Eclipses and Sweat Lodge – similar energy!
Here in UK it’s at 23.37 hours on Friday Evening. It’s an eclipsed Full Moon. The Sun is at 25 degrees Libra; the Moon is at 25 degrees Aries. Eclipses are about releasing dammed-up energies. They are associated with earthquakes and tsunamis in the earth’s crust, and they are very powerful in their effects if they fall on significant parts of your birth chart. They signify great change for good or ill. Anciently they were predictable for Druids and Vedic Rishis, and were used to signify the ‘fall of kings’ etcetera. I myself predicted for one client that her life would change utterly following an eclipse when Ketu (the South Node) of an eclipse fell on the ascendant of her birth chart, and something that then happened to a family member that caused her to then have to totally change her life-style and be more caring of the family member.
Incidentally, I feel this Eclipse will be very good for those who have their Sun (or other major planets) in the Vedic (sidereal) sign of Libra (24 western Libra to 24 western Scorpio). In other words if they were born in the month commencing October 17th. This is because Saturn and Rahu the north Node of the Moon are already slowly transiting through Libra bringing great concentration and focus, and Saturn is exalted in Libra, and on October 17th Sun enters Vedic Libra, adding to this power for a one month period. And Jupiter is blessing Libra from sidereal Gemini at present. So people in this zone will have great good fortune. Indeed, for example, if Venus is in their 2nd house, or if they are in a Venus Vedic Predictive period, they could receive financial gain as well as success.
Interestingly this coming eclipse ties in with the fact that I am doing a Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony 11 hours later.
As I write this blog, I have actually been just been spending two days clearing a site for Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony. And in two days’ time, on the day before the Ceremony, just before midnight, there is a Full Moon Eclipse. The eclipse is just before the lodge is due to happen, and the Eclipse Sun will be on my birth Sun, and the Eclipse Moon is on Maggie’s birth Moon. And in the morning after the eclipse, I am leading the Sacred Sweat Lodge ceremony!
In fact, I have found that so often when I do sweat lodge, that there’s huge death and rebirth in my life at the time. Something like a tsunami happens that clears the ground. People who should not be part of my life are swept away. People who should be in my life can be more properly cherished and loved and cared for. Work projects that drain me from my true essence and expression collapse, or they are taken from me. It’s like an earthquake happens. A stronger better future line of direction arises.
So often when I do sacred sweat lodge ceremony, I lose things that should no longer be part of my life. And that’s really good, of course, when it’s a case of losing dysfunctional or destructive facets of one’s relating patterns, or losing blocked living patterns, or losing destructive, draining entanglements!
And the divine purpose of all this is that I find my essence. The divine purpose of all this is that I live more congruently with the true direction of my life-purpose. Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony is a powerful and healing ‘death and rebirth’ experience. I cannot praise it highly enough.
I actually offered about eight sacred sweat lodge ceremonies a year, in an ancient Yew Grove near Glastonbury, as part of my wonderful Glastonbury Ritual Tours. These were timed to celebrate the Eight Great Festivals of the year, and they were accompanied by preparation in Vision Quest in the lovely wood around the Yew Grove which had deer running through it; the paths were labyrinthine, winding round bogs and streams, so you always got lost trying to get through the wood from one end to the other, however well you thought you knew it. And beyond the wood, there were swans sailing majestically on the reens, and beyond that the uplifting pinnacle of Glastonbury Tor.
Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony is the gift to the world from the Native American path, but there is evidence for its presence, evidence for very similar rites in other archaic northern spiritualties of Europe. In a Sweat Lodge, the actual heat, itself, is considered to be spiritually transformative. The dark interior of the sweat lodge is the womb of your new life.
I now briefly describe a sweat lodge ceremony. I encountered my first sweat lodge about fifteen years ago in my five-year ethnographic field study of spiritual forms new to the west. This was a social anthropology survey that I completed. It was an Ethnography. In ethnography, the research method (which was pioneered by Bronislaw Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands during the First World War) is participation: the method is called ‘participant observation’. Participant observation means the Observer shares in the events, communities and institutions that are studied. The Observer is committed to giving the people there the opportunity to describe their experiences in their own voice. And the aim of the whole exercise in the case of my study was the charting of the new spiritual methods and pathways for the modern west that were experienced by those people: describing them for what they are: powerful and genuine transformative experience along each individual’s pathway to contact with the Divine.
In the case of the sweat lodge we built this week, even before the work on the actual site started, thirty withies were cut down of the right length and diameter, and the trees and the wood from which they were taken thanked. This task involved three return journeys of a mile each way over difficult land.
The first day of the actual work on the site of the sweat lodge, was a week before the lodge was due to be held. To connect to Spirit, first of all, before work started, the directions were called: South, West, North, East, mother Earth and Father Sky. Then the land was cleared.
Clearing the land and building the lodge took four people two days. The atmosphere was lovely and caring – a family atmosphere with everyone contributing. The rubbish of decades was removed and the undergrowth was cut down.
Next, the circular area for the lodge was marked out on the newly-cleared ground. Then a stone pit was dug in the centre. This would be to this central stone pit for the lodge that the red-hot stones would be carried to by the Fire Keeper, when the participants in the sweat lodge would be ready for each round. Water would then be poured onto the hot stones to create steam, to the accompaniment of prayers.
Herbs were scattered on the floor of the stone pit to prepare it. Prayers were uttered. This pit and the lodge were said to be seen as a feminine form of the divine energy; the stones that would be brought from the fire are the male energy.
Next, the actual lodge was built round and over the stone pit. This was done by pushing the tall withy-willow stems into the ground around the circumference of the circle, then bending them over to create a dome shape, bringing them together and tying them (each knot was accompanied with prayers and songs). This done, the withy framework was covered with blankets (to prevent condensation and water drips) and then a tarpaulin. The finished sweat lodge was sitting there dark under a huge Ash Tree, almost brooding with a sense of readiness.
After the lodge was built, a second pit, the fire pit, was dug close to the sweat lodge. Enough stones were placed by it, barrowing them into position. Timber was then brought beside the fire pit and heaped in a pyramidal manner and covered by a tarpaulin. The hope was the stones on site were a type of stone that would not crack or spit under heat. The fire pit, too, was sanctified with herbs and prayers.
As I said, the fire pit was said to be seen as the male manifestation of divine energy; the stones which would be carried in from the fire pit to the sweat lodge pit are analogous to fertilising sperm: they fertilize on the physical level, producing steam and heat, they fertilize on a spiritual/psychological level when they produce transformation. All was ready for the day of the Ceremony.
On the day of the actual ceremony, the participants sit often quite tightly together in the lodge. They have to sit with their knees drawn up tight to avoid getting their feet burned. The dark and the heat are very powerful, and it is the bodily sensations caused by this that are seen as burning out past unwanted attitudes and bringing in fresh insights – cleansing not only the pores of the skin, but cleansing the soul as well.
Then it is time for the prayers to start, the hot stones are carried into the lodge by the Fire Keeper or stone carrier, who stays outside the lodge tending the fire throughout the rite. He brings in the stones at the appropriate times, when the lodge keeper (who leads the ritual) calls out for more.
The ceremony is actually a sequence of ‘rounds’, and there are often three or four rounds for a complete ceremony. At the beginning of each round, a fresh set of hot stones is brought in to join the stones already in the pit in the centre of the lodge. At the start of each round, the leader pours water on the stones, and utters his prayer. Then each person utters their prayer, again pouring water on the hot stones. The respect and ancient dignity is awesome. Each person in turn, has the opportunity to make a prayer, and it is made clear at the beginning of the ceremony that prayers must always be in the first person, and they must be made from the heart. Sometimes people feel heartfelt, but they cannot think what to say. In this case they just pout water soulfully. Great Spirit knows what is in their heart.
As I said, after each prayer has been uttered, the lodge keeper or the person making the prayer pours water on the hot stones. This produces clouds of steam in the darkness, and the other participants voice their assent, with the word: ‘Yo!’
By the end of each round, there is a heat build-up. It is this that produces the spiritual transformation. Typical comments afterwards were that, in answer to their prayer to Great Spirit, ‘things had really moved’ for participants on some obstacle or issue in their life. Resolution is gained on some concern, maybe movement is gained in the handling of some tragedy. The person arises from the lodge in some way purified, clarified, empowered and given direction.