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MEXICO: Syncretism in Oaxaca

A recent posting described the pilgrimage to the Virgin of the Conception in Juiquila, Mexico. The state of Oaxaca is especially interesting because it is much less Americanized that the northern part of Mexico. The New York Times (5/8/02) ran a feature article about Huautla de Jiménez in the same state. It is the area where a species of hallucinating salvia grows. We mentioned salvia in connection with the related sage brush of the American plains. The remote mountain village has become a Mecca for tourists, many of them European, looking for a drug high. They disgust the local population, for whom the drug is part of a very serious religious ceremony requiring abstention which the tourists certainly do not practice. The article featured a picture of a priestess of the pagan cult. On the wall behind her was a large crucifix, a perfect example of syncretism.

Ronald Hilton - 5/10/02