We also attend and support various local sweats during the week. The days and locations vary depending on house majority availability and the sweatlodge timing.
The Sweat Lodge is used in purification ceremonies, healing ceremonies or to begin and end a Vision Quest/Fast. It is important in Native Spirituality to keep ones self continually in touch with both our inner self and the Creator.
The Sweat Lodge ceremony is a more involved and complete version of the Smudging Ceremony. Each separate First Nations tribe (such as Cree, Sioux, etc.) have a different traditional form that is used to conduct their ceremonies, depending upon where a Lodge keeper is from or who their teachers were. All are correct and each one is to be respected in our culture.
It has been said by the old ones, that the Sweat Lodge is the oldest ceremony among North American traditional Natives. The ceremony is a purification rite in which individuals can gain balance “within themselves”. The Sweat Lodge is a dome shaped construction framed with willow saplings and covered with canvas, hides and/or blankets. The dome may vary in height and circumference depending on the particular territory or Elder who is constructing the Lodge, however, most are sized to accommodate 10 to 20 individuals.
A sacred fire is built in front of the lodge where the stones (lava rocks), representing the Grandfather and Grandmother spirits (very old and wise), are heated in the wood fire. The sacred fire represents the healing force that cleanse the negative spirits that may dwell within a person. The number and location of doors a lodge has will depend on the region, the cultural heritage, as well as the type of ceremony being conducted in the lodge (for example: a healing ceremony, thanksgiving ceremony, truth-telling ceremony, dream interpretation ceremony).
Inside the Lodge is a pit in the centre where the stones from the fire are placed. This hole has been said to be the door to Mother Earth whence she sends her blessings. It is also referred to as the womb, signifying returning to the womb and rebirth. The Grandfathers and Grandmothers bring healing, wisdom, and knowledge and take unto themselves our trials and tribulations.