Friday, December 25, 2009


At this time of the year, with pain in my heart and tears in my eyes at the loss of my best friend and soul companion, I reach out across the miles to greet all my blog readers. I promise to return in the new year with a vigor and the passion I once had. Now I wish to thank you for your support. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU ALL WELL.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009


In the ancient world 5,000 to 10,000 BC - long before plant medicines of any sort had been discovered, our ancestors would burn aromatic herbs, scented woods and barks to drive out the 'evil spirits' from sick people.
Some of these poor individuals were possibly suffering from mental illness, but apart from using fire and water, 'smoking' was the only other form of treatment.

The word perfume comes from the Latin per fumum, which means 'through smoke'. Initially, any fragrant woods, barks or herbs growing in the locality would have been used, since the major aromatic trading centres would not appear for thousands of years yet.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Essential oils are the fragrant, highly concentrated natural constituents that are found in plants. They are what give the plant its characteristic odour and contain the healing power of the plant from which it was extracted. When used correctly, essential oils bring a wide range of health benefits since unlike modern drugs, they have no side-effects.

The essential oils are located in tiny secretory structures found in various parts of plants; leaves (eucalyptus), berries (juniper), grasses (palmarosa), flowering tops (lavender), petals (rose), roots (angelica), zest of fruit (orange), resins (frankincense) and wood (cedar).

How are they extracted?
Mostly, essential oils are obtained by steam distillation although other methods are used. Citrus fruits are cold pressed by mechanical means, and the oil from delicate flowers is obtained by a more sophisticated method that produces what is known as an absolute. This is because delicate flowers can not withstand the high temperatures needed for steam distillation.
After extraction, the resulting essential oil is a highly concentrated liquid that contains the aroma and therapeutic properties of the source from which it came. Nothing should be added or removed from this oil if it is to be used in aromatherapy. To achieve maximum therapeutic benefits, essential oils should be exactly as they came from the still, so to speak.

Standardised oils
Some industries process essential oils in order to make them meet a required odour or flavour 'profile'. To achieve this, synthetic chemicals are added to the oil and often certain unwanted non-fragrance components are removed (rectification). This 'standardisation' is common practice in the perfumery and flavour industries in order to maintain absolute consistency in fragrance or taste, but totally unacceptable if the essential oil is for use in aromatherapy. To us, this is adulteration - not standardisation.
Adulterated essential oils may often smell acceptable to the untrained nose, but because they are extended with synthetics or diluted with vegetable oil it makes them extremely poor value for money. Not only that, but if an essential oil has been standardised, adulterated or adjusted in any way it simply will not be effective.

Look for purity
This is why you should always buy essential oils from long established and trusted aromatherapy suppliers who specialise in clinical grade oils and not the more common commercial grade. To meet the high quality for aromatherapy, an essential oil should be extracted from a single botanical species that has been botanically authenticated, and derived from a known country of origin.
To be 100% pure, nothing should be added or taken away from the oil after extraction. To enable us to meet this requirement, every essential oil supplied by Quinessence has been analytically tested for purity using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to establish its purity. This is why all our oils are guaranteed to be pure, natural and unadulterated.

science bit
The chemistry of an essential oil is extremely complex, and a typical example of oil will contain an elaborate mixture of aromatic constituents such as alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, lactones, phenols, terpenes and sesquiterpenes that combine to produce a unique set of therapeutic qualities.

This complex mixture of natural chemicals is what makes essential oils such effective healing agents; for example eucalyptus oil is refreshing and invigorating - plus it is a very powerful antiseptic agent. This means that essential oils can be used in a variety of ways in aromatherapy to promote physical and emotional health and well-being.

Health benefits
Essential oils possess a wide range of healing properties that can be used effectively to keep you in the best of health as well as looking good. These health-giving benefits include improving the complexion of your skin by stimulating cellular renewal, balancing roller-coaster emotions and fighting bacteria, fungi and other forms of infection. Essential oils have an almost endless list of therapeutic uses.
But only by using essential oils of the very highest quality can you be sure of achieving text-book results. Although cheaper essential oils may appear to save you money, they will certainly not deliver the results that you are entitled to expect. Therefore you will have wasted your hard-earned cash.
Quinessence are committed to supplying only the very finest, organic essential oils produced from ecologically grown products. We work closely with farmers to ensure that our essential oils are produced from plants that have not been subjected to the use of pesticides or herbicides.
To guarantee this level of quality and purity, every essential oil is subjected to the most searching analytical procedures, including GC/MS chromatography.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WHO INVENTED Aromatherapy ??

The History of Aromatherapy

Part 2: 529 AD - Today

It was the Persians who next made the most enduring contributions to the knowledge of aromatics and medicine. Al-Razi (865-925) is considered one of Persia's finest physicians, and during his lifetime he penned a phenomenal 237 books and articles covering several fields of science, half of which concerned medicine. Born in the town of Rayy near Tehran, Al-Razi was known in the West as Rhazes and he had an enormous influence on European science and medicine.
His most influential work was a medical encyclopedia covering 25 books called 'AI Kitab al Hawi', which was later translated into Latin and other European languages, and known in English as 'The Comprehensive Work'. His medical accomplishments were legion, and he also developed tools such as mortars, flasks, spatulas and phials which were used in pharmacies until the early twentieth century.
A legend is born
Next came Ibn Sina (980-1037), also a Persian, who was probably the most famous and influential of all the great Islamic physicians and known throughout Europe as Avicenna. His life truly was the stuff of legend. At the age of 16 he began studying medicine and by 20 he had been appointed a court physician, earning the title 'Prince of physicians'. He wrote 20 books covering theology, metaphysics, astronomy, philology, philosophy and poetry, and most influentially, 20 books and 100 treatises on medicine.
His 14 volume epic 'Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb', which means 'The Canon of Medicine' was over one million words long and contained the sum total of all existing medical knowledge. This monumental medical encyclopedia included the Hippocratic and Galenic traditions, describing Syro-Arab and Indo-Persian practice plus notes on his own observations, becoming the definitive medical textbook, teaching guide and reference throughout Western Europe and the Islamic world for over seven hundred years.
Anglo-Saxon remedies
The oldest surviving English manuscript of botanical medicine is the Saxon 'Leech Book of Bald', which was written between 900 and 950 by a scribe named Cild under the direction of Bald, who was a friend of king Alfred the Great. ('Leech' is an old English word meaning healer). This early text contains a mixture of herbalism, magic, shamanism and tree lore, and describes 500 plants, their properties, and how they can be used in amulets, baths or taken internally.
When the Crusaders returned from the Holy Wars they brought back rose water, perfumes, aromatics and remedies that were previously unknown. Fragrant plants became more popular, with aromatic herb garlands decorating homes and rose water being used to wash the hands of those who could afford it. The availability and range of aromatic medicines continued to increase over the next few hundred years, but the knowledge of the Eastern physicians had not yet begun to arrive on our shores.
Medieval apocalypse
During the 13th and 14th centuries in Europe, medicine was almost entirely governed by the Catholic church. They considered illness and disease to be a punishment from God, and the standard form of treatment administered by the priests was prayer, and perhaps a session of blood-letting. When the 'Black Death' first arrived in 1347, it was devastating. Almost 50% of London's inhabitants succumbed within the first year, and up 40% of the entire population of Europe would die within 3 years. The basic Anglo-Saxon botanical remedies such as wearing sachets of dried lavender and amulets of thyme proved no match for this deadly pandemic.
In 1597 John Gerard published ' Herball, or General Historie of Plantes' which is now considered a herbal classic. Although the very first essential oils such as juniper, lavender, rosemary and sage had arrived in Britain around this time, he makes no mention of them. Gerards book proved highly influential, and the apothecaries which had previously only sold the medicines prescribed by doctors, began to to prepare and compound their own medicines too. New style apothecaries that dispensed medicines and attended to the patient began appearing throughout England. But not quickly enough.
The second visitation of the Black Death in 1603 hit almost as hard as the first, and virtually every available aromatic was burned in houses and on the streets to keep the pestilence at bay. Benzoin, styrax, frankincense and various spice oils were all used to prevent the spread of this deadly disease, but to little effect. It was reported the only people not to succumb to the plague were the workers involved in aromatics and perfumery, and this is undoubtedly due to the highly antiseptic properties of the essential oils.
Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) was one of the most influential herbalists who also introduced the concept of astrological herbalism. In his most famous work, 'The English Physician' (1652), Culpeper's descriptions of herbs, oils and their uses were intermixed with astrology. Other notable herbalists such as Joseph Miller and John Parkinson would also leave a rich botanical legacy, paving the way for later generations to expand upon. The essential oil industries throughout Europe flourished, providing oils for the pharmaceutical, flavour and fragrance industries.
Champions of modern aromatherapy
The term 'aromatherapie' was coined by a French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé (1881-1950) who studied the medicinal properties of essential oils for many years whilst working in his families perfumery business. He had the opportunity to personally test his innovative theories when an explosion in his laboratory caused a severe burn to his hand.
He plunged his hand into a vessel of pure lavender oil which immediately reduced the swelling and helped accelerate the healing process. Most impressively, he was left with no scar. He was a prolific writer covering many subjects, but it was his passion for researching essential oils that eventually led to the publication in 1937 of his ground-breaking book, 'Aromathérapie: Les Huiles essentielles hormones vegetales'.
A French doctor named Jean Valnet followed the work of Gattefossé, and during World War 2 whilst working as a surgical assistant he used essential oils of chamomile, clove, lemon and thyme to treat gangrene and battle wounds. After graduating as a surgeon at the end of the war, Valnet continued to use essential oils to treat illnesses, and was the first ever to use them to treat psychiatric conditions. His inspired book, 'Aromathérapie - Traitment des Maladies par les Essence de Plantes' was released in 1964, and in 1980 translated into English and released under the new title of 'The Practice of Aromatherapy', putting aromatherapy on the English map.
Madame Marguerite Maury (1895-1968) was an Austrian born biochemist who became interested in what was to become aromatherapy, after reading a book written in 1838 by Dr Chabenes called, 'Les Grandes Possibilités par les Matières Odoriferantes'. This was the man who would later become the teacher of Gattefossé. Her influential book, 'Le Capital Jeunesse' was released in France in 1961 but sadly did not initially receive the acclaim that it deserved. In 1964 it was released in Britain under the title of 'The Secret of Life and Youth' and has at last been recognised for the great work that it was.
After her death, the work of Maury continued through her protege, Danièle Ryman, who is now herself considered an authority on aromatherapy. The work of Valnet and Gattefossé stimulated and influenced Englishman Robert Tisserand, who in 1977 wrote the very first aromatherapy book in English entitled, 'The Art of Aromatherapy'. This book became the inspiration and reference for virtually every future author on the subject for almost two decades.
Today we are at last unfolding the final secrets of the Egyptian mysteries, revealing aromatherapy to be one of the finest ways to combat the detrimental effects of stress, restoring the beauty, tranquility and harmony of Nature into the lives of everyone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The History of Aromatherapy

Pt 1: 3,500 BC - 199 AD

The roots of Aromatherapy can be traced back more than 3,500 years before the birth of Christ, to a time when the use of aromatics was first recorded in human history. In reality, the history of aromatherapy is inexorably linked to the development of aromatic medicine, which in the early days was itself combined with religion, mysticism and magic.
This was a time when the ancient Egyptians first burned incense made from aromatic woods, herbs and spices in honour of their gods. They believed that as the smoke rose up to the heavens, it would carry their prayers and wishes directly to the deities. Eventually, the development of aromatics as medicines would create the foundations that aromatherapy was built upon.
Look to eternity
During the 3rd Dynasty (2650-2575 BC) in Egypt, the process of embalming and mummification was developed by the Egyptians in their search for immortality. Frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cedarwood, juniper berry and spikenard are all known to have been used at some stage to preserve the bodies of their royalty in preparation of the after-life.
The valuable herbs and spices they needed were laboriously transported across inhospitable deserts by Arab merchants for distribution to Assyria, Babylon, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia. The most sought after materials were frankincense and myrrh, and because during those early trading years demand outstripped supply they had a value equal to that of gems and precious metals.
Masters of perfumery
The Egyptians loved to use simple fragrances in their daily lives and did so at every opportunity. At festivals and celebrations women wore perfumed cones on their heads which would melt under the heat, releasing their beautiful fragrance. After bathing, they would anoint their bodies with oil to protect them from the drying effects of the baking sun and to rejuvenate their skin.
During the period between the 18th and the 25th Dynasty (1539-657 BC), the Egyptians continued to refine their use of aromatics in incense, medicine, cosmetics, and finally perfumes. Until just a few hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Egyptian perfumery industry was celebrated as the finest in the whole of the Middle East and beyond. So great was their reputation as master perfumers, that when Julius Caesar returned home with Cleopatra after conquering Egypt around 48 BC, perfume bottles were tossed to the crowds to demonstrate his total domination over Egypt.
Enter the Greeks
The richness of the Egyptian botanical pharmacopoeia had already been assimilated by many other cultures during previous millennia; the Assyrians, Babylonians and Hebrews had all borrowed from their vast knowledge of aromatic medicine. As the Egyptian Empire crumbled into decline around 300 BC, Europe became the heart of empirical medicine, where new methods were steadily evolving into a more scientifically based system of healing.
The earliest known Greek physician was Asclepius who practiced around 1200 BC combining the use of herbs and surgery with previously unrivalled skill. His reputation was so great that after his death he was deified as the god of healing in Greek mythology, and thousands of lavish healing temples known as Asclepieion were erected in his honor throughout the Grecian world.
The Father of Medicine
Hippocrates (circa 460-377 BC) was the first physician to dismiss the Egyptian belief that illness was caused by supernatural forces. Instead, he believed the doctor should try to discover natural explanations for disease by observing the patient carefully, and make a judgment only after consideration of the symptoms.
His treatments would typically employ mild physio-therapies, baths, massage with infusions, or the internal use of herbs such as fennel, parsley, hypericum or valerian. Hippocrates is said to have studied and documented over 200 different herbs during his lifetime. He believed that surgery should be used only as a last resort and was among the first to regard the entire body as an organism. Therefore we have Hippocrates to thank for a concept fundemental to true aromatherapy - that of holism.
Founders of botany & pharmacology
After Alexander's invasion of Egypt in the 3rd century BC, the use of aromatics, herbs and perfumes became much more popular in Greece prompting great interest in all things fragrant. Theophrastus of Athens who was a philosopher and student of Aristotle, investigated everything about plants and even how scents affected the emotions. He wrote several volumes on botany including 'The History of Plants', which became one of the three most important botanical science references for centuries to come. He is generally referred to today as the Founder of Botany.
The next great luminary was the Greek military physician Dioscorides (40-90 AD) who served in Nero's army. In order to study herbs, Dioscorides marched with Roman armies to Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain, recording everything that he discovered. He described the plants habitat, how it should be prepared and stored, and described full accounts of its healing properties. His results were published in a comprehensive 5 volume work called 'De Materia Medica', also known as 'Herbarius'.
This epic publication was the first ever systematic pharmacopoeia and contained 1000 different botanical medications, plus descriptions and illustrations of approximately 600 different plants and aromatics. His magnificent work was so influential he has been bestowed the accolade, the Father of Pharmacology.
Of gladiators and emperors
Perhaps the most brilliant and influential of all Greek physicians was Claudius Galen, who lived from 129-199 AD and studied medicine from the age of seventeen. He began his medical career aged 28 under Roman employ treating the wounds of gladiators with medicinal herbs. This unique experience provided him with the opportunity to study wounds of all kinds, and it is said that not a single gladiator died of battle wounds while under the care of Galen.
Due to his phenomenal success he quickly rose to become the personal physician to the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and since Rome was a thriving academic center during the lifetime of Galen it was the ideal place for him to conduct further research. Galen was the last of the great Greco-Roman physicians, and within 100 years of his death the Roman Empire would begin to decline, plunging Europe into the dark ages.
As the Romans began pulling out of Britain, much of their medical knowledge was discarded and all progress in the Western tradition of medicine came to a halt for hundreds of years. During this period, Europe sank into the lowest depths of barbarism recorded in history, and it would be the turn of another culture to carry the torch of aromatic medicine forward.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


For those who may ask, we do Hot stone massage at PrehiSPAnic, Corozal!!! Come and try it out!!!! You will love it!!!

Although the hot stone massage is believed to have been done thousands of years ago, it is said that a certain Mary Hannigan of Tucson, Arizona invented the hot stone massage more than a decade ago and trademarked her own version of this unique massage technique. However, many other hot stone massage proponents have since come up with their own versions, but basically using the same principles.
A hot stone massage makes use of several different-sized basalt stones. Basalt is volcanic in nature and can thus absorb and retain heat efficiently. Smooth rocks are chosen for the hot stone massage, with large ones being placed on the lower abdomen, the sacrum, and along the spine; while the smaller ones – approximately the size of the tip of the thumb – being used between the toes.
The rocks are heated in water with a temperature of 120-150 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot stone massage practitioners must be well trained in the trade, because using stones that are too hot or too cold can be deleterious to health, not to mention potentially unsafe.
The hot stone massage therapist must use rubber gloves or a tool to take the stones out of the water – this is usually a slotted spoon. The rocks must not be picked up with bare hands out of the water, because apart from the obvious reason that these might scorch the therapist's hands, the water must also be kept clean and free from bacteria.
Bacteria usually die in very high temperatures, but they thrive when the water temperature goes down. This is why it is essential to keep the water clean at all times.
Large, baseball-sized stones are placed on the patient's palms while the other stones are situated on the points mentioned above. In addition, the hot stone massage is complemented by a massaging of oiled, heated stones onto the torso, arms, and the legs.
The therapist sees to it, too, that the water temperature is strictly maintained. If you find the heat uncomfortable, you can always inform your therapist so adjustments could be made. Hot stone massage also involves the variable application of pressure, and you can always speak up and request for light, medium, or deep pressure.
The heat from the stones have been known to reduce anxiety in people and has helped them maintain calmer and more relaxed moods. The hot stone massage improves circulation and keeps panic attacks, for some, to a minimum.
Those new to hot stone massage, though are warned about the potential dangers of this technique, as it could raise a person's blood pressure. It is thus not recommended for pregnant and hypertensive women.

Monday, October 12, 2009


General Mondragon, weapons expert, invited his friend, Don Porfirio Díaz, to an exhibition of an accessory he had invented, which allowed tuning with mathematical precision the aim of guns and missiles.

The exhibit, surrounded by the pomp and military ceremony was impressive but did not work. Although Mondragon adjusted once and again his invention, the cannon did not shoot anything.

Diaz, who was also a military expert, was asked by Mondragon to intervene. The dictator went to the gun, took something off and bam!, It worked. Mondragon, half angry, asked: "What did you take off, pal?

Well, your invention! Was the reply.

That's what we're doing with Rodrigo Medina Gonzalez Paras's inventions: We are removing the thick boning administrative apparatus invented six years ago for an alleged modernized administration and a failed attempt of citizen involvement.

Natividad, an expert in public administration, educated in France, wove a dense organizational network that halted the start of his government for an entire year, while fabricating structures that conformed to the laws or changed the laws to authorize them.

Created agencies, institutes, commissions, trusts, councils, but, ironically, in their hands centralized coordination and control in all these organisms.

To begin a new presidential term, Medina has to eliminate the Mondragon invention of his godfather for the cannon to make noise.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The most frequent question a football supporter asks himself is, without any doubt, "Who invented Football?".

Of course, there is a lot of controversy around the answer. The two countries that are fighting for the historical honor are Italy and England. Most of the Europeans think it's the latter. After all, the first stadium that was invested with artificial lighting was the Wembley Arena. That seems to be their main argument when asked to give you a reason.The Italians, on the other hand, do not agree. Their opinion is that the Italy Peninsula was the first place to witness the "king of sports". And, of course, who can argue with them? As a matter of fact, both nations cannot be proven wrong. Still, it seems that England is the one nation closer to the truth. After the latest news coming from the Aberdeen Library, it seems that the Scottish people is the one that invented football. David Wedderburn, teacher of the Aberdeen Grammar School, has written a book that can prove that. "Vocabula" shows a detailed story about the game's rules. And, in order for you to believe me, I'm going to show you a short paragraph of his book. The indications in the paragraph refer to his pupils."Let's pick sides. Those who are on the outside, come over here. Kick off, so that we can begin the match...Pass it here".A 1711 manuscript of the book - written in 1663 - was stored in the Scottish National Library, in Aberdeen. "The book is the first evidence we have come across of a passing game with goalkeepers and players passing the ball to score goals. The other interesting thing is that the FA was not formed until 1863. In the first FA rule book there is no mention of goalkeepers and the game is based more on a rugby-type structure, where players could not pass the ball forward. Scotland has a fantastic claim to have developed the modern game. It is frankly an amazing discovery and one which is hard to dispute", said Richard McBrearty, the curator of the Scottish Football Museum.

Monday, October 5, 2009





Wednesday, September 30, 2009


by Rachelle de Bretagne
Double decker buses are as common a sight in the United Kingdom, as the old red telephone boxes and black city cabs. Part of Great Britain's heritage, few realize that the evolution of the double decker bus or that the first versions of the bus were in fact brought out during the Industrial revolution of the late 19th century.
As far back as this, it was recognized that double decker buses which could carry more people to their destination at a time were proven as an economical method of transport. The first buses were horse driven, and although not of the same family as those seen today, were innovative and had seating areas on top of the main bus itself. London General, which would later become known among the British as London Transport brought out their first double decker buses for the 1851 Exhibition of London, converting a standard carriage into one which had secure seating on the roof.

This model paved the way to new thoughts on transport, and as far back as 1899, the first motorised double decker bus driven by steam took its place on the London streets, followed by the very first Daimler model which was petrol driven, and which used a 12 horse power engine. The old buses of the early part of the 20th Century were of completely different design to those seen in London in this day and age, and most required the upstairs passengers to climb up steps on the outside of the bus.
By the early fifties, the buses had been developed not only to be more economical, but to carry more passengers in comfort. The Routemasters came into use at this time, and are the standard design upon which modern day buses are built. The suspension was changed and the bus no longer relied upon the chassis being the main stress bearer. Little by little designs changed, and early buses of this kind had a separate entrance for the driver, at the front cab, and an entrance for the passengers at the back with an internal staircase which took them to the upper floor.
In seaside towns, the open topped double decker buses were popular with the tourist, and these are still used to take them around cities on tours, and in coastal regions, though now much different from the original Routemaster designs of older times.
In the early sixties, the length of the bus was extended to take 72 seats although this varies from model to model, and the old buses, while resembling those of the original fleets were adapted to have lighter bodywork, and sport the advertising panels which became their trademark
and began being used in 1964. 2005 marked the sad end of the Routemasters which were, by that time, sold privately, though the double decker buses which followed took on that same familiar look though were adapted for passengers with handicap. The Routemaster ramps were well known for their flaws of design and were never really a viable option.
Special edition Routemasters were used for ceremonies and celebrations, stepping away from the standard red to gold and silver. New buses took on a more streamline look allowing for adaptations to the times, and the introduction of the one man bus, where the driver and conductor were no longer needed and the driver took the money for tickets from the customers as they entered the front of the bus. The traditional method of having the engine at the front of the bus was replaced with placing it at the rear, making the front of the buses into available space for the customers to enter and to pay the driver their fare.

With the privatization of many companies all over England, many companies now use smaller buses, though the double decker bus has its place in large towns all over Britain, and while looking more sleek, still give the customer a comfortable ride to their destination, though with lightweight materials and more attention to overall cost.
It was a sad day when the Routemasters stopped running, as these had been the backbone of British transport since their early design days. The design was a solid design which was built to last, and even as late as 1995, the buses were refurbished, not because of anything other than the public expecting more comfort with new upholstery being added, to take the buses through the last ten years of their useful lives.
The bus conductor with his little ticket dispensing machine was as much a part of the British way of life as the Routemasters. Now, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has pioneered a contest to design a new London bus, offering a 25,000 prize for the winner, meaning that the future of London buses is still on the drawing board until October.
It will take imagination and ingenuity to come up with a design that last as well as the traditional Routemasters, which have become all too familiar symbols of everything British, though no doubt the future will hold innovative designs which take on the Routemaster designers in an attempt to change the face of transport in the United Kingdom and bring it up to date with other famous landmarks. Who knows, they may even take the black cabs of London and try and replace them with electric cars, though it will take a bit of persuading for the new double decker buses to be as accepted as the old Routemasters were, or to win the hearts of the British public.


It was a custom brought in by Prince Albert and was firstly only practiced among the gentry. It was also Prince Albert who introduced the decorated christmas tree custom to Britain. The cards started out as greetings between the great families at christmas and then spread to the masses as the years went by.The first greetings cards were single postcard types and some were hand coloured and others were embroidered - obviously the more elaborate they were the more it represented your wealth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This year´s Science Fair of Seville is a sample of 2,500 inventions created by some very special "scientists". They all have in common that they are minors.

The nearly 100,000 visitors, mostly school-can enjoy learning what, for example, static electricity is, how to manufacture robots, or mixing chemicals.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Eat corn tortillas to prevent cancer!

A group of Mexican scientists designed a special form of this food, which can help prevent disease while lowering cholesterol and glucose in the blood, they say.

The product, designed at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), would help in preventing breast, prostate and colon cancer, which according to officials is listed in high levels in the population.

To a corn tortilla, which is one of the staples in the Mexican diet, flaxseed was added, phytoestrogens and omega 3, Rodolfo Rendon, the project leader, told BBC NEWS. "Some studies say that consuming six grams of flaxseed daily reduced cholesterol by 20% in three months," he said.

The product has completed its testing phase and in four months could go on the market, one of the largest in the country, since Mexico consumes daily 630 million tortillas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Charge your phone with your body

Within not too long this phrase that seems impossible to occur may be a common action. A thermoelectric generator developed by the University ETH Zurich converts body warmth into electrical power. This invention could be the first key to the development of chargers directly using our energy to keep alive the electronic devices. The invention has won the "Swiss Electric Research Award 2009". A thermoelectric generator may be the solution to not having the battery run out at the most inopportune time. Its inventor, Wulf Glatz, a scientist at the ETH Zurich University, has been awarded the "Swiss Electric Research Award 2009" awarded by the electricity companies of Switzerland for being one of the most innovative inventions. The system which has been developed uses the difference in temperature between the heat source and the environment to generate no contaminated emissions and produce enough energy to charge a mobile phone or electricity to an apartment. Thus, the same as the heat of a body could recharge a cell phone, the heating of a building might give electricity to a floor or heat from a motor vehicle could give it fuel.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Today the proud nation of Belize is 28. Today we stand tall as we sing our National anthem. Today we look at our Belizean flag and proudly say: LONG LIVE BELIZE!!!

To all Belizeans, everywhere I extend a Happy Independence day 2009.

As we move forward, we learn from past mistakes and acquire the wisdom of time. (Brenda A. Ysaguirre)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have taken this article from BELIZEAN JOURNEYS. It was written by P. Arana and covers the carnival history in Belize so well that I just had to make sure more people read. it. Thanks to P. Arana. You are a proud image of Belize!!!

Every so often one, but usually more, of the eager spectators stops and peers down the street, scanning the horizon expectantly for signs. This extended glance is usually followed closely by similar gazes down the line in domino-like effect until, of course, a police car is spotted. At this time, excited whispers will ripple along the line like shivers down a spine. Unuttered, but at the back of everyone's mind, are the words: "Let the partying begin!"Born as the Latin pagan custom, carrus navalis (ship of fools) in which a magnificently-decorated ship on wheels was pulled to the temples, it grew into the Italian carne (flesh or meat) vale (goodbye) in which agitators unmanageable by the Church, celebrated Bacchanal. The day of unbridled merrymaking so named in honor of Bacchus (Roman god of wine), marked Shrove Tuesday (also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the eve of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the forty Lenten days of eating, drinking and sexual restrictions.In some parts of the world, that's how carnival started; but in Belize, it was five spirited women who gave birth to the movement. In 1975 Ms. Crystal, Ms. June, Ms. Alice, Ms. Maude and Ms. Myrtle got together on a Sunday as they had done on numerous occasions before that. What was different on this particular afternoon social was the heated discussion of how to spice up the Tenth of September Celebrations. They left bubbling with the excitement of an idea that was still brewing in their heads. None of them envisioned that an acronym formed from their names, C-JAMM, would one day become a household September word in Belize.Calling themselves the Belize Women for Cultural Preservation, the five mothers from Sixth Street in the King's Park area of Belize City sold their idea to their children, who in turn brought neighborhood friends. That September the costumed group danced through the main streets of Belize City, inadvertently selling their show; the rest of Belize City bought into it. In fact, the concept created such an impression that for the next 25 years, the "Sixth Street Masqueraders", as they were dubbed, saw more neighborhoods forming bands, creating costumes and floats to join in the Carnival parade.Today, during the designated day in September, 70,000 plus inhabitants and visitors line the streets of Belize City, from Central American Boulevard to the Marion Jones Sporting Complex, to witness the spectacle. As you elbow your way through the crowd, slicing trough the excitement hanging in the air, a few people mumble in protest. Once you move on, though, they return to their happy chatter, assured that no brazen latecomer has succeeded in cutting in and blocking their view. Very few, if any, give thought to carnival's rebellious teenage years.In the 1980s, the Belize Women for Cultural Preservation was given the task of taking a group of roughly eighty dancers to showcase Belize's culture on the streets of Miami. Dressed in costumes portraying the wildlife of the rainforest, Belize's beasts met the Caribbean's beauties. This affair became a turning point in Belize's carnival history.Like true adolescents, the dancers returned to Belize demanding why. Why did they have to wear those wretched long skirts? Why couldn't they get costumes that kept them cool in ninety-degree weather? Why did they have to attend those two-hour long practices to learn synchronized dance steps? Why couldn't they just show up on the day of the carnival and dance their hearts out? And why, for heaven's sake, couldn't they have hip names like Gem or Cultural Heritage or C-JAMM? When the parents stopped frowning, they adopted the five-letter acronym and revisited the costume designs. In subsequent years, carnival entered a metamorphic phase. Costume bottoms shortened from the modest ankle-length to conservative knee-length to the provocative bikini-length.Clearly influenced by carnival in the Caribbean, carnival in Belize is an engaging experience in music, dance, and costumes. It is here that the resemblance ends because carnival in Belize has evolved into its own. An absence of the million-dollar machinery that drives the most famous Caribbean carnivals has left Belizeans with no option but to use head and heart to power the carnival engine.It is a determination whose embers are fanned inside buildings called camps, months in anticipation of the actual event and far from the eyes of the embracing community that comes out to share in its success. Drawing on such inspiration as history, culture, and nationalism, the groups raise funds, design and make costumes and mobilize the business community to pull off the best free and most anticipated cultural production in Belize. Today that show continues to emerge each year. As a result, carnival in Belize has grown up, giving birth to her own offspring.Carnival in the northernmost town of Corozal is reminiscent of its earlier days in Belize City. Adults make costumes, host practices and organize the road march while children and teenagers are the dancing stars. Since participating groups represent the various elementary and secondary schools in the district, the carnival itself has been made into an educational experience. While floats and costumes depict the Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, Chinese, East Indian, Creole and Mennonite cultures, this educational focus does not take away from the festive mood. From Santa Rita Hill to Corozal Bay, carnival in Corozal Town is one non-stop jam session.In neighboring Orange Walk (a.k.a. Sugar City), the ten member committee of the Orange Walk Carnival Group has followed in the footsteps of the Belize Women for Cultural Preservation. Though it cannot accept credit for starting carnival, the committee, including coordinator Flavia Burgos and Production team (Minioli Alonzo, Lupe Salas and Tiburcio Hernandez), has catalyzed the carnival experience in Orange Walk Town. The majorettes and marching bands are still present as they have been since anyone in Orange Walk can remember carnival, but this group has added a new ingredient.Focused on building and maintaining cultural awareness, the group conducts extensive research to recreate for the performers and audience the connection to their heritage. At the end of each carnival they store the costumes and floats, thus building a visual archive of carnival and of the cultures they have showcased. For them, carnival is not merely limited to the street parade; carnival is an opportunity to learn and pass on traditions. Since this new flavor was added to the pot last year, the group has been spotlighting their Mestizo and Maya culture on the streets of Orange Walk. Judging from the increasing popularity of Orange Walk carnival, the "Latin" flavor has certainly caught Belize's attention.Whether you choose the Corozal, Orange Walk, or Belize City experience, Carnival is about letting go of your inhibitions. From a distance it looks like a frenzy of colors spurred to movement by towers of speakers pumping out lively soca beats. From the sidelines it becomes a revelry of brightly colored costumes moving with the gyrating seemingly possessed bodies that inhabit them. The jerky, rotating, and trembling dance movements are further accentuated by swaying beads, shimmering materials, and feathered projections adorning the costumes. The masqueraders dance themselves into a high that feeds on itself like an insatiable cycle, keeping fatigue at bay in a move to outbid itself. The soundtrack is hype, energetic, persuading all within earshot to "jump", "mash it up", "raise yu hand", "wine yu waist", "tremble it", and any combination thereof. In response arms flail, feet kick, lifting bodies off the ground, bodies shiver, faces contort and butts jiggle in synchronized motion giving way to cathartic relief reminiscent of some physiological functions. If this sounds unreal to you, come experience it for yourself!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009






Monday, August 17, 2009


Temazcal III/III - Preparation of the Temazcal
Dr. Horacio Rojas AlbaInstituto Mexicano de Medicinas Tradicionales Tlahuilli A.C.
Temazcal method.If the Temazcal is the type that has a fireplace on one side, the fire is made there. Otherwise, the stones are heated in a pit by placing them on firewood, covering them with more wood, and stoking the fire until they are as hot as possible. Meanwhile, the Temazcal is prepared by placing leaves, mats or low benches inside for the people to sit or lie on. A tea is prepared with which to make the steam. Herbs that may be used for purpose include eucalyptus, rosemary, mugwart, or other warming or stimulating herbs (pericon is one of our favorites), and the bucket of tea is placed, still hot, inside the Temazcal along with a cup with which to dip it out. A couple of buckets of cold water are also placed inside at the last minute, along with a dish with which to dip it out and pour over the bathers to bring down body heat and make possible several cycles of sweating. An herbal tea should be prepared for drinking afterwards. This may be a tea selected for a specific condition or may be a general tea for all, such as chamomille, sassafras, horehound, or milfoil. We often use palo de brasil or toronjil.
Aloe juice spread on the body and face just before entering the bath does wonders for the skin and should be made available if desired.
Finally, herbal branches must be gathered to be used inside the Temazcal for directing the heat. The choice depends on the season and region, but eucalyptus, mullein, or the leaf of the castor bean plant are some examples of plants that may be used. A vegetable or chicken soup may be prepared to be eaten after the bath and rest period. Sheets must be gathered and placed near the entrance to the Temazcal to receive the bathers and the resting place must be prepared, with blankets, if necessary. When all is prepared, it is time to arrange the stones. In the case of a Temazcal with a fireplace, the remaining fire is usually pulled out in order to prevent any smoke from entering the Temazcal through cracks that might exist in the internal wall, and the entrance to the fireplace is covered to prevent loss of heat. If the stones were heated outside, they are picked up with a shovel and carefully placed inside the Temazcal in the hole that was prepared to receive them. Often, a piece of resinous incense (copal is traditionally used) is dropped on at least the first stone to ritually purify the inside of the bath. When all this is done, the Temazcal is aired to remove any vestiges of smoke that may remain. This is done by opening the airhole at the top and leaving the door open while someone enters and fans the upper part in a circular motion.
Now, with the teas prepared and in place, the bunch of the herbs and buckets of cold water inside, the fire punt out and the stones in place, the Temazcal aired out, and sheets at hand near the door, the Temazcal is ready to use.
In preparation for the Temazcal, we often fast for a day, or half a day. Certainly, one must not enter the bath until a couple of hours have passed since eating, and never after a heavy meal. The Temazcal is entered naked. Cotton underwear may be used for modesty's sake, but it does prevent the heat from reaching the covered parts with the same intensity. Inside, the bath may be taken sitting on a low bench or lying down. The floor of the Temazcal may be covered with a woven straw mat (known as a petate) or leaves such as banana leaves.
Inside of the TemazcalWhen the bathers have settled down and have begun to feel comfortable with the dark and the warmth (and not until then), the temazcalera will throw a cup of hot herbal tea on the hot rocks to create a blast of fragrant steam which deliciously envelops the body. Those who had still not begun to sweat now begging. Initially, it will take a series of throwing tea on the rocks to create and maintain the heat and level of humidity of the Temazcal. Once this is reached, the temperature and steam are maintained or manipulated in the same manner with more occasional dousing of the rocks, it is important to wait for steam to abate a little before throwing more tea on the stones, both in order to gauge the temperature and effect attained, and in order not cool the stones too much.
There are some who feel uncomfortable at first with the reduced space and the heat inside the Temazcal. Usually a few deep and relaxing breaths will help to allay this initial reaction. Lying down also helps, in part because the floor is cooler than the upper parts and in part because the prone position helps to relax. If is the job of the Temazcalera to put bathers at ease, but it is strongly recommended that the Temazcal be a quiet place where one is drawn back into oneself.
After a short time has passed, the Temazcal being to manipulate the heat with branches of herbs. By passing the herbs near the ceiling, he or she can bring down the heat in order to make it uniform throughout the Temazcal or direct it towards a certain part of the body by fanning. Or the herbs may be used to do what is called a 'leafing', where the bather is gently beaten with the herbal branches. The heat that these herbs bring to the body is remarkable! Although it already felt very hot in the bath, these gentle herbal beatings bring much more heat. In the case of eached and pains, this additional heat feels very sooting. In this way, the affected area of the body is treated specifically by directing more heat to it.
Sometimes an herbal tea is used to wash the affected area, or a massage may be done. Col water may be used over the body, including the head, while inside the Temazcal. This may be done therapeutically to cool off the outside of the body, shrinking superficial blood vessels in order to exercise them, and allowing them to swell again with the heat. It is often recommended just before leaving a Temazcal that has been very hot in order to assure that the heat does not rise to the head afterwards (the head should also be doused with the cold water). This 'closes the pores' white at the same time facilitates intense sweating afterwards.
The length of time spent inside the Temazcal varies greatly, depending on the heat of the bath, the constitution of the individual, and the condition that is being treated. It is entirely an individual matter, and even may vary from bath to bath for same person. When one feels impelled to leave, it is best to do so.
After the TemazcalTraditionally, one leaves a Temazcal by crawling our backwards, to be received by a cotton sheet and led to a place to lie down and rest, well covered. Now, one of the most therapeutic parts of the Mexican sweatbath beings. While the bath may have lasted twenty minutes (or ten or thirty), sweating may continue for another hour, thus increasing the therapeutic detoxifying effect of the bath. As much warm herbal tea as is desired may be drunk at this time.
Only when the body has stopped sweating should one get up and get dressed. Here, it is important to be well covered and to avoid 'aires', as the Mexicans say, or drafts (open car windows, for example). As the 'pores' of the body have been opened, care must be taken not to get cold during the succeeding twenty four hours. It is also important not to sat or drink col foods nor to eat too heavily. Finally, some recommended not bathe for a day after wards, others say that it is permitted as long as it is done with warm (no scalding nor cold) water and care is taken with drafts afterwards.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Sweat Lodge: Temazcal II/III - Mexican Method of Sweat Baths for Curative Purposes
Dr. Horacio Rojas AlbaInstituto Mexicano de Medicinas Tradicionales Tlahuilli A.C.
Curing therapyTo our knowledge, found only in the Mexican method of using sweat baths for curative purposes, when the patient comes out of the bath, he is carefully wrapped in a sheet or blanket, and made to lie down and rest, usually in a room or place specially prepared for this purpose, until the body finishes of its own its sweating. This period of mandatory rest varies very much from individual to individual; it can range from half an hour to more than an hour. The patient is given a cup of herbal tea, normally made from an herb chosen for his precise condition, to help replace liquids lost in the bath, and then left to rest. Most people fall sleep during this rest period, and awake feeling refreshed and strengthened: No patient is permitted to dress or to leave until his body has dried itself completely through its own action.
These two special features of the traditional Mexican sweat bath -the skills of the Temazcalera and the mandatory rest period after the bath- may go a long way in explaining its impressive curative powers.
Before we go on, it might be best to say a few words about the concepts employed in Mexican traditional medicine. The practice of the Temazcal as we find it today, has carried with it almost all of the conceptions, beliefs, methods of using it, ways of constructing it, and the like, and it is almost impossible to understand how it works with out invoking these ancient concepts. Chief among them and essential for comprehending almost all aspects of the Mexican practice of the sweat bath, are the terms, 'hot' and 'cold' as they are used by traditional healers.
In traditional thought, not only herbs and materials but foods and sicknesses, as well, are thought of in terms of the categories of 'hot' and 'cold'. These are best understood as preferring to the qualities of the energies thought to be at work in whatever is being talked about -sickness, herbs, foods, materials, etc. 'Hot' will be used to describe things that are considered to be high in energy, active, and exciting in their effects. 'Cold', on the other hand, is used to describe things that are considered to be high in energy, active, and exciting in their effects. 'Cold', on the other hand, is used to describe things that have the reverse characteristics -they slow things down and reduce activity. Tranquilizers and sedatives, for example, would be described as 'cold' in nature; stimulants, 'hot' in nature. Each quality is recognized by it's manifestations: color, taste, smell, etc. It is interesting to note that these terms are used in quite the same way and for quite the same purposes in traditional Chinese medicine, as well.
Many people think, as a consequence, that baths in the Temazcal should be good for cold sicknesses or conditions but not for hot ones. In fact, it is good for both. The Temazcal seems to promote the getting rid of excesses of both cold and heat, and to work towards balance between the two of then in the body that health requires. Sweat is thought to carry out the cold, so the more one sweats, the more coldness one had inside to get rid of. Those who sweat little are thought to have little internal coldness and incline, instead, to an excess of internal heat. The cure for a cold or flu caused by cold is to provoke sweat. Heat, on the other hand, is characterized by redness. Perhaps the easiest way to grasp this is to think of a pot of water with a tea bag in it. Before it is put on the stove, it is cold, pale or clear in color, abundant in fluid, with little or no smell. After it has boiled for a while, it is hot, dark in color, has reduced in amount and may have become thicker, and has a strong smell. The body and its excretions manifest these qualities of hot and cold in much the same way.
In the Temazcal, there is sweating and the skin turns red, indicating that both excess heat and excess cold are being expelled. Because of the dynamic relationship between the two, an equilibrium is reached.
A powerful therapy in treatment of many illnessesThe Temazcal is a powerful therapy in the treatment of many illnesses and complaints, both acute and chronic. One of the most common uses of the Temazcal however, a use of the sweat bath that is peculiar to Mexico and astonishes everyone the first time that they come across it, is for women's conditions related to menstruation, infertility, pregnancy, childbirth and the traditional forty day quarantine following it; as well as to promote the flow of milk.
In traditional classification of conditions, most problems associated with the female reproductive system are considered to be caused by cold, and for these, the Temazcal has wonderfully warming effect. It heats ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus, and 'moves' the hormonal system. A series of sweat baths are done using herbs of a hot nature, appropriate for these problems, such as 'chapulistle', 'santa maria', and 'pericon'. Women bathe in the Temazcal to regulate almost any menstrual problem.
While bathing in the Temazcal is generally not recommended during menstruation itself, its regular use is helpful in premenstrual syndrome, pain, irregularity, depression accompanying the period, and ovarian cysts, as well as infertility. We know of quite a number of "Temazcal babies". These were all born to women who came to the sweat bath for other reasons, and later confided that they had been trying to get pregnant for some time without success; the Temazcal had cured them of their difficulties. In the case of ovarian cysts, for example, we treated a your woman, recently, whose cyst on an ovary was, according to the medical reports, larger in volume than her uterus. She went through a series of baths in the Temazcal, at the end of which, the cyst had been reduced to a fifth of the size that had been originally reported, and undesired operation had been avoided.
Several observations seem required in relation to this case. The first is that it required, for positive results, a series of baths. That is almost invariably the case when a serious medical condition is being treated; a single bath or a few baths is rarely sufficient. In this case, along with the medicinal plants that were used in the bath itself, others were prescribed to be taken by the patient between baths. Additionally, as a supportive therapy, acupuncture was administered. A correct combination of additional therapies along with a series of steam baths, has turned out to be, in our experience, the most effective way to deal with difficult situations. The Temazcal is also widely used during pregnancy and in childbirth, although for these purposes, it is not made quite as hot as it usually is. Births are often attended inside the warm Temazcal by a traditional midwife. Not only does the warmth help to speed labor but the baby is then born into an environment that is not so radically different from that from whence it came. The Mexican people, it seems. had 'birth without violence' long before it had to be re-invented in our time.
During pregnancy, massage may be performed on the mother inside the bath, taking advantage of the muscular relaxation produced by the heat, to manipulate externally a fetus that is in a bad position or is causing discomfort to the pregnant woman. The hot bath can be used to speed up a birth that is going slowly or to make labor stronger and more regular. It help to reduce blood less after birth. Following childbirth, the mother may take a Temazcal 'too warm the womb' that has been exposed too cold during the birthing, too calm the post partum pains, to speed the discharge of loquia and toxins, to prevent pospurpeal fever and to promote the flow of milk. Often, the infant is also introduced into the warm Temazcal, along with the mother.
Permanent and temporary structures of TemazcalIn the indigenous cultures of the United States the sweat baths are usually temporary structures; in central and southern Mexico they are usually permanent, although sometimes a temporary structure is a thrown up for some special occasion. Often they are circular in shape, quit like the bread ovens still seen in the villages, with a domed roof symbolizing the heavens. Occasionally, they are rectangular or square. They are made of 'adobe' bricks, stone, unbaked brick, mud and wattle, wood, or dug into the earth, pretty much in the same way as they were made more than 500 years ago. Clavijero said of the ancient Temazcals, "The Temazcal is most commonly made of unbaked brick... Its diameter is around eight feet [referring to the human foot] and the entrance has the height that a man may enter on his knees". The Temazcals discovered in the ruins of Xochicalco, Piedras Negras, Palenque and Teotenango are luxurious buildings of stone plastered with stucco and even decorated inside.
And so, the Temazcal is a room small enough and low enough to preserve heat. It may be round or rectangular and it is rarely high enough for a person to stand up in. The reason for this is that heat rises, and it is hard to maintain the heat and steam in the lower part where the bathers are if the ceiling is too high.
The door is quite small and low for the obvious reason of loss of heat as well as for the more symbolic role that it plays --re-entry into the womb. The shape of the Temazcal also has to do with the control of heat; a round or domed structure has fewer spaces or corners for the heat to escape to, and also has a very nice feel inside. It has the added advantage over a flat ceiling of a little more height in the center for moving around, without increasing greatly the cubic space inside.
The nature of the materials used in the making of the Temazcal is very important. 'Hot' materials, or, at the very least, materials which are not 'cold' are preferred. While we may not have instruments to measure such things, they are within our everyday experience. For example, we have all tasted the difference between a muffin which has been heated in the oven and one which has been heated in the microwave: the temperature of each is the same, but the flavor is different. Symbolically, the Temazcal calls into play the elements of fire and earth, but these elements play a therapeutic role as well as symbolic. The heat created by a wood fire is of a different nature (it is hotter, or more yang) that of electricity, for example. Cement is colder that brick which is coincide than adobe. Just try placing your bare foot on brick and then on cement one cold morning and you will feel the difference. Metal is also very cold in nature. Hence stone or adobe are the preferred materials of which to build the Temazcal.
The Temazcal, then, is generally a small structure; commonly, a round one, just big enough for two people to lie down in, or for four seated, will measure some 2 meters in diameter (about 6 1/2 feet). The height is nearly 5 feet. There is a traditional way to measure these dimensions: you hold a string to the center of your chest (where the heart is) with one hand and hold in to the side with the arm outstretched with the other. This will give the radius of a round Temazcal, or half the length of a rectangular one. The inteterior height is the level of the heart.
A temporary or semi-permanent Temazcal may be thrown up very quickly, using flexible branches or bamboo to make the frame. Twelve branches is the traditional number, representing the twelve levels of the celestial dome. These are planted in a circle and fastened together at the top, with an external ring added halfway up, to which each branch is fastened in order to add support. A hole, called the umbilicus, is dug in the center to receive the hot stones (these are heated in a fire built outside). This frame once in place is then covered over with blankets or canvas. The simplest way is with blankels, although these absorb a let of the steam and so it may be necessary to douse the hot rocks with tea with some frequency. Woven straw mats, easily found in Mexico, makes a better covering.
Another simple way is to cover the frame with mud and wattle. Boughs are woven into the frame and slithered with a mud made from as clayey an earth as you can find, and mixed with straw --just the way that Hebrews did it in ancient Egypt before they were punished by Pharaoh. This mixture may be made more resistant to water by mixing in the slime from chopped cactus leaves that have been put to soak, or by using the water (called 'nejallote') in which the corn has been cooked before it is ground to make the dough for 'tortillas'. A little experimenting with the mixture can lead to a very durable finish. Anther traditional way to the frame is by thatching it with palm fronds. A good thatched roof can last for several years. A clay pot is often turned upside down on the peak to protect it because it is difficult to seal the thatched peak well otherwise. Blankets hung over the entrance make a door that seals well, and is easy to enter and exit through them.
For a more permanent structure, stone, brick or adobe may be used. There are a few details which must be taken into account. The first is that it is preferable not to use metal or rebar in the structure if it can be safely avoided; metal and cement are considered cold in traditional thought, and may affect energy flow wood is a good substitute. A brick floor is easier to maintain than wood (and without the danger of fire), while not as cold in nature as cement. Another consideration is the placement of the door, and of the fireplace if this is to be integrated into the Temazcal. If the fireplace is not to be built into the structure, a hole is made in the floor on one side or in the center of the Temazcal. It is best to build the bath next to the room which will be used for resting afterwards.
Some Temazcal are constructed which an integral fireplace, the backside of which protrudes into the Temazcal. In this way, the heated stones are already in place. The disadvantage of this method is that with repeated heating and cooling, cracks are almost certain to develop between the stones, allowing smoke to enter from the fire on the other side.
Another method is to heat the stones separately and introduce then into the hole dug in the center or to one side in the Temazcal. Ideally, this can be done in a fire place which shares a wall with the Temazcal, thereby warming the inside of the bath somewhat so that the structure is not cold upon initiating the bath. The stones may also be heated separately. At one time, we heated them in our small wood-fired stone and mud bread oven. We would prepare bread dough before entering the sweat bath, and close up the oven after taking out the stones to let it cool down enough to bake our bread. After the rest period, we formed the loaves and baked the bread.
The selection of the stones for heatingThe selection of the stones for heating is very important. These will be heated to red hot and then doused with water, so they must be stones that will withstand such changes in temperature without cracking or exploding. We often use volcanic rock, and always avoid stones from the river. The construction of the interior wall of the fireplace must be carefully done so that construction of the interior wall of the fireplace must be carefully done so that cracks do not form with use, allowing smoke to enter the Temazcal. It is important to remember to leave a vent hole a couple of inches wide in the ceiling for use in airing the Temazcal. This is used sometimes during the bath to lower the temperature, to clear smoke if some should have entered, or to clear out the 'humors' left behind after a bath.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The Native American Sweat Lodge, Temazcal, is an ancient practice from the native indians of America; a sacred ritual for Healing and Purification. Participants at the Oneness Festival will be able to experience this very powerful ritual both at day time, and, when it is as most powerful, at night time.

Sweat Lodge: Temazcal I/III - The Traditional Mexican Sweat Bath
Dr. Horacio Rojas AlbaInstituto Mexicano de Medicinas Tradicionales Tlahuilli A.C.
IntroductionSome ten years or so ago, a renewed interest in the ancient sweat bath, still called by the name given to by the Aztecs, the Temazcal, sprang up in Mexico, a part of the movement, now so widespread in this country, to return, once again to the healing practices preserved in their traditional medicine. These sweat baths, still a living tradition in many parts of the country, are usually small round stone or mud structures looking rather like old fashioned bee-hives. Many more began to be constructed everywhere, and more and more often, people who are ailing will turn to them for relief from their complaints.
Sweat baths, of course, are used known in many cultures of the world, both ancient and modern. The sauna of Scandinavia is famous, as is the hamem of north Africa and Turkey. In the ruins of Pompeii there are the remains of sweat baths, and in India, people lay in the sun, covered with leaves to protect themselves from the burning rays of the sun, to bring on sweating. It is, of course, a well-known part of the culture of our own Indians, and in this form, the sweat lodge, they, too, are enjoying renewed popularity.
The traditional Mexican sweat bath, however, differs in several ways from the others. It is not primarily used for ceremonial purposes, as is the sweat lodge of our indians, nor for relaxation or bodily cleansing or for general well-being, as are most of the other sweat baths, It is and was, as far back as we can trace it, a therapeutic instrument, an arm of the medical practices developed in what anthropologists like to call, Mesoamerica, that vast area that now includes Mexico, Guatemala and Belice. We know it best, in its ancient forms, through the Aztecs, and Temazcal, as it is still called in contemporary Mexico, is a Nahuatl word, taken from their language.
It was, when the Spanish conquerors arrived in this, for them, New World, an integral and important part of the medicine which they found here. If was, as best we can make out from the sources still left to us, used in the healing and easing of almost all kinds of medical conditions, including, as we sail see, pregnancy and child birth, it still is.
The Spaniards were appalled and outraged by this, to them, barbaric practice. Not only was it inextricably interwoven with pagan beliefs and ritual, as is all ancient traditional medicine, but, most shocking of all, the bathers entered into these small, dark chambers, all sexes and size together, naked as the day on which they were born. The Spaniards were convinced that some sort of unspeakable orgiastic rites were taking place, and so they set themselves to forbidding the practice and destroying the baths wherever they found them. In the Penal Code and Order for Governing of the Indians, proclaimed by Charles the Fifth, the emperor of Spain, it was declared "that Indians who are not sick shall not bathe in hot baths under penalty of one hundred lashes to be followed by two hours bound in the marketplace..." Later, the proscription was extended to the sick as well.
But there were some among the conquerors who were impressed more favorably by this practice and, fortunately for us, recorded their impressions of what they had seen. It is from these accounts that most of what we know of ancient practice has come down, and it is worth quoting some of their observations. In the Magliabechi Codex, one of the few books which come down to us from those days, a caption under a native drawing of a Temazcal observes, "This is a drawing of the baths of these Indians which they call the temazcalli. At the door of the bath there is an Indian who is the advocate for the sick, and when a sick person goes to the baths he makes an offering and stretches his body on the ground in veneration of the idol which they call Tezcatopocatl and who is one of their principal gods. They used in these baths other Infamous reliquaries and many naked Indians bathed and committed great ugliness and sins in this bath".
Sahagun, the industrious Franciscan friar who recorded so many of the indian customs of his day, tells us that: "It [the Temazcal] is used firstly in the convalescence of many sicknesses, so that they should finish healing more rapidly... All sick people benefit from these baths..." And he goes on to list sicknesses that he throught especially responsive to the sweat bath: traumas, broken bones, contusions, skin problems and growths, among others. He mentions, as well, that it is also good for "pregnant women who are close to giving birth as there the midwives can do certain things so that the birth is easier... ", and it is "good for the mother shortly after giving birth so that she heals and to purify the milk..." Another of the early commentators on indian customs of those times, Clavijero, observes that "...the temazcalli has always been used in many sicknesses, especially in fevers caused by some form of constipation of the pores... and those who have been injured or stung by some poisonous animal. It is also a remedy which is effective for those who need to get rid of thick and tenacious humors. When a more copious sweating is needed, the sick person is placed near the ceiling where the vapor is thicker. It was also used in the treatment of fractured bones, syphilis, lepra, pains in the chest and back, spots and growths on the skin, blows and contusions, stiff necks,..."
Temazcaltoci: The grandmother of the bathsThe name Temazcal, or temazcalli is made of two Nahuatl words, temas, which means bath, and calli, meaning house. At the time of the Conquest, they were found everywhere in almost all of central and southern Mexico. They were so common that the same Clavijero was led to remark that "...there is no town, however small it might be, that does not have many of them."
Although the Spanish did their best to wipe out this custom, they failed. The battered Indians preserved the custom secretly in remote places, as they did with so much of the their traditional medical skills and practices. In this way, the Temazcal has come down to modern times, and on the basis of the knowledge so carefully preserved, the contemporary revival of this healing swat bath has taken place.
In the Nahuatl culture of central Mexico, the goddess of the sweat bath was Temazcalteci, "the grandmother of the baths". She was, really, one of the manifestations of the goddess Teteoinan, "the mother of the gods", or, as she is also called, "our grandmother", the principal goddess among the higher Nahuatl divinities. Sahagun says of her that "...this goddess was the goddess of medicine and of the medicinal herbs; she was adored by doctors and surgeons, and bleeders, and also by midwives... She was also adored by those who had baths, or temazcals in their houses. All placed the image of this goddess in their baths". The cult of this goddess of the Temazcal extended throughout Mesoamerica and it is found in the other great cultures of the region --the Mixteca, the Zapoteca and the Maya. It was in great part because of this close relationship between the worship of a goddess and the Temazcal that the Spaniards found it so important to ban the use of the bath.
The Temazcal not only involved the worship of a goddess, but it incorporated all the elements of the ancient cosmology, both in the manner of its construction and the way in which it is used; and most of these conceptions have been preserved in traditional thought and practice down to our own day. The Temazcal is a microcosm reproducing in itself the characteristics of the universe, the macrocosm. So we find in the Temazcal all elements of the different eras or cycles (known as suns) throught which, according to Aztec mythology, the world has passed and continues to pass: earth, wind, fire and water (we now live in the fifth 'sun') and through whose constant movement and life is manifest.
More, the Temazcal is oriented according to the cosmic directions: the fire which heats its stones is placed towards the east where our Father, the sun, the god called Tonatiuh, arises; he is the light or masculine element which comes and fertilizes the womb of the mother earth (the chamber of the Temazcal itself), and so life is conceived. The doorway through which the bathers enter and leave is oriented toward the south, "the pathway of the dead", which begins with birth and ends in death, to the right of the path of Sun. In this way, the ever present duality of traditional Mexican thought is manifested. Just as there are mother and father, sun and earth, hot and cold, so we are born and, in being born, we begin our path towards death.
Aztec cosmology presents us with several different levels of the heavens, and these are considered to be present in the different levels of temperatures found inside the Temazcal: the highest in the upper part of the chamber where the temperature is the lowest.
When we enter the Temazcal, according to this ancient doctrine, we return once again to our mother's womb, presided over by the great goddess, Tonantzin or Temazcaltoci, the great mother of both gods and humans. She is our beloved mother, concerned with the health of the children and she receives us into her womb - of which our own mother's womb is but a microcosmic manifestation - to cure us of physical and spiritual ills. The entrance way is low and small, and through it we enter a small, dark, warm and humid space, in this way recreating the uterus, cutting off the outside world and giving us a chance to look inside and find ourselves again. Our re-emergence through this narrow opening represents our rebirth from the darkness and silence of the womb. It is no wonder that the Spaniards were so shocked by what they found!
Temazcal produces a series of physical reactionsPhysical cleanliness has always, and still continues to be, a matter of great importance to the people of Mexico. When the Spaniards arrived, the people of Mexico bathed daily when it was possible; the Europeans of those days, on the other hand, placed little importance on personal cleanliness and it was not uncommon for a month to pass between baths. Andres de Tapia observed that "Motecuhzoma washed his body every day two times.
"Clavijero noted that bathing in the Temazcal "was only a little less frequent" than regular bathing among the Mexicans.
The practice of inducing sweat has long been known to be beneficial in sicknesses of the skin, liver and circulation, in problems of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, and other chronic diseases, as well as acute problems like muscular pains, colds and congestions, and sweat baths are but of the ways used to bring about healthful sweating. The Temazcal, because of its special methods, is perhaps the most effective of this kind of curative technique, certainly the list of conditions for which it has been used in the course of centuries is the most extensive.
Overheating of the body (during the bath, the body temperature may reach one hundred and four degrees) produces a series of reactions: it stimulates both the superficial and the deep blood circulation, accelerates the frequency of heartbeats, as well as increases their force, calls into action the mechanisms of thermal regulation, activates the metabolism, and promotes sweating. All of these effects produce a great internal movement of energy and liquids, somewhat similar to the way in which strenuous exercise does, bringing increased circulation to all the muscles, organs and tissues. While all sweat baths produce these effects, the Temazcal, because of the way it works and the precision with which it can be regulated by the healer in charge of the bath, controls these body reactions to high heat to maximize the curative effects of the bath.
Its basic advantage as a sweat bath consists in the way high heat and high humidity are combined. The sauna, for example, reaches much higher temperature but the bath is drier and consequently, its curative capacities are lower. Other types of steam bath also combine heat and humidity, but the Temazcal surpasses them in effectiveness for two reasons: the person in charge of the bath can adjust -increase, diminish or direct- both heat and humidity to meet the specific needs of the patient he is treating, and the vapor is made from herbal teas, the herbs chosen for their effects on each individual patient.
The high heat and the high humidity, taken together, produce their healing effects, basically, through reducing or impeding the body's mechanism for cooling itself. The heat, higher than normal body temperature, induces sweating; the high humidity inhibits the evaporation of the sweat, the chief method through which the body normally cools itself, and thereby, blood circulation is increased, sweating is increased, and the elimination of toxins is maximized. It is said that every liter of sweat lost in the Temazcal is equivalent to a full days' work by the kidneys!
There are two others special characteristics of the Temazcal as a sweat bath that must be mentioned. The first is that every bath is directed by a specially trained healer, most often a woman (called in Mexico, the Temazcalera). She examines the patient, makes her diagnosis, chooses the herbs that are indicated, decides on the levels of heat and humidity that are to be used, prepares the Temazcal, and then enters the chamber with the patient to oversee and manage the course of the bath. She can raise or lower the intensity of the heat during the bath through ventilating the chamber using the entranceway or the vent that is in the roof of the Temazcal, or by fanning with the fan made up of branches of a suitable herb that she has chosen, or raising or lowering the height at which the patient is placed to do the bath (heat rise, and the Temazcal is much cooler at floor level than it is towards the root, and with all gradations in between). A good Temazcalera is amazingly skillful in handling her herbal fan; she can bring down heat for the upper parts to the lower parts of the chamber at will, and if she wishes, direct currents of heat to whatever part of the body wants special attention. Extra heat can be put on your leg, for example, to deal with sciatica, or on your back to get rid of back pain. If necessary, she will use her fan to beat gently on any part of the body to increase circulation at that spot, should it be necessary. She is, by the way, trained to do massages using a variety of traditional techniques, in the Temazcal, for any condition that might require such treatment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


El segundo fabricante mundial de teléfonoscelulares, el surcoreano Samsung Electronics, ha producido el primer móvil del mundo equipado con un panel solar para recargar su batería, informó hoy la agencia local Yonhap.El móvil, denominado “Blue Earth” (Tierra Azul), será presentado durante el Congreso Mundial de Celulares, que se celebrará en Barcelona entre los días 16 y 19 de este mes, reseñó Efe.Se trata del primer celular del mundo equipado con una batería que se carga mediante un panel solar incorporado en la parte trasera del propio aparato, que genera energía suficiente para realizar llamadas.El teléfono está fabricado además con materiales ecológicos, según la compañía, que afirma que una carga de 10 minutos en el panel solar es suficiente para realizar una llamada de tres minutos.La parte exterior del teléfono está compuesta de material reciclado a partir de botellas de agua de plástico lo cual, según la compañía, ayuda a reutilizar los recursos.