Origins and History of the Ceremony of the 8,000 Sacred Drums:
In 1521 the last 8000 Drum Gathering for Mother Earth took place in the mountains in Ndongu-Xikipilko in Central Mexico. That year the Conquistadors prohibited all kind of native ceremonies and celebrations for Mother Earth. That is why Indigenous Peoples decided to hide their sacred rituals and spiritual practices for maintaining and protecting them. At that time the Otomi Toltec Elders and Wisdom Keepers had a vision of a prophecy that said: “When 8000 Drums will sound again the great healing for Mother Earth will happen and more Peace on Earth will come. The People from the Four Directions will come together to bring about a great healing for Mother Earth. They will have realized the great harm we humans have done to Nature. The Children of the Earth will come together to recognize their Mother Earth as a Living Being who can also feel, breath, love and be happy.”
Our Elders and Wisdom Keepers feel that the time has come to fulfill this prophecy. It seems that Paris 2015 and COP 21 are related with the vision the ancestors had for Mother Earth of 1521.
This Gathering and Ceremony was reborn as a visionary initiative of the Wise Grandparents in 2004 at the Otomi Ceremonial Center, in Temoaya, State of Mexico, at the celebration of the Spring Equinox, which coincided with the arrival of ‘Ra’yo Jeya (Otomi New Year). We have also been performing the Ceremony at each change of season.
The Ceremony of 8000 Sacred Drums is part of the ancient Otomi culture and tradition, and it has a history of at least four thousand years, from the ancient holy city of Cuicuilco. According to oral history, with the eruption of Xitle volcano, a pilgrimage arrived at the Valley of Toluca and founded the Sacred City of Ndongu (located in the actual Sierra Otomi of Temoaya), where this tradition was continued.
With the arrival of the Aztecs to the Valley of Mexico almost 700 years ago, the city of Ndongu was called “Xiquipilco”, which means “Place of the Eight Thousand”, as this place had been used to gather 8000 drums for rituals, ceremonies, healings and holidays. This tradition developed for celebrations and important dates, to honor the Ceremonial Centers and Sacred Places, and especially to maintain harmony with Mother Earth and the Universe.
The emblem of their banner contained the symbol of the mountain, and in the center a bag with three fringes, which was reproduced in the sacred books and codices such as the Xiquipilco and Huamantla. This pictographic element represents the number 8000 in the vigesimal (20 based) Otomi system of Numeration, and in its cosmic vision. The symbolic representation of this number is associated with the most sublime virtues of the Universe.
All of the legacy of the great Olmec-Teotihuacan-Toltec civilization, the entire cultural heritage and ancient wisdom, were kept secret and held sacred for more than five centuries by the Otomi descendants. This collective memory resurfaced, and continues to live in its traditional social organization, in its medicine, ancestral worldview and spirituality, and in its culture of peace, love and respect for Mother Earth. It is recreated in its artistic manifestations, in the sacred amate bark paper, in the language, and in monumental structures such as the majestic Otomi Ceremonial Center .
This is how the Elders and the Guardians of Ancient Wisdom have forewarned of the changes in Mother Earth, of the acceleration of Time, of the evolutionary processes, of the codes and laws that govern Harmony in the Universe. In this way our Elders have shared with us lessons of life, handed down from generation to generation, including methods and techniques for healing and how to bring ourselves into harmony to regain our love of life.