From New Labour to New Age

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HER fascination for alternative therapies has been known for some time - but now it appears Cherie Blair has finally persuaded her husband to join her.

The Prime Minister and his wife took part in a rebirthing ritual that involved smearing mud and fruit on their bodies after meditating inside a miniature pyramid, it emerged yesterday.

The couple experienced the ritual during a stay in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

The Temazcal ceremony is one of many on offer at the 865-a-night Maroma Hotel. Mrs Blair encouraged her husband to take part after doing it herself.

Nancy Aguilar, a New Age therapist, conducted the 60 ceremony, telling the couple to open their minds and their bodies to embrace their inner feelings and visions.

She said: "Cherie wanted to try it first. She is a very humble lady and very interesting. She liked it so much she came back with Tony the next night.

"It is a very magical experience when you can release your body and soul and let out all the negative emotions."

During the ritual, which took place during a summer break at the hotel, the Blairs, wearing swimming costumes, were told to bow and pray to the four winds and meditate as Mayan prayers were read out.

When they entered the brick-coloured pyramid, which was situated at the south end of the beach, herb-infused water was thrown over heated lava rocks to create a cleansing sweat and balance the couple’s energy flow.

Once inside the ancient Mayan steam bath, they were instructed to imagine they could see animals in the steam and Ms Aguilar explained what the visions meant and chanted Mayan songs.

According to New Age doctrine, Temazcal is like the womb and those participating in the ritual must confront their hopes and fears before they experience the rebirth.

Then they were given local fruits - watermelon and papaya and smeared what was left over their bodies along with mud from the Mayan jungle outside.

Mr Blair then made a wish for world peace. Finally they were encouraged to scream out loud to signify the pain of rebirth before walking hand in hand down the beach to take a dip in the sea.

Ms Aguilar added: "They felt like babies. For them it was like coming out of their mothers’ wombs all over again.

"Tony enjoyed it a lot. He was very relaxed. It’s a very, very intimate experience. They are very much in love and they showed that very much to me.

"Afterwards we went back and had tea to drink and we talked about many things. I can’t talk about them because they were personal things. But I can see that Tony is a good man and very humble."

The couple were so delighted with the results of their rebirthing experience that they appear to have given the hotel a personal recommendation.

A picture of them now hangs in the lobby.

Mrs Blair’s interest in alternative therapies has prompted her to explore the use of healing crystals and acupuncture as well as yoga.

She has worn an acupuncture needle in the top of her ear as well as a bio-electric shield pendant filled with crystals.

A Downing Street spokesman refused to confirm Mr Blair’s conversion.

He said: "Their holiday was a private matter. Like any other couple abroad, they enjoyed doing what the Romans do."

Mr Blair’s move towards the holistic approach to health has been welcomed by New Age groups.

But it received a more cynical response from his political rivals.

Sandy Barr, from the Findhorn Foundation said the ceremony may have changed the Prime Minister forever.

He said: "It’s a fantastic experience, where you go through relief and then loss of guilt before the adrenaline finally kicks in.

"Mr Blair leads a stressful life and whether we’ll see him more relaxed is hard to say. For many, it’s a journey that could change their lives."

Alex Salmond, the SNP’s leader in the Commons said: "He should have his Cabinet meet for a summit on Ben Nevis at Hogmanay and have them all rub fruit into each other."

But he added: "I would advise him not to begin with John Prescott, otherwise he will run out of fruit straight away."