Sweat Lodge at Four Quarters

 The Sweat Lodge ceremony, is older than recorded history and is practiced in some form by every culture in the world. We heat ancient rocks in a fire and bring the glowing hot rocks into the center of the lodge. When the lodge is closed, we pour water on the rocks and pray. Through prayer and sacred songs we ask for support and give thanks for what we have already received.

Our sweat ceremonies facilitate personal and inner cleansing and healing. The lodge brings us into connection and harmony with the Mother Earth and all of Creation. This ceremony is open to all people of all beliefs and remains a gift and an offering to those who are open and willing to further their own personal journey, and who want to participate and experience the beauty and wonder of this most powerful and healing ceremony. It is a place to repair your spirit, of refuge and healing, and to obtain personal answers and guidance Our ceremony leaders represent a number of sacred traditions and we follow the same interfaith view as Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. All are welcome to come pray


sweatlodgesketchwebPlanned* 2018 Lodge Weekends:

Fri April 13Rock hop
Sat April 14Setup Day (backup day April 21)

April 27-28 – Beltaine - Setup
May 17-20Flower of Life
May 25-28Member's  Weekend
June 22-24Wickerman
July 4-8Drum N Splash
July 25-29Big Dub - Sweat Theme Camp
Aug 29-Sept 3Stones Rising
Sept 8-(9?)Recovery Moon
Sept 21-22Bass Harvest
Oct 26-28Samhain - Shutdown
*Subject to change and the needs of ceremony


Growing a Sweat Lodge Tradition

by Valerie Haag, Kurt Talking Stone, and the Lodge Team
Wheel of the Year Calendar 2017

The Sweat Lodge Site is a beautiful and sacred place on the land at Four Quarters and we invite you to come by to pray and sweat with us! The sacred fires will be continuously burning, and at any time you are welcome to come in to meditate, visit with the helpers and facilitators, chill out, talk with us, and reconnect in this area.

The Sweat Lodge ceremony is older than recorded history, and is practiced in some form by every culture in the world. Our sweat ceremonies facilitate personal and collective inner cleansing and healing. The Sweat Lodge at Four Quarters holds to the same interfaith view as Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary and does not follow a single tradition or path. Our Water Pourers represent a number of sacred traditions including Navajo, Lakota, and others. All are welcome. From time to time, we have had visiting Elders and ceremony leaders offer ceremony for our community.


As with other spaces at Four Quarters this is ceremonial space and is to be respected as such. This is not a sauna. When visiting the Sweat Lodge do not alter the land, altars or fire; there are staff to take care of these things. Ceremony for Sweat Lodge will be scheduled in advance and no one other than those approved Water Pourers scheduled will be running Lodges. These rules are in place for safety and the ability to hold ceremony without conflicts. Sweat Lodge is not open unless specifically scheduled with Four Quarters and fires made in those spaces (Sweat Lodge, women’s circle, and welcome fire) are to be started and tended by Four Quarters Sweat Lodge Staff members. You may also visit: https://www.facebook.com/4qfSweatLodge/

fire trail w creekWe typically hold a number of Sweat Lodges throughout the major festivals, during the day and possibly evenings – please come in and ask for the day’s schedule. For smaller events, we may just provide one, typically on the main day or evening of the event. If you see people standing around we are probably getting ready to go in, if the flap on the Lodge is closed we are inside and will be out soon.

As you walk into this sacred site at the entrance you will find the “Welcome Fire” – a gathering place to relax and reconnect, talk with family, and center yourself. Before you come to the Lodge fire, where the stones are heated, you will see a small altar with sacred herbs on it. It is here that you can take some tobacco to offer to the sacred fire, saying a prayer, intention, or making your connection, the smoke from the tobacco carrying your request to the Great Spirit. This is a sacred fire and we ask that you throw nothing besides this into the fire. There will be Fire Keepers tending the fire, they are the only ones that will be working with the fire, or adding wood. Please feel free to ask them any questions that you may have.

The Sweat Lodge Ceremony is open to all ages. Bring a towel, drinking vessel and whatever you want to wear or not wear. We highly reccomend that you hydrate well for sweat, and be mindful about food. Many people will prefer to eat lightly or fast before ceremony; be mindful of your body’s needs. But we strongly advise against water fasting.

A typical Lodge has four rounds where the door is closed and water is poured on the heated stones, with brief breaks between rounds, reflecting the sacred fours of many sacred paths. It’s good, but not required, to sit all four rounds. A typical ceremony might last about an hour and a half to two hours. Lodges can be shorter or longer depending on the Water Pourer’s tradition and the number of participants. Most ceremony leaders will allow participants to exit between rounds to take a break. They will guide you concerning their specific tradition’s ceremonial protocols.

Refrain from participating in ceremony intoxicated, or in a substance-altered state. Alcohol in particular around ceremony is deeply disrespecful of almost every sweat tradition we are aware of, especially Native American. It is also dangerous for both participants and the ceremony leaders, and the spirits don’t like it. Furthermore, do not bring intoxicants into the Sweat Lodge area. Unsure about this? Refrain and ask us about it. However this restriction does not apply to prescription medications. If you have any specific health issues you are concerned about, please inform the ceremony leader before entering the Lodge.

Sweat lodge 2Supporting the Sweat Lodge

What goes into supporting sweat at Four Quarters? For openers, there is, of course, a lot of chop wood/carry water, and hauling of stones. There is the preparation of the ceremony, caretaking, and maintaining the Lodge and site. Fires are built, lit, and tended.If there is a guest facilitator, their needs must be tended to as well. There is much more going on than just showing up and crawling into the Sweat. The ceremony itself begins with the first preparations. As my father would remind me, “90% of everything is logistics”; he was a Navy man. So a respectable amount of resources, material, time and sweat (the regular kind), goes into making Sweat Lodge possible.

Just for starters, you would not believe the extraordinary amount of firewood we literally burn through in the course of a sweat weekend, much less the season. Nearly all of it must be purchased. Also stones, the good lava rocks and igneous stones that we use, are not native to the Four Quarters area or even the region. In a Lodge fire, that good Allegheny clay, shale, and sandstone will turn into gravel, grenades... or sand. Walter has brought suitable stones from as far away as New York State. Ceremony leaders must lay in supplies of herbs, medicines, and various sacreds that are used in the ceremony.

Along with this, we also need hands. Besides the ceremony leaders to pour water, there are other important roles involved. We have Fire Keepers, who set, light, and tend the sacred fire. When the stones are ready, they bring them from fire to the Lodge. Over time, they can develop an intimate spiritual relationship with the stones and the fire. Door Keepers will assist the Fire Keepers and tend the door of the Lodge while the people are inside, and assist the Water Pourers. There are various teachings involved with these roles, but they are all filled by volunteers. We learn by doing. So we encourage people to come early and stay late and have a fuller and deeper experience of the ceremony in service to the people. It can be very powerful.

Our Water Pourers represent a number of traditions, and we perform ceremony in the manner in which we were trained, but we have a certain expectation that over time unique Four Quarters Sweat Lodge traditions will emerge within our community. While Kurt pours in Lakota style, and Valerie draws her ceremony from the Navajo, all our facilitators make concessions to this unique community. This reflects the interfaith and multicultural nature of the extended Tribe that is Four Quarters, bringing its own songs, history, and relationships to the Land and each other. Every person who comes into sweat to pray brings something special to the circle.

We have been asked about children’s Lodges and women’s Lodges, and other special requests. When possible, we try to accommodate them. We are limited by the availability of our handful of ceremony leaders. Being a Water Pourer is not a trivial or casual thing. It is demanding, difficult, requires sacrifice and experience and special training in ceremony, almost always within a sacred tradition. Over time, we might someday see potential ceremony leaders emerge from the ranks of the Sweat Lodge staff and volunteers. But we are prepared to be extremely patient about that. The safety of the people is our first and highest priority. An untrained Water Pourer with the wrong head is a danger to all involved. There are some rather sobering stories.

Underside drumDonations for the continued upkeep of the Lodge site at Four Quarters are sincerely appreciated. In no way is a donation required to be made and in no way is your participation in ceremony dependent upon a donation. All donations received at the Lodge site at Four Quarters are put into the continued upkeep and improvements of that site. The Lodge Staff and Four Quarters directly absorb the thousands of dollars that are required every year to operate the Lodge Site.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has donated time, blood, sweat, tears, and money in the past. Donations can and have come in many forms. Donations of sage, sweetgrass, cedar, food, blankets, etc. are just as important and helpful as cash, and just as appreciated. Your previous and continued support of the Lodge site is what makes it possible for us to continue to provide Ceremony.

So do come to sweat. Bring your voices, your prayers. Your good hands and big hearts. Each and every one of you is welcome around our fires.

Kurt Griffith/Talking Stone acts as our Sweat Lodge Liaison, and is one of our ceremony leaders, he can be reached here.

Tókša ahké! Mitaquye oyasin.

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