The Huichol (Wixárica) call Tagetes lucida (Mexican Marigold), a plant native to the Americas, Tamutsáli and Yahutli. Its brightly-colored flowers are used in religious ceremonies on home altars as incense and decorative folk art associated with the Day of the Dead throughout Mexico and have a pre-Columbian origin. Siegel, Collings and Diaz document how the Huichol mix Tagetes lucida with tobacco (Nicotiana rustica), which they call Yé: “In ceremonial uses, the Huichol smoking of the yé/tumutsáli mixture is frequently accompanied by ingestion of peyote, tesquino or nawa (fermented maize drink) cái or sotól (cactus distillate), and tepe (another alcoholic beverage). Such combinations inevitably produce extremely vivid hallucinations, but less intense visions are obtainable with the smoking mixture alone.”
In a fascinating article by a team of researchers led by Laura White Olascoaga, T. lucida (which they call pericón) is considered a link that joins the present with a pre-Hispanic past in that Yauhtli was strongly connected to the gods of rain and vegetation and was a symbolic offering as part of this vision of the cosmos. After the Conquest, with the advent of Christianity, T. lucida was associated with San Miguel, who was considered the divine protector of harvests, having power over lightning and storms. This belief persists in rural Central Mexico through the use of four bunches of T. lucida flowers tied together in the form of a cross and placed over the doorways of farmers’ homes and work places.
Medicinally, the fresh herbage is used to treat abdominal pain, to promote lactation, and to alleviate rheumatism. New research has shown that extractions from T. lucida can be used on a large scale as a natural insecticide to protect crops from infestation.