Sweat Lodge

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Social Studies
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Sweat Lodge

This ritual is known as Sweat Lodge or a sweating ceremony; it is a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities, totem helpers, the Creator and Mother Earth for the needed wisdom and power. Sweat Lodges take place in order for Aboriginals to get in touch with one's spirit guide. Ceremonies often include traditional prayers and songs. In some cultures drumming and offerings to the spirit world may be part of the ceremony, or a sweat lodge ceremony may be a part of another, longer ceremony such as a Sun Dance.

Sweat Lodge

The sweat lodge itself is where the ceremony takes place. It is a domed shaped hut made of natural materials. They are small sauna-like constructions with hot stones in the centre upon where water is poured. There are several styles of structures used in different cultures; these include a domed or oblong hut, a permanent structure made of wood and dirt, or even a simple hole dug into the ground and covered with planks or tree trunks.

Use of the sweat lodge was chronicled by the earliest settlers in North America until the present day.

The ceremony is significant because it is where Aboriginals can achieve purifiction of the mind, body and soul. With the introduction of alcohol and the inhumane treatment of native people, the need to re-purify themselves and find their way back to traditional ways of living became evident, as they were becoming increasingly poisoned by European culture. The Sweat Lodge Ceremony was the answer.

The main items used in the ceremony are hot rocks and water. In a sweating ceremony, the hot rocks are placed in the middle of the sweat lodge. Water is poured on the hot rocks to create steam. In this misty environment, Aboriginal participants will receive spiritual, mental, and physical enlightment and purification. Drums and instruments can be involved in the ceremony when the steam has faded and the participants complete their quest to the innocence of birth with singing and dancing. Wood is used to lite the sacred fire near the enterance of the lodge.

In the ceremony, Aboriginals will gather usually wearing simple garments like loose dresses or shorts. The sweat leader will pour water on the hot rocks to create steam. To be a sweat leader requires training; the leader must be able to pray and communicate fluently in the language, and that they understand how to conduct the ceremony safely as they are dealing with potentially dangerous temperatures created by steam. The sweat leader may choose to lite a sacred fire by the door. Usually one or more persons will remain outside the sweat lodge to protect the ceremony, assist the participants and encourage lodge etiquette. Many traditions consider it important that sweats be done in complete darkness. The ceremony is complete with prayers, meditation, song and in some cultures dance.


Items Used



Whom it's practised by

The Sweat Lodge Ceremony is practiced by most Native American cultures and spiritual life. It is an adaptation of the sweat bath common to many ethnic cultures found in North and South America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as Africa.

What is practised

Type of Ritual



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