For a few years, as some of you know, I was given the responsibility of keeping a Lakota sweat lodge on the property where I lived. This intense experience taught me that home spreads out in all directions. Each direction is sacred, and each direction has value and meaning. This meaning makes home a place worth sustaining and care. Its lesson truly was “Earth is Home, and home is where the heart is…”*
While the process of a sweat lodge is more detailed than described in this passage, its context speaks to the true meaning of being at home within yourself and on the planet.
The lodge itself is built from the branches of willow, and covered with blankets collected from local sources. A fire pit is built, and the four directions are placed at the edge of the sweat lodge space. River rocks and wood are gathered for creating the fire which is like the sun that feeds the interior of the lodge that is like the Earth. The lodge itself is a womb-like space that created a way to move into your center. Red prayer ties hang from the ceiling of the lodge inside. These prayer ties are created by the very people who take part in the process.
All My Relations
Pursia, my cat, a butterfly and spider all in one photo ❤
There are prayers for many things, and prayers for every one. From this place, the potential to realize you are connected with the creepy crawlies, the winged ones, the stone people, the ancestors, and the four-legged expands inner awakened awareness and consciousness with these ties.
The lodge begins with honoring all the directions and placing a cornmeal path to connect the fire with the lodge. In every part of the process, the words, “All my Relations” are used when entering, leaving or acknowledging respect. Each person acknowledges all the directions and is smudged with sweet grass for clearing the fog and commotion within for receiving and opening. The sweet aroma of Earth literally envelopes you. This is done either by each person themselves or for the person next to them.
As the rocks are brought in from the fire circle outside that lead to the circle inside. Water is poured on the rocks, and the steam is circulated throughout the lodge with a sacred eagle feather. Prayers and song go up in the heat as you breathe in the air that is filled with moisture and heat. Lying close to the cool ground covered by cedar branches touching the big mother, Earth. She comforts you as take in the sound of the rocks giving out heat with the sound of the water touching the rocks.
The darkness creates a movement to go within, You then feel your own pulse and hear your own heart beat as you touch your hands, your face and your body to her heart. And you know that “Home is where your heart is…”
Songs are sung for the Earth, for your family, for your friends, for all sentient beings of the mineral, water, plant, stone and animal nations and for yourselves. We pray out loud and listen to each other with acknowledgement quietly, intently, and deeply. You listen to the other: mother, father, brother, sister, or child. You listen to each other,and respond with. “Aho,” or “Yes, it is true.” When a person is complete with their words, they let the others know with the words, “Mitakaye Oyasin” or “All my Relations.”
At the completion of the lodge, there is a gathering and potluck of beautiful and healthy foods. There is intense appreciation for the harvest from the Earth itself and the nourishment that it brings. When the sweat lodge completes, you say, “Thank you,” and carry the messages and prayers inside of you into your life and into the world.
How you experience home on the planet is directly related to how you experience home within. When you carry the nurture of life within yourself by resonating with support and nurture, you are then able to resonate with receiving nurture from others and the world.
Going through life with the nurture of healthy food, water, light, sound and color makes a difference to how you experience stability, groundedness, transitions and integration of change. When you are out of sync with Earth Element, you are more likely to experience anxiety, worry, sense of being in the victim role or feel obsessed. You are unable to take nurture from food or from others in a way that benefits your life energy. This can be mirrored in your relationships, business, health and spiritual essence of your sense of connection to life on the planet and in the universe, itself.
You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars; and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world.~Thomas Traherne
In every single moment, you are experiencing color, light, sound, movement, breath: energetic connection and support from life on Earth as one of its sentient beings. The trees, plants, flowers, mountains, streams,oceans, rocks and animals all have a part in this web of life that makes this place your home with all of your relations. From this perspective, home is where the heart is, and you become the caretaker of something personal and meaningful. Earth becomes your hearth where you light the fire that fills the darkness with light and sound that beats together: your heart with the Earth’s heart.