This has been a long process for me, when I took over BSHS in 2000, some of you may remember we had a lodge, it was on a magical spot down by the creek! While I had participated in many a lodge, I was not ready in my process to continue the lodge tradition and hold the space, you cannot just inherit a lodge and keep it going!
Fast forward 15 years!
This past year I have begun an intensive training as a healer, a training that requires me to deepen my practice in every way I know (and don’t know!) how. This past month through a series of dreams and journeys I have been called to create a sweat lodge (though it wants to be called a prayer lodge) and to hold the space for deep prayer for the Earth and Waters. The morning after the third dream I waked down to the water and the sacred circle where the lodge will sit showed itself to me, a location surrounded by waters, woods, and stone. I sat there for a long time first facing East and then turning to the left, calling in my guides.....Supported by my council, I honored the call and feel ready to take this on.
(here is the spot the lodge will sit)
Over the years I’ve gone back and forth on the issue of cultural appropriation; while the sweatlodge ceremony is common to most Native American cultures and spiritual life, it is an adaptation of the sweat bath common to many ethnic cultures found in North and South America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Africa.
The use of steamy sweat baths date far back into history. There are variations in building styles, geographic locations, dates in history, and types of usage, from the Mayan/Aztec "temazcalli", which was a small circular or rectangular adobe structure, to the Russian "bania", which is a small one-room log cabin. The West African Mandingo people treat some illnesses by lying a patient on tree branches set over hot ashes, then by pouring water over the branches the patient is soon enveloped with steam. In France during the Middle Ages the sweating type of bathing was called "estuver". The Japanese and Irish had their versions also. The word sauna originates from the Finnish people and is probably the most popular name given today to describe the water vapor sweat bath.
Thoughout history there are similarities, entering the a the sacred lodge is like entering the mothers womb. It is a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place of powerful group prayer rooted in the philosophy that being close to God means being close in nature. One of the main reason that people attend sweat lodge ceremonies is to ritually purify themselves and return to this state of mind. As the steam and temperature rises so do our senses. Messages and vision from the Spirit World are received through the group consciousness of the participants. I've always been drawn to the lodges that at some point during the ceremony the talking stick is passed, all the people inside get an opportunity to speak, to pray, to ask for guidance and the various energies materialize as one.
As the Dalai Lama said
“ All human beings come from a mothers womb. We are all the same part of one human family. We should have a clear realization of the oneness of all humanity. All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better humans.”
The following line in a book I was recently reading spoke deeply to me
"becomming indigenous to a place means living as if your childrens future mattered, to live as if our lives, both material and spiritual depended on it...
...Can a nation of immigrants once again follow her example to become native, to make a home?"
I came to this land (North America) in 1990 at the age of 18 having grown up in the UK, with Greek blood and British mannerisms! I have worked hard to be able to really call this land my home! It's a journey, and that is the deepest healing/prayer I have yet known. The creation of this lodge is the continuation of the journey.