When I was invited to a Native Sweat Lodge Ceremony, I answered that I would love to go as I thought it would be fun! “Oh it’s not fun, it’s pitch black, it’s hot, gross, dripping sweat all over and it can take hours,” was the reply. “So why would I want to do this?” I asked? “Because it’s part of your journey and what you are meant to do. We need to teach others and invite them to take part in the ceremonies, so you need to go through it yourself and experience what it’s like” was the reply. I decided I was in as it was something new and I have always been interested in the Native culture. However; how it’s all part of my journey is not for me to know.
I arrived at my friends house at 10am and switched to her car ready for the 2 hour drive up north. The fall weather had been warm till this day, it was quite a bit cooler but at least it was dry. Along the drive I asked all types of questions to best prepare me for what lay ahead. I knew that I would be in very tight quarters, very scantily dressed, with strangers. I wasn’t sure I was ready to be that vulnerable. I asked the Universe and my spirit guides for help, for me to be totally open and welcome whatever was about to come my way.
The house we were driving to and arrived at 2 hours later belonged to an Iroquois spiritual leader…….I will call him Tom……(privacy reasons) and he had a Native Iroquois friend present there also. My friend had told me that Tom was very loving and a big hugger. Upon introducing myself to him he sort of jolted backward……it was strange but I didn’t judge I just went with it. I had asked the Universe to help me and it had, I was so open, had no expectations, just went with the flow. Part of the teachings about the ceremony for Tom was about building the actual sweat lodge. We had arrived at 12 noon, we were outside…..it was chilly. There was a fire to be built and started in a pit in the ground. Large rocks known as Grandfathers, to represent ancestors in all four directions. These rocks must be red hot before they can be used. It took hours to get them that hot. Meantime the job for the ladies……who must wear a skirt…..was to give tobacco to mother earth in order to take cedar leaves from a tree. They would be used for tea and for lining the walkways from the fire to the sacred alter to the lodge.
Hours later we are all really cold standing over the fire for heat. This was where we opened up our energies and minds to getting to know Tom and his friend. They were calm, loving, caring, supportive and easy to be around. We got long branches and skinny cut tree trunks, posted them in the ground around a dug out hole for a fire pit. We tied the branches together to make a tent like formation and placed many blankets over top and all around. There was a space for the doorway but when it was covered it was totally pitch black inside, could not even see your hand in front of your nose. There is a sacredness and a precise way to enter the lodge, to pass things into the lodge and to get out of the lodge. The hot grandfathers are brought in 5 or so at a time, so hot they are transparent. The door is covered, the darkness takes over, water is thrown on the rocks and the sweating begins.
The actual ceremony is quite an experience. I chose not to go into it in detail as it’s something you should experience physically not just read about. I will tell you that I have never felt so open. Sitting there wearing next to nothing and with men I had just met, was an amazing experience because I was open, vulnerable and had no judgement. I found out through Tom why his reaction to me was one which caused him to jolt……In one of my prayers to my amazement, I stated out loud, ‘I feel a great sense of belonging, a great sense of this is my tribe and I am home!’ It felt amazing…..but how could this be my tribe, how could this be me returning home and how could I feel such a sense of belonging! That answer is for another blog!