The Spirit of the Earth


Indigenous World Part ONE
Philip Glass and The Spiritual Voice of the Wixarika Music

An extraordinary ensemble of Philip Glass and the Spiritual Music of the Wixarika
with indigenous musicians from Santa Catarina Cuexcomatirlan, Jalisco, Mexico

Daniel Medina de la Rosa: kanari, lyrics and voice
Erasmo Medina Medina: raweri
Philip Glass: piano and arrangements
Victor Sanchez: Cultural Adviser and Associate Producer
Concept: Philip Glass, Daniel Medina de la Rosa and Victor Sanchez
Indigenous Cultural Adviser: Alfredo Gonzalez (Tayau)

The Spirit of the Earth is a unique concert in which Philip Glass joins the spiritual musical tradition of the Wixarika indigenous people from Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán, in Jalisco Mexico.

In their own words, the songs that the Wixarika musicians will be sharing during this extraordinary concert are the messages that the Kakayares (the Poderios or deities of nature) receive during their spiritual pilgrimages to their sacred sites or else through their dreams. As a matter of fact the special ways of attention that they achieve during their traditional pilgrimages and the dreaming awareness are pretty much the same; traveling to their sacred place and hearing the voice of the Poderios is just another way of dreaming while they are at the same time, fully awake and active in the midst of the remote natural places in which their pilgrimages take place.

The Spirit of the Earth is at once the homage and celebration of the relationship that Philip Glass has cultivated for almost two decades with indigenous people from México as a part of his never-ending efforts to continue his spiritual development and to discover the ultimate origin of music itself.

While the friendship with his indigenous friends started long before, their musical collaboration has been developing for almost a decade. The first public performance together took place for The Concert of the Sixth Sun in Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico in December 2012; followed by the premier of The Spirit of the Earth in Mexico City, December 2017. They have also recorded two albums recorded by Orange Mountain Music.

Their collaboration reached a peak moment during the concert Homage to Philip Glass in Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City in May 2018, where pieces of the Spirit of the Earth were offered in the highest venue for Fine Arts in Mexico, as a prelude for the premier in Mexico of Philip Glass´ Symphony Number 7 “Toltec” performed by the Mexico National Symphonic Orchestra and conducted by renowned director Michael Riesman.

This extraordinary event was very successful and received a warm and enthusiastic response from the audience, the press and the cultural critics, capturing the front pages of some of Mexico´s most important newspapers.

The content, depth and duration of the collaborative compositions of Philip Glass and Daniel Medina de la Rosa, invite the audience to deep listening, which in turn opens the door to states of attention that resemble those that the Wixarika pilgrims reach during the long walks of their annual pilgrimages to their sacred places, thus opening the door for the audience to hear not only music, but to feel and get a sense of the messages that the Poderios have for all human beings.

We are fortunate for Philip Glass’ insatiable curiosity for music and spirit and the generosity and openness of Daniel Medina de la Rosa and Erasmo Medina Medina to sharing with us some of their good medicine for the soul that are their songs; opening the door for all of us to also hear and feel the voice and the spirit of the Earth.

About the Wixarika Musicians
Daniel Medina de la Rosa, who is the composer of the lyrics of all the songs on this album, plays the Wixarika violin or raweri and delights us with his voice, is a traditional Wixarika musician, keeper of a spiritual lyric heritage, which goes back many centuries before the conquest.

Besides cultivating the land for his livelihood, from an early age Daniel was touched by the gift of music which he uses as a means for sharing the experiences, visions and messages he receives from the deities during the pilgrimages and ceremonies in which he has participated and keeps participating, throughout his entire life.

He says that during those experiences, when he is lucky, he dreams the songs that then he has to repeat again and again so that they are not forgotten.

Erasmo Medina Medina, who plays the Wixarika guitar or kanary, is the son of Daniel Medina de la Rosa and a follower of the same tradition.

Additional Information about the Wixarika
The Wixarika people live in different regions of the States of Jalisco, Nayarit, Zacatecas and Durango in Mexico. Although they are popularly known as “Huicholes,” we have always chosen to call them the name they give to themselves: Wixarika or Wixaritari, which is the plural of Wixarika.

One of their peculiarities is that their sacred territory extends far beyond the ravines and mountainous areas where they live. That is why they often have to travel great distances to visit, bring offerings to and consult their deities, in places so far from each other, as the coast of San Blas in Nayarit, to the lake of Chapala near Guadalajara City, to the Cerro Gordo mountain in Durango State, and the mountain summits and their surrounding deserts on Sierra de Catorce, in San Luis Potosí.

On the Types of Singing among the Wixarika
Music and singing are an integral part of the spiritual life of the Wixaritari and there are various” traditional ways of singing in their culture. Most remarkable among them are on the one hand, the singing of the marakame or cantador,” whom we could describe as one of the main shamans of the community who has the responsibility of giving voice to Grandfather Fire. This type of singing is exclusively ceremonial and therefore is restricted to that context. In that sense, we can say that the songs of the marakame belong to the ceremony, to the community and ultimately to Grandfather Fire.

On the other hand, there are the songs individually received by the traditional musicians-pilgrims like Daniel, in which he remembers and describes what he saw, listened or said during his encounters with the sacred Poderios, deities or kakayares. These are his songs and he can share them whenever his heart asks him to, in any place and before any person willing to listen to him with respect and with an open heart.

The songs that we are hearing from Daniel´s voice are representations of his conversations with the deities that govern the sacred places he continuously visits.

At times, they show us the voice of the pilgrim who speaks to the Poderío or Kakayare; expressing the longing of his heart. In others it is the voice of the Poderio that speaks to him, teaching or even questioning the intention of the pilgrim.

About his songs, Daniel sometimes says something that we have also heard from Philip Glass. He says he does not make his songs, instead he dreams them or hears them in the sacred place.

The great challenge for both is to listen with absolute attention, so that they can later remember what they heard, and then keep it either through a score (in the case of Philip Glass) or by constant repetitions in the case of Daniel, so that those of us who have the privilege to listen to them can finally get to hear the fruit of their extraordinary listening.

On the Importance of the Wixarika Culture
The Wixarika people have attracted the attention of both academics and anthropologists, and from spiritual seekers and artists, and we cannot make a final statement of what it is that makes them so special.

They are often too closely related to shamanism and peyote, in a reductionist view that prevents us from getting the broad spectrum of their cultural and human value.