The Block Island Times

Sweat it out: Sweat lodge Sept. 22

A time for cleansing and relaxation
By Stephanie Turaj | Sep 20, 2013
Photo by: Stephanie Turaj The sweat lodge will be held in a peaceful clearing off Corn Neck Road. The fire will be built in a pit (not pictured) nearby, and people will huddle in this wooden structure, which will be covered in blankets.

In an off-the-beaten-track field, blooming with goldenrod flowers, island resident Anna Christina is hard at work stacking firewood in a large pile.

Christina is preparing for an event on Sunday, Sept. 22, also known as the autumn equinox, when summer ends and fall begins. On this day, at this location located off Corn Neck Road, people are invited to huddle around a fire all day and sweat.

That’s right, sweat. The event is called a “sweat lodge,” is facilitated by an off-island resident named Carl Big Heart, and is based on a Native American tradition. A large fire is built near a lodge, which is a dome-shaped wooden structure covered in blankets. Attendees to this event will enter this lodge to meditate, cleanse and say prayers.

“It’s a cleansing process — it’s a good way to detox physically and emotionally,” said Christina, who is the event’s “fire keeper,” or the one who keeps the fire going. “For me, personally, it’s about reconnecting with myself, sending out prayers, and getting grounded again.”

Christina said that the event begins by preparing the fire and laying about 40 stones atop it. The fire will burn for about two hours before the stones are hot. At this point, attendees will enter the lodge, and the fire keepers will carry one stone at a time into the lodge. The stones are placed in the center, the Hocoka. There are typically four rounds inside the lodge, each lasting about 20 to 30 minutes. In these rounds, prayers are said, songs are sung and silence is embraced.

The event starts at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept 22. After the ceremony, there will be a potluck feast at the Hygeia House Inn, on Beach Ave. If you are interested in attending the event, Christina recommends that you bring the following: two gallons of water, (one for you and one for the community), two towels (one for during ceremony and one to dry off after), a clean change of clothes and a dish for the potluck. She also recommends that you eat lightly the morning of the lodge and drink a lot of water prior to the event. Donations for the sweat lodge are encouraged, but not required.

Dress code is casual; women should wear a modest tank top or T-Shirt, with a skirt or loose pants. Men should wear shorts, shirt optional.

For the event, meet at the Hygeia House Inn at 11:15 a.m. Alternatively, if you know your way to the sweat lodge location, meet there at 11:30 a.m.

If you have any questions about the sweat lodge, contact Anna at or 401-480-0803.

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