Saturday, November 19, 2011

27 Fire Lodge

27 Fire Lodge
Saturday October 29, 2011:
We circle the pyre, each woman picking a rock, blessing it with a quality to
bring to our sweat this evening and laying it carefully on the logs.
"The release of tears," I say, gently laying down my rock. The line moves
round and I stand with a magnificent rock in my arms.
"Revolution" I yell, capering forward and depositing it upon the steadily
growing pile. I am satisfied. I step back, brushing off my hands as though
to say, "Job done!"
The fire, skilfully built begins to sing as soon as a light is put to it.
We have stacked the wood and balanced the rocks. I say "we" though I've had
no actual hand in doing it, being employed building a beautiful alter to
celebrate the turning seasons.
We sing to the fire as the flames begin to dance amongst the structure of
rock and wood.
"Fire, sacred fire burning through the night.
Come to me in the dream-time, bring me visions of light.
Circle round, spiral down to these arms open wide.
Healing light, burning bright, dry these tears that I cry."
The air has thickened and deepens. Night has fallen. The circle of women
stand by the fiercely burning fire. I am naked. The cool evening air
touches my warm flesh. It is delicious.
I move closer to the fire. It's heat touches me purposefully. A small
westerly wind growing bold now blows smoke towards me. I stand in it's hot
gust and allow the breath of the fire to embrace me. I turn and turn in the
glow of the fire.
Sweet burning wood melts into the distinct herby perfume of sage. I feel
the outside world fall away with the reminder of my intent this evening.
Something else lies amongst the smoke. It is the warm dusty smell of the
hot rocks. The smell of a rocky outcrop on a hillside under a hot sun, I
think as I stand and am cleansed by the smoke.
Humbly, I crawl into the lodge. The earth is cool under my forehead as I
rest it in supplication on the earth.
"For all my relations", I say out loud, dedicating my prayers and my sweat
this night to everyone, for my growing changes all who encounter me.
The dark, bitter-sweet smell of damp earth and crushed grass fills the
space. Another indefinable scent lies across it, a reminder of the softness
of women's perspiration. Soon, the hot dusty rocks will fill the chamber
with heat.
"Hot rocks!" shouts the fire keeper as solid heat is rolled into the pit in
the middle of the circle of women. The rocks pile up, the door is closed,
and our prayers begin.
I don't know what others can see. I imagine the dark denseness. I imagine
that there are grades of darkness depending upon where one is looking. I
see in my mind's eye the bright shining hot rocks, shimmering in the pit
before us. I see them, red, pink orange and even blue and green as they
radiate different temperatures. Like dusty hot jewels, they offer their
heat to help us give of our sweat to the service of prayer.
I thank the rocks for their gift for, in time, the repetition of heat will
crumble them and they will return to dust, from whence they came. And with
that thought, I think of the wood that feeds fire that heats these rocks.
Outside, I can hear it singing. It hissing, zings, gutters and roars, for
the wind goads it on to greater heat. I place my hand on my heart in
Women's voices rise in tuneful song. We sing. I feel my chest and throat
open as my voice, strong and confident, weaves a harmonious path amongst
Sweat begins to run between my breasts. For the moment, the thin cotton of
the sarong upon which I am sitting, shields me from the cold touch of the
earth. I reach up and touch the bent hazel branches, stroke the blankets and
tarps that make the wall of this domed space in which we sit. It feels like
a round belly, the womb of the earth and I her child sitting, singing,
praying and waiting.

Water on rocs hisses. As more is applied, the air becomes moist with its
breath. The heat rises.

The door is flung open. Cool air slips in. Someone describes the fire,
framed by the door and a thin moon somewhere overhead, for the clouds have
cleared. More hot rocks are borne in upon shovels and tipped into the slowly
rising pile in the pit. They smell of the earth and also of sun-warmed rocks
on a beach.
I am moving down an almost vertical tunnel, but I am not falling. I find
myself in a low passage and am forced to crawl. I don't feel confined by
this though.
The tunnel opens out into a chamber about the size of this sweat-lodge. I
sit and wait. I am naked.
A paw comes through another tunnel on the other side. It reaches for me.
It's followed by a muzzle and then the whole head of the bear and then its
body, slowly crawls in. She is big for the space but she doesn't fill it.
She sits down and I lie on her belly. my hands in her soft fur. I rest
there, listening to her blood beating, being moved on the gentle rhythm of
her breathing as her stomach rises and falls.
Something heavy leans upon my knee. I reach out to feel it and touch the
bony scull overlaid with soft velvetiness that is my wolf. We lapse into
Time moves on. I am still, in the dark. I lie contentedly with the bear
and the wolf and together we listen to the earth turning and time spinning
The quality of darkness thickens. A new coolness of moving air arrives,
along with it, the scent of something new. I feel both wolf and bear lift
their muzzles and sniff. I lift my nose and do so too.
And with that movement, I stir properly, roll over, separating from both
furry warmness's, and touching briefly, hand on heart in grace and farewell,
I move away.
Remembering the near vertical passage, I pause wondering how I will get out.
My wolf and the bear gently move on either side of me and steer me another
way. I find a less steep tunnel up which I crawl with ease until I come up
between the hot rocks, (which do not hurt me) and back into the lodge and my
circle of women.
I think about stillness. I think about touching a leaf, getting lost in its
simplicity. No matter how depressed I get, I can do this, surely I can do
Everything seems easy tonight. The sweat is hot. The prayers are strong.
I forget the discomfort of sitting on the ground for nearly three hours.
Somehow the magic cushions my body and I forget the physical pain.
I give away what I don't need and call in what I do. I offer my use of
words and power as a lover of women. I plant the seeds of my career as a
powerful, potent, wise, trustworthy champion of the disadvantaged.
I climb out of the lodge and stand before the fire. I am naked. The fire
warms my skin and the air cools it too. Drawn to the fire, I lean into its
heat, turning in the power of its breath as I thank it for its work this


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