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We felt it would be useful to share some of the techniques used in this Yucatan wellness wonderland so you know what to expect and what you might like to try. It’s always worth asking around any of our recommended spas for healing shamans that are available at the time of your visit. Many travel around and those who we saw may not be available when you go.
Even if you’re a sceptic when it comes to alternative therapies, we recommend going with an open mind and experiencing it for yourself. It may surprise you at worst and heal you at best.
What’s a Temazcal?
It’s a type of sweat lodge, invented by pre-Hispanic indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. The word ‘Temzcal’ comes from the Nahuatl word temāzcalli /temaːsˈkalːi/ (‘house of heat‘), or possibly from the Aztec ‘teme’ (meaning ‘to bathe’) and ‘calli’ (‘house’). Temazcal, a Mayan word meaning ‘medicinal house’ was a modality used by the Mexican-Aztecs, Mayans and Native Americans in powerful healing rituals.
The Maya, in modern-day Mexico, used the Temazcal as a place for both spiritual ceremonies and physical healing. They would enter the Temazcal for days at a time in search of the answers within themselves, exiting the ritual as a newly profound being. Labouring women also enter the Temazcal to birth their babies. They used heat, aromatherapy and chanting to guide new life into the world. The Temazcal was viewed by the Mayans as the womb of Mother Earth.
The structure itself is typically built from volcanic rock, cement and clay and has a circular dome. Volcanic stones are heated and placed in a pit inside. Between two and twenty guests sit in the Temazcal and a Shaman (an ancient Mayan healer) usually performs a series of guided meditations targeted at cleansing and harmonising the spirit.
The Temazcal experience is unique to each participant. It releases emotions, creativity, toxins and more. We experienced Temazcal at Bryan Kest’s yoga retreat with the shamanic healer, Fabian. It’s not easy and if you get claustrophobic then perhaps a thick blanket being used instead of a hard door may help. This isn’t the type of healing available everywhere and it goes very deep so we recommend it as a Tulum must-do.
Shamans & Healing
For centuries, ‘curanderos’ (or ‘shamans’) have helped their people find spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health through their native traditions. Local shamans offer the temazcal, tarot readings, aura cleanses and a sacred ceremony known as ‘egg cleansing’ (mysterious, unique but very pleasurable). It’s a local speciality and not well-known outside of Mesoamerica.
Egg cleansings (‘limpia de Huevos’) uses an egg and smoke (traditionally incense from the dried sap of the Copal tree) to energetically cleanse a client’s aura and help them on their path to healing. After a session, the egg is dropped into water and ‘read’ (a bit like reading tea leaves). True seers have the ability to ‘see’ the subject of the ceremony, enabling them to help with particular issues.
We did an egg cleanse with Fabian, a spiritual healer and a Temazcal Leader at the Maya Tulum Resort & Spa. He has studied the ancestral pre-Hispanic sciences and has been initiated by the Mazatecs in the Oaxaca Mountains. It was without a doubt the quirkiest, weirdest healing ritual we’d ever participated in and yet one of the most powerful. Two hours with Fabian was unnerving but left us with a surge of power and clarity that we hadn’t enjoyed for quite some time. Fabian needs to be on your list when you visit Tulum. He’s on ours. And yes we are most definitely going back.
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We didn’t stray into town for food though we did check out some of the shanty bars, so our recommendations…