Temazcal: A sacred ritual performed by the Mayan culture | LDS Tours Cancun

The Zumpul-ché best known as Temazcal (Temazcalli in Náhuatl), is a steam bath used in rituals and religious ceremonies used by the Mayan and other cultures of Mesoamerica.

The Zampul-ché took place in a small structure no more than two square meters. This structure may be rectangular, but it is important to mention that one of the main purposes the Mayan people built it that way was to simulate the mother’s womb. Heat is an essential component of this ceremony, so to produce it, four groups of thirteen volcanic stones were placed inside the structure, each one of them representing a door, and all of them together representing the sun.

In the ceremony of Temazcal or Zampul-ché, medicinal plants are used to perform detoxification of both the body and the spirit. The steam is created by adding hot water and herbal infusions during the ceremony.

How is the Zampul-ché ceremony performed?

As mentioned before, Zampul-ché represents the womb of mother earth, so this ritual constitutes a healing and purification ceremony. A practice for cleansing the body and the spirit.

The person directing the ritual or Chamán, known better as the “man or woman of fire,” is in charge of igniting and maintaining the sacred fire. The volcanic stones used for obtaining the heat inside the Temazcal are called “grandmothers,” which later are placed in the center of the structure. The “man or woman of fire” greets the stones and asks the fire to allow and help the purification of the body and soul. Subsequently, the medicinal infusion or hot water is poured onto the rocks creating a cloud of steam.

Through the ritual, songs and prayers are offered to the four elements of life.  

 The four stages or doors:

1.- The first door is to thank God.

2.- The second door is to thank for the family.

3.- The third door is for friends and non-friends, there is a firm conviction that no one should have enemies and that we should all be part of a whole, without negative feelings towards anyone.

4.- The fourth door is for oneself, to make an introspection.

Different regions are currently recovering the practice of theTemazcal ritual in Mexico as well in some areas in Central America, using it as a spiritual healing and health enrichment ceremony. 

“There are four doors, four times, four dialogues that open a single door, that of the heart.”

Alma’s LDS Tours offers a great variety of tours where you can keep learning more about the history of this and more Mayan culture.
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