Archive for the sweat lodge Category

A good day’s work…

Posted in gardening, gratitude, Spirituality, sweat lodge, yard work on April 14, 2016 by Standing West

Canvas tarp cleaned and patched,  blankets washed, rose bush planted, yard mulched, fence posts chain-sawed and chucked, post office run complete….It’s been a productive day.

Guess I’ll back up to the tarp and blankets for a minute.  Yesterday I went to Maryland to do some yardwork for Grandmother Martha, the widow of Grandfather Eddie, our Elder who recently walked on.  After I weed-whacked the Medicine Wheel, I fired up the walk-behind and the cable that engages the cutting-blade snapped.

I looked around for something else to work on and saw that the sweat lodge had partially collapsed.  I talked with Grandmother about the lodge and she said she’d rather I laid it to rest privately. Rather than recount the ceremony, I’ll just say that the tarp and blankets came from Eddie’s sweat lodge and will serve as the covering and doors of the healing lodge we’re putting up in the backyard later this year.

Finances have been a bit dodgy since leaving my day job, but Spirit always seems to provide what’s needed.  Unexpected tax refund, tarp and blankets for the lodge; these are just a couple of examples.

My hands are dirty from pulling weeds as I type this.  The need to write came upon me unexpectedly; sort of a “Eureka!” moment, and so I went with it.  There’ve been a lot of those lately.  It’s good to get off my ass and hit the keys again…

Someone gimme a stone…

Posted in ceremony, Healing, Initiation, prayer, sweat lodge, visions on January 7, 2015 by Standing West

I’ve found myself being called upon to welcome the Stone People into the sweat lodge on a regular basis lately. As is typical when undertaking a ritual, one must be aware of both the practical or exoteric component, and the deeper or esoteric component that empowers the physical container with the Sacred, enabling it to become a vessel for the breath of God.

The Grandfathers leave the fire cherry red; the images on their skin whispering stories in the dark for those who will open themselves and listen. We receive the Stones from the pitchfork into a basket formed by interlocking the tines of White Tail antlers. Then they are placed into the pit to receive their blessing of herbs and the water which, in the form of steam, will carry our prayers to the Great Spirit for the good of All Our Relations.

On a practical level, the antlers are sturdy, resistant to heat, and fit together securely, keeping the Stones from rolling away and burning someone. They also provide better control over where the Stones are placed in the pit.

Symbolically the antlers represent gentleness. The fire from which the Stones are taken is a violent, masculine environment. Rather than bathing the participants in this emotionally aggressive energy, the Grandfathers are cradled in a softer, feminine energy before being brought into the lodge. Focusing on this, one transcends the self and becomes the instrument through which the process unfolds.

The last time I was asked however, a deeper level of awareness opened up. As we move through our lives, or rather, as our lives unfold through us, we will encounter difficult situations which will test us in every conceivable – and perhaps not so conceivable – way. We can meet these challenges carelessly, injuring ourselves and others in the process; or we can open up to them and receive them with gentility and grace, allowing their energy to serve, through our interaction with it, as a lesson for All Our Relations. . .

The challenge of love…

Posted in Initiation, Inspirational, Spirituality, sweat lodge with tags on November 20, 2014 by Standing West

Many years ago, I was speaking with a cousin of mine whom I deeply respected and loved as an older brother. He was the father of two children and was telling me his views on parenthood. “My job,” he said, “is to draw a circle around my kids. As they come up to the edge of it, I push them back into the center until I see that they’re strong enough to step outside of it. When they do, I welcome them into their new world and repeat the process all over again.” Even though I may not remember the words he said 100% verbatim, I have never forgotten the gist of what he told me.

While sitting in a particularly difficult sweat lodge this past weekend, I found myself at odds with the heat. Suddenly, my cousin’s words came back to me and my suffering broke into a moment of realization. The difficulties we face in life are simply the arms of God wrapped around us in order that we might push against them and find the strength to grow beyond the space that they allow us.

This does not mean that Spirit is a cruel and sadistic entity who repeatedly confines us to a place of suffering for his own amusement. On the contrary; it implies that Spirit not only provides us the challenges we need to grow, but embraces us completely throughout the process


Posted in dreams, Healing, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, sweat lodge, visions on January 10, 2013 by Standing West

Luke Skywalker: “I don’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That…is why you fail.”

I am no longer amazed by the generosity of the Universe. Instead, I have come to accept it as being as much a part of its existence as the very air we breathe.

I’ve been in a pretty strange place these last few weeks. I’ve been drifting quite a bit, and feeling like most of the world has been slipping away. I’ve been lost, and emotionally rocky, but somehow through it all, I’ve not lost the awareness that it’s simply part of the changing patterns of my life; and that once I’ve walked through it, I’ll be much better for the experience.

As I alluded to in my last post, I attended a very powerful sweat lodge last Saturday which was poured by a very loving Elder whose humble and mirthful ways speak volumes of his power and connection to Spirit. I knew, as soon as the flap came down, that I was in for an E-Ticket ride; and after the sweat was over, I was certain that some subtle, yet powerful shift had taken place. This was confirmed for me when, for the entire next day, I had almost no energy whatsoever. This is odd for me, because generally I feel charged the day after a sweat.

Yesterday morning I woke up sweating and feeling a slight chill. I attributed this to processing what had happened in the lodge and a heavy cold due to recent stress. My calendar at work “mysteriously” cleared the day before, so, taking my wife’s advice, I called in sick.

After feeding the cats and attending to a couple of morning chores I went back to bed. As I was lying there, I decided to open up to the healing energy as I’ve done whenever I’ve given myself Reiki. I lay there, feeling very highly connected to the living energy and Spirit’s presence. I asked Spirit to let the energy flow gently, so I could process it; and in my head I heard a voice very loudly and clearly say the word “LOVE”.

Then everything went silent.

I drifted off to sleep shortly afterwards. I dreamt that my wife and I were in bed. She was sitting there in a white silk robe looking 20 years younger. Her skin was almost pure white, and she was radiant. The blinds were up, and the sunlight was streaming into the room. My head was in her lap, and she started doing some Reiki work with me. Then, she took her fingers and began to press, gently but firmly, into my eye sockets, just above my eyes; a technique I’ve learned to relieve tension headaches. It felt amazing, and I could sense the energy flowing through her fingers and through my brain.

I immediately woke up. I had the slightest headache, which left after a couple of minutes, but the cold, and my emotional issues, were completely gone.

My gratitude for this healing is beyond words. Even now, if I sit quietly for a few moments, I can feel the living energy flowing through me; and I am greatly aware of my interconnectedness with everything.

What a blessing it is to be a part of so much love. . .

Coyote Shuffle…

Posted in ceremony, Coyote, prayer, Spirituality, sweat lodge on January 8, 2013 by Standing West

Many ups and downs these last few weeks, initiated with the solstice. A heavy sweat with Grandfathers breathing ancient medicine and fire, as Coyote dips and splashes our prayers to the Creator.

He guides us as children: never in a demeaning way, but with ample love and humor.

Tears flow with my first prayer and continue on and off over the course of the lodge, mingling with my life-water and the flowing river of Tiwa.

When the flap is opened a final time and we exit Mother’s belly, he takes hold of my hand and with an expression of pure compassion says only, “Bless you.”

It is a gift to share the inipi with this man. . .

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