It was mid-September of 2001, a couple of weeks after 9/11. It was my second time at Easton Mountain - the first being that summer when I lead a retreat on erotic spirituality. This was also the first time I met Tony Allicino and Jonathan Downing, the two men who led the sweat. I was particularly interested in meeting them when I learned that they had participate in a Naraya, which is a Native American ceremony held at various sites including at a Radical Faerie sanctuary in Oregon. My conversation with them led helped me make a decision to attend the Oregon Naraya in 2013.
Under Tony's and Jonathan's direction, we built a large sweat lodge on the High Meadow, near what is now the garden shed. For part of the time we were working, Jonathan maintained a slow beat on a hand drum - and I found that this intensified a meditative spirit, even before the lodge started.
While we were working, we heard coyotes howling in the distance. Jonathan was worried because he had brought his small, but very friendly dog. We found a way to keep the dog with us.
Tony and Jonathan showed us how to use appropriate prayers while we built a fire to heat the rocks. Many of the rocks we gathered shattered as they were heated, apparently because of the type of rock found at Easton Mountain.
It was dark by the time the rocks were a glowing red. We took off our clothes and entered the lodge. Because the lodge was big, it didn't get as hot as some lodges I've experienced, and personally I was glad of that - though I know that a hot lodge intensifies the prayers of those participating. We were all in a comber mood, as we focused the destruction of the World Trade Center and the challenges this presented to us personally, to our country, and to the world.
This lodge was just one of many ceremonies that have brought sacred energy to Easton Mountain, helping to make it what it is today. Tony has returned to lead other events, including eight conferences for gay shamans. On April 1-3 he, along with Jay thomas, will be leading An Introduction to Shamanism, again bringing spiritual blessing to our land and community.