Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not All Sweat Lodges Are Created Equal!

The Sweat Lodge has been the focus of much discussion these past two weeks, due to the tragic deaths that occurred in Sedona, Arizona on Thursday, October 8. I first learned of these tragic deaths from my husband. On arriving home from work he related what he had heard on the news about the sweat lodge deaths. "Don’t you go to those sweat lodges," he asked? He knew my answer was yes. I have been to four sweat lodges in as many years and had just reserved my space for another one on November 1, called “The House of the Ancestors and All Souls Day.”

Unlike the facilitator of the tragic Sedona sweat lodge, a Shamana, who has studied with indigenous medicine people from North America and South America, runs the sweat lodges I attend. She has been practicing shamanic spiritual healing for over twenty years and teaches shamanism internationally.

Also unlike the tragic Sedona sweat lodge, there is no fee for the sweat lodges I attend. You may leave a donation if you wish, but it is not required. If you do decide to leave a donation, it is anonymous. As you leave the house after the feast you may notice a jar sitting on a bench by the door. It is up to you, if you decide to drop a few dollars into it, or pass it by.

The focus of this sweat lodge is to honour our ancestors. We have been asked to bring a photograph of a departed love one and a favorite dish of theirs in their honour for the feast/smorgasbord that will be rounding off this sweat lodge ceremony. The feast being the time to socialize with all your fellow sweat lodge buddies.

The ceremony is scheduled to start at 11 am. Preparing the lodge for entering at noon is the first order of business. It will be a three round Sweat Lodge, which is a Saami tradition as opposed to the four rounds of the Native American Sweat Lodge. Lee’s sweat lodges are very open and user friendly. You may bring water into the lodge with you. You may leave the lodge at anytime durning the ceremony, if you feel the need. The actual sweat lodge, which is only a third of the whole ceremony, lasts under one hour. Our sweat lodge on November 1, will start as I said at 11 am with the preparation of the lodge and placing our photographs on an altar in the house. We will be entering the sweat lodge at noon, sharing stories that are dear to our hearts about those we have loved and lost. On exiting the lodge at about one pm, we will then go back into the house and partake of the feast. There will be a closing ceremony after the feast and we should all be heading home by three thirty, refreshed, glowing from the natural sauna and feeling relaxed.

You do have to book a place in Lee's sweat lodges. She limits the number of people. You are not packed like sardines in this sweat lodge. There is plenty of room to move about so you are not stifled by overcrowding. I have never been to a sweat lodge where anyone has had to leave, but still it is made very clear to everyone before entering the lodge that if you feel you need to leave, do not hesitate. So when my husband asked me if I was going to cancel my November 1, sweat lodge, my answer was No! Absolutely not. I know my sweat lodge is safe. The materials used to construct the lodge are all natural materials. Therefore, the lodge can breathe, and the steam can escape. I know the lodge will not be overcrowded. I also know that Lee takes her responsibility for the spiritual and physical safety of all who participate in her sweat lodges very seriously. I am attending a sweat lodge with a knowledgeable responsible facilitator, who is more interested in the ceremonial rites and the benefits to the participants as opposed to monetary gain. A true spiritual teacher!


siobhan said...

Enjoy your perfect escape on the 1st of November. It sounds like a place of peace, rememberence, sharing, support, healing, and friendship:nourishment for the soul and the body...sounds just perfect! x.

Catherine said...

This sounds like a nice retreat! There is a sweat house in Parson's green in Clogheen in the Knockmealdown Mountains just over the border in Tipp. Never been, didn't know anything about them and you gave a great outline. I guess there's a sauna or steam element or where does the heat come from? I met someone today who had spent a few weeks in the Buddhist retreat centre in Beara in West Cork, so there is a real demand for a peaceful place to chill out (or sweat out!) in the current crisis - everyone is so stressed. I loved the idea you have snow but I guess that means cold for months too. Not to worry that you're missing anything here - it was lashing and there was surface flooding on the roads around Dungarvan today!
Thanks for commenting on my post and I responded over at my blog, in case you didn't get a notification about it!
All the best Ann, talk again,

Ann said...

It is a wonderful experience mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I must look into the sweat house in Parsons Green, when I am home next summer. The Beara centre has piqued my interest too. The steam is produced when large rocks, have been in a fire pit for a few hours and are red hot. Then they are placed in a dirt pit in the centre of the lodge and ladles of water are sprinkled over them. Rocks are brought in from the fire pit at the beginning of each round. There is a keeper of the fire outside the lodge. Thanks for the comments Catherine. Also for letting me know about your response to my comment. Need to figure out how to get those notifications! Stay Dry!

Barbara Scully said...

Hi Ann. Really enjoyed reading about the sweat lodge - had often wondered about them but not sure if they would be for me as I hate saunas! But love the healing aspect and the connecting with our ancestors. I hope you do another post about the one on 1st November. I will looking forward to how you got on.

Have you read Alberto Villodo's (sp) books?

Ann said...

Thanks for the comments Barbara. Sweat lodges are wonderful, you definately should look into it. But make sure it is run by someone who knows what they are doing.
I haven't read any of Villodo's books. Next stop Amazon.com to check it out.