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Dressed in white from head to toe. I crawled into the womb of the universe. For 3 hours, a group of us sat on the earth, in the dark. We chanted, we sung, we cried, we purged. The heat was often so unbearable for me that I found myself hugging the cool earth for the maternal reassurance that “everything is ok”. Where was I? I was participating in what the Lakota people call an Inipi, or a Native American Sweat Lodge. And, real talk, I got my ass served on a platter.

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source: http://www.barefootsworld.net/sweatlodge.html

Inipi means to live again. It is a purification ceremony that teaches humility.Sitting in the dark, I faced some of my deepest fears. This led me to reach into the depths of my being in a way that only unmedicated child birth has done for me. An Inipi is a major purification of mind, body and being.

Heated stones, or grandfathers, are placed in the center of the structure and supply a level of heat which prompts your body to detox from the inside out. The steam that is produced once water is poured onto the grandfathers is believed to absorb negative energy that may be trapped within your emotional body, or aura. The experience can often be intense when you carry severe emotional pain. It can trigger fears that survivors of trauma have lived avoiding most of our lives.

The fear I felt during this process of purification was no joke. The seemingly suffocating heat and humidity were intensified by the cramped darkness. Every fear imaginable arose for me: fear of the darkness, of being smothered, of the unknown, fear of allowing my mind to get ahead of me and lead me to leave the lodge before the four rounds of sweating took place.

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“Purification Through Steam”, Vera Louise Drysdale

My ego kept asking “what the fuck” was I doing there?! It also assured me that “this makes absolutely no sense!” and “this is the last fucking time I am doing this. EVERRRR”. I almost gave in. In between what felt like gasps for air, I laid on the ground and humbly asked the Medicine Woman to please let me out. In complete darkness, I was asked if I was sure I wanted to leave. I said “yes yes yes!”. I opened my eyes and was able to catch a glimpse of setting sun-light as the flap of the sweat lodge was opened.

But my village came through with reassurance of possibility. An elder mentor, and sweat veteran, held by hand and guided me to “put your face on the earth”. I heeded. The flapped was closed. I laid back down on the bare ground and continued surrendering to momma earth.I went back to basics and used my breathe. I felt raw, weak, vulnerable. I felt like a child in need of reassurance.

At one point, as happened during the birth of our sun, I felt as if I left my body. Once I got into rhythmic breathing, I went to a place with no sound nor movement; there was complete stillness. It felt as if the earth and I were becoming one. Logic would interfere and remind me of the “unbearable heat”. Having just experienced complete stillness, I was now feeling like I was being pried from mother earth’s womb. Those were the times where I felt like I was unable to catch my breath. My mind worked double-time to gain control; but control is the very thing that is surrendered once you crawl into the universe’s womb. So I suffered. All I could do was lay on the earth, eyes shut, and breath. The ebb and flow was how I made it through the four rounds of purging.

Once four rounds of purging took place, each with a short break in between, the flap to the structure was pushed opened. There I was, drenched in sweat and slightly muddy from head to toe; my whites were no longer white. I looked around and felt as if I was looking at people rising from a deep sleep. I crawled back out of the universe’s womb, the sweatlodge, with a renewed sense of hope for the world. I felt ready to face life with a new-found sense of gratitude. Ancestors, I am humbled by our medicine. Aho!

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About an hour after the Inipi. Radiant


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Our maternal grandmother, Mama Lola, passed away when she was about 103 years old (more or less). We were 12 and we remember how beautiful she was. Something in us was also frightened by her. We think that the seeming dementia she exhibited during her final years led us to keep our distance most of the time; she was also hardened by years of heartache and rarely let kin, besides her children, close to her. The only time my grandmother did let most people near her was when she wanted her long hair brushed.

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Our grandmother’s long, braided hair embodied the indigenous DNA that ran through her blood, and also runs through ours. She had a mane of silver tresses that traveled all the way down to her butt. Mama Lola loved to sit in silence as one of us combed through over a century of memories. We often snuck feels of her drooping ear lobes until she cused us the heck out and demanded we proceed. Regardless of how her hair ended up post-combing, Mama Lola always wrapped up her mane into a tightly coiled bun, almost as if she was ensuring that the memories stayed close to her. Our mother tells us that we favor Mama Lola when we wear our hair in a bun, one of our favorites styles. It’s nice to know that now we are holding those memories close. …


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Freckled face, curly haired, wide-hipped, wide-eyed, double-trouble power houses. We were raised in Brooklyn and nurtured by Quisqueya (Dominican Republic and Haiti). Our village is a circle of new-age witches, or brujas, that make magic with every breath we take. We are eternal reflections of each other and of the Divine spark in each of us.

Brujas of Brooklyn emerges out of our experiences as we came of age in post-Reaganomics New York City. With the crack epidemic as our background, we were reared within a relatively strict Dominican household. Our mother was committed to ensuring that we not get lost in boys, our high school’s exorbitant drop-out rate, nor the violence that promised to consume the neighborhoods we lived in. …

About

Brujas of Brooklyn

Freckle-faced, wide-eyed, power-house twins. Yoga, knowledge, and love are our drugs.

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