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Sweeping The Path: Ochpaniztli

Updated: Oct 16, 2018

We are in the beginning of the time, more properly called a veintena, of the year called Ochpaniztli, The Sweeping of the Road, when people in Mexico in pre-contact times to today ceremonially and thoroughly sweep clean their homes and the streets of their neighborhood (and that today, in my personal experience inspires our daily routines.)


It is said that in the old days, after the sweeping ceremony was completed, the person doing the cleaning, would touch the earth with one finger and touch it to their tongue to prove how clean the area now was. Afterward, a big autumn celebration would take place that included purifying the area with billows of fragrant copal smoke and women would dance while holding cempaxochitl (Aztec marigold) flowers to honor Toci (grandmother) Teteoinan (Mother of the Elements/Heart of Mother Earth). Teteoinan, Temazcaltoci and Tlazolteotl are emanations of each other, of Mother Earth, symbolizing purification and regeneration. Toci was also associated with healing and was venerated by curanderos and midwifes.


“In the 16th century Florentine Codex compiled by Bernardino de Sahagún, Toci is identified with temazcalli or sweatbaths, in which aspect she is sometimes termed Temazcaltoci, or "Grandmother of sweatbaths.” Tlazolteotl also has an association with temazcalli as the ‘eater of filth,’ [because of the releasing of stagnant energies, illness, and negative self-talk, into the earth for transmutation] and such bathhouses are likely to have been dedicated to either Tlazolteotl or Toci/Temazcaltoci." (Wikipedia)


Sweeping is a very important and sacred ritual for curanderas whose specialty is offering limpias, spiritual cleansings, and temazcallis ... especially for those of us who offer barridas (sweepings) using bundles of sacred herbs and plants whose virtues known to sweep away negative and stagnant energy so that the energy body of their client regains its luminous quality.


Ritual sweeping during the Ochpanitztli Mexica month implies cleansing both the physical -- body, house, community-- as well as the spiritual or energetic realms. (See below for a recipe for washing floors and pathways.)


This is a good time to reach out to your local curandera for a good limpia for yourself, your family and your home (and work space too). When you sweep your home or your office, remember to do so with mindfulness; with the deep-felt intention to sweep away the energy of discord and illness from your home; use your broom to sweep away obstacles to good health and happiness for you, your family and community. "May only love enter and only love depart."


Can you imagine what it would be like, if we, in unity, as a community, cleansed our streets and neighborhoods ritually at least once a year? beautiful and profound.

Here's a recipe for ritually cleaning floors and pathways:


Gently boil 1 cup or two large handfuls of fresh or dried rue (ruda) in a large pot of water. After it's been brought to a boil add: •Juice of 1-2 limes •2 cups of Kosher Salt, or if you have access to the ocean, you can gather your own fresh sea salt (with prayer) •1/2 cup of holy water. This can be spring water that you have prayed over or that you have gotten from a trusted minister or priest •1/2 bottle of Florida Water (Agua Florida).


Mix everything together then pour into a bucket of clean water.


In preparation for the ritual washing of floors, pathways, and windows, I purify my person and surroundings with copal and have a white or red candle burning that is used only for this occasion. It is important that the floors are mopped and windows cleaned first, then, mindfully clean the floors and windows with the solution. It is also important to cleanse the walkways leading to your front and back doors in order with the intention and prayers for removing all inner and outer obstacles to the bringing in of blessings. "May only love enter and only love depart."


For more on Ochpaniztli, https://mexika.org/2017/09/22/ochpaniztli-the-sweeping/ and at http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/calendar/time-ritual-and-sacred-landscape-in-aztec-mexico

Veintena of Ochpaniztli: detail of Chicomecoatl and Tlaloc priests, Codex Borbonicus


Image from the Florentine Codex.

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