Sweat Lodge - Inipi FAQ's
Lakota sweat lodge guidelines vary from lodge to lodge among the different native communities, but these FAQ's address the sweat lodge ways of the Lakota Way Healing Center and Doug Good Feather of the Lakota/Dakota Sioux Nation of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, USA.
what is an inipi -or- sweat lodge?
"Inipi" - pronounced "ee-nee-pee" - means 'to live again'. Inipi is the Lakota spiritual purification ceremony of rebirth, rejuvenation and awakening - it is a sacred communion and reconnection with The Creator. The ceremony is also referred to as sweat lodge - or 'sweat' or 'lodge' for short. It is also referred to as the Stone Peoples Lodge. All terms are acceptable, but use 'inipi' when you are speaking with a medicine man/woman, elder or in the lodge during ceremony. Everything that's said in ceremony is confidential and must NEVER be discussed outside of ceremony - these are peoples deepest sufferings, hopes and prayers.
Do I have to be invited to attend a sweat lodge ceremony?
Initially, yes. But, you may not always know someone connected with our community, so you can just use our Contact Form to introduce yourself. We can talk about protocol, answer your questions and see if this type of lodge may fit with your needs.
Do I have to make reservations?
For your first ceremony, please use our Contact Form and we'll get to know you. After you've been to your first lodge with us, you will get a feel of how the schedule works.
What do I wear in the sweat lodge?
Men wear loose fitting shorts (like basketball shorts), t-shirt is optional (most men go shirtless) and a towel is also optional but recommended. Women wear a ribbon skirt or lightweight ankle-length skirt and a t-shirt and a towel is optional but recommended. No shoes or hats are worn in the sweat lodge. Keep in mind that everything that you wer into sweat lodge will be soaked through, so bring a complete change of clothing for afterwards. All easily removed jewelry should be removed. We understand some jewelry may be difficult to remove, so just mention it to the medicine man when you arrive. There are no extra towels or shorts or skirts to offer you, so don't forget anything.
How hot does it get and will I get thirsty?
It gets extremely hot in the sweat lodge, but you will be safe. The physical experience is like getting into a hot tub; there is a period of adjustment as you deal with the intensity of heat both physically and mentally, but then your body adjusts and the experience begins to . If you get worried, anxious or feel uncomfortable in any way you may get out in between doors (there are four doors and each door lasts approximately 10-15 minutes), but once you get out we ask that you stay out for the remainder of the ceremony. Unless it is an emergency, do not ask to get out once the door is shut, because doing so will end the ceremony for everyone. If you are concerned that you may have to get out during the ceremony when the door is shut, then you should trust that feeling and not attend ceremony until you are sure you are ready. We suggest you hydrate well before lodge and you visit the restroom before we go in, so you are comfortable and can remain in ceremony. You do not bring in a water bottle in the lodge and most people find it interesting that you don't usually get thirsty during sweat lodge ceremony.
What time should I arrive?
Arrive about 30 minutes early, with enough time to greet people and put any food prepared or offer any donations. If we have sweat lodge at 6:00 PM, that doesn't mean we start exactly at 6:00 PM. It could start right at 6:00 PM or an hour later. Welcome to "Indian Time" LOL.
How long is the sweat lodge ceremony?
The word "ceremony" means something different in the english language, but our meaning means that ceremony lasts up to four days after we get out of inipi. In western terms, the ceremony itself lasts about t depends, but the sweat lodge ceremony itself lasts about 2.5 to 3.5 hours. After ceremony, we eat a little something as a community afterward sweat lodge ceremony. It is considered rude to leave right away. Eating together is our time to socialize and get to know and caught up with each other. The entire experience may go 4 to 6 hours, so plan accordingly.
What do I need to bring?
For clothing, see the answer above. Generally, you will bring something to share to eat and an offering and/or a donation to help with the ceremonial grounds (like trash service, cleaning the port-a-potties, etc). We never charge for ceremony, but if you would like to donate then a $10 to $20 donation would be typical. The food you can bring can be as simple as a couple oranges to a pot of stew or anything in between. There will be 20-40 people that attend, and you can choose to bring something for that many people, but you are certainly not expected to feed that many. If everyone brings a little something, then there will be more than enough to go around. The food we bring is typically healthy, organic and gluten/glyphosate free. Don't worry about being perfect with the food, all dietary lifestyles will be present at ceremony from vegan and vegetarian to carnivores...just bring whatever you feel.