Temazcal, Ancestral Mesoamerican Ritual

Temazcal

Dear reader,

      If you are familiar with my blog – you already know that I Love to experience different healing practices and 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. 

      Every experience I’ve had sitting in a Temazcal has been healing and purifying on every level of my being so I feel called to share about it.  

      If you are reading this, I assume you are curious maybe even 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.  

 

About this ancient ritual

A Temazcal or Temazcalli, which means ‘House of Steam’ in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztec and Mexica people is a type of sweat lodge, which originated in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica.

A Temazcal or Temazcalli, which means ‘House of Steam’ in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztec and Mexica people is a type of sweat lodge, which originated in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica.

The Temazcal has been part of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Guatemala’s rituals to cleanse the body, mind and 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 and hold ancient wisdom) 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 ritual is usually composed of 4 or 5 Puertas (‘Doors’), or sections during which the physical ‘door’ is closed. Depending on the tradition each ‘door’ symbolises one element: Air, Earth, Water, Fire; or one direction: North, South, East and West, although I have heard there can be up to 6 doors. 

Before entering the Temazcal each participant is cleansed with the smoke of copal (resin from a medicinal tree). 

When entering a Temazcal one bows down to the earth placing the forehead on the ground while saying “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) – you can of course say this in your own language and in your own way but the importance is to ask for permission from the higher power to enter the Temazcal with the intention to heal oneself in the trust that this will also eco out to all our relations.

How does this millenary ritual work?

  • The volcanic rocks (the grandmothers) 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 improves your immune system due to the heat and use of healing herbs like rosemary and eucalyptus which is placed on the rocks and diffused when water is place don the rocks
  • The heat also supports joint health 
  • The heavy sweating enables the release of toxins and even heavy metals 

All of these elements + the added darkness of the space, the medicine songs and the guidance of the shaman, encourage the participants to connect to a strength within themselves and overcome the challenges encountered during the ceremony. Some people come face to face with the fear of dark spaces, others find themselves discovering unhealed trauma, while some connect to the sweetness of total surrender early in the ceremony, either way, All are equally welcome in the space which is intended to provide collective healing for everyone. 

When a participant says they want to come out, most shamans will encourage them to sit with the discomfort a little longer and see what happens if they try to remain in the space. However, most shamans do allow participants to come out if they insist that they are unable to stay. Some shamans do not allow participants back in, while others do and it is important to be clear that the shaman makes decision for the best interest of all participants. 

 

What makes it any different to a sauna?

      I don’t have experience with the nordic tradition but I do know this kind of ceremony exists throughout the American continent and perhaps it can also be found in other parts of the World, but I do have experience in gym and spa saunas and I can say they are completely different experiences with naturally different results.  
 
Why?
  • Intention
The most important aspect is the intention around this ceremony.  Each participant is encouraged to set their own intention, and the collective intention is the healing of the self and humanity, which sets the tone and 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 drums and rattles 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. 

Aho 

 

  • The Temazcal has been part of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Guatemala’s rituals to cleanse the body, mind and 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 and hold ancient wisdom) 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 ritual is usually composed of 4 or 5 Puertas (‘Doors’), or sections during which the physical ‘door’ is closed. Depending on the tradition each ‘door’ symbolises one element: Air, Earth, Water, Fire; or one direction: North, South, East and West, although I have heard there can be up to 6 doors. 
  • Before entering the Temazcal each participant is cleansed with the smoke of copal (resin from a medicinal tree). 

How does this millenary ritual work?

  • The volcanic rocks (the grandmothers) 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 improves your immune system due to the heat and use of healing herbs like rosemary and eucalyptus which is placed on the rocks and diffused when water is place don the rocks
  • The heat also supports joint health 
  • The heavy sweating enables the release of toxins and even heavy metals 

All of these elements + the added darkness of the space, the medicine songs and the guidance of the shaman, encourage the participants to connect to a strength within themselves and overcome the challenges encountered during the ceremony. Some people come face to face with the fear of dark spaces, others find themselves discovering unhealed trauma, while some connect to the sweetness of total surrender early in the ceremony, either way, All are equally welcome in the space which is intended to provide collective healing for everyone. 

When a participant says they want to come out, most shamans will encourage them to sit with the discomfort a little longer and see what happens if they try to remain in the space. However, most shamans do allow participants to come out if they insist that they are unable to stay. Some shamans do not allow participants back in, while others do and it is important to be clear that the shaman makes decision for the best interest of all participants. 

 

What makes it any different to a sauna?

      I don’t have experience with the nordic tradition but I do know this kind of ceremony exists throughout the American continent and perhaps it can also be found in other parts of the World, but I do have experience in gym and spa saunas and I can say they are completely different experiences with naturally different results.  
 
Why?
  • Intention
The most important aspect is the intention around this ceremony.  Each participant is encouraged to set their own intention, and the collective intention is the healing of the self and humanity, which sets the tone and 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 drums and rattles 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. 

Aho 

Temazcal at La Casa de los Ninos del Arbol in Bacalar, Mexico

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