When I got there, there were several other people sitting around in a circle. Talking, and joking around. I said my hello's and found a place to sit. Before long, Black Eagle came up to us and began talking about the procedures of what was to follow.
We sat around the fire and listened to his words. He spoke about the Lakota people and then proceeded to perform the appropriate ritual. We were then told to enter the dome. I stood at the door to the dome, and as instructed from Black Eagle, said the required rite of entrance. Mitakuye Oyasin, I whispered to myself as I entered, All my relations. I went inside the small dome shaped structure and sat down where I was told to. One by one we entered the dome and sat in place. By the time the door flaps were closed, there were 32 of us in there including Black Eagle.
He explained to us that once the ceremony began, there was no leaving. If we felt nauseous or like we might pass out from the heat, we were to stick our heads out of the side flaps for a few moments, but not to leave. He told us he would explain to us what was happening as he went.
He began the ritual with prayers and incantations to the Elders and Grandparents of generations passed. He called the rock bearer to begin bringing in the Grandparents, one at a time as he requested.
One by one, Robbie began bringing them in. Large, round shaped rocks that had been sitting at the bottom of a large bonfire outside the dome for several hours, getting hotter and hotter. And one by one, Black Eagle would take them from him and place them in the middle of the circle. Each one that came in, he prayed over. Sometimes he added water to them creating a heavy mist within the tent, sometimes he sprinkled herbs over them first.
It grew hotter and hotter in the dome with each sprinkle of water. I'd been in many saunas in my life, but this was at least two or three times hotter. It was so hot that I thought my skin was burning away from my bones.
Black Eagle talked in a language I didn't know then told us to communicate to whatever God we believed in and ask for forgiveness of our sins. To speak these sins and fears out loud, to tell the Grandparents our deepest phobias, and our most sought after desires. We were told to give in to the heat. To embrace it and become one with it.
The heat seemed to just keep rising, I thought I was going to pass out. Many people do pass out in Sweats, many have visions. What seemed like hours, and which, in reality, turned out to be about fourty-five minutes, passed, and the Sweat was over. Black Eagle said the final prayers of thanks to the Grandparents, and one by one we left the tent, as we'd come in.
The cool September air struck my half naked body fiercely. But it was so invigorating. I breathed the sweet, pristine air, filling my lungs with it's coolness. One by one we took icy cold showers and got dressed. The Sweat was over. I felt so alive, so keen. Everything was crisp. Clear.
I hadn't had any visions of the sort, but an overwhelming sense of what I can only describe as stillness overtook me, and left me feeling quite alive and, surprisingly, happy.
We talked the whole way home. As if we'd all just had our no-name brand batteries secretly switched to the Energizer like in those commercials. Everything seemed so alive to me as I looked at the trees and plants along the side of the highway. So alive, they almost seemed to vibrate with vitality. I took my glasses off and realized that I didn't even need them.
The feeling stayed with me for days. I would strongly reccomend a Sweat to anyone who has the opportunity to do it. You won't regret it.