I asked Sindibad to tell me about sweat lodges and ceremony, especially the Sundance ceremony he’s been a part of for so many years.
Some of this may be new to readers, while others know so much more. If there are mistakes here, or just something you would like to ask about or make a contribution on, please do that in the comments. This interviewer has limited experience in this, so assume any mistakes are mine, not Sindibad’s!
Why does a person choose to do a sweat lodge or a Sundance ceremony?
Sindibad: “Lodge is for Prayer. It’s a form of purification. Many report an experience of oneness and deep connection to everything. It can create a feeling of being nurtured, reborn, cleared out or cleansed. In many ways, being part of it takes you to a vivid dream world – a different place where miracles happen, and problems get solved, because you’re deeply acknowledging Spirit. Lots of attention is paid to creating and maintaining sacred space. For example, you most likely will be asked not to take photos.
Who can participate?
Sindibad: “There are many different groups who offer lodges and ceremony, and not all are open to non-native people. Some are for both men and women, while others are not. One thing they all have in common though, is that respect is REQUIRED; it’s not optional. Most people mean well, so most disrespectful behavior by those new to it is due to ignorance. Education is always needed.
All lodges and ceremony are held by invitation only, so please be sure you were invited by those truly in charge of the lodge or ceremony you are thinking of attending. If in doubt, ask and be willing to respect the answer you receive. Native ceremony is very old, and the rites and protocols for it are earned and then passed on very carefully.”
What do you feel is the value of the physical experience of either the sweat lodge, or long hours dancing, fasting, and so on?
Sindibad: “There’s the physical cleansing, but also the mental, emotional and spiritual cleansing that happens when your mind chatter gets quieted. Sometimes we call it a “scare-a -mony” because people can come face to face with their fears. Deep healing can occur as well.”
Do you have a story you’d like to share?
Sindibad: “Once I went on a Native Vision Quest. I fasted for 4 days, and was isolated out in nature. On the third day a tremendous storm came in. i was lying on my side, trying to stay awake and pray as much as possible; I felt pretty scared.
I was near a pond in a clearing, and my physical body felt as if it were drifting down into sleep while my spirit body rose up into the sky. It seemed to rise into a grey circle in the sky, and in the circle was a powerful symbol – a black Thunderbird.
Just as I focused on this, a huge clap of thunder hit very close, and my physical and spirit bodies snapped back together. The image here is a painting of that experience.”