The Sweat Lodge Ceremony

The Sweat lodge is a and was a religious ritual used by Native Americans across the U.S Canada and even Mexico .

Many tribes practiced variants of the sweat lodge .  The Cherokee  and the Chickasaws had permanent built lodges that were domed shaped log houses to hold the Sweat lodge ceremonies in .

Amongst the plains Indians the ceremony was in a much smaller domed circular shaped structure .

This structure is constructed by using soft pliable Willow saplings covered with buffalo  hides .

These structures would have an entrance  facing the East to welcome the rising sun .

However, to day lodges may have tarpaulin plastic sheets or blankets to cover them .

A pit is then dug in the centre of the lodge to hold the hot stones used for sweating .

These stones would be heated in afire outside the front of the lodge by two attendants whose job it is to ensure a constant supply of hot stones and water to sprinkle over the stones inside the lodge .

The Participants enter the lodge and sit in a circle around the edge facing the heated stones .

Water is sprinkled over the hot stones to create steam so that the participants then sweat cleansing the body and the soul . the hot stones have reverence as an ancient and spiritual meaning .

Prayers are said and songs sung to the sound of a drum beat that can be to the beat of mother earth.

An individual may see orbs whilst meditating or even have a vision whilst in the lodge .

Some of the ceremonies can last many hours or even longer depending on the ceremony .

Once the ceremony was over the flap would be opened and the participants would exit by the flap into the fresh air .

There is very symbolic meaning to this it as if you are being reborn from the earth as you exit the lodge and can be a very powerful and spiritual experience .

Sometimes just outside the entrance a buffalo scull would be placed on an alter or a pole placed so offering’s and pray cloth could be placed .

Usually, a meal would be then eaten by all who had taken part in the ceremony .

Today many sweat lodges are held right across the U.S and Canada and even in other countries as well .

However, it is in the U.S and Canada that they have a massive appeal amongst the Native populations not only on the reservations but also in Large Urban areas were native people live.

So, keeping their ancient and spiritual ceremonies alive and well in the 21st century .