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  1. #1
    Linda Morten

    Article for review

    I am very grateful that my story was reviewed here. The advice was excellent. I am hoping that some of you would be so kind as to review the following article for potentional in the health, well being, spirituality, mind/body/soul magazine market. Its 1300 words right now, but I want to expand it to 2000 words with more information about NA medicine. THX, Linda M


    Finding Spirituality in a Sweat Lodge

    Sacred Earth Lodge is located in a small dale in Dorset in the Southwest of England. Its a rustic setting with no electricity and a natural well. Walking down the slope into the dale I saw a tepee, a group of small tents, a fire pit, and a bent wood circular frame structure which was to be our sweat lodge.

    I was met by Bethlehem, our host, who was to perform the sweat lodge ceremony. His medicine name is Sun Eagle Heart. He is a Rainbow Elder and a Pipe Carrier. He was very warm and welcoming, which made me feel at home. I sensed a gentle heart within this slim, greyed-haired gentleman. At first, I thought him to be somewhat frail. But this was misleading. His spirit animal is the Black Bear; although his heart is gentle, his spirit is fierce and formidable. His teachings, focused on healing, are profound.

    I was also to find out that he has a non-stop sense of humour.

    We gathered in the tepee and talked for a bit, introducing ourselves as the talking stick was passed, and listening to Sun Eagle Heart's wisdom as he told us of his path in this life and explained to us what to expect during the sweat lodge ceremony. When it was time, we prepared the sweat lodge by draping blankets over the bent wood structure, then covering it with a huge ceremonial canvas with medicine symbols facing East, North, West and South. Then young Hawk, who was to be our fire keeper, prayed to the four directions and placed tobacco in the sacred fire pit to form the corners of the medicine wheel. Whisper, a wise woman, completed the medicine wheel with her prayers and sprinklings of tobacco that formed the circles connecting the four directions. We laid blocks of wood within the framework of the medicine wheel, surrounded it with kindling, then piled the stones onto the wood. Finally, we covered the stones with a large pile of wood. We then lit the fire and drummed, danced and sang it to life.

    It was a powerful fire.

    When the stones were ready, we went into the sweat lodge one at a time after Hawk cleansed us with sage smoke. When we were all seated in the sacred circle, Hawk brought us the hot stones. We welcomed each stone into the circle ("Welcome Stone, Ho!!") then Sacred Eagle Heart closed off the entrance. I could see the stones glow at first. Sage was thrown onto the stones and the burning sage looked like a miniature universe of tiny red stars in the centre of the circle. This faded and my universe became totally dark, and then very hot. We drummed and chanted and prayed and sweated toxins of the world from our bodies. I survived the first round.

    Something happened in the second round that I wasn't prepared for. I expected a test of physical endurance, and I was a bit concerned about this, wondering if I would last all four rounds. I was not, however, expecting that the spirits within the sweat lodge would test my inner being, my psych, my essence. Illusions are stripped away there in the darkness, and the words that came out of me when it was my turn to pray came from deep within. I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to reveal my secrets. I began to cry, and couldn't think of what to say, couldn't direct my words, so the words I did speak came straight from the heart. I prayed for understanding and for love, which is my deepest desire.

    Sun Eagle Heart let us out after the second round for a break. I huddled with my towel and kept thinking, "I don't want to go back in there, please don't make me go back in there, I don't want to do this". I really was dreading the next round because I knew I would have to pray again. I had just met these people! I didn't want to talk about my secret pain to them. I felt so profoundly vulnerable and afraid. But the Black Bear was there, and he made me go back in. Not that anyone said anything to me; I just knew I had to do it. Sun Eagle Heart's animal spirit is a powerful one. Later that evening, he told us stories of dragging people out of their tents who were afraid to go into the lodge. I believe it!

    Round three was the same, except much hotter. Words were ripped out of me and again I cried. I prayed to find spiritual fulfilment within the context of my personal relationships. My heart pain drained from me with my tears in the same way that the toxins drained from my body with my sweat.

    It got hotter and hotter. The heat of the last round was so intense that I was pushing my hands into the cool grass underneath me and trying to push them under the coverings to the outside.

    Something strange happened in the fourth round. Sun Eagle Heart told us all to pray simultaneously instead of in turn. I opened my mouth, tried to make some sound, but nothing would come out. I think I had become lost in the circle and had misplaced my spirit. I could hear the murmuring around me as the others prayed. Sound takes on colour in the complete darkness of the sweat lodge. The black was filled with the greens and blues of the gentle, quieter spirits and the reds and oranges of those who were praying out their angers. All I could say was, ".I pray ..... I pray ...." in tiny puffs of lilac tinged with blue. I think the Bear was trying to tell me something; that I need to figure out who I am so that I don't lose my spirit in the circle.

    I came out of the lodge with a silent mind. I had stopped thinking. There was nothing to think about. I was firmly grounded in the Sacred Now.

    After changing into dry clothes, I went into the tepee for an evening meal of olives, cheese and crackers followed by rice and curry cooked over the fire by Simon, another gentle soul with a brave and compassionate heart. It was a sanctuary around the fire, a sacred circle of love and companionship. There was spontaneous music; someone had brought a guitar and Hawk really sang the blues. I laid back and just soaked it all up.

    Later, I went to my tent, crawled into my sleeping bag, and slept. Some moles slept under me. I think they came to me for the warmth. I could feel them under the tent bumping around and pushing against my back and legs. Hawk was talking in his sleep a few tents away to the spirits who were visiting him. It sounded like fluent Martian. I wondered if the spirits spoke Martian. The wind blew softly and at some point there was a spring rain that tapped gently on the tent above me.

    In the morning, I went into the tepee and sat in the slightly smoky warmth of easy companionship. Bethlehem made me the best cheese omelette I had ever had in my life; a perfect texture, a golden colour, and magically cooked over the wood fire. Most had left to go back to the world, so it was just me, Bethlehem, Simon and Hawk. And I didn't even have to clean up afterwards! I was in heaven.

    So, now I am back in the world, but I can still smell the wood smoke in my hair even though I've showered. I will go back. My spirit guide is calling me; for the teachings, for the sweat lodge, for the nourishing company of other's who are on a spirit quest, and hopefully, for another cheese omelette.

  2. #2
    Mark Phillips

    Re: Article for review

    A lot of passivity in voice here, too much for me. Some examples:

    "and a bent wood circular frame structure which was to be our sweat lodge."

    "I was also to find out that he has a non-stop sense of humour."

    The second one is an easy fix: I found out that he had a non-stop sense of humour."

    The first one is a little tougher. I suggest: and a bent, wood, circular frame structure. That was the the sweat lodge.

    The other problem I have is that you shift tenses way too much. I suggest that you pick one tense and write the whole article in that tense.

    Other than those two things, I found the story very entertaining and informative. I have been to a sweat lodge once with a friend of mine that is full-blood Huron, but there was still a lot to get out of this even for someone that's been to one, so I can only imagine the information someone that doesn't even know what a sweat lodge is could glean from this.

    Hope that helps,


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