Bathhouse blog

What is a Temazcal bathhouse

The word Temazcal itself means "house of hot stones" in translation from the ancient Nahuatl language, common among the Indians inhabiting the central part of Mexico.

In fact, it is a structure made of stones and clay in the shape of a hemisphere, a little reminiscent of a beehive due to the multi-layered structure. Traditionally, the dimensions of such a structure do not even allow a person inside to stand up to his full height.

In the center under the dome of a small room are laid out hot stones, which are heated in a fire before the ritual. The Indians used mostly volcanic rocks for this purpose.

The entrance to the temazcal was organized from the eastern side, and the hearth for heating the stones was laid out strictly in a straight line in front of the entrance.

How the Temazcal ritual takes place
Before the ritual itself, there is a small preparatory part. In the hearth, which was mentioned above, a few hours in advance begin to heat the stones. Decoctions of herbs are prepared. Then all participants gather in a circle and the shaman in the ancient dialect begins to say a prayer to 4 parts of the world, earth and sky. In the temazcal for tourists the prayer is translated into English or Spanish and all those present take part in it. All this is accompanied by the rhythmic sounds of a shaman's tambourine.
Then the shaman fumigates you with kopal - burning resin of a local tree and only after that you are ready to enter the temazcal itself.

The entrance is arranged so low that you have to crawl inside, and then move in a certain direction in a circle, which symbolizes the direction of movement of energies.

When you have settled down inside and are ready for cleansing, hot stones are brought into the bath, and the entrance is tightly curtained and total darkness is created.

Without seeing each other, everyone tells why he came here and what he wants to cleanse his spirit from, what he wants to "wash off". The shaman begins to conduct the ritual of rebirth, accompanied by chants, exclamations and the same invariably rhythmic tambourine.

During the ceremony the stones are added and watered, the temperature rises and at the end the heat becomes quite strong. The ritual is completed on leaving the temazcal by washing with cold water.

Speaking about the Indian bath temazcal, many draw an analogy with the familiar bath or hammam. But the physical component of this action occupies only a small part of the whole ritual. The process of ablution is accompanied by ritual subtleties, shaman's incantations and special sequence of actions, so the effect and feelings from visiting temazcal can not be compared with anything!