Writing my new book, ‘The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment’ saw me undertake several remarkable spiritual adventures. All of these were performed in the pursuit of a higher wisdom and deeper spiritual enlightenment. Each experience aided my understanding, and in turn added amusement for my very modern readers.
My personal favourite exploit was when I took part in a South American style Sweatlodge on the banks of Lake Windermere. It was an intriguing trip, for I am essentially a modern girl who ardently supports ‘Passion for the Planet’s’ (PFTP) love of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
I drove alone to an empty Scout camp in the middle of nowhere, where I met Matt.
Matt was a total stranger to me and was carrying an axe. Matt directed me into the woods, and whilst I knew that wandering into the woods, with a stranger, carrying what amounted to a lethal weapon was foolhardy, off I trotted anyway!
Matt, of course, was a gent, however he did make me clear a hole in the ground to put his Grandfathers in! Whilst I did this he gathered several twigs and amazingly fashioned a small tent that would house eight persons, plus a hole in the middle stuffed full of magnificently hot rocks aka ‘Grandfathers’. For those of you afraid of a two-minute stint in the sauna, look away now!
Native Americans have undertaken Sweatlodge rituals for centuries. They are a purifying and challenging example of traditional spiritual pursuits. Not only do they cleanse your soul and test your staying power, they also heighten the senses and bring about closeness to the natural world.
For me the four-hour experience was physically and emotionally difficult. With a variety of symptoms ranging between the torturous, to absolute bliss. The hair on my body felt like it would sizzle and melt, whilst the air was thick and unbreathable. I felt I would melt into the ground and veered mentally between joy and panicked desperation. By the end I crawled out of the tent, flesh matted with mud as though I had spent a day in the trenches.
However with sweat soaked eyes Lake Windermere sparkled like it were supporting the floatation of a million diamonds. I experienced a true sense of peace, and felt distinctly connected to the planet and all life upon it.
Shamanic people worldwide feel a deep affinity with Pachamama (Mother Earth). They saw nature to be our equal, and believed that humans are just one part of a greater ecosystem. They got it right really. Without being privy to our satellite systems or eco-knowledge, Shamans knew that the abuse of the planet would bring us naught but trouble. They knew it and they truly respected it. Nature to them was a stronger force than any number of intelligent human beings. They courted nature, living in it and loving it. Somewhere along the lines our society moved away from pagan earth-worshipping principles, and we all got greedy. Leading of course to our wasteful, ‘have it all’ consumer culture.
Shamans were the original environmentalists; their simple lives and naturalistic based beliefs could teach us modern humans a great deal. A Sweatlodge is a fabulous way to experience this connection to nature and to help forge a relationship with your natural self. It was good for my soul and in tandem I rediscovered the shamanic part of me that adores the world we live in and the creatures and flora that reside upon it.
For anyone with a passion for the planet and a spiritual inclination, no matter how small, perspiring for Pachamama is something I highly recommend!
About the Author: Sweatlodge undertaken with Continuum Self Development in The Lake District, UK. Read more about Shamanism, Sweatlodges and other alternative spiritualities in Alice Grist’s book, “The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment”.