My Wild Heart Cracked Open in the Womb of a Sweat Lodge

Sweat Lodge Vision by Susanne Iles

I believed if I stared hard enough into the darkness of the
Warm earth womb on that
Ice cold night
Trees pointing like bare bones out of the black ground
I would find the answers I was seeking.

I believed my mind would roll ideas around like pebbles
Tumbling in a stormy sea until the
Answer to Everything
Would come out
Smooth, perfect

I must have expected an angel or kindly whisper in my ear saying
This is what you need to do
This is who you are
But that’s not the way a Vision Quest works
You cannot control the messages you receive.

He was no angel but a one eyed man rising from a tiny flame in the centre of the lodge
His hair was matted and full of twigs, his face scarred with
Tattoos, blood and chalk.

He held up his blue-from-the-cold hands to touch my own
I cringed.

His breath coiled around his face, and smelled of clay
I could see the frost on his brows and lashes
Even though the heat in the lodge
Was fire-stone-bright and
Smelled of warm cedar branches.


You look for answers without opening your eyes
Like those who saw the long boats full of
Shining men
Thinking they rode a water dragon and were coming to
Save them.

You thought you could tame the Sisutl by spitting blood
Or piercing it with a holly twig
But instead you were devoured, ribs splayed
Heart exposed
Bestowed the gift of
One eye on Earth and
One Eye in Heaven.

Learn to pay attention.

Who are you?
I whispered.

Who are you?
He replied.

Leaning forward he put his lips to my ear
You will find the Answers in
Your own Ashes.

-Susanne Iles