Choke Cherry and Water Birch saplings are harvested with love, tied together with jute or hemp and covered with tarps. The lodge represents the womb of the earth mother. The whole space symbolizes a turtle when you include the alter (neck) and fire circle (head). We enter the lodge on our hands and knees in reverence to all our relations both seen and unseen, with gratitude for all the teachings.
What To Bring: two or three towels, a soft cotton mat to sit on in the lodge (horse blankets work wonderfully and can be purchased online or at the Carbondale Co-Op), liquids, meal for community potluck, an object or picture of importance you wish to energize on the alter, the giveaway letter (see below), clothing to sweat in (shorts, t-shirt, bathing suit, yoga clothes), flash light for night ceremonies, warm clothes to change into when the weather is cold and a gift for the caretakers of the land and ceremonial guide (see below).
Arrival: Before the ceremony eat very light and set your intention. Consider what you want from this practice/ceremony? Once on the land, place your meal to share in kitchen, meet hosts and make offering to the ceremonial guide, connect with the alter placing sacred objects, make 7 chakra prayer ties to set intention, and share herbs and prayers with the spirit of the fire.
It is best to arrive 1-2 hours before we enter the lodge. We often need help with adorning the alter, building and tending fire (lit 2 hours before ceremony), making prayer ties, shoveling snow in the winter, supporting others who are new to the ceremony and placing tarps on the lodge.
As we have limited parking, we encourage carpooling and bike riding for those who live in Carbondale (we are right off the bike path). If our drive is full, please park 200 feet east of our entrance in the community bike path parking right next to the Catherine Store Rd. bridge.
Prayer Ties: help focus and set intention. A pinch of medicinal herbs (cedar, sage, sweet grace) is placed into a small square of colored cloth and then tied. These prayer ties are strung together on an unbroken string of red cotton yarn which can then be worn into the lodge as a necklace or bracelet. After the final door of the lodge, the prayer bundles are either tied to the ceiling of lodge or offered to the spirit of the fire. Visit prayer ties to learn more.
The Alter is located between the lodge and the fire circle and helps focus intention. We place objects of deep meaning onto the alter from all traditions. The alter protects and energizes the space and ceremony. Please bring an object or picture and your giveaway letter and place them on the alter. The giveaway letter is written to spirit and reflects what you are ready to let go of in your life, that which no longer serves and what you are ready to receive into your life. This letter is between you and spirit and is offered silently to the fire at the closing ceremony.
Offering: at the beginning of the ceremony it is customary to share a heart-felt gift with the ceremonial guide and hosts. This can be a donation which supports the ceremony, flowers for the alter, a handmade gift, medicinal herbs to be used in the ceremony – sage, sweet grass, cedar, mullein, bear berry and lavender and ** we also need firewood and Basalt/volcanic stones.** The important thing to consider is how best to close the circle of giving and receiving. If this ceremony is to be vital, then everyone needs to support it with energy and intention.
Before Entering The Lodge: go the bathroom, remove your shoes, put on your lodge clothing, and place sacred objects and jewelry on the alter where they will be purified and receive beautiful energy. Jewelry can sometimes become hot in the lodge so its best to place it on the alter. Leave water bottles outside the lodge as we will all drink together during the ceremony. Enter the lodge with just the essentials – your body and some clothing, a towel or cotton mat to sit on and your best intention.
The Five Doors: Each ceremony offers participants five doors or sessions, each one representing one of the five elements described in yoga philosophy: 1) earth, 2) water, 3) fire, 4) air, and 5) ether. The earth represents the physical realm. We begin the ceremony by grounding to mother earth. In the second door, water, we welcome our emotions. In the third door, fire, the story of mind and ego are burned away so that we may come to see the truth more clearly. In the fourth door, air, we experience the vibration of lightness and love. In the fifth and final door, ether, we surrender into the emptiness of space itself and the presence of being that we are.
Each door/session begins with bringing in hot stones and then closing the door. When the door flap is closed be prepared for total darkness and progressive warming. Each door/session closing is marked by the group saying “all my relations,” which signals the fire keeper to open the door allowing cool air and light to enter the space.
During the ceremony, when the door flap is closed expect water to be poured on the stones by the ceremonial guide which creates steam and heat. Honor silence unless we are chanting or sharing prayers. The guide will let you know when it’s time to offer individual prayers. Begin and close individual prayers by saying “all my relations.” Some participants stay all five doors, some may choose to leave the lodge earlier. The appropriate time to leave is between doors/sessions, not during, and we ask that you communicate your intention before getting up to leave. Please know this is not an endurance contest but a ceremony of healing, purification, and love.
Before, during and after the lodge, ask questions if you don’t understand something. When around the sacred fire and within the lodge practice silence, connect with your intention and heart, and breathe in a relaxed manner. If you need help at any time when in the lodge just say “all my relations” and we will stop what we are doing and offer support.
Mudras: At certain times we will hold finger positions/postures to facilitate the flow of energy in our mind/body/spirit vehicles. There may be other exercises offered to support the energy and purification.
Closing Circle: following the 5th door, participants leave the lodge, dry off with a towel, get dressed and begin to rehydrate. We then gather around the fire for a closing circle and then to put everything back in its place before sharing in the community pot luck. At this circle, community members are encouraged to place a note into the sacred fire, a letter to spirit expressing what you are ready to let go of in your life that no longer serves and also what you would like to welcome into your life. Create this letter before the ceremony as a powerful way to set your intention. At the closing circle you are welcome to silently place your letter into the fire with a pitch of sacred herbs.
Community Pot Luck: After the ceremony we share food together. We ask that you bring organic, non-GMO foods and freshly squeezed veggie and fruit juices. Please take the time to prepare a meal with love. Raw foods are highly beneficial and welcome. Having healthily high pranic (energy) foods following the lodge helps us all feel nurtured and cared for and provides the space to integrate and ground the ceremony.
The Mirror Of Ceremony: before, during and following the ceremony, realize that everything that arises in the body, heart and mind is perfect and necessary. Bring breath and awareness to whatever arises, get soft around it, be the sacred witness and let go of the story of mind. We are here as humans to teach and to learn, and to also love, accept and forgive ourselves and those in our lives. By meeting what arises with openness and love, we allow the medicine of grace to flow through the ceremony.
The Ego: is our self preservation software. It wants us to run from fear and chase desire. The ego incorporates many strategies to maintain control, seek recognition and love and keep us safe from that which we fear. Being fully present in the now and stopping all doing, including all thinking, can be very beneficial in dissolving the egoic trance and connecting more fully with the truth of Self – Satchitananda (being-awanress-bliss).
Heading Home: This ceremony has the power to change lives and supports us in walking the sacred path we were meant to walk. Please know that the energy of lodge can be quite powerful for hours and even days following the ceremony. Take it slow, process and integrate what you have experienced and learned through meditation, sharing your experience with others, journaling, art, yoga and other practices. Allow time for rest and relaxation and nourish the body with healthy life giving foods and liquids.
This is a lot of information especially if you are new to the ceremony. No need to memorize it as we are all learning and teaching, every step of the way. The protocols will become second nature after a few lodges. Essentially we all need to let go of the mind and information and just drop into the love we are co-creating and sharing.
We are honored and grateful to be sharing this wonderful ceremony of awakening with you.