Home ACTIVITIES Of Screams, Sweat & Shamans: My Experience in a Temazcal Ceremony
Of Screams, Sweat & Shamans: My Experience in a Temazcal Ceremony
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(Last Updated On: June 20, 2018)

Of Screams, Sweat & Shamans: My Experience in a Temazcal Ceremony

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At PlayaDelCarmen.com, we recently got invited to participate in a temazcal ceremony on the outskirts of Tulum.

Of the three of us who had the honor of assisting this ceremony, two of us were temazcal virgins.

For the other, it had been a long time since the last good sweat in an earthen dome.

Here’s what we experienced.

What is a Temazcal

Playa del Carmen temazcal

But before I get into all the tantalizing details about our temazcal ceremony, perhaps an explanation is first in order.

For those of you who don’t know what a temazcal (pronounced “temasˈkal”) is, think of the sweat lodge of the North American indigenous nations.

A circular, enclosed space with a sacred center which is filled with burning hot volcanic rock in the center.

In Mexico, these sweat lodges are known as temazcal, which comes from the Nahuatl language of Central Mexico and translates as “house of heat.”

Since ancient times, a temazcal ceremony is considered to be a healing and purification ceremony that cleanses the mind, body, and spirit.

The temazcal ceremonies are led by local healers, known as shamans.

When A Sceptic Visits a Temazcal

Temazcal ceremony in Playa del Carmen

I’ll be the first to admit. I’m not one for esoteric stuff.

For me spirituality is something personal, not to be worn or displayed on the outside but internalized and improved upon from within.

In other words, you’ll never smell patchouli on me nor will you see a mandala painted on a wall or a dream catcher over my bed.

So, as you can probably imagine, I was skeptical of a temazcal ceremony.

Not so much the ceremony itself as the idea that a shaman would be presiding over it.

Because in today’s world, shamans are a dime a dozen and mostly full of intergalactic doo-doo.

There are some genuine people out there with the wisdom, knowledge, and connection to whatever natural, animal or extraterrestrial spirits that exist out there, but I think the charlatan shamans must outweigh them by at least 10 to 1.

The Community of Dos Palmas

The Community of Dos Palmas

We departed for our inward journey from Playa del Carmen about 5:00 p.m.

The drive to the Dos Palmas community, which is located about 15 minutes north of Tulum just past the entrance to Dos Ojos cenote, takes about 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen.

Just off the highway heading south to Tulum is a small dirt turn-off.

Dos Palmas Tulum church

The unpaved road continues through the jungle about another 10 to 15 minutes before reaching the small community of Dos Palmas.

The Mayan village has just 30 inhabitants, and a large part of the community’s income seems to come from the charm of its people and its natural attractions.

In addition to a cenote, Dos Palmas also has several temazcals set up for groups of about 8 to 10 people.

Preparing for the Ceremony

Dos Palmas temazcal Tulum

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Norma, who welcomed us with a refreshing drink of hibiscus water served in small cups made of gourd.

Following a nice welcoming, Norma took us to the town’s mini-museum, which displays some of the utensils, clothing, furniture, and architecture found in a typical Mayan home.

From there we went to the area of the temazcals, where each of us was given a large conch. The idea is that we blow into the small hole at the apex in order to make a deep, trumpet-like sound.

Girl blowing into the small hole at the apex in order to make a deep, trumpet-like sound.

From my own personal experience, it’s not as easy as you think. And then once you think you got it, you don’t.

Rather than sounding like some kind of trumpet, mine sounded more like the amplified babble of a baby trying to blow bubbles.

While our group practiced calling to the ancestors, the shaman’s assistant prepared the volcanic rocks in a small fire pit directly in front of the temazcal.

May the Ceremony Begin

Temzacal shaman ceremony

Once everything was set up, the shaman called us over to a small altar set off to the side of the temazcal.

Decorated with palm leaves, volcanic rock, a couple of Mayan ceramic figures, and a large cup filled with copal incense, the altar served as our official beginning of the ceremony.

The shaman welcomed us with kind words in both Spanish and Mayan, blessing us for our participation in the ceremony and praying for our purification and safety.

He then approached each one of us with the cup full of copal, which he moved in the four cardinal directions in front of us while saying a personal blessing.

Temazcal altar ceremony

Our response, both to the shaman and the gods, was a simple “Yum bo’otik,” or thank you.

Then, we walked around the circular formation in front of the temazcal in whose center the fire heated the stones, separated in small groups in the four cardinal directions.

Once again, we had the opportunity to show off our conch-blowing skills before stripping down to our bathing suits and being invited around the fire following a short cleansing using local herbs.

Here, each was given a small piece of copal and asked to make sincere wishes for those we love as well as forgiving ourselves for whatever needed forgiving.

Inside the Temazcal

Inside of a Temazcal Playa del Carmen

According to the shaman, to enter into the temazcal is to step inside Mother Earth.

The small, rounded entrance of the temazcal leads into the structure in whose middle is the pit where the fired volcanic rocks will be placed, with blankets for seating are arranged in a semi-circle around the entrance.

Once everyone was seated, the shaman entered the temazcal, welcoming the “warriors” into the ceremony.

Using a pitchfork, the shaman’s assistant passed the burning hot volcanic rocks into the center of the temazcal.

With each new rock, the shaman welcomed the “abuelita” (grandmother).

Meanwhile, each of us was given a piece of Aloa Verde to spread out over our skin, which during the ceremony would help open our pores.

Following a brief explanation that a temazcal is not a resistance test put a purification ceremony, and that anytime someone doesn’t feel well they can go outside, the temazcal part of the ceremony began.

The Temazcal Ceremony

Temazcal hot rocks Playa del Carmen

U’pe, ka’ape, óox’pe!”

“One, two, three!”, shouted the group in Yucatec Mayan, signaling to the shaman’s assistant that he could place the thick blankets over the entrance to the temazcal.

As he did throughout the experience, the shaman spoke comforting and inspiring words as he slowly placed water and herbs into the fire.

In total darkness, with only the fading glow of the rocks to provide any kind of luminance, the shaman guided us through the approximately 30-minute ceremony.

At times inviting us to speak, sometimes singing chants, other encouraging us to breathe slowly and allow ourselves to be purified and healed, the shaman made sure the experience was safe, enjoyable, and invigorating.

Toward the end, two collective screams made sure that any negative, pent-up energy had a release — far away from our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Cenote Swim & Dinner

People swimming in Dos Palmas Cenote Tulum

Once all our demons, self-inflicted and otherwise, had been sweated out of all our pores, we stepped outside the temazcal and received a final blessing with lukewarm water from the volcanic rocks before heading off to the community’s cenote.

In fact, Dos Palmas actually derives its name from the two palm trees located in the center of this semi-open sinkhole.

Following a brief descent of about 20 feet down a flight of wooden stairs, we reached the natural platform around which the water formed a sort of a “U” shape.

The cenote is fairly deep but if you don’t know how to swim you can still stand on the small wooden platform that extends down into the cenote.

As could be expected, especially following drenching ourselves in our own sweat, the cenote water was the perfect end to the temazcal ceremony.

Dos Palmas dinner Tulum

Finally, we all headed to a communal dinner of delicious Yucatecan cuisine prepared for us by Norma and her aunt.

Purified and healed, we then took the 45-minute van ride back to Playa del Carmen.

A Few Thoughts on the Temazcal Experience

Temazcal fire Tulum

A temazcal is not necessarily something for everyone. While it is a healing and purification ceremony, pregnant women and people with chronic health issues such as high blood pressure or respiratory issues should not participate in a temazcal.

When in doubt, consult your doctor.

For a non-mandala believer like myself, I admit that I went in with quite a bit of skepticism, especially in terms of a shaman.

However, I felt entirely comfortable during my entire experience and found the shaman to be an extremely nice, caring, and experienced person.

Not one for group chants either, I never felt like the experience was kitsch or fake but genuine and heartfelt.

In fact, I left the temazcal ceremony feeling more at peace with myself and the world.

How long that lasts is another issue, but in the meantime all I can say from the bottom of my heart is…

Yum bo’otik!

Looking to experience a Playa del Carmen temazcal?

Our travel gurus can help you transcend with great travel deals!

Contact them today toll-free at 1-888-537-9797!

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Sarah Sarah is a travel enthusiast from England, who swapped the rainy clouds of Manchester for beachside bliss in Playa Del Carmen. If she’s not salsa dancing by the shore, you’ll find her soaking up the sun in one of her favorite rooftop party pools. Sarah is the content and social media manager here at PlayaDelCarmen.com

Comment(38)

    1. Hi Christion,

      Thanks for getting in touch 🙂 We just need to know which date you would like to go and which hotel you will be staying in. One of our savvy Travel Gurus will contact you shortly with some more information on how you can book this tour.

  1. Hi
    I am from England and staying at the rui palace mexico. I would really like to visit the temazcal experience but i will be on my own my husband does not wish to go. How much would this cost me and how far are you from my hotel. We are here until 21 dec? Please can someone get back to me at my email address. Thank you

    1. Hi Anne!

      Thanks for getting in touch 🙂 One of our awesome Travel Gurus will contact you shortly on more info on this tour along with the rate.

    1. Hi Taylor, one of our Travel Gurus will be in contact with you via email shortly. The pricing is usually $120 per adult, but with our discount, we can offer it at $108. The providers recently changed their requirements meaning you could only book in groups of 6 or more and it runs every Wednesday and Saturday. However, private ceremonies can be arranged, one of our Gurus will inform you with more details. If you have any further questions about this particular tour feel free to contact us at customercare@playadelcarmen.com. 🙂 I hope this helps.

  2. I am also interested in attending a Temazcal ceremony during my visit to Tulum. How far in advance should I book for this tour?

  3. Hello, I am going to be in Cancun the week of February 12,2018. I would like to participate in this ceremony. Can you please get me info to book please

    1. Hola Keunta, we can’t wait to have you here in paradise with us, I will have one of my expert Travel Gurus reach out to you to discuss your booking.

  4. Hi Lisa, I’m in Playa del Carmen till Wednesday Feb 28th. Is it possible to arrange a Tamazcal ceremony Temazcal for 2 – 4 people Tuesday Feb27th. Please email me back today if possible. It might be possible to go today Sunday Feb25th as an option too.

  5. Hi Lisa,
    I would like book a temazcal ceremony for my group of 6 for March 15,16,or 17. I know this is last minute but please email me as soon as possible if this reaches you in time!
    Thank you,
    Jill

  6. Hello, I was wondering if I could get some information in regards to price and availability from May 21-29 for a group of six staying in the hotel zone. Thank you!

    1. Hey Adrianna, sure thing 🙂 I will have a member of our team reach out to quote you a price and get it all booked in for you. Keep an eye on your emails, in the meantime if you need anything else, I’ll be here so don’t hesitate to reach back out. 🙂 Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to keep up with our latest deals. https://www.facebook.com/weloveplayadelcarmen/

  7. hey! did you just show up and pay or did they make you go through a tour? I visit playa often, never have done this before and avoid the tour groups. let me know if you see this, I will be there this weekend.

    Thank you!

    1. Hey, Sam, it has to be through a tour booking minimum group booking of 6 people. I hope that helps. If you like me to get you booked in let me know and I can make sure you get the best deal. 🙂

  8. Do they have a website? I am going to Playa del Carmen in a few weeks and would like to experience this.

    1. Hello Kristyn, yes you can actually book the tour through us and receive discount. I will have one of our expert Travel Gurus reach out via email to get the process started.

  9. Hi Sarah!

    I’d love to do this with my fiance on October 24th, 2018 for our honeymoon! Looking forward to hearing from you!

    1. Excellent Callen! 🙂 I’ll have one of our Gurus reach out via email, keep an eye on that inbox. 😉

  10. Will be in Playa Del Carmen Wed July 4th and would love to do this! I can only book 2 travelers including myself, is there any way we can get paired with a foursome? Please help! – Shane

    1. Hey Shane, I will have one of our expert gurus reach out to you right away to begin discussing this tour with you and hopefully get you all booked in we will be in touch via email shortly.

  11. I’m in playa del Carmen this week and interested in how to book this for a party of two! (Note we have a car also so a van isn’t a necessity )

    1. Hey Kat! Of course, I will have someone reach out to you via email ASAP to get this booked in for you. 🙂 Have a great time!

  12. hey hey I will be in mexico in September I am travelling on my own and I don’t want to miss this opportunity, is there any group I could join in the period of the 1-12 Sept?

    1. Hello there Katrin, thank you for reaching out we look forward to having you here in paradise with us. One of our expert travel planners will be in touch shortly to begin discussing this Temezcal opportunity with you. 🙂 Talk soon.

    1. Hi Vanessa! Sure thing I will have one of our expert Travel Gurus reach out to you ASAP to share the details of this tour with you. They will be in touch shortly. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact customercare@playadelcarmen.com we would be happy to answer them for you.

  13. Hi Lisa! This experience sounds so great. I am in Playa del Carmen and I don’t want to miss this opportunity. Do you know how can I book it?

  14. Hi Sarah, my wife and I are currently in Tulum and would like to participate in a temazcal ceremony. Is there a group we could possibly join tomorrow (Monday) night?

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