Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sweat Lodge Journals | 31 May 2008 Villastanza

©2008 Turtle Heart. Photo by Turtle Heart

A sweat lodge with friends. We have been making sweat lodge ceremonies here now for four years. I am not sure how many people we have made these ceremonies for here. It has been very satisfying to have this long standing sweat lodge camp in the north of Italy. Usually we have a mixture of men and women. Today we have for the first time only a group of men. Tonight we will also make a dream ceremony, which we have been doing here as well.

One of our participants has spent three months in Texas working at a sweat lodge camp run by a Lakota Indian woman. Quite interesting. He was gifted an eagle feather and a very fine peyote rattle during his visit. He has turned out to be an experienced firekeeper and keeps the standing stone fire going very well. It was nice to have some experienced and calm assistance.

The people eat and talk, which is the Italian custom. If they put tobacco into the fire for each story they tell at the diner table I would be more satisfied. When Italians are together they have their own sweet, but automated rhythms. It takes some effort to get them to pay close attention to subtle ideas like putting tobacco into the fire. The fire for the tobacco needs to be fed one hundred times for each person present. I will be lucky if they do it five times. This is a universal problem. Most people just do not have any experience thinking about the subtle opportunity a small sacred fire provides. One can learn many things by watching what people do not do. Watching people understand but fail to use this really fine tool is nevr satisfying to me.

Tonight the lodge was very strong and everyone could feel the power of the hot stones and the sacred water. After the lodge was finished the people lay down on the warm earth and no one moved or spoke for quite some time. I do not believe in tough guy sweat lodges...experiences where everyone is so tough that the hot stones and sacred water rolls right off of them. This sweat lodge put us all the way down on the earth and I am happy and grateful for this. When people are so tough and hard that the sweat lodge rolls right off of them I usually feel like I have failed. This time I had to come out of the lodge twice. The second time I laid down on the earth outside the lodge with the people inside and sang my pain and sorrows right into the earth between the fire and the door to the sweat lodge. I feel softer when the earth humbles me and lays me down. I feel it helps me remember my suffering and how far I have come, how far I have yet to go. I have no joy for a sweat lodge where only tough people who cannot be laid down are present.

We stay inside for about two hours. I always build my songs inside the lodge from those people who are present. I tell them this. I tell them that if they give nothing, they receive nothing. I tell them I will go to an old place and if they want to learn they have to go to this old place with me. It is not an easy thing for modern people to do. I think they try but the energy from this group of men is very mixed and the results are strange. My throat feels strained and I find it hard to sing. I wonder what they are thinking in there..

I am recovering from a long illness and discover that I am weak. The heat puts me down several times and the singing is hard to find. This is a symptom of seperation. When the union is strong the songs come more easily.

Two days later we have another sweat lodge. The people are quite different. Two women are present, both older women who are quite composed and alert. They came a long distance to try this experience. We also have a woman, our host, who is working the stones from outside. She is doing a very good job. The singing this time is really good. One of the women is very good at singing and the energy she adds helps the music flow like water. This sweat is in the end very different than any other I have done. I feel softer, less intellectual and more in touch with my feelings. Again we are inside about two hours. These stones we use get very hot, some of the hottest stones I have worked with. Different stones tell different stories in different ways.

When the door is opened I put my head outside and lay down on the ground looking at the sky. There is one tiny cloud hanging up in the sky right over the lodge. I see a single star. In the distance the thunder beings are making their own song and I try to bring this energy down iniside the lodge. Over and over we make the songs and everyone does a good job of getting some sound out. In the earlier sweat it was only me singing. This time everyone is making an effort and the sounds we make together becomes quite beautiful …..this builds up a lot of strong energy. I tell a long story about those teachers who come to us and who then go away. It is a song about giving up the fear. I look up a couple of times and everyone is on four legs with their heads down. Sacred animals seeking life.

Afterwards we have several hours of great conversation. I am asked about medical healing and so end up talking at some length about the nature of these ceremonies which in general I call correction ceremonies. I talk about the different levels of healing medicine, how there are many ways to come at the problem of healing. I talk to them about my approach and explain the reasons why I work as I do.

I was asked about healing practices of tribes. I found myself explaining that the work that I am doing with this World Journey is a kind of healing taken in another direction. We believe that these ceremonies are a “correction”, an adjustment to the thinking of the modern world as it comes to tribal people, to the earth itself. I explain that until we can effectively make these corrections, it is difficult for more specific healing procedures to be used. I explained that this work is similar to the work a healing doctor might exercise over a patient, but applied at a different level of the problem…farther out into society and closer to the earth.

I explained that many Native Americans associate illness with a message from earlier choices made in life, where something went wrong. Sometimes what went wrong may have been a choice, or it may have been a mistake. We need to understand what this mistake was and whose responsibility it is before we can make a correction ceremony. I explained in this way, as we look at modern society, we are applying this great correction ceremony to society in a collective way, carrying it all the way around the earth.

The question was interesting because it asked about healing teachings as if they were something different than the sweat lodge we had just shared together. I explained that they were the same thing in essence…or at least that the principles and results are similar when compared to the details of more personal therapies which her question implied. In my case, my patients are the citizens of the world. My studio is a portable operating room called the Four Directions Unity Bundle.2008

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