sweat lodge ceremony, older than recorded history, is practiced in some form by
every culture in the world.Our ancient
ancestors established the thermal bath in order to facilitate healing, purification
and relaxation in their lives.
(460-377 B.C.) stated:“Give
me the power to create a fever and I shall cure every illness.”
Romans 2000 years ago used their baths to unwind and relax with friends.
Finnish sauna has evolved from ancient times as a means to promote cleanliness
and renewed strength in the country’s long, hard winters.It is also used as a healing lodge.An old Finnish saying states:“If the sauna can’t
cure it as a last resort, nothing can!”
Old Finnish Sauna
ancient Russian bania continues to be utilized in Europe, using a combination
of hot air and steam to create a humid, healing environment.
Turkey the Islamic hamman, with its steam room known as the harara, is actively
in use today.
Japanese use the hot water soak bath daily for mental regeneration, relaxation
ruins revealing ancient sweat houses in Piedras Negras, Chichen Itza and El Paraiso,
some over 1200 years old, have recently been uncovered in archeological diggings.
North American and Central American Indian tribes have traditionally used the
sweat lodge for purification, cleansing and healing of mind, body, emotions and
NATIVE AMERICAN SWEAT LODGE
elder Black Elk tells us:"The sweat lodge utilizes
all powers of the universe: earth, and things that grow from the earth; water;
fire; and air."
sweat lodge symbolizes the womb of Grandmother Earth and the heated stones represent
her body, which supports all life.The
fire that is used to heat the rocks represents the perpetual light of the world,
and is the source of all life and power.The water slowly releases the heat in the stones, which rises as steam
and permeates the air to create a hot, humid atmosphere conducive to manifestation
of the particular intent of the ceremony.
tribal group has its own traditions.Overall,
there is no right or wrong way to engage in a sweat lodge ceremony, other than
to enter the lodge with an open mind and be prepared for cleansing
of negative emotions, healing of physical ailments, clearing
of mental concerns and/or releasing of spiritual blockages.Intent within integrity is the key to the positive outcome
of the ceremony.
done without integrity serves fear and the ego.If done with integrity, it serves love, the earth, the people and Spirit.”Elena Narkiya
customs vary in regard to admitting women on their moon into the sweat lodge.Many Native American tribes will not allow a woman to enter the lodge when
she is on her moon.In contrast,
the Toltecs, Incas, Mayans and a number of other tribal groups have no such restriction.It has been found that the sweat addresses special concerns of women, including
alleviation of some of the cramping pain during menstruation and removal of excessive
water caused by retention of sodium.Following
childbirth, the sweat relieves aching muscles and cleanses the body.
Sweat Lodge Willow Frame
Wood Fire Heats Rocks
major side effect of a sweat is the cleansing of undesirable toxins from the body.Bacteria and viruses cannot survive at temperatures much higher than 98.6
degrees.The rise in temperature
also stimulates the endocrine glands and facilitates the release of negative ions
into the air, inducing relaxation and alertness.
Donations are requested to cover costs of expenses for upkeep of the lodge.Traditionally, participants bring medicine gifts and tobacco for the sweat
lodge leader and fire people, as well as food to share following the ceremony.
WILD ROSE SWEAT LODGE
Wild Rose sweat lodge is located in Pasadena, California.After
an opening pipe ceremony and discussion with regard to the intent of the ceremony,
participants gather outside the lodge in silence.One by one the chief admits participants to the lodge, the ancient womb
of Grandmother Earth, honoring “all my relations” as they enter.As the hot stones are brought into the lodge, the group is led in healing
chants.When all the stones for the first round are within the lodge,
the door is closed and the sweat begins.
Water is poured on the stones as
the chief calls in the sacred energies desired for the intent of the sweat. Each
participant offers personal prayers for self, others, and for releasing of pain
and suffering.Between rounds, more
hot stones are brought in as the group chants.At the conclusion of the sweat, participants leave the lodge in a sacred
manner, again honoring “all my relations”.A discussion follows in which each participant has the opportunity to express
the insights gained from the ceremony.The
group then enjoys a social gathering time and sharing of food and drink.With open heart-to-heart communication as the intent, the evening is concluded
first sweat is often a challenge for a person. Shortly after a recent sweat, I
received an e-mail from one of our participants who had experienced a sweat lodge
ceremony for the first time at our lodge. In powerful and heartfelt words, he
expressed his personal sacred journey. He has agreed that I might share it with
those of you who are interested. You may read his response by clicking