Sweat Lodge Ceremony
Reconnect with the medicine of Nature, Spirit and Body in the Heart of Ancient TraditionVIEW DATES
The traditional sweat lodge, also known as a sweat ceremony, is a sacred and ancient Native American ritual that has been practiced by the indigenous tribes for many generations. This particular sweat is from the Itzachilatlan tradition of Western Mexico and the Anishnabe tradition from North East of the Great Lakes in North America. The Sweat is a powerful and spiritually significant experience designed to promote physical, mental, and emotional purification, as well as a deep connection to the spiritual world. The structure is a small dome-shaped lodge made of willow branches and blankets, representing a connection between the physical and spiritual realms. The ceremony consists of four rounds, each with distinct purposes: physical purification, emotional release, spiritual connection, and gratitude. Participants offer prayers and intentions, guided by our ceremony leader Willow who is highly experienced and trained. White hot stones heat the structure and ceremonial songs play central roles. This transformative experience emphasises respect for indigenous culture and the interconnectedness of all living things, aiming to foster personal growth, healing, and a deeper understanding of one's place in the universe. Please note: This is a whole day event. From mid morning to mid late evening. There is no fixed schedule linked to time. Things unfurl as the day goes by and things happen when the time is right. Please do not make any plans other than coming to take part. We will finish late. Please also make sure you have an easy day the next day. More details in the confirmation email. The Sweat Lodge does not fit into the western way of booking spaces and slots at a retreat. We do not take payments, we take donations to contribute to covering costs of the ceremony. There are costs associated with building the sweat lodge itself, gathering materials and getting the facilitators to a ceremony Therefore we seek to cover money for expenses only. We do not charge admission and you do not pay to book a place. You make a donation to help us cover costs and ensure we can continue to be of service. For example some of the costs; Wood: £350 Materials: £500 Fuel and travel costs; £500 Land; £200 Composting toilet: £500 Insurance: £100 Please contribute what you can to help us make this happen and for it to continue.
The Sweat Lodge
The Sweat Lodge Ceremony is ancient, and is regarded as the first ceremony of humankind. In Meso-America it is referred to as “the ceremony of the memory of the first breath”. It was an integral part of the ceremonial trinity of spiritual practices of the mastodon hunters of the ancient world, along with the yuwipi ceremony and vision quest. The purpose of which is that we humans may continue to live our lives in a good way; that we may humble ourselves to simply be grateful for our lives, and that we may find and implement ways to seek help to overcome the struggles, problems and illness (of mind, body, heart & spirit) that we may well experience in our lives.
The Sweat Lodge is an opportunity to step inside ourselves and hopefully gain perspective on our lives; to firstly give thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives that are truly and simply good, wholesome, helpful and here. We can then ask the elementals and invisible, benevolent spirits for help in the areas of our lives where we are experiencing real problems. In this way the Sweat Lodge Ceremony presents an invitation and an opportunity to make a good relationship with the natural living elemental powers of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In acknowledging these living beings as vital essences that are inextricably connected to our lives, we create opportunities to humbly ask these ancient spiritual beings to share their awesome power, and help us to deepen our awareness and thus become healthier, more wholesome and useful versions of ourselves; that the form our lives take may ultimately become of service to that which is bigger than ourselves!
The Fire is built in a very specific and traditional way, creating a 'nest' for stones to be heated up. Then once the fire is kindled and lit it is helpful to be mindful of one's thoughts and actions in the presence of the Fire, which is again regarded with the utmost reverence as an ancient, living Grandfather. The ceremonial space will be laid out in alignment with the cardinal directions: the lodge structure will be in the East, with the door facing towards the fireplace in the West. The Fireplace is demarcated by a crescent moon altar that runs from the South, through the West to the North. At the mid-point of this alignment sits an earth altar. Once the fire is alight we endeavour to not cross the invisible line between the Lodge (Grandmother) and Fire (Grandfather). In this we find ourselves in the presence of a timelessly ancient reunion; a marriage of the Earth and the Sun.
Respect and Reverence
We approach the ceremony with respect, humility, and an open heart. Participating in a traditional sweat lodge ceremony should be done with utmost respect and reverence for the land, the elements, culture and traditions. In this way the Sweat Lodge Ceremony presents an invitation and an opportunity to make a good relationship with the natural living elemental powers of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In acknowledging these living beings as vital essences that are inextricably connected to our lives, we create opportunities to humbly ask these ancient spiritual beings to share their awesome power, and help us to deepen our awareness and thus become healthier, more wholesome and useful versions of ourselves; that the form our lives take may ultimately become of service to that which is bigger than ourselves!
Despite all of the inherent therapeutic benefits, it is good to understand that the sweat lodge isn't a 'group therapy space' where we talk about our problems – on the contrary, it is an opportunity to step inside ourselves and hopefully gain perspective on our lives; to firstly give thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives that are truly and simply good, wholesome, helpful and here. Once we have expressed our gratitude in acknowledgement of all the blessings we have been given, we can then ask the elementals and invisible, benevolent spirits for help in the areas of our lives where we are experiencing real problems. In this way the Sweat Lodge Ceremony presents an invitation and an opportunity to make a good relationship with the natural living elemental powers of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In acknowledging these living beings as vital essences that are inextricably connected to our lives, we create opportunities to humbly ask these ancient spiritual beings to share their awesome power, and help us to deepen our awareness and thus become healthier, more wholesome and useful versions of ourselves; that the form our lives take may ultimately become of service to that which is bigger than ourselves!
The Sweat Lodge is a small, dome-shaped structure made from a frame of willow or hazel branches covered with blankets. The lodge structure, fire-place and altar are all created in an ancient and traditional, consciously prayerful way. Using sacred Tobacco as a medium of intention, clarity, focus and protection, all parts of the ceremony's infrastructure are 'glued' together as a unified whole. In so doing it is possible to assemble a beautifully fashioned conduit that will help court the Spirits to come and watch and hopefully wish to interact and help us humans..
Sweat Lodge Guide
My name is Gregory William Seeger - Red Willow - Toltecayotl. I was born and raised in Yorkshire in the north of England. My mother's family originated in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and my father's family originated in Germany & Scandinavia.
I have lived and worked with numerous First Nation Elders, and over the last 30 years i have fulfilled my initiatory commitments in both Vision Quest and Sundance. With the traditional blessing of my Elders, I have held a monthly Sweat Lodge in my local community for the last 12 years.
Here's the breakdown of the unique journey that you will not forget
Build the sweat lodge
The first step involves constructing the sweat lodge itself. Made from willow or hazel with blankets on top the stricture is highly symbolic. For example; It is oriented east to west, with the entrance facing east to greet the rising sun. The construction process is a ceremonial act, reflecting the Lakota belief in the interconnectedness of all things. It is not essential to attend this part of the ceremony but it is fun!
Preparing the Fire for the Stones with Blessings
A fire is carefully kindled and tended to throughout the ceremony. This fire is sacred and represents the heart of the ceremony. Stones, often referred to as "grandmothers", "grandfathers" or "Inyan," are heated in the fire until they become red-hot. Each stone is considered a spiritual being, and as they are prepared, they are blessed with prayers and intentions, infusing them with spiritual energy.
Before entering the sweat lodge, we all gather outside to set their intentions for the ceremony. This is a deeply personal and reflective moment where you bring your hopes, wishes, blessings, prayers, and reasons for being part of the ceremony into the awareness. The intentions can be shared with the group (or kept private) to create a collective focus for the experience.
Entering the Lodge
As we enter the lodge, we are smudged with the smoke of sacred herbs, such as sage, cedar. We enter the sweat lodge one by one, women first, moving in a clockwise direction. This movement mirrors the natural flow of the sun and moon and is a symbol of the cyclical nature of life. Inside the lodge, we sit in a circle around the central pit where the hot stones will be placed
The Four Rounds:
The sweat consists of four rounds, each with its own specific prayers and purposes. At the start of each round stones are brought in and the lodge heats up. At the end of each round the door is opened and cool air refreshes! In each round there are songs wishes blessings and prayers which get you through the heat!
In each round there is a short prayer- then 4 songs.
1st door - presentation: – each introduce themselves - then 4 songs
2nd door - prayer; water – all pray out-loud and simultaneously - then 4 songs
3rd door - healing – earth – then 4 songs
4th door - thanksgiving – air – all sing a song each
Sharing and community
After completing the four rounds, participants exit the sweat lodge, again moving clockwise. After we have all had our moments to recover and come back into our bodies, we gather in a circle to share experiences and insights gained during the ceremony. This sharing is an essential part of the process, as it allows participants to integrate their experiences and support one another on their spiritual journeys.
Following the ceremony, we come together to nourish both body and soul with a communal meal. Yummy! We share comforting dishes, including soup and other grounding foods. As a gesture of unity and togetherness, we invite you to contribute to this communal feast by bringing a little bit of deliciousness to share with your newfound friends.
Donation: Abundant Blessing
This donation is for those who have the financial means to contribute generously. By choosing this tier, you help ensure the sustainability of all of our events and allow us to extend access to other individuals . Your generous support is greatly valued and enables us to create a more inclusive community.
Donation: Plentiful Blessing
This contribution helps support the event and allows us to continue offering it to a diverse audience and will ensure we can invest in future events.
Donation: Harmony Blessing
This contribution not only supports us in meeting the expenses associated with organising this event but also supports others in their attendance.
Donation: Community Blessings
This donation tier is for individuals with limited financial resources who may be facing financial hardships, are currently unemployed, or would not be able to afford the event otherwise.
A beautiful peaceful meadow by a lovely river surrounded by ancient trees.
We are secluded and on private land.
We are located deep in the countryside. 10 mins drive South of Whitby. There are no other people. The air is clean. The water is clean. We are surrounded by woods and fields nestled in a deep valley. The lodge is in a meadow next to a beautiful deep river.
Bring a bottle of water
You will be doing a lot of sweating, so it is good to bring water for afterwards!
Try to remain in Golden Silence throughout. You will go deeper if you can be present and undistracted. This especially applies in the hour building up to and the hour after the sweat lodge.
Managing the heat
It gets hot in there! So contact with the floor can help dump heat from your body. Get low down. Focus on your breath. Bring your awareness into your heart space.
What is a sweat lodge?
A sweat lodge is a sacred and traditional Native American ceremonial structure used for purification, healing, and spiritual connection. It's made of a frame covered with blankets or hides and is used to conduct sweat ceremonies.
How hot does it get inside a sweat lodge?
The temperature inside a sweat lodge can vary, but it can reach high temperatures, often exceeding 30/40 degrees Celsius. If you have been to our saunas they are as hot as that but it is a different kind of heat. The heat is generated by heating stones and adding water infused with sacred herbs to create steam.
What should I wear to a sweat lodge ceremony?
Participants usually wear modest and comfortable clothing, such as loose-fitting, lightweight clothing made of natural fibers like cotton. Avoid synthetic materials, and it's customary to dress respectfully. Shorts are OK for the men. Shorts and top are ok for women or even light dresses.
Are sweat lodge ceremonies safe?
When conducted by experienced and knowledgeable ceremony leaders such as our guides, where we prioritise safety, sweat lodge ceremonies are safe. However, individuals with heart and cardio vascular medical conditions or those who are pregnant should consult a healthcare professional before participating.
If it is too hot can I get out?
Yes absolutely!! But we will give you hints and tips to be able to manage the heat. You will be surprised at what you can achieve.
Why are there varying prices for the sweat lodge ceremony?
Traditionally, sweat lodge ceremonies operate on a donation-based or even free model. However, we've chosen to implement pricing tiers to ensure accessibility for individuals from diverse income backgrounds. It's important to note that organising and conducting these ceremonies (pay for the experienced guides, the land, the wood etc) comes with significant costs for us. At this moment, it is easier to ask for donations rather than the community bringing all these things voluntarily. Therefore, we kindly ask that you contribute what you can afford, as your support allows us to continue sharing this meaningful tradition with a wide and inclusive community.
Is there any use of sacred plants and herbs in the sweat lodge?
Yes, sacred plants and herbs are often used in the sweat lodge ceremony. During the ceremony, water is poured onto the heated stones, creating steam. This water is often infused with sacred herbs such as sage, cedar, or sweetgrass. The use of these herbs is considered a traditional and symbolic practice, believed to cleanse and purify both the physical and spiritual aspects of the participants. The aroma of these herbs is also thought to invoke a connection to the spiritual world and enhance the overall experience. However, it's important to note that the specific herbs used may vary depending on the tradition and the ceremony leader's preferences. You will be consulted and educated on the use of any sacred plants.
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