i could write about the temazcal experience from a humorous point of view. who in their right mind would pay to subject themselves to a ritual that can last for hours, in the dark, potentially with people you have never met before, singing things in languages you don’t understand (and therefore have no idea whose assistance- or wrath- you are invoking) while sweating buckets and getting sand all up in your lady (or manly) bits. ESPECIALLY on saint patrick’s day? but, not being irish, or catholic, or wont to drink green things unless they’re chock full of fresh veggies, i’m choosing to celebrate this day by taking part in my second temezcal of the month. yes, when the signs all say ‘go here’, i usually go ‘there’…
in honor of the potential potency of the whole temezcal experience, i would rather write from the point of view of one who is learning to enjoy them and to make them her own. i participated in my first temazcal in november of 2011. we had been in mexico for two months, and i was curious. rather than taxi to the temazcal site, i decided to add a nice, long walk to the day’s ritual. moving slowly up the endless hill to the botanical garden, i noticed a woman ahead of me. admiring her derriere became one way to avoid quitting this adventure, but i soon caught up to her and we became friends on the spot. i did eventually confess that i was initially attracted to her from the back. as she now prepares to leave mexico for an extended period, i am taking good wishes for her into today’s big sweat.
i am pretty sure that when i- and the other participants- arrive on site, we will start by placing our bags of belongings on the shaded seating that rings the north side of the hut. we will sit on woven mats and shred the small leaves and flowers from an array of plants: romero (rosemary), lavanda (lavender), salvia (sage), manzanilla (chamomile), hierba buena (mint), and more that i cannot identify. once removed from the stems, the fragrant pieces are placed in buckets of water. we will later place handfuls on our heads, or over our hearts, during the third stage of the temezcal. by that point, the cool, scented water will offer welcome respite.
when the ritual leader is ready, we stand for the invocation. each of us is then smudged with copal smoke before we enter the hut. the opening- through which pass bodies and later the heated volcanic rocks- is close to the ground, so we crawl in on our hands and knees, placing our forehead to the earth before entering. we then move through the space in a clockwise fashion, taking our place on more of the woven mats, until everyone is inside.
i see by my clock it is time to pack up and get a move on. today’s temezcal is for women only, and i am looking forward to seeing who has decided to attend, and how the experience will differ from last sunday’s mixed group. hasta pronto!