Sweat Lodge Stories: in the village of the shoes.
Parabiago. In Parabiago perhaps the most beautiful shoes for the most beautiful feet in all the world are made privately and by hand.....here the good group of people all came together for a ceremony in these two days. The ceremony starts at a small tobacco fire, a morning fire. This is the First Place. The starting point. Beyond this little fire you find the sweat lodge fire heating the stones. After the sweat lodge there is the Night Singing for the dream, for the dreaming, a ceremony for the dreamers. The sweat lodge was very strong, the rocks very hot. We have done about 10, maybe more, sweat lodge ceremonies here in Parabiago. On each ceremony, the group and the circumstances have been different. There is a core group of us who work to keep the lodge going. In these days I am here to do 10 days of ceremonies. The last one will be the equinox moment and throughout that day.
We made the little morning fire, the little fire in the front of the house. That fire has been here 3 years now and has received a lot of meditations, a lot of spiritually charged silence. Using tribal rattles we have made many songs here as well.
This week we will take down this lodge and build a new one. I love this work…I love that we have this fire and this sweat lodge here in the north of Italy. A little space for the lessons of the old Indians. It is the old, old Indians…we call them the Grandfathers, the Grandmothers. We call out to them using their names and they tell us to make this seat lodge, to make the little tobacco fire. It is a moment where we may hear the earth; where somehow the mind may become still and the heart receive some clarity. It is a strong and simple teaching and over and over I see its value, its beauty and its purity…..so I love this work and these moments.
I touch the hearts of the people who are here with an old Eagle Feather. The old feather of the old Indians. Yes, we call it a sacred space…..american words can seem so empty and sometimes I have trouble with that word…but yes, it is a sacred moment inside a sacred space. I have no doubts. Yes, sometimes life seems crazy and hard. We want to believe in something sacred, something that will help us. The truth is, it is you (me), we have to take some action. We have to pay attention. Something sacred to an old Indian means something close to the earth…something simple, elegant and simple….a moment of peace and clarity. A good moment can fill your body with good energy….the good energy of life. When you feel very well, everything moves more smoothly, more sweetly; even more profitably. Is profitably a correct word? The line between all these different languages is not so clear anymore. Living in Italy I often speak broken English.
I may possibly like broken English better than “proper English”. Inside the sweat lodge I sometimes try to make the songs with some Italian words and ideas. I live here in Italy now and spaking the language is not so easy for me. I try to find help in the singing. Inside the sweat lodge……I sing in 8 languages.
While millions, possibly billions, of people will go along to their churches this week…..we old Indians can only make about 8-12 people at one moment in a sweat lodge. It is a smaller operation. Group by group….on any given week maybe only hundreds or maybe even only dozens of people are inside these sweat lodges. Pounding the water drum, looking with my eyes have closed at the glowing red stones….the stones are very hot tonight. Yes I feel something, I feel a song coming up from deep inside me. That is my work these days; to find that song and ride the song around the earth. I feel the people in the little circle; we are all together around a little hole in the earth filled with hot sones. I sing to them about their feet in a language they have never heard before.
Later, the singing in the night went very well. Nightway Singing. The night is sacred but has been stolen in general by the schedule of industrial society. To the old indians the night ceremonies were very important for the people. This understanding has been almost entirely lost. It is some satisfaction (and hope) for me that I can have this dialogue with these people.
The ceremonial days finish with the dream ceremony. The night-singing while the people all sleep close together and dream through the night. The next day we all talked about what happened.