The sweat lodge preparations started around 9 in the morning. I arrived half an hour late. The house was toasty and the conversation warm and friendly. I felt comfortable and enjoyed the familiarity of being back at Jason’s house.
The rituals of the day really centred me and brought me to a place of easily accessed mindfulness. We gathered the stones by considering and feeling them and then lining them up after walking in a sun wise direction around the sacred site. The landscape, my place within it and connecting into ceremonial space made me smile. The thirty two stones gradually lined up and then so did we.
The geometry of the space was fascinating. The sweat lodge made one circle on our right hand side, it represented Grandmother Earth and was a black portal. On the left was a circle with a blackened fire area in the middle around which a circle of smaller stones was made, whose height was perhaps 2ft. Imagine there was a pizza slice of the circle facing the lodge and that it had been taken away. This opening was important as the fire inside the circle of stones had a direct line of sight to the door portal of the domed sweat lodge. The only object to disrupt a true line on the ground was the alter, a small stone structure upon which the various ceremonial objects and personal jewellery were kept outside of the black mother.
In our line, we were to consider the stones we had brought to the edge of the sacred circles. Then we chose one stone at a time and cleaned it, trying to remove the various invertebrates who had decided to live on these hunks of granite. We next entered the fire circle after acknowledging grandfather sun and made eye contact with the Fire Keeper, whilst giving him the stone we thanked him. He then thanked the stone acknowledging a symbolic grandfather. Care and time was then taken to exit the fire circle sun wise and gather another granite grandfather, repetition slowed down mind and time. When the Fire Keeper had made the cairn of stones and the amazing four cornered fire preparations we gathered like sun rays around the outside of the fire circle. The Fire Keeper sang a sun mantra whilst lighting the four corners, this song was beautiful and etched deeply into my sonic thoughts. The fire then burning we left to dwell in our own thoughts and to prepare for the portal into the earth mother.
Two hours later we were lined up, four of us wearing shorts and holding towels. I was the only one shivering but I may have been a bit more skin and boney. We entered the black portal into the earth cave. Soon the first of the hot grand fathers came in, it shocked me as the head sized stone was red hot and as it hit the centre pit it’s surface sparked with golden electricities, my spine chilled as I realised that this was alchemical. Immediately the temperature rose and as another six hot grand fathers came and it was getting hot. Then the door went down and we were in the black gloom the only light came from the red hot glow of the hot grandfathers. Rituals began and so did the water pouring on the stones, I felt the invisible wall of heat rise up in front of me hit the roof and come down to envelope my body. Prayers were said more stones came in after time. The heat became un bearable whilst utterly beautiful origin myths were told and more prayers were made. Another two chapters of stones happened and gradually my head stopped talking to me, apart from encouraging me to stay and not freak out. Gradually surviving became the main goal and looking forward so much to the air and space outside. Also thinking about all the things and people that have formed me and acknowledging them through prayer. E v e n t u a l l y…. it was time to get out I was a drenched and quivering lizard of a man. we crawled out and lay in the grass utterly exhausted gasping for this new and fresh air to breath. I rolled over on to my back and watched the clouds throb through the sky. Heart and mind growing still and united. We gradually got up and made it back to the house to consume the much desired feast. I felt so unbelievably clean, in fact most of the following week I was unbelievably clean.
As well as being clean I was also calm. I felt that stress and anxiety had been dissolved and sweated out. I was struck by my still mind and contentedness. I learnt some amazing things about myself in there a dn throughout that day but perhaps the most mind opening was the power of ceremonial space. Anything can happen there, something which was once so common to our ancestors and now glimpsed only briefly. It is where true magick can happen I have no doubt about that.