Monday, April 30, 2007
Sweat Lodge 28 and 29 April: Dream Talk
A sweat lodge near to Milan Italy. This is our third year now with a sweat lodge and morning fire camp in the village of Parabiago. We have also had a house blessing, several equinox and a large wedding ceremony in this house. We are hosted by Carlo Raimondi and Paola. She is an official in the environmental department of the italian government, the environmental boss for this district (Lenata). Carlo works in the funeral industry and both go to school in the evenings for holistic healing certificates, as well as parenting four children. They have their hands full. They also have time to host these ceremonies and other activities, such as rebirthing and astrology studies here at their home.
6pm we have the opening ceremony, a small sacred fire where we put tobacco into the flames and sing with old indian rattles. Everyone is touched with an eagle feather and we ask the powers of the mystery life to come and find us to help us, as we open the door to the sacred dreaming.
7 pm. We gather the stones together for the sweat lodge fire. After they are arranged a sacred woman comes and puts tobacco at the four-corners of this stone circle and sings a song. Next we put around the stones the fire wood and all together make one song and light the fire at the eastern point of the circle. Overhead the moon is just rising so we can see it as we start the fire, rising above the rooftops of the other houses.
I tell the people each time we meditate together around the fire, or inside the sweat lodge, to look for one old indian iside your mind. One old indian that will look right at you, right inside of you. If you could see him what would you say? If he could help you, what would you ask him? He does not come with money or fancy material things. Maybe he or she is almost naked. Moccasins on his old feet, a cloth around his body. What are the designs painted on that cloth?
A woman arrived later in the evening, as we were preparing to go inside the sweat lodge. I asked and she agreed to stay outside the sweat lodge and bring in the red hot standing stones, as well as working the water and the door. It is very important to have at least one person outside the sweat lodge, everything goes so much more smoothly. It is not always possible in our work here, as usually everyone is anxious to be inside, so this friend was a good deal for all of us.
6am the next morning. . First Light plus. After a very hot sweat lodge, and that after a meal together, the little morning fire is still burning strong. I just put tobacco into this fire and was listening to the sounds of the people sleeping through the all night dream singing. It is very sweet to sing all night for the people. Tonight I was able to sing almost six hours, a break every hour for about 10 minutes. With first light I am a little sleepy. Everyone is still tucked in. I rang my very old tobetian bells for the dreaming. Probably they are all deep into one dream now. I will let everyone awaken when they want. Usually by 8 everyone is awake and ready for the closing movements of the dream ceremony. Usually I am ready for sleep then. At the moment I am going to lay down a few minutes.
The dream singing is a specialized form of communication. I am going to give you an old teaching. In order to hear this old teaching you must go to sleep. It is an old and sacred form of communication. As far as I know I am the only person on this earth who makes this ceremony. In ancient generations past this was a common ceremony for all the people.
1pm. The closing ceremony. About 9 am everyone was finally awakened and we gathered around the big table and had biscotti, coffee and other snacks typical of the italian breakfast. Everyone had a good feeling and we all told stories about our dreams and the sleeping. When I was singing through the night there was no snoring. When I would stop the singing there was snoring. When I rang the old bells from Tibet the snoring would stop for a few minutes. They all laughed when I told them this.
The closing ceremony was very hopeful. We put tobacco into the fire. I brought out the sacred pipe long enough to offer it to the 6 directions. It was a very emotional moment for me, a little to my surprise. I think because we are so far from home, this sacred pipe and I. The world knows so little of something so important to Indian people. It is important the sacred objects come before the people. In most cultures those few things deemed truly sacred are put away and or protected by glass and alarms and security guards. In the hearts of the old indians, we just put it right there for all the people. Afterwards everyone was brushed down with an eagle feather. How to explain this? Perhaps there is no need. Being brushed down with an eagle feather is something everyone should try. If it happened to you, you would understand it immediately.
Finally we all held hands and then stretched out in a wide circle and leaned far back, holding each other’s outstretched hands. This is an interesting sensation as well, and one of my favorite things to do. I think the largest circle I have ever done it with is about 100 people.
Throughout the night a group of birds sang sweet little songs all night, possibly inspired by the very bright waxing moon high in the night sky. This is not something I recall ever having heard before. There were at least 3 species of small songbirds doing this. All night. It was beautiful and unusual.
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