Tag Archives: Native American

House of Offering

Ancient peoples walked and farmed and hunted on this land that we now call Erda.  They fled to the desert wastes ages ago, making way for my ancestors to farm the fertile fields.  But Harvey’s property possessed a connection to the ancient traditions.  And he invited me to a part of that connection for a moment.  Inside the turtle lodge, we left the world behind, left our carnality outside, and sought the Divine Presence through prayer, heat, song, privation, and the smoke offering of the peace pipe.  (See Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog, Chapter 7: Turtle Lodge post, for a full discussion of the turtle lodge sweat ceremony.)

HOUSE OF OFFERING

The rocks glow,
like a cluster of orange suns,
shimmering in ferrous shadows
with pulsing heat
in the mid-day darkness
of the stick-framed, skin-clad lodge,
the turtle:
House of sweat,
House of cleansing,
House of song.
Sing of the weathered ancients!
Sing of the laughing children!
Sing of the beasts and the rivers, the woods and the wind!
In this dark other-world:
House of hope,
House of healing,
House of dreams.
Dream of the grisly bear and the bison!
Dream of feathers flying and eyes!
Dream of circles and fire and roads to choose!
Sprinkle now the water,
fill the house with steam,
and breathe,
and sweat,
and renew the chanted song.
Ascend now the burning bark,
fill the house with smoke
pulled from this pipe
and offered up from this
House of prayer,
House of offering, to the
House of God.

 

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Chapter 7: Turtle Lodge

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How can we get closer to God?
In airplanes . . . and helicopters! Vvrroooom!
(Caleb-3 to Dad)

Harvey’s property was special to the Indians.  They needed a place to perform their ceremonies, where it was quiet, where animals and nature were close, and where Indians were welcome.  Harvey’s place fit the requirements.  The Skull Valley Band of the Goshute Indians had established Harvey’s land as an official Indian worship site.  Local Indians of several tribes set up a turtle lodge and held their sacred sweat ceremonies there.  Harvey invited me repeatedly to attend a ceremony.  Resisting what I didn’t understand, I politely put him off.  One Saturday, though, I reluctantly agreed, admittedly nervous to attend.   When I came home several hours later, the children found me exhausted, my hair sweaty and matted.  I took a big drink and a shower, then flopped down on the couch.  They begged me to tell them all about the Indians and their turtle lodge.  I sighed wearily, then told them of my experience with the sweat ceremony. Continue reading