Sweatlodge

sweatlodgeSweatlodge is a powerful purification ritual that has most recently been kept alive and passed to the modern world from some of the indigenous tribes of North America. However, such healing ceremonies are not unique to North America. Working with the elements of fire, water, stones, sitting on the earth in darkness, singing, praying, doing healing ritual has been part of many cultures around the world, including ancient European peoples.

sweatlodge fireWe feel honored and humbled to offer a modern version of this ancient ceremony at Sacred Groves. Our sweatlodge/healing-lodge is a “Rainbow Lodge” which means we welcome people from all spiritual paths and our ways are not associated with any particular tribe.

We want to make it clear: this is not a traditional Native American sweatlodge.  Therese experienced the healing qualities of sweatlodge back in the 1990’s with the “Womans Way” community. Her primary mentor and role model was Connor Sauer, a woman who had experienced this ceremony with native peoples. Connor modeled deep respect and honor for native traditions but she also adapted the ceremony for the healing work she facilitated with women. Therese experienced dozens of healing lodges over a decade  as a key part of her own healing path.

In 2001, friends brought sweatlodge stones to Therese and asked to build a sweatlodge on her property.  Initially she refused, being very busy with midwifery work at that time. But they persisted. Eventually a co-ed group, some of whom were Sundancers with the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta,  joined together to build the lodge. The intention was for men and women to do this healing ceremony together.

When the issues of “cultural appropriation” began being raised many years ago, Therese turned the question over to Spirit, willing to release the lodge if it wasn’t “right” for any reason.  She asked for a sign.  In response she received a very clear message that this ceremony is needed to help modern people re-connect with their own hearts and spirits, with Mother Earth and with the 4 elements.  And an affirmation that she was offering the lodge in a humble and good way.

Having a sweatlodge on the land here at Sacred Groves is an act of devotion. Care and attention are needed in many arenas:  to the blankets, the need for firewood, keeping the lodge in good repair, gathering new stones in a sacred way.  We tend these many aspects of lodge lovingly, with honor and respect.  It is the best we can do.

The sacred fire and the ceremony itself have been our greatest teachers. Over the years, Therese and Tere have continued their learning, accessing the ancient wisdom we each carry from our long-ago tribal roots. Knowledge about these kinds of healing ways arises from deep within, inspired by great great great grandmothers who were medicine women. We continue to offer this ceremony as a way of “bringing healing to the people.”

And….it is our intention is to show deep respect for the traditions of First Nations peoples here in North America.  Those of us who have benefited from sweatlodge are encouraged to make reparations to the peoples whose land we live on and whose ways have inspired us and helped us “re-member” our own ancient roots. At Sacred Groves, we always offer prayers of gratitude to those who kept sweatlodge alive through the many decades when it was illegal.  We send prayers to the First Nations peoples who still struggle with the consequences of genocide. 

If you have been inspired by any aspects of Native American teachings or practices, we encourage you to consider “giving back” by making a donation to one of the following organizations.  We make it a practice to do this after every sweatlodge we offer.

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. The winter sweatlodge is always on New Years Day, an annual tradition for the Groves.  2019 open sweatlodges for men and women are scheduled for Jan 1, April 7 and Oct 6.   Sweatlodges are sometimes offered as part of our Grief Retreats.

Therese and Tere offer women-only sweatlodges during the Womens Mysteries Retreat and at Womens Summer Solstice.

There is a mens sweatlodge scheduled for Saturday February 23rd 2019, led by V.Calvez.  For more information about this, contact V by email:  vcalvez@gmail.com

This ceremony generally lasts several hours starting when the fire is laid and lit. We ask folks to arrive mid-morning and are generally not complete until early evening.  Exact details about arrival times are included in the prep info we send out prior to the event, which is why it is important that everyone planning to attend MUST RSVP.  More information about our Sacred Groves lodge and how to prepare for the ceremony at the bottom of this page.

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 $300.

We also open our lodge to outside groups who want to manage their own sweatlodge ceremony using our facilities. In such cases we request $150 for firewood and use of the meadow.

More information about Sweatlodge/Prayer Lodge 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.

Health Concerns: This 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 lodge, 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 lodge. 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 lodge. 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 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 lodge, outside the lodge by the fire, or in the nearby MoonLodge here at the Groves for a private ceremony in womb-an’s space.