Temazcal (Sweat lodge) is a word of Nahuatl origin, which comes from the word temazcalli that means “house where you sweat”. It is a vapor bath used in the traditional medicine by different ancient cultures. But, from the point of view of the Andean cosmovision, the sweat lodge is much more than a simple vapor bath, because a simple bath lacks of meaning and symbolism. The true meaning of the sweat lodge is spiritual, and being a harmed spirit the origin of all diseases, it needs to be purified every now and then, especially after passing through a stage of depression or stress. The sweat lodge gives a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual cure to the person who takes it.
A sweat lodge has an oven or dome form, in which different curatives plants, incenses and oils are placed. Then, some stones called grandmothers are placed, which are heated to high temperature. After this, water or herbs infusion are poured on the rocks and therefore, vapor is created, reaching in this way the true essence of the sweat lodge which is the communion of all the basic elements of the universe (earth, fire, wind and water).
Some spiritual guides make a prayer, depending on the place where the ceremony is conducted. Here, there is an example of a prayer to the fire by a náhutl tribe.
“Owner of the four directions: sky, land, east, west, south, north.
From your dwelling, cover us.
From your absolute consciousness, tell us.
From your home of universal truth, move us.
From your unique greatness, sustain our hope.
So that we can drink in the source of your knowledge and in the company of the guides of the humanity of the Atlantean-Toltec tradition, of the Teotihuacan-Chichimeca tradition.
The guides of the Chicomoztoc tradition, of the Aztec-Mexican tradition, of the tradition.
Of the four races, red, black, yellow and white.
That come to create with the union of all, the fifth.
Race, the mestizo greater inhabitant of the anahuac.
The guides of nature, the mount, the plants, the sea.
And the personal guides so we can take the necessary steps.
And fulfill our obligation on earth. To be well-received in the realm of death.
God of Duality, Lord of Duality – Lady of Duality.
The sweat lodges have been found in different parts of the world, mainly in indigenous territory, in places such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru just to name a few. The sweat lodge was practiced during the Inca Empire, this ritual is known in Quechua language as Chulla Chaka, which means “the bridge of the dew”, opening the 4 portals of Tahuantinsuyo, each of these 4 portals serves to release the curative and healing energies of this spiritual bath. Many Andean spiritual guides prefer to make an offering to the Pachamama before performing the sweat lodge, this offering is made with coca leaves, also called kintu. And it constitutes as an asset for alternative medicine.
The sweat lodges represent the woman’s womb, once inside your pores will open, absorbing all the curative properties of the plants, it is the Mother Earth’s womb itself, you will perspire all the inner illnesses and you will be fortified, it is like being born again.
As you can see, the sweat lodge has been practiced by different ancient civilizations, and all of them consider it as a practice of much symbolism. It was part of the life of these cultures. The good thing is that this tradition is not lost, and the practice of this can contact us to our millenarian past. Besides, it is more useful in this society where people look for treatments to cure some illnesses in a natural way, and so, with minor damages to health.