CEREMONY OF PURIFICATION
A sacred Sweat Lodge experience
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.