I had the honour of doing my first sweat lodge at Retreat Yourself earlier this year and boy was I in for a surprise. For years I have longed to experience a sweat lodge and I just did not move in the right circles or my timing was just off but then I heard that the beautiful team from Sacred Ibis was pouring lodge at Retreat Yourself 2019. I immediately knew that this was my chance and that I was not going to miss it for the world.
My session was booked for the Saturday afternoon at 4pm. I arrived all excited yet nervous because I have claustrophobia and love being in control and just the thought that I was stuck in a hot, dark place with people I don’t know caused some unrest in my being but I have a determined spirit and was ready to face my fears and step into the darkness.
First everyone was smudged with some white sage to clear our auras and then the lodge procedure and protocol was explained and we got ready to go into lodge. After giving thanks to the fire keeper and saying our prayers at the door of the lodge we entered one by one. I went in first after Michelle, our pourer, and chose my spot right by the door, this made me feel safe. Once everyone was seated the first 7 hot stones were brought into the centre of the lodge. Our lodge was full so we had to sit up close and personal with our neighbours. This of course just added more layers to my fears.
As the stones entered Michelle burnt sacred herbs on the stones which gave the most divine scent. The water bucket followed and then the lodge door closed. At this point I could not see my hand in front of my face, my heart started racing and I breathed and reminded myself that all will be fine. As Michelle started pouring each person got a turn to voice their prayers for lodge which soothed my soul. The lodge heated up with steam very quickly and everyone was singing beautiful songs and prayers. Before long we called for the door and the fire keeper opened the door and some fresh afternoon autumn air filled the lodge. I have never realised that I love fresh air as much until I did this lodge.
After a few minutes the second round of stones were presented, more medicinal herbs were smudged on the stones and the air inside the lodge once again filled with a sweet aroma. Before long the door was closed, Michelle started pouring the water and we all sang beautiful medicine songs. By the time we got to the end of the third round it was extremely hot inside, nearly unbearable and my psyche was dancing between “I can do this” and “I am not going to make it”. I tried to feel for a cool spot under the mats just to rest my hand and luckily I found one. This brought peace to my soul.
The third round is apparently the hardest and I must say it was “touch and go” for me but my heart rejoiced when it was time to call for the door and once again we were greeted with the most divine fresh cool evening air.
The last round was much shorter and very joyous. By this time my whole body was drenched in sweat and my top of my head was so hot I could not touch it. We called for the door for the last time and I gave a sigh of relief and felt an immense sense of peace and joy. I crawled out of lodge and lay outside, my back flat on the ground while the cool autumn evening brushed over my red skin.
My soul felt happy, my body felt rejuvenated and my soul ecstatic. I have conquered my fear and allowed myself to experience this ancient sacred process of purifying body, mind and soul. I knew for sure that I will do this again and this will become part of my personal wellness plan.
Two weeks later I was back in lodge for my first Full Moon Women’s Sweat lodge and got to experience the full lodge process from opening circle, creating prayers, to lighting the fire , to doing lodge and then afterwards enjoying a warm bowl of vegetarian soup made with love by Michelle.
If you have ever had a calling to do lodge or are just curious and keen to try something new, I would highly recommend Michelle and Gordon from Sacred Ibis in Hout Bay. Their love and passion for bringing light and healing to the people as well as our beautiful earth is so inspiring. My soul always feel ignited after spending time with this beautiful couple.
To find out more about lodge dates and other sacred workshops that they host you can visit www.sacredibis.org.