The term Sweat Lodge has been used for a long time and doesn't truly express the purpose of this ceremony. The purpose is to purify the body, mind and spirit so that a new sense of Self may be present.
The Sweat Lodge is made of saplings set in the ground in a circle and lashed together to form a rounded frame, which is then covered with blankets, blocking out all light. The door to the Lodge is built low so we have to enter on our knees, a reminder to be humble and to understand we are no greater or lesser than other life-forms. There are usually four rounds; one to honor each cardinal direction. At the beginning of each round, stones heated on a fire adjacent to the Lodge are brought in and placed in a pit in the center. Once the door is closed, prayers and songs of gratitude are offered to the Spirits and energies representing that particular direction.
It is suggested to fast or eat lightly before entering the Lodge, and to spend some time contemplating one's intention for the ceremony. Men usually wear shorts or trunks, and women traditionally wear loose-fitting dresses or skirts, although shorts are also acceptable. A $20 donation (and a dish for a potluck dinner following the ceremony) are requested.
While our Lodges are based in the Native American tradition, we honor many other paths as well, and the gifts of all are welcome to be shared in the Lodge.