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Huautla de Jiménez

Magical Town of Oaxaca: Huautla de Jiménez

Huautla de Jiménez, town among the clouds and home of the Mazatecs, who invite you to participate in their ancient traditions. Live the experience of knowing their language, songs, dances and traditional medicine heritage of the famous Maria Sabina, Priestess of the mushrooms.

Huautla de Jiménez is a municipality in the district of Teotitlán in the Cañada Mazateca region of the state of Oaxaca, it is a rural – urban city, since it has a population of 68,555 inhabitants in the municipality and 53,999 in the City, and rural due to its scarce development in urban infrastructure, Huautla de Jiménez is the tenth largest population in the Oaxacan state.


The word Huautla comes from the Nahuatl word that, in the splendor of the Azteca lordship, Cuitláhuac will call Cuiticaname – Huautlan, which etymologically means “Place of Eagles”. De Jiménez, in honor of General Mariano Jiménez, who visited the region in 1864. On December 14, 1926, by decree No. 55, Huautla de Jiménez obtained the title of City.

This indigenous culture has a set of symbols, characters, explanation of origin, sacred hills, rituals, calendar, clothing, music, caves, among others; around which is built an identity that distinguishes them, a way of seeing, conceiving and interpreting the world, as recognized by the Declaration of the United Nations (UN) on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Huautla de Jiménez offers its visitors the exuberance of its natural environment, its people are always warm, friendly, open to share customs and traditions, and historical and cultural richness, and the unique cuisine.

Among the important historical monuments, Huautla de Jiménez, has the Clock Tower, located in front of the Municipal Palace, which is believed to have been built around 1924. In 1916, the building that was used as the municipal jail and military barracks was built over several years, nowadays houses different workshops from the House of the Culture.

In Huautla de Jiménez there is only one church, built in 1766, in honor of San Juan Evangelista and the most important festivals are: The festivity of the Lord of the Three Falls, which is celebrated on the third Friday of Lent; the eve is filled with music and fireworks, to continue with a solemn procession that runs through the main streets of the town, carrying the religious image; During the course of the week sociocultural activities are carried out supported by different institutions.

Recently the celebration of the Virgin of the Nativity has been celebrated on September 7 and 8 and the Virgin of Santa María Juquila between December 7 and 8, in addition to traditionally celebrated every December 12 to the Virgin of Guadalupe, for which pilgrimages from several surrounding communities reach the church.

In what refers to their customs and traditions, the Mazatecos, a name that is also known to the people of Huautla, which means “people of deer”, celebrate the “Day of the Dead” disguising themselves with masks of different figures, the group of people who disguises themselves and dances to the beat of music, are known as Huehuentones.

The festival starts on October 27 with a song contest in Mazatec. That same day, in the evening, all the groups of huehuentones go to the municipal pantheon, to inform the dead that it’s time to dance.

All the festivities end on November 4, that day the piñatas that were given to the Huehuentones are broken in each house where they danced. It should be noted that the municipal authority convenes an annual gathering of Huehuentones with the participation of approximately thirty groups, achieving an atmosphere of harmony and reaffirming the brotherhood among the Mazatecs.

The gastronomy of Huautla is unique and has characteristic dishes, among which are: “el pilte”, either chicken or pork, with spicy (based on dried chili from the region called “chiltépe”), steamed and wrapped in holy grass leaves. You can also enjoy others such as beef and goat broth, goat and beef barbecue, tesmole with any type of meat, bean tamales, corn, mole or tesmole, quelites, herbs called quintoniles.

The egg is prepared in different ways, mainly in sauce with epazote, mixed with holy grass, canary pepper and onion, it is also customary to prepare them without fat, on the comal with yerba. The drinks that are customary are: sour atole, atole de granillo, atole chile, atole dulce, cane liquor, chilacayota water, and coffee, since it is a producing area of ​​the so-called “high quality” because it is very aromatic of the Arabic type.

Huautla de Jiménez strives to be recognized as a locality that consecrates a natural and internal worldview that for several years has been developed with the management of hallucinogenic mushrooms, for this reason the most important cultural icon, without a doubt, is the Priestess María Sabina, a healer who gave worldwide fame to this region due to the medicinal use of “holy children” (hallucinogenic mushrooms).

María Sabina was a Mazatec indigenous woman born in 1894, in Huautla de Jiménez, her parents were María Concepción and Crisanto Feliciano, her father was a farmer who died when María Sabina was three years old, so together with her mother and her sister María Ana, two years younger than her, they went to live next to their maternal grandparents named Manuel Cosme and María Estefanía, who were dedicated to silkworm breeding and traditional agriculture. During her childhood María Sabina lived, as in the rest of her life, in conditions of extreme poverty and malnutrition, she received no education.

Mazatec healer María Sabina found peace when she healed and gave life to people. It was the knowledge of the hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms that gave her a national and international reputation, as well as the recognition of being a wise woman.

It was known that María Sabina found the mushrooms in sacred places of various ages and that she gave them to the people (after preparing one, two days and even a week) in order to heal them, accompanied by long songs. ceremonies, until the day she died, on November 22, 1985.

After her death there have been several tributes that have surrendered her. In Mexico the rock group Santa Sabina adopted her name and the band El TRI de México dedicated the song “Cosas de un soñador”. Nowadays, the symbol represented by the priestess Maria Sabina has achieved homogenizing assimilation and integration between religion, the management of hallucinogenic mushrooms and the worldview that is presented around this magnificent and significant ritual.

Therefore, the population has a very special worldview, which they have preserved and disseminated in the new generations. It is for this reason that each year the Festival is held in honor of María Sabina with a cultural week, from July 16 to 22. This festival represents a space of communion, exchange of experiences and knowledge among traditional doctors and an opportunity to spread the ancestral healing knowledge of the Traditional Medicine of the Indigenous Peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico and the World.

During the celebration, curanderos of the locality and surrounding municipalities that offer their services to carry out spiritual rituals meet since the figure of Maria Sabina represents a symbol of identity for the traditional doctors, not only Mazatecos but of all Oaxaca. The teaching of María Sabina has transcended national and state borders, reaching humility, wisdom, spirituality, connection with the gods, nature and kindness to share with others their healing knowledge; qualities that have inspired people of all latitudes and professions.

As an example, currently the shaman MAMA JULIA, originally from Huautla de Jiménez, is a member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers (International Committee of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers) and has traveled the world sharing her knowledge about employment of traditional medicine, linking and interacting with other countries and localities of the world, as well as with various national and international organizations.

Huautla de Jiménez, its authorities and community are redoubling efforts to retake and preserve values ​​such as honesty, respect, common good, security and solidarity, which have forged their identity and have projected it, particularly through the worldview generated by their priestess of the hallucinogenic mushrooms,

Huautla de Jiménez is traditionally magical because of its climate, customs, gastronomy, historical monuments, its architecture, the human quality of its inhabitants, characters characterized with ancestral knowledge about the handling of traditional medicine and communication with the gods. It has a unique and unique culture that exceeds the borders of our country.


About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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