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What is a Sweat Lodge?

Those of you that know me personally know how much I love the heat and more importantly how much I love going to a sweat lodge! However, a lot of people don't really understand why I do so or what this native American tradition actually entails.

So.... Here it is, why I do it and how it helps! If you have any questions after reading this or you are interested in ever attending, please reach out.

The Lakota Inipi ceremony, Native American Tezmacal or Sweat Lodge is a purification ritual that prepares for divine intervention. It's a spiritual and physical experience that reconnects each person with their oneness. Allowing for integration with the universe, our ancestors, nature and the four (4) elements (air, water, earth and fire,). This gives you the avenue to clear out what is no longer serving you, while purifying and connecting to deeper levels of your existence. The Sweat lodge is a small, round, closed structure. Hot stones are added to the center of the lodge and plant medicine and water are added throughout each of the 4 rounds. Each of the plant medicine has its own purpose and the water releases the steam as well as spirit energies. In this ceremony we work respectfully with the 4 essential elements to create a powerful purification on all levels. It allows for the expansion of our souls and allows us to directly connect with the Great Spirit. We meditate, pray, sing, and give support during these rituals.

I embarked on my first ever sweat lodge in 2008, my amazing light-worker, healer, psychic friend and mentor Diana Moore (RIP) brought me along with other members of our light worker class to a sweat lodge located on long island, NY. It was a full day process where we arrive in the daylight, bring rocks for the fire, usually two or three semi- large rocks, not near the shore, a change of clothes, food and tobacco. Of all the many sweat lodges I have attended in those 13 years, in different states in the US, as well as different countries, this information is standard.

Here is why.

The rocks, our ancestors, our OLDEST ancestors on this earth, are placed in the fire, they sit in the fire for a good 2-3 hours as this is the source of the heat inside the sweat lodge. Using rocks away from the shore is important due to the fact that rocks with a lot of water in them will tend to take a longer time to heat as well as crack during the fire.

The food is usually clean, organic, food from the land like fruits, quinoa, vegetables, legumes, poultry, to share and eat as a community post sweat. It is suggested to do the sweat on an empty stomach or while fasting. Yet drinking plenty of water before hand is also recommended, so you will be hungry after. Eating together brings the community together to talk and share your experience and in most times make new friends.

The change of clothes is because YOU WILL SWEAT!

And the tobacco (or even prayer ties) is for you to submit your blessings and intentions into the fire as well as gifts for the fire keeper and chief.

Once the ancestors (stones) are heated up and the fire keeper and chief or shaman are ready you will prepare to enter the lodge. You will be smudged with sage prior to entrance of the lodge to cleanse you, and as you enter you will move in a clockwise fashion to a spot on the ground. There are NO holes or spaces in the lodge once the door is pulled closed, and it gets pitch black at times. Sitting cross legged in front of the fire is suggested, depending on how much room you have and how much you can stand the heat. If you get too hot, you can always lay down, move back, touch the cool ground and in worse case scenario call for the door and you will be escorted out. As the first round goes on and the ancestors are brought one by one, cedar is added to rocks to call upon the great spirits and allow for protection. You should bathe yourself in this energy. It is good! :)

The chief will then say some words, this is where you can put your intentions or introduce yourself. The ancestor stones will be bathed in water, providing steam into the lodge which is what really causes you to purify and sweat. Chiefs choice of songs are sung.

We do this three (3) more times for a total of 4 rounds. Each round has its own meaning and purpose. and by round 3-4 it is Hot! Some chiefs allow you to leave in between rounds, some expect you to stay put, but its really your personal preference or how much you can withstand. If you have a lot of baggage, pain, suffering, grief or other negative energy and you haven't done much healing, this can be very difficult. There are no two ways around it. You will feel your chakra centers, you will cry, you will scream you will purge as if you never purged before, you will be hot and uncomfortable at times. You will change! This is what you are here for!

When the rounds are completed, you exit the lodge continuing in the clockwise fashion as before. Get some water, change your clothes, and gather around the fire for closing prayers, this is also where you will burn your prayer ties. After that, you eat and rejoice and have fun with your community. Its usually a full day/night process so don't think you are going there to do a quick ceremony. Take the time to put this into your schedule because experiencing the entire ceremony from start to finish is well worth it.

If you are able to partake in the actual building of the lodge and not just dressing it, all the more power to you. Nothing is quite as satisfying and healing as building your own lodge. However I must note, this is a ceremony and ritual. This should never be done by someone unqualified and especially someone who does not have the blessings of the tribe they work with. Holding a lodge takes years and years of learning and teachings on a shamanic level and is very very sacred. If you have questions on how to find a healer shaman, please reach out and I will help connect you.

Thank you for reading.

Mitakuye Oyasin

which means all my relations,

our interconnectedness xoxox

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