A healthy body, mind and spirit are what we aim for when we are on the awakening path. Today, there are many options to restore ourselves and shamanic healing and empowerment is one way we can heal our spiritual wounds. The Sweat Lodge was developed as a ceremonial way of prayer to connect with our higher selves and our spirit. It’s used as a tool to purify the body and mind, and to uplift the spirit. It is an ancient and pure medicine and honors the elements of earth, fire, water and air.
I’ve delved into shamanic journeying and have found it to be beneficial. If I set the intention well, then I’m given a gift of knowledge for whatever condition I am looking to heal from.
When a friend in my shamanic group mentioned there was a sweat lodge open to the public, I was immediately intrigued. Could it help to heal my spiritual unrest?
I’ve always loved going to the sauna as a way to detox not only physically but emotionally. There’s something about just getting your sweat out. A sweat lodge would be a perfect opportunity to gain some spiritual insight through body purification.
The purpose of a purification lodge is to cleanse and re-establish one’s connection to Spirit. In the shamanic tradition, there are different lodges and each lodge has a specific intent that may be for guidance, healing, helping with change, loss, or other intentions a person may be looking for answers to. The Dance Chief, the one running the ceremony, will select the intent and share this at the time of the ceremony. In our case, we were to look to the North. The spirit of the mind. Rather fitting as my mind was in endless turmoil and I sought relief from my incessant negative thoughts.
Before we entered the lodge, the Dance chief ‘blessed’ us and we bowed down to the earth. I was literally entering the womb of Mother Earth. Upon crouching inside, I made my way around to the far corner and sat cross-legged waiting for the ceremony to begin. The stones were heated outside and then brought inside into a small pit near the entrance of the lodge. Each of the red hot rocks brought in were ‘blessed’ and each had its own spirit calling. Throughout the ceremony, water would be poured over the rock to produce the purifying steam for healing.
The Dance Chief then asked each participant to share their personal prayer if they felt called to do so. This was the first ceremony and I asked for healing and clarity for my personal spiritual dilemma. As I shared my intention I could feel the pitch blackness enveloping me like a comfort blanket. There is no judgement, only love and healing inside of the lodge. Nothing spoken in the lodge is repeated outside. Everyone respects the other which a mutual understanding. The ceremony lasted around an hour or so as our group participated in four rounds of personal prayer, a prayer for others, a shared prayer and an intention of release.
As I sat inside the lodge, completely surrounded by darkness, I could feel my mind suddenly growing uneasy. My logical mind began to tell me how foolish this was. Sitting and sweating in a tiny lodge with strangers professing my personal healing out loud. I focused on my breath and told my mind to be quiet. Eventually it did and when I could finally relax my body I once again felt warm, safe and comforted.
I prayed for those I loved. I prayed for the world and I prayed to release my ego. After each statement of prayer, we were asked to say aho. Similar to Amen and used as a thank you to the spirits. Or, ‘I make this as my declaration, aho’.
Time inside the lodge didn’t seem to exist. I was actually surprised at how quickly it ended. I wasn’t ready to leave the warmth and security of the womb and as I stepped outside I had a revelation. I remembered something I had forgotten a long time ago. I remembered that to find the Truth, I needed nothing nor anyone to show me. The Truth was already inside of me. Perhaps Mother Earth just had to remind me again.
Are you ready to try your own sweat lodge experience?
There are a few things you need to know when you participate in a sweat lodge. It’s a sacred space held for each participant where you each share what you’d like the Sacred Universe to help you with.
- Be clear on your intent. Spirit already knows but when you make your intentions clear it will help to bring forth any residue emotions to the front so that your consciousness can become aware of them.
- Bring an offering. The lodge is free however we were asked to give a donation or to bring an offering of tobacco for the different Chiefs. In our case, the Dance Chief.
- Bring a large bottle of water. Some lodges may or may not adhere to this however if you can, bring water with you or make sure you are well hydrated before you go into the lodge.
- Be prepared to sweat! I was surprised at how hot the purification lodge actually got. If you’re not used to sauna’s then you might struggle physically and should be both mentally and physically prepared. It could be easy to have an anxiety attack once the heat takes hold. Just remember to breathe and that this is temporary.
- Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting in the complete dark. At first, this alarmed me. I thought we’d be sitting with at least a small amount of light. However, it was pitch black and you could barely see your neighbor beside you.
If you are curious about attending a real purification or sweat lodge I recommend contacting the Calgary Shamanic Group. They hold ceremonies regularly. Note: the location and details are private out of respect for the Dance Chief and the tradition and made known only after your confirmation of participation.
Have you participated in a sweat lodge? What was your experience like? Share in the comments.