Sweat Lodge has been practiced by nearly all cultures around the world for tens of thousands of years. It is not exclusive to any one culture and provides purification, healing, vision, silence and a sense of overall well-being and connection to intent, the infinite mystery of which we are all a part.
Lodge serves to create an empty space in which people may retreat from distractions of the world to return to stillness. With or without hot rocks and steam, from the emptiness of the lodge, participants emerge with a greater understanding of and connection to awareness within and outside of themselves.
As above, so below; a beautiful mirroring of the macrocosmic order of the vast cosmos, the spiraling movement representing the whirling of the stars above the earth. Winding in, the spiral dance establishes the still center within, approaching the heart of the universe, or the womb which will give birth to form. Winding out, the spiral dance births emptiness back to its divine source of existence.
A round energy vortex, the lodge is a Torus, a primary shape in existence that is literally around all life forms, all atoms, and all cosmic bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies. The Torus was the first shape to emerge or come into being; the origin. When you sit within the lodge you are in many places at once; on the earth, in the earth, above the earth, spiraling throughout the directions, through the universe, galaxy and cosmos, through emptiness and form. Like the center of the Torus constantly opening within itself, you become the epitome of what it means to be pure energy.
The Torus governs many aspects of life including the human heart with its seven muscles that form a Torus. The surface of the torus can be covered with seven distinct areas, all of which touch each other. As a result, the torus has a high degree of communication across its surface. The seven distinct areas represent the seven sacred directions; north, east, south, west, earth, sky and the great mystery. Seven also represents the core chakras; crown, third-eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and root and the seven colors of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
Sacred Geometry is an ancient science and a key to understanding the way the universe is designed. It is a map of the step by step movements that Spirit makes as it moves from pure energy into matter, to create the physical world as we know it. Sacred Geometry is the language of creation which exists at the foundation of all life. It is these repeating geometric patterns that are the basic building blocks of our physical bodies, the plants and animals, the planets, solar systems, stars, galaxies and Universe. All of this exists within the lodge.
Every tradition has its details, and these add to the cumulative outcome of the stone people lodge. Working in a tradition can really heighten the experience of the lodge.
It is possible to improvise, of course, and to reach back to ones own origins, as in the case of the Celtic stone sweat, but experience of myself and many others can attest to the wonder of the Lakota way, with its intricate detail of ritual and action, its humor and sacred sensibility. Keeping in mind and heart, that one goes with all ones relations, if one goes at all, into the heart of life, when entering the lodge, the only thing I would advise, is to find out about the Chanupa, and know that the sacred is within you, inside the lodge or out.