Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain

Luis Ernesto de la Garza Carballo

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain

People, such as mystics, spiritual missionaries, UFO hunters, shamanic priests, hippies, religious people, explorers, sports fanatics and regular tourists, all get together in this magical place, to experience its vibrant energy. On a moonless night you'll have the added bonus of a spectacular view of the Milky Way. This sacred mountain has a protective feeling about it, similar to that of a parent who playfully lifts their child into the air, although, in reality it is quite a hard climb to the summit. Tepozteco and the legends surrounding it have been mentioned in Mexican history and folklore since pre-Hispanic times.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.The idea of a mountain being sacred has come up over and over again throughout history, like Mount Fuji in Japanese culture, or the incredible Himalayas in the Tibetan and Nepalese cultures. There are many more mountains that can be considered sacred, but the Tepozteco is one of the most interesting ones, and it is just an hour and a half away from Mexico City's International Airport, and roughly thirty minutes away from the airport of Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.This steep mountain that frames the town of Tepoztlan amazes residents and visitors with its almost caring closeness and immense height. It is a protective element, an unavoidable father figure that embraces the entire town. Because of this belief, the mountain is considered sacred by the villagers and visitors. Many people come to harness the mountains energies or for spiritual reasons. They also come to participate in sports such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, or just to enjoy the view of the ''Magic Town'' of Tepoztlan far below.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.The magic of the Tepozteco Mountain goes beyond just its appearance; it has also been a ceremonial site since almost 1300 B.C. The tribes that settled here worshiped the god of pulque (an alcoholic beverage made from maguey plants), Ometochtli-Tepoztecatl, who lived on top of the Tepozteco Mountain. He was also the god of fertility and the wind, similar to Bacchus and Dionysius in the Greek and Roman cultures, and the tribes built a pyramid on the mountain's summit in his honor. This powerful yet caring god was so renowned that he attracted pilgrims from as far away as Guatemala.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.Legend has it that the god Tepoztecatl was born from a maid who, just like the Virgin Mary in Catholicism, became pregnant through Immaculate Conception. Some versions say she found an earthen figurine, which she kept under her clothes causing the pregnancy, other say that the water of the Axitla creek caused the pregnancy, and there are also some that say that she just ''caught the air'' and became pregnant, since the boy was the son of the wind god, Ehecatl. The maid's parents tried to get rid of the child and abandoned him on the mountain in order to keep their daughter's honor. The boy was then fed and cared for by ants and the maguey plants, and later by a magician and his wife, who took him in as their son.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.Tepoztecatl learnt to do magic and lived a glorious life, always protected by the god of the wind. He freed the town from a tyrannical giant and was proclaimed governor, until the day died. The pyramid was erected where he lived, on the top of the Tepozteco Mountain, which is now one of the most popular attractions in the state of Morelos.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.Hundreds of visitors a week come to climb up to the pyramid, which is freely accessible and costs nothing to visit. The mountain's 59,300 acres of protected land has about 15,000 different registered species of flora, varying from tropical plants at the bottom to highland species at its peak. There are also about 500 different species of fauna, making for an incredible opportunity to admire the beauty of nature.

Tepozteco: The Sacred Mountain.Some people say there is an undeniable energy that can be felt here, maybe it is real or maybe it's just part of a collective ideology, but it attracts many groups who come to do yoga, meditate, perform shamanic rituals and to enjoy traditional temazcals (ritual herbal steam baths). Some catholic groups have also built convents and retreats in the town. The truth is that the journey up the mountain to the pyramid will be an exciting trip, which may involve a personal or spiritual encounter. Once you get there the stunning view, of Tepoztlan and the nearby towns, is simply awe-inspiring.

It is definitely worth staying in Tepoztlan or Cuernavaca to experience the magic that the Tepozteco Mountain offers, and take advantage of the magnificent services of the holistic spas in the town and nearby cities. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a UFO. Also, don't forget to buy a ''Cerrito'', which is a small piece of wood carved to represent a miniature version of the Tepozteco Mountain, usually featuring a small hillside house or pyramid. These are a great reminder of your trip and your journey up this sacred mountain, a place you will definitely never forget.

By Luiser de la Garza