paper images.

78 Ritual specialist begins to decorate altar.

79 Helpers lay out coyol palm and marigold adornments on altar table.

80 Helpers place dressed sacred paper figures on altar.

81 Ritual specialists chant before altar to dedicate offerings to the spirits.

82 Women fold paper “bones” to be tied to paper figures freshly cut by the ritual specialists. They will be dressed in new clothing during the offering.

83 Closeup of woman making paper "skeleton" for sacred paper image.

84 Closeup of woman about to tie the paper bones onto a figure of the corn spirit.

85 Women continue to prepare paper bones as the ritual specialist cuts more sacred images.

86 Helpers prepare a special circular altar to the sun.

87 The sun altar is a hoop placed atop a pole that has been decorated with palm and marigold adornments.

88 While the altar to the sun is being prepared, ritual specialists arrange blood-spattered paper images in a nearby depression in the ground.

89 Ritual specialist holds a chicken that will be interred alive as an offering to the clouds and wind.

90 Closeup of altar to sun before the pole is erected.

91 Helpers tie offerings to circular sun altar.

92 Sacrificial chicken is trapped beneath cloth stretched over depression in the earth as helpers place offerings on top.

93 Helper ties together offerings to sun on circular altar.

94 Helpers erect solar disk after tying on colorful strips of paper.

95 Helpers stretch out paper strips representing light rays emanating from the sun.

96 Helpers complete offering to the sun. Altar with buried chicken is at right, and altar to the earth can be seen at left.

97 Offering before weathered altar to abuela ("grandmother"), the female aspect of the earth.

98 Participants circumambulate beneath completed altar to the sun.

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