Intoxicating liquor enemas: the extravagant ritual performed by the Mayans


To enhance the pleasures of sacred liquors, they used to ingest them in a way that many would consider unconventional …

Of the story possibly what is most enjoyed are the gossip and rumors about extravagant customs. There is something truly seductive in that which seems perfectly strange to us but which, at the same time, invites us to imagine ourselves different. The use of power plants, sacrifices, and sexual practices – certainly all very different from their contemporary versions – seem to call us incessantly.

Thus, knowing that the Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures practiced ritual enemas, using sacred liquors, can not help but cause us an overflowing curiosity – almost vulgar – and very satisfactory. Could it be that we are pleased by the possibility of a society accustomed to connecting and combining pleasure, body, religion, ritual, divinity and even knowledge? Undoubtedly it is something very different from what we are used to and from time to time it seems.

Enemas, but pulque


There are many archaeological indications that show that in different cultures of Mesoamerica enemas were practiced (to introduce liquids by anal route) with medicinal and also ritual purposes. Prehispanic enemas were made with pieces of pumpkin, bule, guts, rubber, and ceramics (of the latter some samples are preserved). In addition, there are different engravings, paintings, and sculptures, many of Mayan origin, representing scenes where enemas are performed.


These are really interesting, because in many cases they show characters with an ecstatic face, suggesting that ritual enemas were the opposite of a sacrifice. In reality, they consisted of the introduction of alcoholic beverages such as pulque, in many cases combined with plants and fungi that produce psychedelic effects.

A ritual to enhance pleasure

It is possible that the enema is preferred to oral intake because it greatly enhances the effects of the substances used because they are absorbed much faster. Although we should not rule out that there is something erotic in practice and that what is being enhanced is pleasure.

Obviously, the societies where ritual enemas were performed naturally were less for contemplation and much more for exploring all kinds of physical practices that could increase sensitivity.

It might seem “stuck”, maybe kinky; but the ritual enema reminds us that those who preceded us in these lands had very different concerns in mind when it came to their bodies.

Maybe they were busier looking for ways to feel, especially pleasure; more efficient ways, undoubtedly multi-sensorial experiences; while the present could be worried about judging them. Maybe it’s worth it, for a moment, to leave the taboo and wonder what kind of satisfaction causes to read these lines.