In my early twenties I lived and volunteered for several months on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona. I became quite close to these beautiful people, and when it was time to say goodbye, they adopted me into their tribe through sacred Pima ritual.
I have been interested in ritual ever since, and have led many different kinds of rituals over the last 25 years. Click here if you’d like to read more. wisewomanways.net/wise-woman-rituals.
This will not be a traditional sweat lodge ritual. The yoga yurt will be heated to about 120. I will be providing each attendee with resins and local herbs personalized to them (through a quick check in and muscle testing with each attendee as they arrive). Please come to the even sober and well hydrated.
We will start the ceremony with an offering of bearberry, which has long been used by Native Americans in ceremony. There are two kinds of bearberry: the common bearberry, called uva ursi, which is found at lower altitudes and is more easily accessible, and the more rare bearberry, called alpina, found at much higher altitudes.
We are privileged to be using the more rare bearberry, collected in the mountains across the bay by Carolyn and Yarrow at Woda Botanicals, here in Homer. Bearberry leaves contain antiseptic and astringent properties, which cleanse and purify the air and energy in the room.
We will also be using a swinging incense burner, and during the ceremony, each participant will be cleansed and nourished with their own small pile of herbs and resins. These will be burned in very small doses so as to keep the smoke minimal (it doesn’t take a lot of smoke to receive the benefits).
The resins will include frankincense, which heightens spiritual awareness, myrrh, which promotes spiritual connection and healing, benzoin, which clears away stagnation, dragon’s blood, which clears negativity and promotes productivity, and copal, which feels like a hug from a long lost childhood blankie or stuffed animal.
There are recent research studies where scientist are beginning to prove the health benefits and positive effects resins have on the brain. The blood brain barrier is a border that separates the circulating blood in the brain from the rest of the fluid in the central nervous system.
It can be hard to treat mental health and brain disorders because many medications can’t pass through the blood brain barrier. It seems that in order to cross this barrier, only molecules less than 800-1000 atomic mass units (amu) in molecular weight can get through.
Resins like frankincense and myrrh have molecules this small. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University describe how burning frankincense “activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety and depression.”
Frankincense and myrrh were given to Jesus by the wise men in the bible, and in religious settings have always held symbolic meaning (frankincense symbolizes Father and myrrh symbolizes Mother). But science is now showing that burning these plant materials has more than symbolic use. The smoke has measurable, positive effects on brain functioning.
The other herbs and plants we will be using include lemongrass, rosemary, cloves, wormwood, mullein, thyme, stinging nettle, dandelion, horsetail, lavender and yarrow (most of which were locally foraged or grown). Each of these plants have different cleansing and healing properties.
We will be using a swinging incense burner to cleanse, purifiy and nourish ourselves with the smoke. Smoke cleansing has been done both religiously and secularly in every culture and on every continent throughout history. These swinging incense burners have many different names including censer, thurible and pastille, and they are usually made from metal or clay.
We will be using a fairly simple incense burner and will be swinging it around ourselves, passing it around in a circle from person to person. We will then do a series of breathing exercises.
Depending on the number of people we have, we will get up and do some simple foot stomping/walking with simple hand and arm movements in a circle to a drum beat. Drum sticks and anklets and bracelets with bells will be provided.
There will be water and cold drinks and we will also be brewing nourishing, healing tea in a Samovar so we can remain hydrated during the sweat ceremony.
We will end with a laser show by the Laser Alchemist. He takes glass and crystal and refracts unfocused lasers through them. He’ll be creating an Aurora Borealis effect for the sweat ceremony. Bring your own (heat resistant) instruments (drums and tambourines are great) because we all will be providing the background music.
Be sure to reserve your spot! You can do so my messaging the Homer Hot Yoga Facebook page, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
(This event is taking place at Homer Hot Yoga. locacted in the Bishop’s Beach Yurt across from Two Sisters.