(World Watch Monitor) — A giant statue of a deer stands high above the Mexican town of Bolaños, a symbol of its significance for the locals, who believe a deer-god protects them.
The belief dates back to when the Wixárika tribe first arrived in the area, in the western state of Jalisco, and encountered a deer which seemed to appear in front of them whichever way they turned. The tribe interpreted this as a sign of its promise of protection.
Today, in a community still dominated by members of the same tribe, the deer retains its significance as one of three local “gods”. The others are the maize upon which the community subsists and a hallucinogenic drug believed to invite an encounter with the spiritual realm.
For many of the tribe, to be Wixárika is to believe in the power of the three and to partake in the rituals and sacrifices offered to the gods – rituals involving blood, water and the use of the drug.