The Taino Tradition of the Sweat Lodge Purification
Steam-driven purification ceremonies or “sweats” have always been a well-documented common tradition among the native peoples of ancient Mexico and Central America. We in the Caney know that the Tainos participated in this form of ritual healing tradition which they may have brought from South America when they first migrated into the Caribbean, or they may have learned it from the Central American peoples whom they came into contact with when they arrived there.
In the tradition of the Caney the human soul is forever linked to the spiritual birthplace in the center of Cosmic Existance from which everything is born. This spiritual birthplace is called “Koa Bai”.
Koa Bai is the womb of Ata Bey, the Cosmic Matriarch. It is the warm dark place from which all life emerges. It is also the biological recycling center deep in the soil of the Earth Mother where all living things eventually return after the life journey has been completed. As such, it is the dwelling place of the dead and the abode of the ancient ancestors. It is a repository of all human experience accumulated by those who came before.
The sweat lodge is the physical manifestation of Koa Bai. As the celebrant stoops to enter the sweat lodge, he or she returns to the primordial womb to experience again the renewal of spiritual rebirth.