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By: Colin Hill
(Smiling Snake)
(The Ditch Wizard or Herb and Food Shaman)

I, Sitting Owl, would just like to remind readers that ‘cooking’ can refer to any transformation with fire, including the spiritual transformations from the kundalini fire. Incidentally, Laughing Snake has laughed his head off so his name has changed to Smiling Snake.

The Experience of My First Inipi Ceremony or Sweat Lodge

Before The Lodge

It just so happens that the place where the Lodge is is the exact spot where friends and I came to do meditation and relaxing with nature and Mother Earth in about 1968-1969. Sitting Owl directed while I helped to set up and prepare the lodge and Grandfather Fire. While the Grandfather Stone people where being reheated, Sitting Owl’s prayers of Gratitude to Great Spirit inspired me to do the same. Then I sat down to bring myself into a relaxed meditative state of consciousness. I began talking about the auras of trees and how they seem to pulsate with white light and a golden outline as if they’re breathing. This was to assist Sitting Owl in opening his third eye, inner eye, mind’s eye or mind screen, and to enhance my own experience in the lodge. The Stone People were red hot now, so we smudged ourselves and went on in to commune with Wakan Tanka and his helpers.

The First Round

Before Sitting Owl closed the lodge door I was already sweating my guts out [For overseas readers that means sweating profusely. Ed.] And then he put some water on the stones. When he sang the welcoming song my third eye opened and I saw specks of rainbow coloured tiny stars of energy. When he had finished singing I saw a whirling golden orange coloured vortex of energy, like a funnel, coming from outside the lodge, through the roof and into the Stone People pit. Circular waves then pulsated from the pit and lit up the whole lodge. When I described that to Sitting Owl, he said that it was probably the Great Spirit entering the lodge. Then I saw a huge silhouetted bear with a golden coloured outline, and then I saw an eagle circling the roof of the lodge from where Spirit came in. While Sitting Owl was explaining the significance of these visions, the lodge was so hot that I almost blacked out. Thank Great Spirit; Sitting Owl then opened the door to end the first round.

The Second Round

As Sitting Owl was introducing the subject for this round’s prayers, being the four directions and there associated elements, I had to concentrate on doing yogi breathing to keep myself from blacking out. At one stage I had a vision of a deer’s head with antlers, later he explained deer as the medicine of gentleness. While Sitting Owl was finishing his prayers I felt heaviness on the top of my head like wearing a crown. I realised that this was Great Spirit helping to heal my chronic inner ear infection that I have had for ten years. With my clairaudience I heard Great Spirit say, “Help me heal you”, so I immediately put my Rieki hands over my left ear and left throat, meanwhile I was still almost blacking out. With my inner vision I then saw Great Spirit, in the form of golden light, swirling around my inner ear. 

I then just managed to say some prayers before finishing the round. We were both so in need of fresh air that once the door was open we both collapsed with our heads hanging out gasping for air. This was not a painful experience, because it was actually quite blissful and wonderful.

The Third Round

I was so blissed out during this round that I just laid down while Sitting Owl said prayers for the two-leggeds. Then, I just managed to sit up to say my own prayers for the two-leggeds. While Sitting Owl waited for the steam to take my prayers up to the Great Spirit I had visions of a green and brown coloured turtle and an ambrosia coloured butterfly with a golden outline. Sitting Owl explained that turtle is Mother Earth and butterfly is transformation. Again we both collapsed with our heads hanging out gasping for air.

The Forth and last Round

In this round we sang some songs. And when David sang the departing song in the Lakota language I could see the song coming from him like bubbles of silvery white clouds. After that I had a vision of a spider and then a purple spotted beetle. It was as if after the Great Spirit had left the lodge I saw white and golden doves circling out through the roof. While I was waiting for Sitting Owl to leave the lodge and thank Maka (Mother Earth), and as I did some deep breathing, I experienced ecstatic physical tingling over my entire body, right down to my bones. As I was departing, and just after I had given thanks to Mother Earth, I again saw the purple spotted beetle. While I waited for Sitting Owl to cut the cord of his rebirth (Splash water over his body to ground himself) I was on my hands and knees gasping for air, still half in the lodge. 

However, even the cutting of my own cord was a groovy and blissful experience. By the way, cold water on a hot body and chest boosts the immune system by increasing the ‘T’ cell (white cell) production, thus healing any infection of body.

After the Lodge

This is when we sat around the Sacred Fire feasting on the offering fruits from the altar, and we quickly recovered as we debriefed, giving thanks to the Great Spirit for the awesome and FANTASTIC!! Experience of my first sweat.


As I entered my tent to sleep I was still seeing visions of speckles of light and a spider and its web. As I collapsed on my bed in a state of ecstatic bliss saying thank you to mama and papa, I realised that Great Spirit was still with me, always has been, and always will be. And I’ll be back for many more sweats, as I am still in awe over this technique of communing with the Great Spirit. So Sitting Owl is also a pretty good cook, through him the Great Spirit cooked me up pretty good! I feel more balanced, grounded, focused and whole; and I’m looking forward to the next journey. I recommend this same experience for everyone in the world.


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