On Thanksgiving Day, Alex and I found ourselves in the depths of the Tabacon Spa, breathing in Grandmother Fire as the volcanic rocks ignited. Our senses were calmed by the smell of herbs and the rush of the hot springs in the distance. The fire danced, cracking and snapping in an unpresuming, welcoming way that only fires can do. A few yards away was our temazcal, our womb. On hands and knees, as this is the only way to enter such a small, confined space, we placed our foreheads to the ground. For all my relations, we prayed. We cleanse for all of our relations.
There were ten of us in the sweat lodge for a complete hour. Our only light source came from the spark of the volcanic rocks as we poured buckets of herbs and water over the bellybutton of the womb. Drums pounding, voices chanting, the room grew hotter and hotter. We cleansed our minds. We cleansed our bodies. We healed from within. In all honesty, we nearly died. It’s uncertain how hot temazcal gets. I can tell you this, it was more mentally challenging that anything I’ve ever encountered.
It was our honeymoon and we came by choice to temazcal on that day. Now, the incentive of a free session, included in our resort package surely sweetened the deal. I was expecting moreso of a sauna. What we got, however, was a mesoamerican rite. How appropriate for Thanksgiving, away from our loved ones, to be meditating and cleansing our souls. The rocks of our new life together, of Tabacon, of the volcano where we shared our first excursion as husband and wife, bathed us in their warmth and cleansed us with their powers.
We shared that hour with complete strangers that were in no way alike. There were the couple from India, who brought their Hindu rituals to our temazcal, unsure of how this would fit into their beliefs. They sang with beauty and they shared their spirituality. There was the retired, found new age husband and his wife who, suddenly, without warning, sometime in the 3rd door, began chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum”. We all joined in. To the other side of us, were the young couple. He came from a long line of Native American descendants. He remembered being in a sweat lodge with his grandfather when he was ten years old. She was utterly miserable in the heat.
The honeymoon was perfect, as I’ve said before. It was luxurious, adventurous, sexy and relaxing. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend even a few minutes recalling tiny little soundbites of the trip. I smile and my heart races as I reminisce. Every once in awhile my memories take me back to temazcal. What happened in that tiny beehive of a womb is unclear. It was the type of experience that leaves you speechless, your thoughts on overdrive yet, at the same time, empty. It was about spiritual growth, physical cleansing and strengthening our bonds with earth and one another.
I will never experience Temazcal again. Call me a wimp. I am not one for heat. The Shaman would say I am unbalanced. I have too much fire. True, my ayurveda is pitta. Too much fire. Yet, perhaps that is why I keep going back to my memories. The grandmother fire. The volcanic rocks. I sit and I medidate. Then, eventually, I fall over in exhaustion and heat. I try to slow my breathing. I follow the beat of the drum and the whoosh of the water as it burns on the rocks. I breathe. For all my relations. I pray. We ask for the door to be opened. All I see is grey smoke. It takes a full minute before I look out and onto the twilight of the evening. Out of the womb I crawl.
For all my relations.