A sa­cred Sweat Lodge ex­pe­ri­ence

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - Contents - - By ARI­ANE SAF­FRON orig­i­nal blue­print soul-healer

The tra­di­tion of heal­ing through sto­ry­telling res­onates strongly with me. To­day, I feel com­pelled to share the story of my first ex­pe­ri­ence with the sa­cred sweat cer­e­mony. What hap­pens in a sweat, stays in a sweat. This cer­e­mony is sa­cred and must be re­spected. But, if you do choose to share, al­ways keep some­thing for your­self. I choose to share a part of my story so that we can heal to­gether. Our sto­ries be­come our medicine. I in­tend to in­spire you to find your own way to self-heal us­ing earth medicine. I en­cour­age you to seek out tra­di­tional heal­ers from indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. With our fam­i­lies, our com­mu­ni­ties, and our earth as a whole, we all heal to­gether. Walk with me.

My en­tire life, I’d been a dancer and was liv­ing in a state of joy and good health. My body was con­stantly in move­ment. Sud­denly, in 2014, I was struck with a gas­troin­testi­nal flu. It at­tacked my joints and bones. My health rapidly de­clined. I felt a vi­o­lent, ag­gres­sive pain that shifted my joints and took my strength to walk and eat. The pain stopped me from be­ing a mother to my chil­dren.

The di­ag­no­sis was ge­netic arthri­tis. The flu had trig­gered my ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion for rheuma­toid and pso­ri­atic arthri­tis.

I was still nurs­ing my youngest daugh­ter, so I re­fused med­i­ca­tion for as long as I could, but even­tu­ally a rheuma­toid arthri­tis spe­cial­ist (nat­u­rally) sug­gested the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ap­proach. I be­gan the heart­break­ing process of wean­ing my baby. Nei­ther of us was ready. My emo­tions were build­ing; anger, re­sent­ment, de­pres­sion, con­fu­sion, and fear. Th­ese were all low-qual­ity, re­ac­tionary emo­tions which were am­pli­fy­ing my pain and dis-har­mony. I con­tin­ued my de­cline.

I de­vel­oped symp­toms from the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal treat­ment, such as a di­min­ished ap­petite and a con­stant feel­ing of hav­ing a flu. On a per­sonal level I was un­happy and all my re­la­tion­ships were suf­fer­ing. Even my re­la­tion­ship with my­self seemed ir­repara­ble. I lived with low-vi­brat­ing emo­tions and sud­den un­cer­tainty while my body at­tacked it­self daily.

Then, I fi­nally un­der­stood. You see, most dis­ease is con­nected to an emo­tion and me­mory which are at the core of our essence. Arthri­tis is about self-worth and ones’ be­lief in wor­thi­ness-of-love. So, I be­gan to deeply an­a­lyze my emo­tions. I asked my­self, “how do I stop at­tract­ing all this mis­ery?”

I started hear­ing the drums in my heart. It was Earth. Her heart­beat. Boom-boom. Boom-boom. Boom-boom. The Mother was call­ing me. I re­turned the call.

I met earth-based heal­ers who pro­vided me a safe space to dis­cover what I needed to let go. I was in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the process of un­cov­er­ing my peace through sa­cred sweat. This process in­cluded con­nect­ing with mul­ti­ple earth-based, an­cient heal­ing tra­di­tions, in­clud­ing some First Na­tions’ heal­ing prac­tices.

In June of 2015, we qui­etly came to­gether on pri­vate land amid poplars, gold­en­rod and sun­shine. I was feel­ing sad, a little ner­vous, and very grate­ful. When the el­der Tra­di­tional Healer joined us, I low­ered my eyes and started to cry. He walked over to me, put his fore­head against mine and held me while I cried. After, he took me by the shoul­ders, gig­gled, and said “It’s OK, eh.” Of course, I laughed.

We then spent the day lis­ten­ing to sto­ries and in­struc­tions, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to re­spect­ing the land in ev­ery mo­ment. It is im­por­tant to re­spect the land that sup­ports your feet at all times, es­pe­cially when pre­par­ing it and the cer­e­mony space by hand. We must al­ways show re­spect for the cer­e­mony and the com­mu­nity of heal­ing to­gether.

The sweat is a cer­e­mony of pu­rifi­ca­tion. We en­ter the lodge naked and with in­ten­tion. The Sweat Mas­ter is a guide to help you re­veal, re­lease, re­ceive and process. In a sweat, you look at your soul. You call your black­ness by name then let it go. In re­turn, you ask for love and you ac­cept love. All of this takes place while dark, hot, sweaty and naked.

On that day I died and was re­born. And I con­tinue to have this re­ju­ve­nat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Each time I en­ter a sweat, I have new eyes. More is re­vealed. There is less re­ac­tion, less pain. Sweat is an op­por­tu­nity I was hon­oured with, and it has saved my life. I sweat out that false fog say­ing, “I’m not wor­thy” and in re­turn, I re­ceive love. I now know I am loved. I know the Earth has my back, and I hers. We walk with unity.

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