What is a Temazcal?March 9, 2021
You may have heard that a Temazcal is a kind of “sweat lodge” that helps to eliminate toxins and relax by sweating. However, the Temazcal is much more than that. A Temazcal possesses deep spiritual meaning.
The Grandmother of the Baths
The origin of the Temazcal goes at least five thousand years back, to the prehispanic period. Originated with the people inhabiting Mesoamerica. Temazcal or Temazcalli in the Náhuatl language comes from these three words:
“Tetl”, means rock
“Mazitli”, means hot, and
“Cali” means house
All together it is interpreted as “House of the burning rocks”.
The indigenous people of Mexico employed this physical and spiritual healing bath as a way to pay tribute to the goddess Temazcaltoci. According to Aztec mythology, Temazcaltoci, whose name means “Grandmother of the baths” was considered the goddess of medicine, revered by shamans in prehispanic times. It was mostly performed after a ballgame or a battle as a way of purification.
The Temazcal structure represents Tonantzin’s womb, considered “the mother of the gods”. You can find Temazcales made from various materials and shapes. Although the most common one is the round one, some rectangular and square Temazcales have been found at archeological sites. Materials like volcanic rock, cement adobe, wood with mud and cloth can be used to build a Temazcal. The small entrance should be facing east, as it symbolizes the entrance of the sun. A hole in the center of the Temazcal is dug to place the hot volcanic rocks. Also, it can have bare ground, sand, palm leaves, or in some cases a petate (carpet made of palm leaves).
The Ritual of the Temazcal
No two Temazcales are alike. The Temazcal comes alive and gets its tone depending on the energy of the place and the people participating. The idea is to connect with the cosmos, with nature, to explore our relationship with mother earth.
The Temazcal usually starts by asking permission to the logs that will be given to the “grandfather fire” to heat the volcanic rocks. These, in turn, will transform into “wise grandmothers”. When hot, the rocks are placed inside the hole in the floor in the center of the Temazcal.
Participants kneel when entering the Temazcal, kiss the earth and ask to enter the maternal womb. They give thanks for the rebirth they are about to experience. Additionally, the guide would suggest having an intention in mind about what area of your life you would like to focus on. Once inside, water is poured on top of the hot rocks, producing steam. Herbs like copal or sage are added to help the cleansing process.
How to Prepare For Your First Temazcal
Probably the first time you are about to try something new, you get a feeling of excitement mixed with a bit of nervousness, which is understandable. We all begin there.
For your first Temazcal, I would like to point out a couple of things to consider that would make your first Temazcal experience even more enjoyable.
Choose your clothes wisely.
Believe me, you don’t want to have too little or too many pieces of clothing. Your best bet will be a bathing suit and shawl/blanket combination. A bathing suit is the best piece to wear inside the Temazcal as you want to sweat all those toxins away. However, when coming out, you might get chilly. A blanket, shawl, or a pareo will keep you from getting cold. Also, remember to bring a small towel or any piece of cloth to clean the sweat and dirt that inevitably you will encounter inside the Temazcal.
Be well rested and have a small light meal.
When you are planning to participate in a Temazcal, choose a day after a good relaxed and quiet night. Having a small meal before entering the Temazcal is recommended. Not enough sleep and/or a heavy meal can take the enjoyment away from the experience. As you will be exposed to high temperatures, your body needs to be in a state where it is predisposed to relaxation and tranquility. Don’t forget also to be well hydrated.
If you don’t feel well, be calm.
The heating sensation can make some people a bit uneasy, and they may feel that there is not enough air inside the Temazcal. This could cause a panicking sensation, hyperventilation, or feeling like you might faint.
If you start to feel alarmed, remember, if you get close to the floor it is cooler. Bring your head down and close to the earth, it will cool you down. Also, do not try to run outside as the sudden change of temperature may cause you to faint. Just breathe deeply and calmly, and try to adapt to the environment. The Temazcal does not present any health risk, but if you do not want to continue, tell the person guiding the experience that you would like to leave, it is ok.
Nevertheless, if you have any health conditions please consult with your physician before joining the Temazcal.
Go with the flow
The Temazcal is an ancient ritual, therefore it has certain ceremonial steps. Listen to your guide to honor the process you are taking part in. Things like bringing your forehead to the ground signaling gratitude to Ometeol, the Mexican god of duality, and entering or leaving the Temazcal clockwise, are elements of the ceremony.
Temazcal as part of your Wedding Celebration
Your wedding is an extraordinary occasion filled with countless individual moments that make it unforgettable. What better than including the ancient Mexican ritual of Temazcal into your wedding celebration. Conrad Punta Mita is the only luxury resort in the Bay of Banderas area with a Temazcal on-site. Let our expert planners take care of all the details for you. Start your new married life in a state of relaxation, inner peace, and connectedness to your spouse and life itself. Forever begins here.