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TEMAZCAL


Héctor Mediavilla

Also known as Temazcali (steam bath). It is a ritual steeped in pre-Columbian astronomical and anthropological knowledge, offering a high therapeutic value. Physically, it's a steam bath with herbal remedies to help eliminate toxins and balance various metabolic processes. Among its many physical benefits include: stimulation of the lymphatic system which is one of those responsible for the cleaning and purification of body, skin tone, cleansing of the respiratory tract, improves blood circulation, relax the nervous system to decrease stress and anxiety, improves bone problems, cleansing of the digestive and urinary tracts, helps the expulsion of kidney stones. The high temperatures also facilitate the cell revitalization and repair. Temazcal structure of hemispherical shape represents the womb of our Mother Earth in which the volcanic stones called grandmothers wisely have the genetic code of the history of our planet. Thus, besides the physical benefits, this experience can help us to break boundaries, overcome fears, unlock emotions and free us from false beliefs. When you enter a wet, warm, dark place (uterus) you are immediately connected with our emotions and after the experience we free of old burdens and more open heart and mind. This ceremony is presided by the goddess Temazcaltoci, goddess of health, the mother who welcomes us to facilitate the union of man and land in a spiritual rebirth. The “temazcalero” directs the ceremony with the support of the "man of fire", who is in charge of the fire, to heat the stones grandmothers and introduce them inside the temazcal. It has four times or "doors" in which it is completely dark (where people sing, pray and speak) that represent the 4 elements, the 4 directions, the 4 stages of life... Attending a Temazcal regularly is a personal development process that begins with a somatic balance and culminates in a spiritual rebirth in which, each is responsible for how to deal with their worst enemy: oneself. In recent times, the practice of Temazcal is spreading dramatically not only in Mesoamerica but also in the West. In fact, it is one of the preferred practices among some fans of the New Age. However, it should be noted that sweat lodges (temazcals) are not all equal. Often, the temazcals are closer to a pleasant spa session disguised as a pre-Columbian knowledge than an intensive holistic work. For this reason, I hereby present a series of photographs of a Mexica temazcal, a warrior temazcal, a “conchero” temazcal that retrieves the basis of past practices to connect us with all the ancient wisdom.


 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323979

Before entering the sacred area of the temazcal, everyone is "purified" with copal incense.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324021

Stones that have been heated in a bonfire are welcome inside the temazcal with the sentence: " Welcome, hot grandma". 39 or 52 stones are often used for the ceremony that complies 4 doors (times).

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 11/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323990

In darkness, inside the temazcal, water is poured over the hot stones. The humid heat generated is very high, around 75 degrees celcius and body temperature can reach up to 45 degrees for a short period of time.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 07/05/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323977

Pause to recover between "doors". For a few minutes, the temazcal door remains open so as the temazcaleros can recover from the intensive heat when fresh air enters the temazcal.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 20/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0327874

Pause after the third door: friends and no-friends (enemies). For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves on the ground before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness..

Cieneguilla Victoria, Victoria Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0327877

People of all ages are allowed to enter this temazcal. From just born babies to old people. They all get "medicine" from the temazcal to heal themselves.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 18/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323976

This is a temazcal of the tradition mestiza conchera. Prehispanic elements are combined with Christian ones.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 03/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323974

Whe the door is open to have a pause and get fresh air, it is advised to remain silent so as everyone can make his own exercise of introspection.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 04/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323987

The temazcal "corredor" (who leads the ceremony), Don Jorge, gets close to the entrance/exit of the temazcal to get some fresh aire. He will be the last one to leave the temazcal once everybody's work is done.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 04/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323982

When a person comes out the temazcal, he/she kisses the ground and says with humility : "For all my relationships and my family. I ask permission to go out".

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 20/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323978

Just after going out the temazcal, still sweating, every person takes a cold water "shower", which feels like a blessing, like a rebirth.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 03/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323988

The structure of the temazcal resembles at the same time a mother's belly and some astronomical patterns.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 19/07/2009

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323980

Abuela Margarita speaks with the group while the fire begins to heat the stones. They will enter the temazcal in about two hours.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 23/10/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323981

The fire begins to heat the stones that will enter the temazcal in about 2 hours.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 05/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323998

Pause after the first door: The creator. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness..

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 13/02/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323997

A temazcalero recovers while the door is open and the fresh air comes in feeling like a blessing.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 13/02/2011

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324022

A temazcalera lies on the ground outside the temazcal. She had to go out at the 3rd door because she could not bear the heat. Now she is recovering and at the same time having some internal dialog and inspiring reflections.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 27/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323985

Pause after a door. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 11/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324025

Pause. Once the door is opened temazcaleros can enjoy some fresh air and some time to recover themselves from the heat.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 20/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324023

A temazcalera gets some fresh air from the entrance of the temazcal. It's been a very hot temazcal. Temperature can rise up to 75 degrees Celcius and humidity can be around 85%.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 27/03/2011

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323983

Pause after the second door: The family. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 18/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323994

A temazcalera gets some fresh air from the entrance of the temazcal. It's been a very hot temazcal. Temperature can rise up to 75 degrees Celcius and humidity can be around 55%.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 14/02/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323971

A temazcalera gets some fresh air from the entrance of the temazcal. It's been a very hot temazcal. Temperature can rise up to 75 degrees Celcius and humidity can be around 85%.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 14/02/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324026

Pause after the second "door": The family. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 20/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324017

A temazcalaro called Juanito just got out the temazcal and heads a water can to wash and cool himself.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 03/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324020

There is a collective work before getting into the temazcal. Now, some persons (temazcaleros) help the "runner" (corredor) of the Temazcal, Don Jorge, to put the logs over the stones (normally 39 or 52) before the fire is lit.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324000

In darkness, inside the temazcal, water is poured over the hot stones. The humid heat generated is very high, around 90 degrees celcius and body temperature can reach up to 45 degrees for a short period of time. It's a healing time but also a time to show the warrior that is inside every one because conditions are hard to bear. In darkness, inside the temazcal, water is poured over the hot stones. The humid heat generated is very high, around 75 degrees celcius and body temperature can reach up to 45 degrees for a short period of time. It's a healing time but also a time to show the warrior that is inside every one because conditions are hard to bear.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 10/10/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323993

In darkness, inside the temazcal, water is poured over the hot stones. The humid heat generated is very high, around 90 degrees celcius and body temperature can reach up to 45 degrees for a short period of time. It's a healing time but also a time to show the warrior that is inside every one because conditions are hard to bear. In darkness, inside the temazcal, water is poured over the hot stones. The humid heat generated is very high, around 75 degrees celcius and body temperature can reach up to 45 degrees for a short period of time. It's a healing time but also a time to show the warrior that is inside every one because conditions are hard to bear.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 10/10/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323975

The ceremony starts before the fire is lit: participants (temazcalaros) offer two crossed logs to the Sun, to the earth and to the 4 directions (East, South, West and North; in this order).

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2011

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323989

Pause after a door. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 11/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323972

Temazcal fire.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 30/03/2011

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0323999

Pause after the second door: The family. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness. Some water is entered inside the temazcal so as to hidratate the temazcaleros.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 18/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324015

Marvin, enjoys a insight time just after getting out of the temazcal. He sits facing the hole where the stones were heated.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 20/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0324019

Ashes: Remains after the fire, where stones where heated.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 27/03/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339602

Branch of "piru" tree (a kind of wilow), which has healing properties. Once it's clean, leafs are used inside the temazcal for two main purpouses: 1/as a carpet on the ground. 2/ To protect one's nose and refresh the air when it gets too hot inside.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339601

Abuela Margarita sits behind the fire, waiting for the stones to get hot and enter the temazcal.

Olot, Catalonia, Spain - 02/07/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339599

Stones have been heated by the fire and they are now ready to get into the temazcal.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339598

Before entering the temazcal many things have to be done by the group who is attending. People of all ages are welcome. They all can be healed (including just born children) in the temazcal. Here, adults clean the "piru" branches while their children play around a hammock.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339597

Before entering the temazcal many things have to be done by the group who is attending. People of all ages are welcome. They all can be healed (including just born children) in the temazcal. Here, two adults clean the temazcal area. Three lines of stones wait to be put in the fire.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339596

A temazcalera gets some fresh air from the entrance of the temazcal. It's been a very hot temazcal. Temperature can rise up to 75 degrees Celcius and humidity can be around 85%.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 03/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339595

There are different kinds of temazcal with different shapes and ways of "running" them. This is a circular one, constructed under the ground so one has to descend to get in.

Cuernavaca, Cuernavaca, Mexico - 14/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339594

One of the roles in the temazcal ceremony is this of the "hombre de fuego" (fire man). It's usually done by two people and it consists in getting the stones from the fire and putting them inside the temazcal while the rest of the group stays inside.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339593

Volcanic stones are prefered for the temazcal ceremony since they bear high temperatures without breaking. A number of 39 or 52 (for a warrior's one) is usually used for the ceremony.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 00/00/0000

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339592

Volcanic stones are prefered for the temazcal ceremony since they bear high temperatures without breaking. A number of 39 or 52 (for a warrior's one) is usually used for the ceremony.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 14/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339591

Volcanic stones are prefered for the temazcal ceremony since they bear high temperatures without breaking. A number of 39 or 52 (for a warrior's one) is usually used for the ceremony.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339590

Pause after the second door: The family. For 15-20 minutes temazcaleros recover themselves before new stones come in and the door gets closed again to remain in darkness..

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 18/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339589

Stones are heated by the fire to get ready to get into the temazcal.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 31/12/2007

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339588

One of the roles in the temazcal ceremony is this of the "hombre de fuego" (fire man). It's usually done by two people and it consists in getting the stones from the fire and putting them inside the temazcal while the rest of the group stays inside.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339587

The ceremony starts before the fire is lit: participants (temazcalaros) offer two crossed logs to the Sun, to the earth and to the 4 directions (East, South, West and North; in this order).

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339586

A fire is lit so as to heat the stones that will be introduced into the temazcal.

cuernavaca, cuernavaca, Mexico - 19/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339585

The temazcal is a prehispanic ritual connected with other traditional ways of healing. In the picture, we see a tatoo of a peyote, which is considered a sacred medicine by some people, and a mud temazcal.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 27/12/2007

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339584

Before entering the sacred area of the temazcal, everyone is "purified" with copal incense. Some children wait their turn.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339583

This is called "the turtle", where offerings are placed. The tail of the turtle heads the entrance of the temazcal.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339582

The ceremony starts before the fire is lit: participants (temazcalaros) offer two crossed logs to the Sun, to the earth and to the 4 directions (East, South, West and North; in this order).

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339581

When a person comes out the temazcal, he/she kisses the ground and says with humility : "For all my relationships and my family. I ask permission to go out".

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 07/05/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339580

Don Jorge, the man who runs the temazcal stares at the fire, which just been lit with the stones inside.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339579

Before entering the sacred area of the temazcal, everyone is "purified" with copal incense. We see most of the group waiting inside.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 17/04/2010

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339578

A fire is lit so as to heat the stones that will be introduced into the temazcal.

cuernavaca, cuernavaca, Mexico - 19/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339577

There are different kinds of temazcal with different shapes and ways of "running" them. This is a circular one, constructed under the ground so one has to descend to get in.

cuernavaca, cuernavaca, Mexico - 14/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339576

A hot stone that just got out of the fire is about to be entered in the temazcal.

cuernavaca, cuernavaca, Mexico - 02/07/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0339575

A fire is lit so as to heat the stones that will be introduced into the temazcal.

cuernavaca, cuernavaca, Mexico - 19/01/2008

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0340231

Volcanic stones are prefered for the temazcal ceremony since they bear high temperatures without breaking. A number of 39 or 52 (for a warrior's one) is usually used for the ceremony.

Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico - 27/03/2011



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