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Summary of The Indian Sweat

             The author of The Indian Sweat, Andrew T. Weil, begins his article by describing some type of ceremony. The ceremony described included a huge bonfire, a small hut made of willow poles laced together and men playing flutes, drums and rattles. Inside of the huge bonfire are large rocks that are heated and then used in the ceremony. Once the bonfire finishes burning, the group undresses and crawls into the small hut, circling a pit located in the center of the hut. One of the men stays behind, retrieves and places the heated rocks into the pit. When all the rocks are in place, the final man joins the circle and pulls the canvas and blankets tightly over the door. Now in the dark, the men sit in silence. Only after a few minutes the leader begins to speak. He welcomes everyone and offers prayer for anything he decides. The leader then sprinkles cedar incense on the rocks, which immediately permeates the small hut with its scent. After this he dips a whisk in a bucket and splashes water onto the heated rocks. As this happens the men inside begin to chant. With each splash of water the temperature rises and the chant becomes more serious, serving as a focus for concentration. This part of the ceremony ends when the men shout "Mitayuke oyasin!" which means "All my relations!" and the leader says it is time for a break. .
             This ceremony as described is an adaptation of the Plains Indians" sweat lodge or what the Sioux call the inipi ceremony. There are many different reasons why people do these ceremonies. The Sioux use the sweat for religious and curing rituals. They would sweat before battle to purify and increase strength in themselves. It is said that the sweat can also cure physical illness. All in all Weil says that the sweat is, "a terrific high in body, mind and spirit." Weil also says that during sweats he often senses a great unity of consciousness between the participants. This unity is shown when everyone shouts "Mitayuke oyasin!" at the same time.

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