Sweat Lodge

North Georgia Mountains between Helen, Hiawassee, Blairsville




The Inipi is a ceremonial lodge of prayer and celebration to cleanse our body, mind, heart and spirit.  By bringing together the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) we create the breath of our grandfathers and grandmothers.  The Sweat Lodge is a sacred place – a place of prayer.  Everything used in the Sweat Lodge comes from Mother Earth and reminds us of our interconnectedness with her and all life. This ceremony helps us come into proper relationship with ourselves and everything around us.


The lodge is built by a community of people working in harmony and balance to create a structure, which will serve as a sacred place of prayer and thanksgiving. The frame is made of willow saplings, which are straight and supple.  The poles are bent and tied and when the frame is complete it looks like a nest, beehive or overturned basket.  Traditionally, the framework is covered in buffalo hide or other skins, forming a small, totally sealed dark space. Today, heavy blankets and quilts, or canvas and plastic are used instead.


A pit is dug at the center of the Lodge, ready to receive the hot stones (Tunkashina,or Grandfather).  The earth from the pit is used to make an “altar” outside the door of the Lodge.  Antlers, which will be used to move the hot stones within the lodge, are placed on this altar, as well as the sacred pipe.  Individuals may ask to have medicine objects blessed – but no one may touch an object that belongs to someone else or cross over the Spirit Path.  The “Fire (or Stone) Tender” will stay outside the Lodge, working with the stones in the fire and passing them into the Lodge when summoned by “The Water Pourer.” 

Traditionally, the stones used in the ceremony are rocks that will not fragment when heated.  Stones are our oldest living relatives.  They were here long before people and the Native Americans refer to these as “Tunkashina” or as “grandfathers”.  They can absorb illness, impurities and negativity in the same way that they can absorb heat.  They carry ancient earth-records and release these memories through steam when water (medicine) is poured upon them.  As each stone is brought to the pit the participants greet it by saying: “Welcome Grandfather.”  The number of stones used will depend on “The Water Pourer” and the type of ceremony that is performed.


When everything is prepared for the Sweat, the participants will enter the Lodge area after being smudged (blessed).  Smudging is a simple but powerful method of purification.   A Grandmother Sage, Cedar and/or Sweet Grass bundle is used to “bathe” your body in purifying smoke. 

The participants will then walk around the Lodge in a sun-wise circle (clockwise), stopping at each of the four directions for a moment of prayer.

The participants will crawl through the entrance when summoned by the Water Pourer.  Before entering, each person will ask permission to enter and may affirm their relationships with the words "all my relations", or "omytakouias"we are all related.  The Water Pourer may or may not decide on the seating.  There may now be prayers, songs, drumming and the sharing of the sacred pipe, before the hot rocks are brought in one at a time and placed in the central pit.  Prayers (speaking from the heart),  and songs are offered, and sacred herbs; cedar, sage, sweet grass, cornmeal, copal are placed upon the stones.  The flaps are closed and the first round begins with the pouring or splashing of the water upon the hot, glowing stones.

There are usually four rounds, with a minimum of four songs sung during each round.  The Water Pourer will call for the Fire Tender to open the flaps signaling an end to each round.  More stones will be brought in, the flaps closed again as the next round begins.

During the first round prayer and song is offered for ourselves. “Who am I?” “What Am I here for?” The second round is for prayers for others. It is the round of the adolescent.  The third round is the Healing round, the round of the adult.  The fourth round is the catch up round where any prayers you missed are offered as well as prayers of gratitude.  It is called the wisdom round; the round for completion.

Coming out of the small, dark, extremely hot, claustrophobic space of the Lodge is like being born from the womb of your Mother, from the Mother Earth herself – revitalized in spirit, mind and body; purified from the inside out; reconnected to ourselves, our world, each other and all of Creation.

The Sweat can last from 3 – 4 hours, but it feels like only minutes have passed.   Gary says we have been on “Indian Time.” Bring sleeping bags if you plan to stay the night – there is plenty of camping space. There are also several cabins or rooms available on the grounds.

At the Sweat, wear loose fitting comfortable clothing and bring several towels.  You may want to wear sandals or “flip-flops” down to the Lodge, but shoes are removed before entering.  It is recommended that you not wear jewelry or contact lens due to the heat.  Women may not participate if they are on their moon time (menstrual cycle). Moon time is a special ceremony that is for the women and should be honored as such. 

If you have a special prayer request, bring rolling tobacco (packages like Bugle Boy, TOP, Prince Albert etc. – not any of the “fragranced” ones) and a long (1/2 yard) piece of cotton material/cloth.  You will offer your tobacco, wrapped in the material, and prayer request to prior to the Sweat.  The requests and tobacco will be offered at the beginning of the Sweat.  The material/cloth will be tied around trees after the Sweat so that the wind will continue to send your prayers to Creator.

Please call us now to reserve your space

706-896-9966 or 800-990-8869 

Enota Mountain Retreat
1000 Highway 180
Hiawassee, GA  30546
706-896-9966   800-990-8869

Your contributions help Enota protect over 60 acres held in Trust for conservation. Enota is a service-based, charitable, educational, non-profit 501(c)3, volunteer organization. It is Enota’s mission to conserve this sacred land for generations to come.

Call: 706-896-9966

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