The Sweat Lodge is a sacred ceremony that can renew our connection to the circle of life. All things have come forth from the womb of the Great Mother and all things will eventually return. We are related with everything and in this relationship there is power; the power for healing and renewal. The flowing water of rivers and streams are as our sisters, the winds our brothers. Many and varied is the hierarchy of relationship we have with the plants and animals, trees and mountains; and the spirits in the natural world. Our responsibility is to be in harmony with the path we walk on the earth. We are as caretakers here to help keep things in balance. Unfortunately, our modern techno-industrial society has created and perpetuated disharmony with the flow of the natural world. Many people who feel disenchanted by this development are turning to the ways of indigenous people to reconnect with the healing energies of the earth.
As we travel on our paths we learn many lessons and gain wisdom from our experience. Our lives are as circles of relationship that show the quality of our consciousness. All things are relative, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is through this play of opposites that we come to know ourselves, for better or for worse. Disharmonious thoughts and actions can bring our social and personal realities out of balance. Living disconnected from the Earth Mother can also bring us out of balance. And so it is the Sweat Lodge ceremony that can help restore this balance and bring healing into our relationships with others and with ourselves. It is in the Sweat Lodge that we can affirm what is meaningful in our lives and nurture that which we wish to make manifest.
As above so below. We are a reflection of the greater whole; of earth and sky. of fire and water. The Sweat Lodge ceremony is also a reflection of this dynamic. Its is the reflection of a sacred myth. It is the dance between the Conscious and the Unconscious, between the light and the shadow, between the masculine and the feminine. And as such the lodge is a representation for the womb of the Great Mother embodied as our earth. Here within its darkness we can reconnect with the sacred mystery of the Hunab Ku. Like the void / black hole at the center of our galaxy from which all has come forth, it is a sacred place where we might recreate our reality; where we can be rebirthed from within the Great Mother's womb. Through invoking the power of the fire, the light of our true selves shines forth from the darkness like the light of the rising sun reborn from the darkness of night.
At the center of the Sweat Lodge a pit has been dug where glowing hot volcanic rocks representing the Spirit Guardians will be placed. The earth that was removed from the center pit is used to create an altar outside the entrance of the lodge. On this altar personal items and power objects are placed to receive blessings invoked during ceremony. This alter is a representation for the Moon and can be located in direct alignment between the ceremonial fire which represents the Sun and the doorway of the lodge which represents the Earth. Symbolically we have an alignment of Earth, Moon and Sun similiar to that of a solar eclipse. This invokes the power of rebirth and transformation as we shift old energetic patterns to allow for a new cycle. It is through the presence of the Sacred Fire that we call upon the power of Father Sun, who's presence acts as a portal for the energy of the Great Spirit. There is magic in this symbology as we draw from the archetypal imagery to create an alchemy for personal and planetary healing and transformation.
There are many different styles of Sweat Lodge, various traditions and ways of conducting the ceremony. The main focus is the power and purity of Intent that we bring with us into the lodge. Here we encounter the elemental forces of fire, earth, air and water which are utilized to purify our minds,bodies and spirits. From the ceremonial fire come the heated rocks which bring with them the wisdom of the Sacred Fire. Sage and cedar are placed on these rocks and the smoke purifies our space. The rocks are reprentatives for the Thunder Beings whose cleansing breath steams over us as water is poured over them. We drum and sing as we invoke the Powers of Spirit. And through four rounds of seven rocks each (the number of rocks may vary), we pray, sing and give thanks. We pray for all our relations which includes everything. We purify ourselves for the good of all beings and for the healing of the planet. And from this we emerge from the womb of the Great Mother reborn. Reborn to each moment in a joyful way, thankful of all we have received, of lessons learned, of Love renewed within our hearts. Aho!
Here a group of people have come together to help me build this traditional style Sweat Lodge. After offering tobacco we set the tree saplings / poles and tied them together as the dome frame structure which is visible behind us, and later covered with tarps.
We are in the beginning stages in preparation for the ceremony. For many of these participants it was a first time experience for them. date 11/11/ 99