The Grandfathers Have Fallen

Yesterday we started the Winter Wood Project.  Gathering the 14 or 15 cords of wood we will need to get us through the winter.  Last winter like others around here we ended up logging in the snow.  Not the most efficient way to get fire wood.  We have about 30 acres or more of dry, bug killed pine at the North end of the property.  Perfect firewood.  This year we have mechanized the process.  I whack down a pile of trees and Jo-Ann skids them and me out to a landing where she uses the skid-steer's 4 in 1 bucket to grab the trees and lift them up to a comfortable height for a guy with a recovering back to whack them up into blocks.  Way easier than bending over to cut.  The chain lasts a lot longer as it is less likely to touch the ground.  Then she pushes the blocks up into a pile awaiting loading, again via skid-steer, into a dumping trailer for the trip back to the house.

The weather is very cool. Nice for working and and the added bonus of no bugs.  If only the rain will hold off for a week or so.

The cows like to hang around the pond where we are working so
we have to be very careful not to whack a cow on the head while we are falling or skidding the trees out.  They are tremendously curious.

The dogs say hello to the cows.  Get chased by a couple of the yearlings and then retreat to the house.  I am sure their just protecting the place while were up on the hill.  Not bored or anything.

After the days wood cutting, well O.K,  maybe a couple of hours I took the rest of the day off to go for a Sweat with some friends of mine.

 The grandfathers are the rocks that are brought into the sweat lodge to heat it.  To fire them to red hot they t are placed on a ledge of pine and a "tee pee" type fire built around.  When hot enough, after an hour or so the rocks burn through the ledge and "drop"  indicating they are soon ready to be brought into the sweat in groups between rounds.  They are blessed with prayers and sprinkles of sage and  occasionally other herbs and medicines.  The Sweat ceremony is a relaxing spiritual experience.  A time of reflection with friends and fellow spiritual travelers.
The ceremony consists of five rounds.  A pipe round: when the purpose of the sweat is explained and a pipe passed around that our bodies and minds can be purified with the smoke.  Everything in the lodge is passed in a clockwise direction.

The second round is dedicated to ourselves, where we pray for guidance and  ask the Creator and grandfathers to heal our ills.

The third Round we pray for the Males of the world and in our circle.

The fourth round is dedicated to the Females and Mother Earth.

The Fifth round is a summation, giving thanks, singing and often passing around a bowl of food.  I am growing very fond of my Friend's Mathew and Colleen's fruit salad!

The lodge can get very hot when water is dashed on the bright red rocks.  In between rounds the door to the lodge is closed and it is dark and comforting.  We are in the bosom of Mother Earth.  The hot steam heat is very intense and then rapidly cooling. I sometimes  remind myself that not once has my hair caught on fire!  When the door blankets are lifted between rounds, cooling air rushes in as the steam goes out- wonderfully refreshing.  We are reminded of the finiteness of our existence and the sweetness of the air that will one day be our last.

Between rounds participants are free to step outside to cool down or simply relax and chat with our fellows.

If you have the chance to participate in a Sweat Lodge ceremony I would encourage you to partake of a relaxing gift.  Meditation with steam.

Well time to tune up the saw, the skidsteer will be back and we can get some more trees ready for the Winters fires.

Hope your day is peaceful.


Carol Browne said…
it's been ages since I've been to a sweat, but it is pretty cool. I can smell the burning sage as I type this. Nice.
I have sweated before around piles of burning herbs but the police were involved. Bascially all I can remember.

THIS idea of a sweat sounds much better. You and Joanne are quite the team !
Art Blomquist said…
Donna, nothing that would bring the wrath of the authorities. Sage, Ceder, and a type of fungus that grows on the local Poplar trees. As I recall, however from my misguided youth, the relaxing feeling is similar - but without the munchies! Oh, maybe that's why food is often passed around...

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