An Experience of Sacred Sweat Lodge....
by Bright Owl
"It is dark, I can't see my hand before my face, the air seems thick-yet there is a glow from the pit before me and a tangible herbal heat rising, enveloping me. I am surprised that it feels delicious. I can feel it penetrating my body with every breath. We are singing. The words come, even though I don't know what they mean, and I can feel the rhythm of them all the way through my bones. They seem to echo a rhythm beneath me and behind me, as though they are drums from long ago. There is hissing, the glow in the pit before me diminishes, the intense heat increases, dripping from my face, my arms, my back. I reach my arms out to pull it over me, this heat, this wet. Suddenly, I am flying in the night sky on the wings of a big bird. I feel no fear, only love; and I feel free...free of the aches of joints, pains and cramps of muscles... free of the cares and concerns of my usual days. 'This is your truth, this freedom.', the bird seems to whisper in my ears. I don't know how I got here, and part of me is still aware of the lodge walls, the heat, the voice of the water pourer. From this place of freedom and truth, I hear myself praying for parts of my life I didn't know needed prayers. They are carried with the murmuring voices of those around me as they also pray. I see the elders in the rock pit gathering the prayers and sending them out on the steam and heat rising up through the roof of the lodge...and I feel grateful."
The above experience was written by me after one of my first sweats. It may seem unreal to some people. Putting words to what may be experienced in the energy of a sacred sweat ceremony is very difficult. Words come from our left brains, our thinking selves. Sweat ceremony engages all of each of us-left and right brain, thinking and feeling selves, and all of our physical/emotional selves. It ties it all in with our spiritual selves, and helps us cleanse out whatever gets in the way of that in our everyday lives. This is true of all sweat ceremonies, in any of the many traditions that practice this way of walking with Spirit.
Why would anyone subject themselves to something that could be physically uncomfortable and taxing? Fears of the dark, of the heat, of the enclosed space could be good reasons not ever to do something like this. Couldn't they? Why pray in such an environment when you can pray anywhere, any time? Being comfortable while one prays could be a good criteria-and won't take you out of your ordinary experience of yourself. What if there is more to you than comfort can bring forth? What if you are capable of something entirely different that you would possibly not get in touch with if you keep doing what you've always done? Who would you be if you were able to access your whole being?
In sweat, we are offered a unique chance to influence who we are, to remake ourselves, to be reborn each time with clearer intent and fewer old patterns of garbage behavior...our bodies restructured to support our work in physical bodies to help and to heal the planet.
What do you want in your life? If you are complacent and happy with your afternoons of video games and your evenings of Star Trek (hey, I've been there, felt fine), you have no need of sweat ceremonies. If you are looking for more of the mystery of who you are and the richness of Creator's abundant creation - if you feel spiritually hungry, emotionally clogged, or you are shining less than you know you can, you might find Sacred Sweat to be part of your life dance. When you are offered a chance to enter the lodge in a good and clear way, I'd highly recommend it.
In 1986, Bright Owl completed a Sweat Training program with the Bear Tribe in Eastern Washington. The following year, Sun Bear gave her permission to lead lodges for the people.
Moonfire Meeting House
1691 County Rd. 39
Southampton, New York 11968
phone / fax 631-287-9000