kkscatnip: Peacemaker Kurogane (a casual sort of happiness)
[personal profile] kkscatnip
We had a sweat lodge yesterday. (For anyone who doesn't know: I do Native American sweat lodge type things. The lodge I go to is a Heyoka lodge. Heyoka is a sacred clown, and the lodges are done differently than a lot of lodges; less emphasis on ritual and more on what feels right at the moment/what the spirits are telling you.)

The lodge was held yesterday specifically because it's the closest as we can get it to my mom's brain surgery date of May 1st. So a lot of the purpose of the lodge was that, but also for the extended family and what prayers were brought from them.

In addition to mom we had prayers for two people who are beginning chemo with their respective cancers and for someone's daughter with headaches of unknown origin. So, some pretty heavy stuff; it's not often that we do the whole prayers-for-cancer thing. (Rob actually specifically avoids saying the word cancer a lot of the time, I've noticed...)

I was on my period/moon time, and women are extra-powerful during that time so it's good to have them in the lodge, lending their energy! It was a really random period, too; no PMS or warning, just BAM a couple days before the lodge and I was bleeding. On the way to Rob's (it's about a forty-five minute drive) mom was joking around that I had better not pour or I'd be likely to kill everyone.

(My general reputation as a pourer is that I have much enthusiasms [yes, said just that way] and I tend to knock everyone physically and spiritually right on the ground with my enthusiasms. Not intentionally, just... I have a lot of energy and I don't really know very well how to moderate it so it just blows everyone right over.)

We got there, we set everything up, yada yada. One thing I really like about this lodge is that nobody has set tasks. You just do things as they need done, whoever feels like doing them. And things get done! Nobody shirks; everybody pitches in. It's one of the things I really like about Rob's lodge vs. the Bremen lodge/group--I'd always get run to the bone doing fire-tending for the Bremen group because nobody wanted to help me do anything because those were ~fire-tending duties~ or whatever.

The way our Heyoka lodge works is this: build a fire, put stones in the fire, light the fire, put a pot of medicine (water with herbs in it) by the fire and let it make itself into a tea, sit around and bullshit until the stones are ready, bring all the stones into the lodge, get everybody in the lodge and close the door.

First round is healing for people in our extended family (both blood and chosen families) who need (mostly physical) healing; second round is the peoples' round, for prayers that don't involve (physical) healing for people; third round the grandmother/spirit round, 'cause spirits need a round since they come in and help us so damn much; fourth and final round is gratitude round, for thaaaanking everything/everyone.

Ideally, we sing four songs every round, but sometimes we don't. And the door gets opened whenever anybody needs it, and sometimes we continue with the door open, and sometimes we restart the round and there's six songs or something for one round. The healing round can have several, uh, mini-rounds, I guess. The most I've ever been in had four healing rounds, hahaha. And then the normal other three rounds on top of that! So the lodges can end up being as long or as short as they need to be, which is a flexibility that I really like.

Now that's explained: I hadn't poured a first round before, but when Rob (or Rich, I can't remember) asked who wanted to pour the first round, I was all "ME!" 'cause, well, I wanted to. (Not thinking that I hadn't ever poured a first round before and that pouring a first round is different, of course.)

Everybody laughed, of course, but nobody else volunteered for pouring the first round so I ended up doing it! All the times in the past when I have poured, it has been from the west (the lodge's door is in the east) but for the first round you apparently MUST sit by the door.

Most everything that goes in/comes out of the lodge goes through the person sitting by the door, which can make it a difficult place to sit. The west is also a difficult place to sit, because you are facing/interacting with all the things that come in, but I actually enjoy it and feel energized by it whenever I sit there! I'm not the only one; Sage loves sitting there too. So I wasn't intimidated by the idea of sitting at the door, it was just a new thing for me.

It was a very intense experience to sit there, much more intense than sitting in the west. I was so out of it right at the start that I actually burnt my pouring hand doing something really stupid that I knew much better than to do on the very first pour (it's fine now, ftr, even though there were blisters in the lodge and I was skeptical that they would go away). I think a combination of that and just dealing with all the spirits who kept coming in--the door kept flipping open at the corners, until we finally said fuck it and left it open until it flipped itself closed again--helped to moderate my enthusiasms.

We ended up having three 'rounds' for our healing round. I don't think we got through more than two songs each round, but maybe we got through four; I can't remember properly, as I was very disconnected from my Self the entire lodge, start to finish. I count a round as whenever we had to open the door. It was hot as fuck in there, though... for the first time since I got it pierced in November, my lip ring actually felt hot against my tongue/mouth. It didn't hurt, but it was warm.

Rob mentioned after the first healing round, I think, that he was feeling a lot of Cougar energy, and said again that he knew someone was going to be getting a new medicine today. He asked who it might be, and nobody owned up; I kind of felt like I was getting new medicine, but not Cougar. I didn't know what kind of medicine it was, though.

Anyway, during the first and second healing rounds I was feeling a lot of uneasiness and other emotions (I was completely overwhelmed with emotions, which might have helped to enforce the separation from Self that I was feeling) until after the second healing round. At that time, Rob said that he was feeling a lot of fear and I realized: oh shit, that's what this emotion is.

Rich sung his Kiowa warrior song (the idea is essentially that you are holding your fears in front of you like you are holding an enemy up by his hair and yelling at him, intimidating him and then killing him; your enemy is a metaphor for your fears, which you at the end of the song give away to the earth/stones) at the beginning of the third healing round, though, and I managed to get rid of a lot of the fear. It felt good to give it away.

In the second round (the real second round, not the second healing round) it was Rich's turn to pour, and he was sitting in the west. I moved from the door (east) over to the west in order to keep my burned hand in the medicine water; it hurt that fucking badly. Thus, I was sitting in the south for the second, third, and fourth rounds.

Mom was sitting in the north, and though I kept my head down, resting on the bucket much of the time, every time I looked up I saw this face of a big cat directly across from me. It was only part of the face, though--the rest of the face was obscured by shadow and I knew somehow that the shadow was meant to represent leaves. The picture was quite clear, though it wasn't familiar to me at all. There were some little pin-lights around it too, which represent spirits, like "PAY ATTENTION TO THIS".

Sometime during the second round, I realized that my breathing was odd. Not normal in and out breaths, but short, quick breaths in and longer breaths out. Still breathing faster than my normal pace, even with that, and every time I tried to go back to normal breaths it felt wrong and it didn't last because as soon as I quit paying close attention I was right back to the breaths.

The second, third, and fourth rounds were a complete blur to me. I remember going out, because my hand hurt so badly, and then coming back in. Twice. Fourth round I ended up laying on the ground with my hand out of the bucket because the water in the bucket had finally heated up to the ambient temperature of the lodge itself.

After we got out of the lodge (I was just laying in there for probably fifteen minutes after everyone else left) my head cleared almost immediately, though I still felt exhausted. I realized that the way I had been breathing was the way cats breathe, at that point, though I didn't tell anyone about it.

The lodge overall felt very crowded, for all that we only had five people in there. Very powerful, too! I was completely beat after the lodge, pretty much. I went to bed at like 8 o'clock that night.

But--when we got home, I told mom to get her totem book (the one she had kept meaning to lend me and never got around to it) and look up the cat totems. There was Cougar, Lynx, Jaguar, and Black Panther... in that order. I looked at the pictures of the cats and read the descriptions, and none of them quite fit; then I got to the Black Panther.

It was the exact picture that I had seen inside the lodge, leaves and all. There is no way that I'd ever seen that picture before, and yet I had seen it in the lodge somehow--and the meaning/idea behind the Black Panther, embracing the unknown, fit perfectly for the things we were praying for in the lodge and the point in time where both my mom and I are at right now.

That was why the Cougar hadn't felt quite right; it was Black Panther instead!

So, yeah. I still don't know whether it's supposed to be a temporary visitor, a new medicine, or what, but... so interesting, the whole thing. I'm still somewhat exhausted today, but... yep.

(In somewhat related news, I am going to do the Flowering Tree Ceremony again sometime very soon. It's been long enough.)

And that's my experience! I don't mind answering questions, so if you've managed to read through the whole thing, feel free to ask about anything :3

Date: 2012-04-29 04:57 pm (UTC)
bankai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bankai
I don't have any questions but this was interesting to read. Thank you!

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kkscatnip

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