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Shamanic Wisdom: The Sweat Lodge Ceremony

Shamanic Wisdom: The Sweat Lodge Ceremony Jan Engels-Smith

I have had many wonderful opportunities in my life. One of these has been to participate regularly in the Native American inipi ceremony, more commonly called the sweat lodge. I now pour lodges for others, but this occurrence started at the beginning of my shamanic career and brought me closer to the magical, mystical wonder of Spirit.

Background on the Sweat Lodge

The sweat lodge is a customary ceremony and is used regularly for purification, prayer, and healing. It is like church for the Native American. I revere this ceremony, for it has repeatedly brought me divine connection and awareness. Everything about the sweat lodge is sacred. It is built with intention and prayer. Each item used in the ceremony serves a divine purpose.

The sweat lodge represents the womb of Mother Earth, who gave life to us all. The sweat lodge is often constructed with red willow branches that are tied together in a frame representing the ribs of Mother Earth. The dome shape of the lodge is much like that of a pregnant woman's belly. This dome is covered with blankets and quilts, leaving space for the door. When the door is closed, there is no light on the inside. This darkness is like the inside of the womb of the sacred mother. A hole is dug in the center of the sweat lodge floor, the earth from which is used to make an altar in front of the door. The hole or pit will receive the hot stones — the stone people — when they are brought from the fire into the sweat lodge. The altar is used for sacred and special items to be blessed.