June 21, 2010
Sunday night/ early monday morning. Another summer solstice, another longest day of the year. I enter the cedar steam pod with an open heart, naked, craving metaphysical experience. Eagerly perched on the cusp of the Astral plane. There are roughly seven to ten beings experiencing the steam as I enter. The door swings closed behind me, leaving us in darkness, save for the soft ember glow from the hot iron in the centre. We settle in, new energy mingling with energies already established in the sacred space.
Delicate sage burns. We pass around a cold bottle of drinking water that has been brought into the steam as an offering. Everybody takes a hydrating gulp, a collective contented sigh. A general sense of coming together is evident, in spite of unknown identities. Connection without social recognition is profound. We begin to sing together, steadily humming at first. Just a few notes, climbing to a joyous laughing row. Our voices rise and fall, harmonizing, pulsing out a beat. Steadily we increase in volume, an energetic buzz becomes visibly present.
Each time the steam billows from the red hot iron, we are able to ride the gentle ripple effect which brings us deeper into our true self. In turn, further immersing us with one another. It’s as if we are bathing in a hot spring, a warm bath of divine intuition, delicately swirling not only our limbs but our most intimate spirit in the nourishing waters. Some mystics consider warm water to be a representation of our most in depth emotions. We feel absolute empathy for one another, without the clumsy use of words. Every one of us is as we are intended to be. Caring for ourselves as well as for our peers.
Throughout the night I emerge to the fresh air once every hour or so. By four a.m. the sky is bright with waves of deep fuchsia and royal purple. The sun is rising before the moon has had a chance to sink behind the trees. For a moment, they share the immense majesty of the star streaked sky, illuminating our conscious path. I retrieve a linen sarong from where I had draped it over the low bough of an oak tree near by, and wrap it around my dewy skin. The morning air is fresh and a bit chilly. A huge bonfire is burning just out side of the steam pod. There are a few beings gathered around it, drying themselves in it’s heat, reflecting upon experiences past. Ceremonious rite. Some tap out a rhythm. Low drumming echoes into the vastness of the pale prairie sky.
Singing a quiet mantra, I join the people who are enjoying the fire. With eyes closed I can recognize the voices of the beings with which I’d been immersed in the steam. I feel the vibration from the drums on my cheeks and fluttering my lashes. The sound resonates deep inside of my chest. I can escape to reflect on heights of healing, leaps and bounds. After a meditation on this sensation, I am guided back in to the embrace of the steam.
This time, we raise our voices individually. We receive each others stories, each persons journey, one by one. When it’s my turn, I tell of my son. It is the first time that I have ever spoken of him in an intimate way with people that I have only just met. Tears flow freely, my voice waivers as I recount my journey with him, into the darkness. All are listening attentively, encouraging me to go on until there is nothing more that I can say of him. We finish sharing, empathy and love are offered from each and every being there. We sing together, we uplift and energize one another.
The being beside me takes leave of the heat. Light seeps briefly in from the open door, then is sucked out again quickly as the door swings closed. In the darkness I can feel a distinct presence beside me, although no physical being occupies the space. A light from within is conjured to illuminate just the space that I long to visualize. A young boy sits beside me, naked, bright red hair plastered with sweat. He is peering intently into my face. His mouth opens, singing in harmony with my own voice.
My heart soars at the chance to share this sacred ceremony with him. Another being pours more water on to the hot iron in the centre of the cedar pod. The steam that billows from it forms a soft image, like the beat of a thousand butterfly’s wings. They quickly morph to form the outline of a young boy, hands in his pockets, happily skipping rocks into a sprawling river. He shows me his journey; I am completely at peace. The image fades as I am gently embraced by the person sitting on the other side of me…