It is not my wish to influence anyone’s beliefs but only to share my experience and some knowledge of the sweat lodge. My own experience is about myself and research from libraries. The reader may feel an energy that will enhance his or her thoughts and feelings. Your spirit will help you decide on what it wants to know and how to heal the well-being of the whole self, spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. The sweat lodge is an ancient healing ceremony and an experience that brings me back to purify my being.
For some time now being sober and healing from the past wounds, wounds that were passed on from another generation, probably even generations before my time here on earth, I have heard many stories, both first-hand and second-hand, about ancient ceremonies and rituals of other indigenous people. I have studied in university about the original people of this part of the world. I have joined and participated in different ceremonies. I have been welcomed out of the goodness and kindness of the people. For that I am thankful for what I have learned. They say you can take what you like and leave out the rest.
For those who are curious about this ritual, If you feel it will help you it will and if you feel that it will not it won’t. The rest is up to you. I experience that daily with anything I encounter. Whatever it is the creator puts out on my path of life I will have to walk through it. That is why it’s time for me to tell this story of this ancient ceremony. This paper that you’re reading, and other new technologies we are adapting to, is one way of passing on knowledge and the wisdom of our people.
The sweat lodge has many functions. It cleans and heals the body and the mind bringing clarity, clearer thinking. It is a testing place, they say, offering a rite of passage where a participant can show courage, endurance and strength. It is a holy place where Native people renew their connection with God and creation.
In his book, The Native American Sweat Lodge: History and Legends, Joseph Bruchac includes teaching stories, indirectly explaining the sweat lodge.
Bruchac, part Abenaki, states that in the U.S., the government banned the use of the sweat lodge and destroyed those they found. By doing so the government was attempting to destroy a culture. For the Native people it was a church, one of the four sacraments.
The repression of the sweat lodge has been going on since European intrusion on this land. The missionaries and the government made an effort to convert and assimilate Natives to their religion
and cultural lifestyle. One missionary stated, “There is a custom among the man of entering daily a subterranean oven which is called a temescal, into this they bring fire. When it is sufficiently heated, they go in undressed, then they sweat profusely so that when they come out they look as they’ve been bathing. It is beneficial for them. For some time now these were forbidden and many itches, tumors and other epidemics were found among the men. Once the sweat house was given back to them hardly a man with an itch could be found.”
Sweat lodges and saunas have proven to be effective in healing people. Sweating has been documented for centuries as a part of a healing custom in many parts of the world. Sweating is a necessary bodily function, it removes toxins from the body like a third “kidney.” Secondly, many other viral agents and bacteria cannot survive in temperatures higher than 98 degrees F. The sweating burns away the illnesses. Thirdly, many endocrine glands are stimulated by the inner rise of temperature; impurities in many body organs are flushed out. Other studies done in Finland about sweating say the heart increases the demand for blood, but does not cause a rise in the blood pressure. People with high blood pressure experience a reduction in blood pressure. When rocks are heated and water is poured on them, an abundance of negative ions is released in the air. Negative ions counter fatigue and tension. Positive ions such as those found in smoggy areas or air conditioning have been linked to asthma, heart attacks, insomnia and allergies. The healing lodge is also used in drug and alcohol treatment programs.
The sweat lodge is a testing place and sometimes you will want to get out if you start to feel uncomfortable or restless. When you do complete the ceremony, you have conquered your greatest enemy, yourself. Respect has to be acknowledged to the person who wants to go out, the conductor knows that he or she does not want to hurt others.
My purpose of this writing is to explain the use I have for the sweat lodge. That is only to cleanse and heal myself from past abuse of foreign substances and my well-being. There are certain people that should be screened for their capabilities, knowledge and background. It is a practice today to give a gift to the conductor, an offering to assist them with their life too. Give and receive. I shall continue to help myself as our ancestors have. Take care and stay well on your good path called life.