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In the Heat of Arizona

The Sweat Lodge

USA | Thursday, 17 April 2014 | Views [57] | Scholarship Entry

I've been in Phoenix since Tuesday. I arrived at 11 pm and found Leela Sullivan, my host, waiting for me as lively as ever. She had so many things to discuss me, in particular, my first sweat lodge. Leela is a part of the Deer Tribe Metis Medicine, which is a spiritual path that practices the ancient traditions of the Native Americans as a way to heal and teach our modern society. When I first emailed Leela and asked her if it would be alright if I stayed with her for my time in Phoenix, she amiably consented and also suggested that she organize a sweat lodge in my honor because I happened to be turning 18 within the month. In many native traditions, once a member of the tribe becomes of age, or begins a new chapter of their life, a sweat lodge is organized in their honor in order to cleanse themselves of their pasts, and also to prepare themselves for the future. Leela called 7 other members of the Deer tribe and asked them to support me in my sweat lodge ceremony. Throughout the rest of Tuesday I prepared for my sweat with Leela: bought offerings of tobacco and incense for the elders who were to host the sweat, and helped to bake for the celebration that was to take place after the sweat. Finally, it was 8:30, and time to head over to the site of the sweat. It was 90 degrees, with a slight breeze that swayed the cacti, though that didn't do much to cool the summer night in the desert. First, the 8 elders of my sweat sat in a circle with me in the center to discuss what I would like to glean from the Universe to guide me through my next 18 years. They were supportive, compassionate and infinitely wise. Next, came the sweat. We all disrobed and walked one by one into an earthen tent with a fire in the center filled with red hot rocks to heat the space. The tent flap was closed, and was water poured on the rocks. And what happened next between the chants and the stories shared and the pain of the heat and the connections made came to be the most powerful moment of my spiritual consciousness. It was the first time I had ever seen "God". After an hour of the ceremony, I burst gasping from the tent and jumped into an ice cold pool, smiling because of the gratuity these amazing women had shown me and laughing because for the first time in awhile, I knew that things would turn out alright. Recommendation: if you go on a journey to find yourself like I did, make sure to visit Arizona and submit yourself to the power of an Deer Tribe sweat lodge.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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