Sweat Lodge, Inipi Wakan, is a rite of purification, A Sacred Steam Bath
Said to be the oldest rite, the Sweat Lodge Ceremony is one of purification. Individuals crawl to the left (ladies first) and clockwise to their spots. Hot lava rocks are heated outside of the lodge on a fire. They are then carried into a cloth covered willow frame hut to be placed into a pit. After the door is shut the inside of the lodge is pitch black with the exception of the red stones.
An intimate experience, we share the breath of our Grandfathers and Grandmothers, the stone nation. They give a part of themselves so that we may live better lives. Rejuvenating, purifying, sometimes challenging, and always grounding, we enter our womb mother in the darkness of Creation. The endless universe where the Spirits come to doctor us, this Ceremony can help us to leave behind unnecessary thought patterns, bodily pains, and spirit entities.
Herbs such as cedar and sweetgrass are then placed on the stones to assist in the healing of the Ceremony. Hot steam envelopes the lodge as the leader pours water upon the glowing stones. The loud drum throbs steadily as the singers join in with the appropriate songs. Participants are encouraged to connect in their own prayer to Great Spirit (God) while focusing on what is needing attention at that particular time. When the time is right someone calls out, Aho Mitakuye Oyasin! or All of My Relations! The flap is then opened. We do this for 4 doors and then exit the lodge to enjoy a feast together.
Sweat Lodge Preparatory Details:
The Singing Stone would like to warmly invite you back to the womb of the mother in our traditional Inipi or sacred sweat lodge ceremony.
Arriving 1/2 hour to 1 hour prior to the stated time for each inipi is suggested. By arriving early individuals become better acquainted and allows them time to make prayer ties. These ties are used in to project intentions (make prayers) before hand. Details like this may vary according to the situation or the intercessor. Lodges may last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. Please bring a towel and a change of clothing if necessary. Women typically wear a long dress that covers the shoulders or a skirt and t-shirt. Men usually wear swim trunks. We would ask that women having their sacred menses or moon time to stay out of the lodge in order to maintain the energy in a flowing manner. Ladies on menses are welcome to stay in the house if they like. Please leave your pets at home and do not attend our Ceremonies intoxicated. We are happy to offer a clean, drug free environment.
In our lineage it is tradition to offer tobacco to the person pouring water so we require everyone to bring this offering. We do not place a fee on Ceremonies. However, donations are what helps us to continue offering Native Teachings. We can always use donations of firewood, flat cedar leaf, sweetgrass, prayer tie material, and blankets. Monetary donations are the most needed. We look forward to joining in prayer to share with one another.
Women’s Sweat Lodge
The nature of a women’s lodge is the same as if it were for both men and women. There is a special quality however to attending an all women’s lodge. It is a gentle yet intensely strong experience. Creating a desperately needed bond between the women at this time, we are always brought together in a new way.
In some lineages, women water pourers do not allow mooning women to attend. Our tradition allows women on their menses to participate. We would need to be notified so that we can tell all the other attendants as well as to omit certain ceremonial instruments such as feathers and our community Chanupas. This would be the opportunity to share the Women’s Pipe. When there are only women involved in the entire Sweat Lodge Ceremony, clothing options are open. It is simply not an issue when it is all women. Sometimes we like to ask one of our trained men to tend the fire which creates an overall balance of energy and is often desireable. We look forward to our next Women’s Sweat Lodge!
To some the canupa (sacred pipe) is thought of as the peace pipe or calumet. To us it is more than that, it is the promise of the White Buffalo Calf Maidens’ return and a direct connecting link to the divine. The Canupa is the most important object as it represents the direct communication with the source of all life, sentient and insentient alike.
The word Canupa, pronounced Chan-unpa, in the Lakota language means smoking stick, or simply, pipe. Pte Ska Win (Pte San Wi), or the White Buffalo Calf Maiden appeared to the people presenting them with the Canupa (pipe) made from a buffalo’s shin bone. Along with this gift the people received a small round stone of Catlinite as well as instructions for The Seven Sacred Rites.
1. Inipi (Sweat Lodge Ceremony)
2. Hanbleceya (crying for a vision)
3. Ghost Keeping Ceremony (Wanagi yuhapi)
4. Sun Dance (Wi Wanyang wacipi)
5. Hunka Ceremony (‘the making of relatives)
6. Girl’s Puberty Rite (Isnati awicalowan)
7. Throwing of the Ball Ceremony (Tapa wankayeyapi).
Some people would say that this list is inaccurate and it may well be. What we do know is that a sacred woman with supernatural powers gave the pipe with it’s 7 rites to the people. She also gave a song, White Buffalo Calf Woman Song, as well as the promise to return to the people one day. The true story of Pte San Wi is not as popular as it’s Christian version, but here we will speak about the Sacred pipe and leave the rest of the story for others to tell.
Aside from the seven rites is the Canupa Ceremony itself. The pipe’s stone bowl and the stem is smudged in the smoke of the Mugwort plant, (sometimes referred as sage). The two are then joined together symbolizing the connection with the divine. The pipe is filled with Red willow inner-bark usually while singing, Chanupa (pipe song). This is done at the start of all of the seven rites as well as any important occasion.
The Canupa is passed clockwise being sure not to separate the stone bowl from the wooden stem. Participants take 4 small puffs and pass the pipe along. Those who don’t wish to puff on the pipe simply touch their shoulders and the top of their head with the pipe’s stem in blessing. Among some groups this can be a very elaborate ordeal, but among the humble it is a very plain and simple act. The pipe is seen as the most important object, it is the greatest means of communicating with the divine.
The original Canupa is believed to be kept in a place known as Green Grass on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, but no one knows for sure. A lot of controversy still surrounds this issue. The importance here is to remember that Pte Ska Win brought it to the people. Do this by keeping it sacred, not blending it with foreign concepts, and understanding its’ history! The use of the Canupa was given to the Lakota people by the White Buffalo Calf Maiden along with the Seven Sacred Rites hundreds of years ago according to Lakota records painted on buffalo hides.
The Sacred Pipe itself, according to Archaeologists, may have started any where from about 4,000 to 14,000 years ago. Countless thousands of pipes have been unearthed from the Hopewell culture in the Ohio Valley, some of which represent woolly mammoth and manatee!
One of the common understandings amongst those who carry a Pipe is that when we smoke from one chanupa we are directly connecting to the White Buffalo Calf Maiden’s Pipe. To pray from a relative’s Sacred Chanupa is as if you were to pray from your own. We do not get fixated on the separation between people and of mine and yours. Rather, we connect to all of Creation during this sacred Ceremony regardless of whose Pipe we are smoking from. Connecting people of all colors, the White Buffalo Calf Maiden has everything to do with joining all races as one of the versions of the story tells: She brought the pipe to the tribe so that they would once again live in harmony. Leaving as a brown buffalo, she rolled four times changing colors representing the directions and people of all colors.
When each of us shares our chanupa, it is understood that women on their moon time (menses) do not participate. See Moontime to learn more about the reasons why. This Ceremony appears like nothing may be happening when in fact, it is one of the most powerful ways to pray. To be someone who carries a pipe, one must have been around traditional ways for a long time. Many of us have gone out for vision quest, Sundanced, and supported for many years at Ceremonies. It is a huge commitment and responsibility to walk in this way and is not something to rush into.
Some women carry Chanupas which are made solely for the use by their sisters, Grandmothers, Aunties, daughters, Mothers, and other relatives Feminine by nature.
Represented by the Mastincila, or rabbit, the Divine Feminine is called the White Moon Rabbit and may be used to pray with while women are on their moon time.
.These Pipe Ceremonies may take place alone or as part of an all women’s sweat lodge (Inipi).
If you are interested in participating in a Chanupa Ceremony then let us know and we can notify you about upcoming Events and Ceremonies.
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