Autumn has begun and now the season of Summer is in the past. I’m still processing a lot of what I’ve experienced the last 3 months. It was a summer full of love, letting go, laughter, and a few joyful tears. The first huge energetic release was up in Mt. Shasta during a week-long yoga retreat. Each day I was pushed to my edge physically with yoga practice and daily hikes. I’m not a hiker and I don’t enjoy hiking. I mean, I like being out in nature but the only kind of hiking I do and enjoy, is the kind you can do in flip flops. My flip flops wouldn’t have stood a chance with the rugged and rocky terrain we were on! Thank god I (barely) brought sneakers. I’m lucky I even packed socks. Ok…so back to my point about being pushed to my edge every. single. day. Each hike was to prepare and acclamate our body for the next day’s hike until our last day for the biggest and highest hike of all hikes: up Mt. Shasta. What had I signed myself up for? Granted, these hikes were optional. But since I was there with my BFF in one of the world’s most beautiful and energetic vortexes, I believed that I had to take advantage of the hikes the yoga teacher we were there to practice with was leading. He’s beeng doing this particular retreat every single year for the last 21 years. So I figured there had to be something to it.
The teacher shared with us that he’d also been taking the group each year to a Shaman named, Walking Eagle who led them through a ceremonial sweatlodge. SWEATLODGE?!? …but people pass out and die in those hot traps!…everyday, leading up to the day of the sweatlodge I had confided in my BFF that I was scared and nervous about the sweatlodge and didn’t know if I could handle it: I’m claustrophic and I can’t even sit in a steam room for more than 5 minutes. How am I supposed to handle sweating balls in a tent cramped in with 30 other people?!
The day came. They assured us it was ok if we needed to leave the tent if it ever got uncomfortable…did they mean, unbearable? Walking Eagle looked like a healthy man in his 50s who has gotten a lot of sun in his youth with sharp perceptive eyes and a healthy belly. His partner, Badger Lady held tobacco in the palm of her hands that we each took a pinch of to make as an offering while we said a prayer and threw it into the giant fire pit where large stones were being warmed.
The thirty of us in our yoga group, each crouched down to enter the tent where towels and blankets covered the floor and surrounded the fire pit in the center. I strategically chose to sit to the side so that if I needed to make a mad dash outta there, I could do it farely quickly without tripping over too many people. With huge forks, large stones that were heating outside in the fire were brought into the center. The flap to the entrance closed and it was pitch black. Walking Eagle began saying a prayer and then started drumming and chanting. I closed my eyes and kept my head down. The first large ladle of water was poured onto the rocks and as the water hit the rocks, you could hear and feel the steam coming off of them. Between that and the sound of the drumming and chanting, I was comforted by all the sounds. The drumming brought me into a primal state of being where my body was now just a physical cavity that housed my soul. After probably 20-minutes of this, the flap to the entrance opened. Walking Eagle’s helpers took the 2 large buckets out to refill them with the fresh water coming from the running creek outside. It was a chance to leave but I wanted to stay.
I keep my eyes closed and I hear them set the buckets down on the ground. I hear the flap close. The drumming starts again. And I find myself being taken on a journey. My grandmother appears and she speaks to me. She tells me she is always with me. It’s really fucking hot in here but I stay with it. Probaby after 20-minutes of this, the chanting and drumming stop and I hear the flap open. I don’t open my eyes. I’ve gone too deep inside of myself to be disturbed by outside distractions.
I hear the flap close. The drumming and chanting begin. More water is poured onto the hot stones and the air is now thick with steam and moisture. It’s getting really intense and I try to comfort myself by thinking that as long as I can still breathe, I’m ok. The drumming and chanting begin to take me on a journey where I have a vision. The vision is of a black lava rock representing all the past hurts, wounds, and pain that have been passed on ancestrally on a cellular level. This was black karma that has taken on a physical form. The heat at this point was so intense that I doubted if I could sit through it. But I knew this black karma was staring me straight in the eye because it was either going to continue its insidious legacy or I was going to have to see to it that it got purified in the heat. It wanted me to resist it and give up so it could continue living in the past, present, and future. But I surrendered to it by accepting its presence. And so I looked at it and I stayed with it. I energetically embraced it with love and thanked it for all it has served through the generations. The black lava started to sweat beads of black liquid and I saw it drip and melt and liquify until it purified completely into water and into a babbling brook. And that was when the drumming and chanting had stopped too.
It was one of the most intense and magical things I’ve ever been through. Maybe people say the same thing when they’ve given birth. I knew I had undergone some deep energetic and emotional change. And little did I know, this was just the beginning.