Travelling through south america brought me closer to the many wisdoms and traditions of ancient american culutres. One of the toughest but rewarding rituals I participated in is the so called "Temazcal" - a sort of spiritual sweat lodge - a heritage of mesoamerican indigenous culutures. Accompanied by singing, prayers and drum rhythms people sit densly packed below a pitch black tent - a symbol for the motherly womb - through which no light enters. Basaltic rocks that have been heated for hours are delivered into the middle of the tent from the outside in various stages, representing the various elements and stages of rebirth. Water gets poured onto the rocks, creating an intense heat that makes it hard and even painful to breathe.
As tradition requires, after having served as a temazcal for several days all the parts of the tent are burnt by the end of the last ceremony. No matter what you think of spirituality, having passed through the most intense sauna you can imagine, taking a swim in the fresh pacific water, watching the bonfire below millions of stars is truely magical.