The Sweat Lodge, The Red Tent, and The Quest:
exploring the commonalities and the differences in traditional visioning methods
by Amanda Linette Meder
Purification, Renewal, and spirit healing ceremonies have existed, hail from, and continue to operate in all cultures, as they likely will, from now until the end of time, just as they always have.
Ceremony exists for the purpose of dispelling built up psychic, emotional, and psychological burdens so that the seeker can return to their place of love in this world. By working with the ceremonies of the culture you are called to, you heal your mind, you heal your spirit, and you heal your thought patterns, which in turn, heals your body.
Last week in our Monthly Member Q&A Call, we talked about the importance of taking regular Vision Baths.
A Vision Bath helps one receive messages from spirit, from your soul, and for releasing the burdens of earthly worries. To purify, renew, and receive. A Vision Bath is a sacred experience that anyone can create for themselves.
To Create A Vision Bath
Prepare a bath.
Using the steam from the hot water, immerse yourself in darkness. Add candles, anointing oils, herbs, and crystals to your bath water as you like. Then close your eyes, relax, receive, breathe in and out, and release.
Take in everything.
Though the practice of the Vision Bath is most commonly performed by women, it’s not solely for females; it’s simply an experience anyone can create with the intention to:
- Heighten their senses
- Let go of their earthly burdens
- Connect with their spirits and the great spirit
- Purify the mind, body, and spirit, and get clarification
Many people connect with their higher source through Vision Bathing or have some other method for receiving healing and guidance, such as through Vision Quest, by working with a medicinal plant, or through participating in a group ceremony.
Though they hail from different cultures, Vision Baths and Quests have one main thing in common: they’re usually completed alone, by the seeker.
However, other practices of visioning are performed in groups.
Ceremonies performed in groups
Both the Sweat Lodge ceremony, from the Native American tradition, and the Rent Tent ceremony, from the Mother Gaia tradition, are done this way.
These group meeting ceremonies are formed with the intention of creating a sacred container for the healing of one, which in turn, heals the many.
When one person heals, a community heals.
And for this reason, they can be just that: very healing.
Surrounded by support, the seeker has everything they need in the tent-lodge to feel nurtured enough to open up, be vulnerable, and let it all go.
In the Native American Community, the Sweat Lodge ceremony is often seen as a therapeutic intervention for the mind, body, and soul, just as in the Feminine Community, the Rent Tent ceremony is also seen as such.
According to Cathy Bussey, from The Telegraph UK:
The concept of a Red Tent, also known as a moon lodge, menstrual hut or dark moon meeting, was brought back into mainstream popular culture by the 1997 novel The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
Though both practices are age-old, whether we’re talking Red Tent or Sweat Lodge, the purpose is the same:
To join in community in a sacred container to heal.
There in the community, seekers and supporters alike, can call upon the guidance of the other, the guidance of the community, or the guidance of the Great Spirit, in order to release and ultimately, to heal from the past.
Ceremonies - whether they are performed solo or in a group - exist for the intention to process, heal, purify, and release. Think of it like a cleanse cycle. Ceremonies act as the final flush purification, which reset the spirit to its original state: love.
And recently, as I was learning more about the Native American Culture in my own community, I came into contact with short film director, Iqbal Ahmed.
Ahmed recently put together a short documentary on the Sweat Lodge Process, following the journey of a single man. It talks about how one can heal through on their own spiritual journey - even if you aren’t of Native American Descent - through the Lodge.
The documentary, now available on Vimeo and titled GoodKnife, specifically follows the journey of David GoodKnife, as he heals through the Sweat Lodge.
David and Iqbal met in San Diego. David, before agreeing to discuss the Sweat Lodge, insisted he, Iqbal, go through a Sweat Lodge himself first, before writing about it. Iqbal agreed and spent the next 10 hours in ceremony with David.
As a filmmaker and a storyteller, Iqbal, believes:
It is really vital to experience something before you try to tell its story. Empathy is hugely important for filmmakers, and for me, personally.
I agree with this. To tell any story fairly, empathy is hugely important.
Whether you are a healer, a medium, a teacher, a filmmaker, no matter. All healing is ultimately done through equal parts storytelling and storylistening, a theme also noted by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, in his book, Coyote Wisdom.
So, thinking about going for a Sweat Lodge? Ready to release your story and hear the listening?
To get an idea of how working with the materials of the earth: steam through air and water, rock, healing plants, and oils, can help you heal, check out Ahmed’s beautifully done short film, here:
You can also view the documentary on his website, here.
Iqbal Ahmed is a film writer and director living in Los Angeles, California.
Iqbal currently works with Schoolfield Media, a full-service production company based in Los Angeles. For more on Ahmed’s work or to view a few of his other films, please visit his website at www.iqbalahmed.com.
Purification is love. In all things.
And ultimately, whichever way you decide to do your coal walk is up to you.
Some prefer solitary methods; others prefer the support of a group.
Depending on both the situation and the season, one method may indeed hold more value than the other, and vice versa.
So to know which method is right for you now, try this:
Do just as David does in the film. Send your prayers up and then send them out. And then - just see.
See where you find yourself rolling up. You never know, because it just may surprise you. Be open.
Amanda Linette Meder
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