I’ve been asked, “how many times have you done a sweat lodge?” Honestly, I don’t know the numbers but it’s always different, but something Paul, the beautiful soul who has been guiding me for a decade now, says is that the lodge is alive and in this last experience, it clicked.
I brought my 7 year old son Elijah. Before going he asked very reasonable questions the way a 7 year old would ask them. “How long is it? How far is it? How hot is it?” He wanted facts and Paul’s voice echoed out of my mouth, “it’s alive. We can’t say how long it will take or how hot just like we don’t know how long we will be here or how hot we burn.” Elijah burns hot, as I burn hot.
And on the day of, as with every sweat I’ve ever organized, those who were meant to come came, and those who didn’t sent me notice that they would not make it and it was the way it should be, just as our lives are with the people who cross our paths.
The only intention I had with this sweat was to help my young son through it because I questioned myself for bringing him, but I felt he was ready and I also wanted him to retain something of the magic of where we come from before he forgets. So as I have mentioned, the lodge is like entering the womb of Mother Earth. I’ve heard Paul say this again and again, yet each time it sends different messages to my brain. This time i started to think about all my past experiences. I’ve had several dreams of dying, several moments where the situation felt like I could very well have really died, and a really interesting shroom trip where I believed I was dying. In each instance, as afraid of dying as I am, i seem to comfortably accept the fact each time and go calmly into the good night rather than rage rage against the dying light as Dylan poetically says.
See, I thought of my 7 year old son and thought my purpose was to help him, yet I had flashback after flashback related to this idea of my gentle acquiescence to Mr Grim. The first time I sweat with Paul, then known as Paul Eagle Bear, I had the hardest sweat lodge experience to date. About two weeks before the sweat, I was up in the mountain with my partner then, and we took shrooms on a backpacking trip far from the city. To make a long story short, I had a bad trip in which I thought I was going to die. I had many beautiful revelations before that thought, but I remember seeing myself float away out of my body and thinking this was it. And I was ok with it. I even said,”poor fucker is going to have to tell my parents he buried their daughter in the woods because she she was too far to carry back.” But when I realized it might not happen, I panicked. When I went to sweat for my first time, in the stage of “death” during the sweat, I relived the same feelings of dying but I panicked, lied down, breathed and got through it. And this last sweat with my son, I thought a lot about that moment because I wondered,’if this is like being Inthe womb of our mother, I wonder if, as fetuses, we make conscious prayers for the next round of life so that we have purpose and guidance and if the fetuses experience a sort of death of knowing before moving into the fourth stage of being guided out of a cave or tunnel into light and then we are reborn.
It clicked for me.
Elijah struggled, and even though he was not in the actual lodge the whole time, he experienced the whole ceremony as he should with all the discomforts and revelations as anyone else. My husband accepted to tend the fire and he tended them so beautifully that as everyone else lied down between each session trying to take in as much of the cool breeze whistling through before the darkness and heat came, I stared and watched him with tears because he was meticulously blowing off as much ash from each stone so that we could feel a little more comfort in the lodge. He, the father of my child, was doing what he did day to day, and in what looks like the simple act of removing stones from the fire and bringing them to our sweat leader to place carefully into the pit, I realized our whole relationship and I cried quietly. He stayed with Elijah when he could no longer handle the darkness and heat.
I think even Paul was thrown a little insight with having a fireball child thrown into the pit of stones and I felt a strong connection and so much veils lifting, not gently, but as wild as my little fireball child who broke some rules, as he would, but with so much innocence and heart, as he would.
And a couple days after, I still feel like I’m sitting on the cool earth with the warmth surrounding me. Almost every time I went to sweat, it was for myself, and those times I found myself struggling. Once accidentally, I went to sweat with little Clarence In my own womb, and it was one of the easiest sweat lodge experiences I had ever had and in the “death” stage I remember laughing so much we ended that round. I talked a lot about it and thought it was only because of Clarence’s light spirit being with us, but maybe there is more to it.
“This last time with Elijah by me, the sweat lodge was much easier. I saw my husband bringing Paul each stone and more kept coming. It was ironically running smooth, even with the wild energy surrounding us with the child and another at that (I’ll get to that too). It might have been hotter in there than other sweats I’ve experienced, but realized that i felt comfortable in the heat and welcomed the darkness. I think it was because the mother in me kicked in and the mother energy is strong. I was not the child in the womb. I was the Mother Earth.
Paul had mentioned he was a little thrown off because I forgot to mention I was bringing my son and another 11 year old girl, though she did so well in there maybe her soul is much older than mine and we have had some conversations since then and the through the discourse more is becoming clear.
The only vision I saw this time was of an eagle with tribal pictographs and the want to follow a deer that I couldn’t seem to fully manifest. There is still much layers coming to light as each petal peels away, but this is sweat lodge. It is like you and me. Each one is different like you and me. Each has its own purpose like you and me. And it will keep manifesting itself like you and me.