Coming into Relationship through the Sweat Lodge Ceremony – part 1
The indigenous peoples of the earth, where they have maintained their traditional ways, are in a living relationship with the earth. The earth to them is an alive, breathing entity. All the creatures on this planet have consciousness and awareness. Each has its own type of wisdom and knowledge that, when listened to, can help one on their life’s journey. The earth peoples are attuned to these voices of the plants, animals, stars, the four winds, the moon and sun. They seek council from these elementals when their lives are out of balance. They have learned how that lack of balance causes distress and harm not only to themselves but also to their relations in the animal and plant worlds.
The People know themselves and all creatures great and small to belong to one large family here on earth. When any one member of that family is suffering, the whole environment suffers – they are that interconnected. Thus, when the People live their lives in harmony and balance with nature, the entire world shines forth in a beautiful way. It is good.
It is well known that the dominant culture has left us alienated from the world in which we live. Our man made creations absorb all of our energy, thoughts and passions. We have become strangers to the natural elements of the earth, our home. As we have separated ourselves from plant, animal, insect, mineral, wind, and water, we have lost a great portion of our humanity.
We have come to see ourselves as life forms alienated from the incredible bio-diversity that surrounds us. As we have become totally absorbed in the man-made material things of life, we have shut out the realities of the forests, streams, marshlands and meadows. Those communities then seem to exist “over there”. We don’t see, feel or hear them in our hearts. We don’t feel connected to those beautiful places other than how to use their resources to make more money. This has been the way of our dominant culture since the “Anglos” arrived on the East coast of America. This attitude has created an emptiness in us, for we now feel that we don’t have a home – we don’t belong here. We are just using the land and its resources temporarily. Or, you may say we have divorced ourselves from those who are most able to nourish, heal and protect us.
Many tribes of the indigenous peoples of North America have offered to assist their fellow human beings in reconnecting with the natural movement of life in relationship with the planet. One of the ways they have attempted to assist us is by sharing their knowledge and ways of some of their sacred ceremonies, especially the sweat lodge ceremony. By teaching this ceremony to members of the dominant Western culture, the Native American elders hope to awaken within us the real beauty of the world in all it’s spiritual splendor.
The prayer goes out that all peoples will live as one rainbow colored tribe. The prayer goes out that people will treat with dignity and respect all other life forms, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and especially themselves. The sweat lodge ceremony teaches us these things so that we can bring them into our hearts.