Welcome to the Sweat Lodge, a sacred temple for all who enter. Race, religion, sex, color are not seen within the Lodge. Within Mother Earth's womb and Great Spirit's eyes we are all One. We enter the lodge for purification, healing and offering prayers for ourselves, our families, the collective and our planet, Earth.
The Lodge has been created of saplings, bent and arranged to create a dome. They are covered with heavy blankets to block the light from entering the Lodge. Within the dome a small hole is dug out to create a pit where hot stones will be laid. Prayer ties are attached to the ceiling within. These prayer ties are loving crafted by the lodge attendees, placing tobacco into small square pieces of fabric of seven colors, representing the seven directions; East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Within. Each one is infused with prayer.
A doorway is created in the East as this is the place of the Rising Sun, the energy of new beginings. Outside of the door, a fire is set. Stones are placed in the Fire. The Fire-keeper expresses gratitude and honor while offering tobacco. The Sacred Directions are called, inviting them to be present and support the ceremony. As the fire burns down, we sing songs honoring Great Spirit, the Earth, our Ancestors and the Elements.
It is understood that the Lodge is a symbol of the Earth Mother's womb. Turtle is a symbolism used for Mother Earth and the Lodge takes on this form. The lodge itself is Turtle's shell. A small mound is formed at the entrance of the lodge, between the fire and the lodge, to create an altar. Those in attendance are welcomed to offer sacred objects and place them on the altar. This altar then becomes the head of the Turtle.
The fire has burned down and the stones are ready. We enter the lodge, one by one, to the left, moving around the stone pit clockwise, the direction the Sun moves around the Earth.
The person who leads the sweat is called the Water Bearer. The Water Bearer sits at the entrance of the Lodge. When all are seated, the Water Bearer closes the door and a moment of silence is observed. When the door opens, "Mitakuye Oyasin" is pronounced with means, "To All My Relations." At this time, anyone who feels like they are not ready for the ceremony, may take their leave.
Then the door closes and the ceremony begins. There are four rounds, each round begins when the door opens and the Stones are placed in the pit. Each time the Stones are welcomed with song and prayers. During this time the Water Bearer offers Water to the Stones and steam rises. Our prayers travel on the steam where they are received by Great Spirit.
As more stones enter on each round and are met with Water, the Lodge becomes moist and hot, causing us to release impurities in body, mind, emotions, and spirit. We enter into the darkness of the sweat releasing our old selves and emerging from her womb, reborn, an infant with fresh, clean and new energy.
Our prayers have been heard, we have been cleansed and we now have the opportunity to walk in purity with faith that our prayers are revealing themselves in Divine Timing.
The sweat lodge is an ancient tradition that is handed down from the Native Americans. I have been blessed to enter ceremony with the Lakota and more recently with the Ute. At Mount Eden I have had the honor to meet Alden Naranjo, Ute Elder. Under his guidance and with the community there, I built a Lodge and learned of the Ute ways. Mary de Angelis, Director of Mount Eden, continues to lead me and the participants that come to the retreats we offer in the Ways of the Ute tradition.
We have the honor of Mary offering her wisdom, guidance and love about the Sweat Lodge at our 3rd Annual Sweat Lodge Retreat, September 8-10. If you are interested in learning more, click here. This retreat is part of our Way of the Sacred Feminine work and is for women only. However we are planning a retreat for men and women, so please follow us by signing up for our newsletter here and offer any suggestions you think may be of importance.
Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin!