Next week, I will be traveling to central Mexico for my annual pilgrimage to Wirikuta and Cerro Quemado, sacred lands of the Wixáritari (Huichol) people. This is year four for me, and I consider the opportunity to take part in this sacred journey one of the greatest gifts I’ve been blessed with in this lifetime.
Traditionally, Huichol pilgrims would take about 40 days to make the 300 mile trek from their homes to the sacred valley of Wirikuta and then hike Mount Quemado on foot. They would stop at sacred shrines along the way to perform rituals and ceremonies of preparation and purification.
Where there was once only untouched land along much of the route, now there are highways, private property fences, and cities. But the Huichol pilgrims still make this journey, working around the challenges modernization brings.
The purpose of the pilgrimage is both personal renewal/purification as well as the performance of ceremonies and making of offerings aimed to keep harmony and balance in the world.
For the Huichol. these sacred sites are honored because this is where the sun rose for the first time and where their ancestors come from. Making the journey and honoring Tatewari (sacred Fire spirit) and Kauyumari (sacred Blue Deer spirit) helps the pilgrims remember where they came from and renew/strengthen their connection to Great Spirit.
I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to make this sacred pilgrimage each year. Along with my annual journey to Peru in the Fall for participation in traditional Shipibo plant dietas (discussed in this previous post), I consider this annual pilgrimage an absolutely critical part of my ongoing training and growth.
Though the journey I participate in is much shorter than the traditional Huichol one, the power and blessings are still immense. When I was preparing for my first pilgrimage, I asked one of my teachers to assist me with setting good intentions. He said, “Ask to have really powerful prayers. That’s the whole point of the trip.”
That was clear enough, so I followed his instruction and began praying and asking for assistance in having really powerful prayers during my pilgrimage. I was left stunned at the power and beauty of the pilgrimage and the incredible power of the prayers said on that journey.
It’s impossible to describe in words how healing, inspiring, and empowering the pilgrimage experience is. Taking part in an all-night ceremony under the guidance of a Mara’akame (Huichol shaman) and then hiking up to Mount Quemado for more prayers and ceremony is one of the most amazing experiences I have had.
I feel transformed and strengthened with each successive journey. And I witness incredibly profound, positive shifts in my life (personal and professional) after each pilgrimage. But such rewards don’t come without a price.
Most spiritual traditions advocate various practices and rituals that require some sort of sacrifice in order to gain spiritual growth and insights. Think of the different fasts various religious traditions encourage/require. Or the solitary journey into the unknown that an indigenous vision quest entails.
For this pilgrimage, the preparation requires a 30-40 day period of refraining from any use of the sacred sexual energy and two weeks of a no salt diet. The purpose of the no sex is to conserve the sacred sexual energy for spiritual purposes and to store up qi for this special pilgrimage.
The purpose of the two weeks of no salt (one at the beginning of the preparation period and one at the end) is to do a physical cleanse of the body and dissolve any negativity stored inside. Salt acts as a preservative, so by eliminating it, we are able to eliminate the energetic residue collected from past pain, stress, and toxic patterns.
The most important part of the preparation for me is the saying of prayers and asking for guidance, assistance, and support for my pilgrimage. As part of the prayer process, I make four flechas (prayer arrows) to take with me on the journey. The flechas are made in a meditative, prayerful way, and they carry the intent of the pryers I will say on my pilgrimage journey. (The ones in the photo are from my first pilgrimage.)
So, the preparation period takes some effort in getting oneself ready both physically and spiritually for the powerful journey of pilgrimage. I believe that the more sincere we are in our preparations, the higher are the rewards of the journey. Our commitment and dedication is always rewarded a thousand-fold.
And this applies not only to spiritual practice but everything else in life. The more sincerely and earnestly we commit ourselves to something, the more rewards and blessings we receive. Experiencing this in such a special, sacred journey inspires me to carry this lesson into the rest of my life.
One of the things I most enjoy about my journey is being able to carry your prayers and offering them on your behalf during the beautiful ceremonies I participate in. So, if you would like for me to take your prayers with me, please send me your prayer requests via this Prayer Request form.
When I return, I will be teaching a class on How to Pray Powerfully and Effectively. In that class, I will share more about my pilgrimage and what I learned from my journey. The class will be at 6pm Pacific Time on Monday, April 8th. It’s part of my monthly Shamanism, Spirituality, and Energy Medicines class, and you can get more information and sign up here.
I hope you can join me for the class. If you can’t make it live, you will have access to the recording. I feel so blessed and honored to share this journey with you. Thank you and have a beautiful day.