The temazcal ritual begins before an individual steps foot into the temazcal hut. The sacred ritual begins when the volcanic rocks are being warmed by fire outside the hut. People partaking in the temazcal ceremony give thanks to the forest, the Earth, and set their intentions. They also ask the volcanic rocks for permission to use them to heat the temazcal hut. These rocks represent “grandfather fire” in the temazcal ritual.
Once they step inside the Temazcal, the participant kneels. Then, they kiss the ground beneath them, and pray to the gods. During prayer, they ask if they may take space on the belly button of the Earth. Once participants are inside, the embering volcanic rocks are placed in the center of the hut. The rocks transmute into “wise grandmothers” in the temazcal ritual.
Water is poured generously over the rocks in order to create a thick billowing of steam. This alters the air temperature, allows the inhalation of water vapor, and moisturizes the skin, inducing a sweat reaction. Herbs are added to the volcanic rocks in order to provide a deeper therapeutic effect. These herbs can be sage, resin from the copal tree, artemisia, eucalyptus, calendula, or echinacea.
Every temazcal ceremony has different objectives or durations. That said, almost all temazcal ceremonies are led by a shaman who chants or sings during ceremony. Their shamanic energy fills every crevice of the space.
If a shaman is not present, a temazcalero (professional sweat lodge guide) might be present. The shaman or temazcalero will then add tobacco straight onto the rocks. Then, participant(s) bring their attention and intention to the realm of their life that they would like to improve. This can be an intention to receive guidance, learning, or healing from something.