Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sweat house part five: Sight with new eyes

His truck was parked outside, in true humbleness he waited for me to come outside. Old timers like Wilson would never come and bang on your door, (impolite), but rather just sit and wait until you notice that he's there. Yah ah teh shi chei! what can I do for you? His reply was direct and to the point... " Time for a meeting, sweat on Friday, meeting Friday night." It had only been a few days since I had last seen Wilson, but it seemed as if we hadn't seen each other in years. It was always nice to see that old man whenever possible, never know with some of those old timers, just when they might decide to take flight across the great divide. A mutual friend was in desperate need of a healing. And Wilson was gathering the "troops" so to speak. I felt so honored and humbled at the same time that he would consider me as a friend, and somebody that could contribute. He said that we "need to have as many eyes as we can get to see the problem more clearly." "You have new eyes, its time to use them!" He always had a way of building you up so that you could approach any situation with confidence. So we made plans to meet at my mother-in-laws sheep camp on Friday afternoon after I got off work. I was excited about the whole thing, a chance to sweat again, and partake in an exceedingly holy event. Friday rolled around and when I got off work I went straight to sheep camp. The fire for the sweat was already lit, and I could see Wilson talking with several other men including my father-in-law, Frank. Frank is the one who gave me my name, "Dah ga shi chee", means, "My mustache is red." Frank and Wilson were friends since they were kids, and now both were in their late seventies. Well over one hundred years of experience of traditional healing between both men, I was in good company. Introductions were made, and the "patient" was introduced... it was Frank. He was suffering from what is referred to as "Moth Madness". A condition where your thoughts flutter like a moth in the fire light. Some would call it adult attention deficit disorder. It had been going on for some time and it was really affecting his life. This sweat was going to be a difficult one. It was going to involve the use of special teas to induce vomiting during the suffering that would already be taking place. But here's the thing. done properly, one would come out with a clean mind and spirit... a perfect canvass for the "nazai" medicine to weave a painting through, over, under, around, and inside ones entire being.
We were inside the sweat once again, since then it had become a familiar place and felt like going into a place of real safety, and connecting with the grandfathers. It was a labor of love, so I didn't mind throwing up a few times, it was for somebody that I have great affection for, and that makes all the difference in the world. Four rounds, each one hotter than the last, until even the tiniest bit of self pride was gone. It is then that one can see with spirit taught vision. And can also see what you've been eating for the last couple of days, some of which I didn't remember eating. After the sweat, which was used for purification, we sat around the fire for some time just drinking water and telling stories. The water was "prayer water". It had been prayed over and left outside, for when we got out of the sweat. Kind of like "Holy Water" to a Christian, but not splashed on externally, but drank so that it would help sweep out your heart of all things negative.
Inside the hogan Wilson's' wife was preparing the peyote buttons for the meeting. Someone was getting the other hogan ready, and it seemed as if things were going to be OK.
One of the reasons that the purification sweat is necessary is that the medicine is going to seek out all the things "unclean" in your body and spirit and force them up and out. Without the sweat beforehand, sickness and vomiting can occur, so it's best to get that out of the way first, so you can concentrate on the matter at hand, which is the healing of a loved one.
The time had come for the "meeting". We entered the hogan, moving clockwise around the fire pit in the middle of the floor, we all took seats on the floor along the walls. With that I will leave you for now, but I want to say a few words about the time I spent in the arms of the Dine'.
For almost twenty years, they accepted me, with loving kindness, into their family and culture. Wilson has since continued his journey to the realm of "Long life happiness". I miss him, because he was a once in a lifetime friend and father figure. He taught me many things and opened my new eyes to a world of great beauty, able to see what I never could before.
Wilson, I miss you... but we will walk in beauty together as friends once again!!
Goodbye for now, I am what I am.


  1. This is a beautiful tribute to Wilson. I wish I could meet people like that. They have a wisdom and insight into things which we can only dream about. I am sure he is still with you Mike in everything you do and will never leave your side. You know in your heart he is there to help you and guide you whenever you need him to.

    This is another wonderful post Mike. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Once again, you've tugged my heartstrings. I am very moved. Each time you share part of this story I feel I get to know your heart better. Thank you So much. I do agree with Joan that Wilson is with you always.

  3. Mike: Such an interesting story of the sweat lodge. I bet you think often of your friend Wilson.

  4. Frank sounds like a very special person. Can't wait to read more of this story.