Although more and more people know what a Temazcal is, it is not certain that everyone can answer the question: what does a Temazcal ceremony consist of? In fact, for those who are not Mexican, they may even confuse this ancestral practice with many other rituals that exist in the country, such as the peyote rite performed by the Raramuris in the north; we are referring to this hallucinogenic cactus, which allows people to understand the desert in order to understand themselves.
But then, what does the temazcal consist of? It is a shamanic ritual that dates back to pre-Columbian times and that, through several sweat sessions, allows a purification of the body and a relaxation of the mind. It should be noted that among the many ancestral ceremonies that existed in Mexico before the conquest, few have survived as well as this one. And that is precisely because its benefits are varied and it is a practice without any danger.
What is a temazcal?
Temazcal literally means “house of heat” in the Nahuatl language. In fact, this experience takes place in a sweat lodge also called temazcal. It is a kind of round hut made of branches and fabrics, or earth or stones that does not exceed one and a half meters in height and has a small opening that serves as a door. Inside, a bonfire is made in the center where volcanic stones are heated over which a cold infusion of herbs and medicinal ingredients is poured by candlelight.
Temazcal promotes relaxation of the muscular system and relieves pain. Sweat cleanses the body of toxins and is good for the respiratory system. This purification of the body could be compared to the benefits of a hammam. But the temazcal is not just a simple steam bath but also an inner journey that helps us to reconnect with ourselves for self-healing. So, what does the temazcal consist of?
How does a temazcal work?
In addition to the physical benefits, the temazcal allows for spiritual purification. It is a true experience of introspection that takes place under the guidance of a temazcalero or shaman. Although each ceremony is different, this master conducts it with chants making possible a certain state of trance for visitors enraptured by the music and wrapped in incense or mud.
Indeed, thanks to the shape of the place and its dark, narrow and warm character, reminiscent of a mother’s womb, the temazcal ceremony should allow everyone to forget about external discomforts and experience a kind of rebirth.
But the connection with oneself also implies a union with nature. The temazcal would not exist without four elements: earth, water, fire and air. Therefore, during the ritual, the temazcalero will physically open the door of the hut four times to pay homage to these four divinities.
More and more places are offering temazcal ceremonies in Mexico, but to live the most authentic experience possible, the closest to tradition and in true union with nature and its surroundings, there is nothing better than going off the beaten path and getting in direct contact with the communities.
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