INIPI - commonly known as a sweat lodge
- An inipi is a primitive construction of willow or hazel sticks bent to form a rough bender. In the middle is a stone pit. The procedure is as follows:
- inipi is covered with blankets and tarpaulins
- the leader asks all to pray to the four directions to cleanse and clear and also to bring in the energies of the four directions
- the lodge is smudged and a ring of sacred cornmeal is laid around the lodge which signifies that the whole inipi and the firepit to the east is a sacred space, and that no-one except the firekeeper can cross the sacred boundary.
- the ladies select stones according to the number suggested by the leader and ask Great Spirit for a prayer for each one. They then lay them carefully onto the plinth within the firepit.
- The group goes very quiet and prayerful as the sacred spark that starts the fire is placed.
- The fire will take about 1½ hours to get the stones to red heat, and during this time, the group will drum, and prepare prayer ties and generally "get ready"
- People file into the inipi giving thanks to Grandfather Sky and the firekeeper, and then enter the inipi - "the womb of the earth" on their bellies, saying "I enter you, Grandmother Earth with love and respect.
- The first of the stones are brought in, placed in the stone pit, and the praying begins.
- There are usually four rounds
- A round of thanksgiving prayers
- a round of healing prayers
- a pipe round for any prayers
- a prayer for yourself
- Then we have a feast!
The prayers are said out loud in the dark and the heat, and are powerful!