Hey All Journeyers,
My Heart sank at finding out this news. It is tragic to say the least. It is tragic for those that past on, for their families and freinds, for those present and injured, and for the person leading this retreat. It is tragic also for the Sweat Lodge Community as a whole, which number in the 1000’s, Native and Non Native a like. It is tragic for Native People and our Rituals which have been practiced for literally 1000’s of years at least.
This is clearly a case of mis-used power and arrogance. I’ve never heard of this guy leading this retreat, but apparently he is a famous author, was in the movie "The Secret", and has been on the Oprah show a few times. It is clear, absolutely clear to me that he was not trained in these ways, and took it upon himself to facilitate a "mini Vision Quest" (these participants fasted without food and water for 36 hours before entering this Lodge), then he proceeded to put 65 people into a lodge for apparently 4 rounds!!! (It is customary to enter into the Lodge for 1-2 rounds at most, to complete a 4 day Vision Quest, or fast, for a very lite re-entry into the physical realm with no more than 7 stones, after the fast has been broken with plenty of water, and fruit. Never 65 people!!!)
No trained "Water Pourer" I have ever heard of would take it upon himself to attempt to monitor 65 people at once in a lodge for 4 rounds, especially after a fast!!! Scrutinizing pictures of the grounds and the Lodge, I saw no sign of a mound or alter, buffalo skull or staff. The grounds looked trashy, un kept, and had no signs that it had been consecrated as "Sacred Ground". There was not a circle to be seen, and a sitting area was off to one side. I wonder if there was even a Chanupa, or Sacred Pipe, as he was clearly mocking Native Customs.
I personally participated in Lodge for 10 years before being given the right to pour Lodge. A right that I personally was not seeking, but that my Elder saw fit and that Spirit Granted. For me, after earning the right to pour, to actually doing it was a 2 year period. Even though my elder had confidence in me, I had to built it for myself. It was, and to this day is, a deeply humbling experience that must be approached with great respect, and reverence. It IS the Mothers womb. We are working with many energies simultaneously. If trained, people do not get hurt, but healed. Like with any form of medicine, it is when people get in their ego about being able to heal, no matter the form of medicine, that things go array.
The Sweat Lodge is absolutely a safe place to face our selves, and Great Spirit. It is a place where we get to learn to reach beyond our own self perceived limitations to realize our full potential. It is a place where the only thing that dies is our attachment to ego and illusions. It is not, for me, a house of worship, but an place of learning, of experiencing, and of developing relationship with "All That Is." It has "saved" my life and lives of countless many. Please, Do Not let this one persons arrogance and the media’s fear mongering tactics, affect you, your experience, or possible future experience’s! Remember, Fear and Love absolutely are the most contagious energies. Stand in your own conviction, and do not let the energies of others affect you. This is but one test of your ability to do so. If shadow is coming at you, can you change it? If not, attempt.
A properly trained "Water Pourer" would freely disclose his or her training, and it is not difficult to see ones heart and where it is. Use discretion, not judgement, and listen to your own heart and Spirits not your mind, in determining where and if the Sweat Lodge is calling to you. There is such Beautiful Sweet Medicine there. No two experiences are ever the same. One may be challenging, the next maybe be like surrendering into the arms of the Great Mother and Father as they breath Life into your being!
It is tragic this thing that happened. It is tragic also that finally for the first time the words "Sweat Lodge" have hit national news, and it is associated with death, and not what it is, really, which is Life.
I came out of the Lodge last night, an immensely Sweet and Beautiful Lodge I must add, to find this e-mail. I was aware of this event in Sadona prior to going out to light the fire. My community here all prayed for all touched by this event. I am in the understanding that all things happen for a reason. In asking what is the reason for this, the responce so far has been to cleanse briskly, deepen in our authenticity, and take change to the next level.
My heart goes out to you all!!!
"What a surprise to the caterpillar, when the call to be quiet, contemplative and still, results in the ability to fly."