sweatlodgeA sweatlodge is a powerful purification ritual that has been passed to the modern world from Native American and other First Nations’ people. It involves sitting on Mother Earth, in complete darkness, in a simple lodge. Hot rocks are brought in from a fire pit, water is poured on them, prayers are spoken and sung. The ceremony generally lasts several hours starting when the fire is laid and lit. After the rocks are heated, participants enter the lodge for four “rounds,” conducted by the leader of the lodge, the “pourer,” who leads the prayers, songs and ceremony.

sweatlodge fireThere are many different traditions and rituals around how sweatlodges are conducted. Our sweatlodge at Sacred Groves is a “Rainbow Lodge” which means we welcome people from any spiritual path. Although we do not offer a traditional Native American sweatlodge, we conduct our lodges in a serious and sacred way. Our intention is to show deep respect for the traditions of First Nations peoples and those who have shared this ceremony with us. We feel honored and humbled to offer this ancient ceremony. Our lodge has been blessed by a Native elder and has been a place of deep healing for people of many cultures and spiritual belief systems. We give thanks to Great Spirit for the gift of this ceremony at Sacred Groves.

More information about our Sacred Groves lodge and how to prepare for sweatlodge ceremony at the bottom of this page.

For more information about indigenous Native American teachings, click here for First Peoples Voices and click here for Four Directions Teachings..

Open sweatlodges for men and women are offered once a season (except summer), around the time of the season’s change, generally co-facilitated by Therese and Tere. In 2015, Spring sweatlodge is April 4, Autumn sweatlodge is set for October 10, and the winter sweatlodge is always on New Years Day, an annual tradition for the Groves. Therese and Tere will be pouring and fire-tending.  YOU MUST RSVP prior to showing up for a sweatlodge at which time we will send information about the timeframe and what to bring. We welcome everyone who wants to attend.

Women-only Sweatlodges are offered once, early in the year. Priority is given to those women want to join the Earth Mothers Circle; if there is space for other women, they will be welcome. In this women’s lodge we invoke our personal grandmother guides and the ancient Clan Mothers.

Donations for Sweatlodge: There is not a required fee for our open sweatlodge ceremonies. We propose a ‘suggested donation’ of $25-50, put out a basket and receive what is offered. If it is more convenient for you, you may confirm your intention to attend the upcoming sweatlodge by making an on-line donation in advance using the “donate” button below.

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Occasionally a group requests that a private sweatlodge facilitated by Therese and Tere. In this case, we do request a minimum donation of $250.

We also open our lodge to outside groups who want to manage their own sweatlodge ceremony using our facilities. In such cases we request $100 for firewood and use of the meadow.

More information about Sweatlodge at Sacred Groves
An overview of the ceremony is this: A ceremonial fire is laid with 25-40 stones in the fire. The fire burns for 2+ hours heating the stones. While the stones are heating we cover the lodge with blankets, connect with the fire and make prayer bundles to help focus our intentions. Once the rocks are heated, we enter the lodge. Some of the stones are brought in with a pitchfork. The door is covered. We sit in total darkness, praying and singing for as long as it takes for everyone to say their prayers, led by the “water-pourer” who pours water on the stones to create steam after each prayer. When the time is right, the door is opened and that “round” is over. People can get out and cool off between rounds. We usually do four rounds.

We believe there are two different ways and “places” to experience the sweatlodge: being inside the lodge in the heat, darkness and intensity; or sitting outside tuning into the magic of the fire, supporting the fire-tender and the door. Being outside is a deep, long nature meditation with the fire, rich and rewarding in its own way as the sweatlodge fire is alive and full of messages. Sometimes (rarely) so many people show up, that there isn’t room inside the lodge for everyone. We ask people to open to the mystery about where you will be called that day…..it is a sacred and powerful experience whether you are inside or outside.

Although our sweatlodge ceremony at Sacred Groves includes many elements of traditional lodges held by Lakota or other native tribes, our lodge is a “rainbow lodge.” One of the primary differences is that we welcome menstruating women into the sweatlodge; many traditional peoples have a taboo against this. More info on this topic below.

Health Concerns: The Sweatlodge ceremony involves sitting on the ground in complete darkness in hot, steamy close quarters,. If you have physical/health concerns that may be adversely affected by these conditions it would be best if you experienced the lodge outside by the fire rather than inside. We ask that those who come into the lodge take full responsibility for monitoring their health and well being. If anyone starts feeling badly, we will open the door. If you need to leave the lodge, you can do so..

Preparations for the Day

When you come into the sweatlodge, you will be bringing with you your four sacred bodies (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) that are reflected in the four sacred directions of the ancient medicine wheel. It is important for you to begin ahead of time to thoughtfully/prayerfully prepare each of these bodies. You are each responsible for choosing/creating what that preparation looks like. For the physical body, it could mean altering your regular eating/drinking habits for some days prior to the lodge. If you use sugar, tobacco, alcohol or recreational drugs, it would be best to clear your system of these the day of the sweatlodge. On the emotional side, you might reflect on what feelings, resentments, and patterns you are holding onto that no longer serve your life, and open to releasing them. In the mental realm, you might choose a practice that empties your mind, and opens it up to receiving new insights and understandings that may be “beyond thought”. In the spiritual realm you might take time to receive and articulate prayers of thanksgiving for what has just passed and intentions for the coming year. Our preparations will be unique to each one of us. Our prayer bundles will hold our very personal intentions.

Women on their Moontime

In many Native American traditions, women on their moontime (i.e. menstruating) are not welcome in the sweatlodge. We’ve heard a couple different reasons for this: first because the energy of a menstruating woman is so powerful, it is believed it can affect the energy of others; and second, because women on their moontime are so open they can pick up energy and emotions from others in the lodge. Here at Sacred Groves we DO welcome menstruating women if they feel called to be in the sweatlodge. We believe a woman’s moontime is a potent time for prayer and ceremony. Woman who happen to be menstruating on the day of the sweatlodge are encouraged to consider the issues above and choose the place that feels right: inside the sweatlodge, outside the sweatlodge by the fire, or in the nearby MoonLodge here at the Groves for a private ceremony in womb-an’s space.