Catemaco: Land of the Wizard King
Mysteries abound in the lake town of Catemaco, an adventure! So if trekking through ancient ruins in the rainforest in search of mysteries and supernatural wonders is your idea of grand adventure, March is the month to travel south of the border to beautiful and mythical Catemaco, Mexico, just south of Vera Cruz, a great town in a dense jungle environment.
From the natural beauty of the magnificent landscape to the Festival of Witches held in the town of Catemaco each Spring, there's plenty to see and do during this celebration of the equinox.
The Annual Gathering of Witches takes place in early March and is truly a mix of supernatural appeal and capitalism at its finest. For most, it is a light-hearted festival that is designed to bring tourist dollars into the local economy, capitalizing on a reputation the community has developed well over the last century.
To some, many in fact, it is the right time and place to search for healing or for charms or curses to protect your self against bad luck and your enemies.
Like most festivals, adventure travelers will find plenty of local food and entertainment. There are parades and processions through the streets, special dances and gatherings, and enough 'tour guides' on the streets to help you find just about any kind of witch or wizard you seek.
Just under the thin veil of the celebration, however, there may lurk darker designs and purposes. Local mythology has it that the community has been a power center for supernatural events since long before the ancient Olmec brought civilization to the wild untamed rainforests of the region.
The community's celebrated "High Council" consists of a dozen or more wizards who are said to perform acts of both black and white magic.
Shaman? Wizard? Witch? You decide.
For the most part, it is a time for the lighter side of the annual celebration; a time to purchase charms as souvenirs and take in the natural beauty of the surrounding region.
Catemaco and Tuxtlas tropical jungles are home to many hundreds of medicinal plants. Local inhabitants and especially the remaining indigenous people today still rely on these plants for the treatment of multiple ailments.
Historically brujos, shamans, warlocks, or whatever you choose to call them, occupy a revered place in Mexican indigenous culture. The Aztecs classified almost 40 different types of healers.
On the spiritual side, after the Spanish conquest, Catholicism's attempt to slaughter indigenous culture was transformed by native peoples into metamorphed saint worship and, especially in Veracruz, abetted by a large influx of African slaves and their jungle heritage.
Cuban santeria, Haitian voodoo, and Catemaco brujeria are closely related and promise their aficionados blissful enlightenment.
The cradle of Mesoamerican civilization in Central America, the region is home to the ancient Olmec (300BC - 1200AD), and where the first Olmec heads (statues) were uncovered. Credited with great and ancient science and magic, the area today maintains a similar sense of mystery as it did some 3,000 years ago.
The prinicipal communities of the region include San Andrés Tuxtla, Santiago Tuxtla, and Catemaco, known far and wide as the cities of witches, where students of white magic and the dark arts practice their trade openly and proudly, and are, in fact, in great demand by visitors from across Mexico and the world who travel there for their professional services.
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