Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Death, Part two
The second time I experienced death I was a teenager and the death was mine. Like every normal American white family we have a native root in the family tree. I felt drawn to that path, which lead straight into "the Trap".
The trap is or was a twelve step program out on an Indian reservation. Although I did not arrive there for *treatment* I did receive it. I was taken their by my first mentor, "Doc". He was a recovering alcoholic with several years of sobriety. The Trap is where the sweat lodge ceremony was held.
The cold bare ground of the lodge felt good, like the cool side of the pillow on a warm night. It was a small lodge barely enough room for seven people to sit in a circle. Take away personal space and we fit eleven. The rocks are brought in, they glow brightly like molten lava and the heat is felt immediately.
The door is closed. For a few moments you can see red figures outlined by the faint glow, but that light goes out quickly as the water hits the rocks. The hiss is loud and startling at first but the sound stirs something primitive inside you, then you feel the steam...
You sweat in places you didn't realize you had skin. You don't want to breath it in and you try to turn away from it, but like Death and the Borg... resistance is futile you will be assimilated. I am a fighter, I will fight to the death and I did. Too proud to cry out for the door, I laid there quietly screaming inside and fighting every basic overwhelming instinct. I couldn't breath, I couldn't move, I couldn't stay in and I couldn't get out. I scratched and clawed, I can still feel the dirt under my finger nails.
Out of the darkness I heard her telling me to let go... I had a vision of a tree swaying in the breeze. A hiss of steam and the leaf falls from the tree. Floating in slow motion to the ground. I landed gently on the ground and died peacefully. Laying there I looked up at the tree, I could see the branch where I grew up. everything looks so different from here. My body limp, relaxed, peaceful and free. Pure awareness.
The sweat lodge symbolizes the womb of mother earth. When they opened the door I could *sense* the outside world. I crawled out on all fours, caked with mud and leaves. I drew my first breath of fresh air and opened my eyes again, for the first time.