Temazcal, ancestral Mayan ritual


Dear reader,

      If you are familiar with this ‘space’ – my blog – you already know that I Love to experience different healing practices and I enjoy sharing about them, in the hope they may be helpful and even inspiring for others who are also open to exploring different healing modalities. 

      If you are reading this, I assume you are curious / interested in the Temazcal, or perhaps you’ve already had your own experience(s), either way, please be reminded that I share from my own experience and do not claim to speak ‘The Truth’ and only my truth as objectively and sincerely as I can, using written language, which is limiting in itself when speaking of spiritual experiences, but as always, I’ll try my best.  

I recently took part in my 4th Temazcal and it was so cleansing on every level of my being that I feel called to share about it.  

For those who know nothing or very little about this ancient practice here is a little information:

  • A temazcal or temazcalli which means House of Steam in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztec and Mexica peoples) is a type of sweat lodge, which originated in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica.
  • The temazcal has been part of the indigenous peoples of Mexico’s rituals and healing practices to cleanse the body, the mind and the spirit for thousands of years as depicted in hieroglyphs found at archeological sites 
  • Temazcales can be made of different materials depending on the region, but they are usually made using natural materials and they tend to be round like a dome to symbolise the mother’s womb. 
  • The heat is produced by volcanic rocks, las abuelitas (the grandmothers – called like that because they are thousands of years old) which are first heated in a fire (el abuelito – the grandfather) and then introduced into the Temazcal and placed in the centre, in a specific sequence (a certain amount of rocks at every ‘door’ and they each have their name.) 
  • The Temazcal usually has 4 Puertas (‘Doors’), or sections during which the physical ‘door’ is closed. Each ‘door’ symbolising one element: Air, Earth, Water, Fire ; although I have heard there can be up to 6 doors, I am unsure of what the other 2 doors may represent. 
  • Before entering the Temazcal each participant is cleansed with the smoke of copal (resin from a medicinal tree). 
  • When you enter a Temazcal you should bow down to the earth placing your forehead on the ground as you say “Ōmeteōtl” (Dual Cosmic Energy or double God) or “Gran Espiritu” (Great Spirit)  “por todas y cada una de mis relaciones y mi familia, pido permiso para entrar al sagrado Temazcal’  (For all and each one of my relationships and my family I ask permission to enter the sacred Temazcal.) 

So how does this millenary ritual work?

  • The volcanic rocks (the grandmothers) are said to emit infrared rays which penetrate up to 10cm in our physical body – killing bacteria and even cancerous cells (a sort of gentle chemotherapy that doesn’t harm healthy cells) – unique to the temazcal in my knowledge
  • The temazcal is said to improve your immune system due to the heat and use of healing herbs like rosemary and eucalyptus 
  • The heat is said to help support the health of your joints 
  • The heavy sweating enables the release of toxins and even heavy metals 

And what makes it any different to a sauna?

      I don’t have any experience with other rituals in sweat lodges but I know this kind of ceremony exists throughout the American continent and I presume it may do as well in other parts of the World, but I do have experience in gym and spa saunas and I can honestly say they are completely different experiences with naturally different results.  
  • Intention
I’d say the most important aspect is the intention around this ceremony.  Each participant can set their own intention however the collective intention is the healing of the self and humanity, which sets the tone / frequency for the ceremony.  
  • Medicinal Herbs

The use of medicinal herbs and resin also contribute to the ritualistic aspect of the Temazcal, but also to physical and energetic purifying experience it provides.  

  • Chanting and instruments
The singing of ancestral songs in native tongues led by the shaman or anyone who feels called to share a song creates a specific healing vibration in the space and invokes the ancestors to support the spiritual cleansing of all those in the ‘womb’. Often a drum and other instruments are used to make the music which supports the participants through their journey by enabling a transe like state. 

Last words. . . 

There are many more things I could talk about in regards to the Temazcal but I rather leave it to your own discovery for when you are able to take part in one. 

Thank you for reading and for being open to healing – I see you and am grateful for you. We are All in it together. 

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