Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blood, Sweat and Community

I am just returning from teaching a weekend workshop on ceremonies, which climaxed with a sweat lodge on Saturday night. I am so grateful for the generosity of the Grandfathers - the spirits that come to us through the heated stones, offering us healing, blessings and medicine teachings. As usual with such an event, I am humbled by the greatness of those who come before me; those upon whose shoulders I stand - and also by the courage and spirit of those who have chosen to call me their teacher. They, of all people, know how human and fallible I am, and yet they still listen to what I have to say and take on the ordeal of the medicine lodge with me. 

Over the past twenty years, I have worked many sweats - so far, this was the best one yet. We had expected to have to journey and work with the spirits for some time to find the perfect place for the lodge, and yet, when we started walking the land we were all immediately drawn to the perfect location. We thought, "the river is to the south, to the door will point that way which must be east", but when we checked it with a compass (for some strange reason) we found that the river was in the west and that the door opened to the south. In the Sheya tradition, South is the direction of consciousness, awareness and community. It hit me then: "This lodge is about community." 

Unlike so many other lodges we've built, this one is semi-permanent and will be available for us to do many more sweats, which will also increase the opportunities for those apprentices who want to learn the roles of Firetender, Doorkeeper and Pourer. Not only is it in a lovely setting, but the nearby house is a natural retreat center. Quite handy.

The stones were beautiful and strong. In spite of the larger size of the lodge, it got quite hot enough. The purification rounds were particularly . . . effective. 

It wouldn't be appropriate for me to go into too much detail on what the others experienced, but I got some good work done myself - letting go of some heart and soul wounds, as well as some blisters on my fingers I got while moving a hot log earlier in the evening. The stars were out when we emerged from the lodge. The feast was great - and then I think I passed out on the floor before being told to go to bed. These things really take it out of me. 

I realize this entry is a bit disjointed, rambling and unfocused, which is a good description of how I am - the day after a powerful sweat.