This sacred temple is called the temazcal.
It is the physical representation of Mother Earth’s womb and it is a sweat lodge for which we retreat to in order to release our toxins [both physically and metaphysically].
In recent years there has been a cultural resurgence of certain indigenous rituals and practices throughout the Central and South Americas, and these ancient sweat lodge ceremonies are making a huge comeback. Mesoamerican temazcales are at the heart of Mexico’s ancient civilizations, and they represent the centre of the earth - the place where the realms collide. What captivates me the most about this absolutely glorious and significant element of Indigenous culture is that this sweat lodge is not only a place for healing the sick and cleansing one's spirit... One of its most important functions is that it is used as a birthing hut.
Here is what I have learned about this practice so far:
In indigenous traditions a labouring woman gives birth in the the temazcal, and there are a number of reasons why (and not just spiritual ones). It was understood that the heat of this earthly womb relaxes both the woman's muscles as well as her mind. This eases the labour process physically and mentally and allows a smooth passage for the babe. It is believed that the temazcal is especially beneficial for new babes because as a result of the warmth they experience less shock when they are greeted in this earthly realm - there is no need to rush for blankets to keep them warm, and it is important to understand that the cold is extremely risky for newborns. In addition, the privacy and shelter of the lodge allows the mama to be naked and comfortable. She can move into any position she chooses, rather than being strapped to a table the way she would be in a hospital. She is free to birth on her back, all fours, squatting, or any other position that is most comfortable for her body. Most importantly, both mama and babe are protected from the external world in their sacred space and this rite of passage can be celebrated for the ritual that it is. Traditionally the placenta is buried outside of the temazcal, and the mother is supposed to return to the lodge 5 times over the course of 10 days following the birth to ease her spirit into this new phase of life.
I mean, how beautiful is that?
I am ever grateful to my friends at Amatecamp for inviting me into their home this month and for allowing me to experience the greatness of this exceptionally beautiful sacred practice. This will be a month of learning ancient wisdom and connecting to the earth, and I am oh so ready.
Mexico here I come.
Hablamos luego amores!