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Popocatepetl Volcano Pilgrims

Mexican pilgrims climb to sacred sites high on the flanks of the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico to lay offerings to the volcano spirits in hopes of good harvests and mild weather, a tradition that dates back to before the arrival of the Spanish.


Each year on dates corresponding with the Catholic ritual calendar and local traditions, hundreds of villagers from the pueblos surrounding central Mexico's Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanos climb to shrines located thousands of meters above sea level on the volcanos' flanks, to lay offerings and perform ritual songs and dances in an attempt to appease the volcano spirits. Locals believe that the volcanos and their guardian spirits--known affectionately as Don Goyo and Doña Rosa--influence the weather of the region, the harvests, and can help to heal the sick. Villagers hike for hours in order to pray and give offerings appealing for generous rains and to ward off hail storms, and the volcano shaman--known as the "tiempero"--speaks to the volcano spirits and attempts to use their energy to heal people.

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Charles Mostoller
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Contained in galleries
The Volcano Pilgrims, Holiday Package Images
Mexican pilgrims climb to sacred sites high on the flanks of the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico to lay offerings to the volcano spirits in hopes of good harvests and mild weather, a tradition that dates back to before the arrival of the Spanish.<br />
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Each year on dates corresponding with the Catholic ritual calendar and local traditions, hundreds of villagers from the pueblos surrounding central Mexico's Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanos climb to shrines located thousands of meters above sea level on the volcanos' flanks, to lay offerings and perform ritual songs and dances in an attempt to appease the volcano spirits. Locals believe that the volcanos and their guardian spirits--known affectionately as Don Goyo and Doña Rosa--influence the weather of the region, the harvests, and can help to heal the sick. Villagers hike for hours in order to pray and give offerings appealing for generous rains and to ward off hail storms, and the volcano shaman--known as the "tiempero"--speaks to the volcano spirits and attempts to use their energy to heal people.