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Sweat Lodges

SWEAT LODGE CEREMONIES

The sweat lodge is a re-enactment of a return to our mother womb-like experience, which is the cleaning of the body, mind and spirit. People remove all accessories like watches, rings, and glasses, to remember that we came into this world without material possessions. It is a time of sharing our problems with other people and praying for the needs of our innermost self. It is a Sacred Circle. After the rounds (sharing around the Circle), members re-enter creation reborn with New Hope and a changed attitude.

The sweat lodge has been amongst First Nations’ people long before the churches were built on Reserves. This is where people went to pray and come in contact with a Higher Power or Creator.

There are four rounds to each ceremony. Four rounds in honor of four grandparents or four directions. Six Colors are used in the sweat lodge ceremony.

Colour Red in honour of Red Race or First Nation people, the gift given to Red Man is the gift of vision to be able to look backwards in time or to be able to see into the future.

Colour Yellow in honour of Yellow Race or Chinese people; the gift they were given is time. They are an ancient people in their beliefs and religion.

Colour Black in honour of Black Race or Black people; the gift they were given is reason to be able to reason with things.

Colour White in honour of White Race or White people; the gift they were given is movement, to be able to move things like jets, planes, and cars.

Colour Green in honour of Mother Earth, giver of new life to all creation, she gives life to all two legged, four legged, the one’s that fly, ones that crawl, ones that swim, insects, trees, water, rocks and grass.

Colour Blue in honour of Father Sky – Creator and God/Great Spirit; the ultimate of all Universal Powers. Blue is a sacred colour.

Round 1 – in this round, honouring is for Mother Earth, the Fire, Rocks, Water, and Steam Spirits. Prayers of thanks are said by all the participating individuals. Sacred songs are sung, people can either pray silently in your traditional language or English. People ask Mother Sweat Lodge to purify their minds, bodies, and spirits to take away all our bad feelings, hurts, anger and resentments. A sweat is a place where we one can cry, pray, sing and be able to humble themself and cry for First Nations’ people.

Round 2 – in this round honouring is for all sisters, because women are the backbone of First Nation people and they have the gift of bringing new life into this world. It is remembered that some women get caught up in alcohol and drug abuse, they get weak and need prayers and thanks. Praying is done for Mothers, Sisters, Grandmothers, Nieces, Cousins, Aunts, Elders, Pipe Carriers, Spiritual Advisors and all Sisters pray for each other. It is remembered that some sisters are in institutions, jails, battered women’s homes and some young sisters are in foster homes. The Creator is asked to help them find their identities. Prayers are said and a sacred or sweat song is sung.

Round 3 -in this round honouring is for all our Brothers. Remembered are Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles, Nephews, Cousins, Elders, Spiritual Advisors, Medicine People and Pipe Carriers. If any are in the Spirit world, prayers are said for them that their spirits be set free by their loved ones. It is remembered that some brothers are in jails, institutions, jungles and skid row. The Creator is asked to forgive them and for their wrong doings, members humble themselves and cry for these people. Sacred sweat lodge songs are sung.

Round 4 -in this round honouring is for the members now that they have prayed for everyone else. The Creator is asked to help members with their daily living problems and to work on their character defects.

Any amount of rocks are used as needed.

… from http://www.firstnationstreatment.org/sweatlodgeceremonies.htm


Medical Health Benefits of Sweating

Why Sweat? It has long been known in many parts of the world that sweating is often therapeutic and, in many cases, healing. “Give me a fever and I can cure any disease.” So said Hippocrates. Although I am not equipped to fully discuss the medical benefits of sweating, here are some interesting facts I have gleaned from a number of sources.

First of all, sweating is a very necessary bodily function. It removes toxins so effectively that the skin has been called “the third kidney.” If the skin and the sweat passages are completely clogged, a human being will die within a matter of hours.

Secondly, a great many viral agents and bacteria cannot survive at temperatures much higher than 98.6˚ Fahrenheit. When we sweat, we literally burn away some illnesses.

Thirdly, any of the important endocrine glands are stimulated by an inner rise in temperature. Impurities in many body organs are flushed out as the capillaries dilate and the heart increases its pace to keep up with the demands for blood. (Finnish studies indicate that this does not cause a rise in blood pressure. In fact, people with high blood pressure experience a marked, though temporary reduction in their blood pressure when sweating in a sauna.)

Fourth, in a sweat bath where rocks are heated and water is poured onto them, an abundance of negative ions is released into the air. Negative ions encounter fatigue and tenseness. An excess or positive ions (a condition often found in smoggy areas and in houses with central air conditioning) has been linked to asthma, heart attacks, insomnia and allergies, among other ailments.
… from http://artscool.cfa.cmu.edu/~bingham/archive/3sisters7.html


Risks

Participating in a sweat carries risks, especially to those who have medical problems such as heart problems, seizure disorders, especially combined with drug or alcohol use, can lead to problems such as hyperthermia, when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate.

Wearing metal jewelry can be dangerous since metal objects may become hot enough to burn the wearer. Contact lenses and synthetic clothing should not be worn in sweat lodges as the heat can cause the materials to melt and adhere to eyes or skin.

Care must be taken in selecting rocks used for heating. They should be dry and without air pockets, as these will crack and possibly explode in the fire or when hit by water. There is also a risk posed by modern chemical pesticides, or inappropriate woods, herbs, or building materials being used in the lodge.

Even people who are experienced with sweats, and attending a ceremony led by a properly-trained and authorized Native American ceremonial leader, could suddenly experience problems due to underlying health issues.

There have been reports of sweat lodge-related deaths resulting from overexposure to heat, dehydration, smoke inhalation, or improper lodge construction leading to suffocation. In October 2009, during a New Age retreat organized by James Arthur Ray, three people died and 21 more were sickened from an overcrowded and improperly set up sweat lodge containing some 60 people and located near Sedona, Arizona.

… from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sweat_lodge

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