by Marilyn Harper
Have you ever participated in a Traditional Native American Sweat? It’s amazing! Truly a highlight of our annual Crestone, Colorado retreat called “Your Next Step”. For most of our attendees, this is a first, a gentle healing and release of anything you choose to cleanse from your system.
Chris and Andrea Long are the proprietors of the magnificent Oniyan Wakan Tipi at the Breath of Life Lodge. (http://greatmysteryalliance.wordpress.com) Our sweat begins with Chris and Andrea drumming and singing Lakota songs, as we all “do our prayers”, a process of setting our intentions by tying together little bags of tobacco and herbs in colorful swatches of cloth.
Next, we are smudged, and silently circle into the lodge on our hands and knees.
The air is thick with anticipation. Since many of our folks are new to the experience AND since I am not into suffering, I have requested a gentle, but energized sweat lodge. We can feel the Light of the Great Spirit with us, on our side, and we begin to experience exactly what we’ve requested: a gentle, yet energized sweat.
Chris and Andrea are such sweet, gentle spirits themselves, so it is easy to simply surrender to the beauty of the experience. We each offer our prayers. Some sing a song honoring the 4 directions. Animal totem spirits represent each direction. It is more beautiful than the words I can find to describe it – a beauty seated within our hearts.
Each experience is completely unique.
This most recent experience certainly surprised each of us. It was warm, and cleansing, yet gentle. We were all comfortable in our seats, cross-legged, around the pit in the center. The lava rock that had been heating throughout the day was brought in several different times, increasing the heat and steam.
The flap on the lodge is closed, engulfing us in darkness for our prayers. Chris and Andrea sing as we each pour water on the stones. It feels like the warmth of love surrounding us in a womb-like atmosphere.
The final round was quite surprising…
As Chris sang into the silence, flashes of Light struck throughout the lodge. It was as if someone triggered a flash photo even though there were no cameras present. The light flashes crossed the lodge from one side to another. I am not sure if they were going from or into the four directions but its presence was powerful.
Next, sparkles of light danced across the stones to the exact rhythm of the songs. It looked like someone had thrown something onto the stones to make them light up, but no such thing had happened, the stone lights danced on their own accord. When I say “sparkles”, I mean like the 4th of July sparklers that children often use, only it didn’t sustain the light nearly as long. There were bursts of sparkles, and then blackness, with perfect rhythm to the song.
Neither Chris, nor Andrea had ever seen such a display of energy representing the gratitude of the spirits in the lodge. I was so startled that I questioned them about putting something on the rocks, of course they hadn’t, only the water as always used in ceremony. As we rested in the silence of the lodge, amazed at the sight and sounds we were experiencing, we all gave thanks for the beauty, for the cleanse, and the awakening that occurred within our own Spirit.
Once again, Crestone serves up the most miraculous experiences. Thank you for allowing me the space to share my joy of this sacred space.