"I have attended a couple of Matt’s sweat lodges in Woodstock. I didn’t know what to expect as I had never done one before. Matt puts in a lot of work to create the experience and authenticity of an indigenous sweat lodge ceremony. Through each step of the ceremony, Matt clearly explains what the meaning is and allows you to participate at your comfort level. After the ceremony, I felt very peaceful and my body felt amazingly purified. I would highly recommend trying one!"
- Sue D
For a PDF copy of the flier and a list of sweat lodge protocols, please click on the image to the right.
My Approach to the Lodge
I am trying to help people, whether with healing, guidance or visions. I create a safe container for them to receive what they need from the Great Creator, their ancestors, and their spirit guides. I utilize all aspects available to me in this modern world. I am thankful I have so much information at my access, so many tools from so many cultures, so many beautiful elders who have willingly shared with me. It has been an honor. The work that I perform represents the culmination of decades of spiritual, geographical and socio-cultural journeying.
The sweat lodge is not something to be taken lightly. I am very serious about mine. I adhere to all the standards I have been taught over many years from my Lakota and Mayan elders. I was called to indigenous teachings over 20 years ago after I sat in my first lodge. The healing was more than transformative and unbelievably life-changing. I was an addict then and in desperate need of help. While in recovery, I decided I wanted to learn more. In an attempt to learn servitude, I volunteered at the American Indian Center in Chicago. I helped to do their landscaping, worked in the food pantry, made fry bread at events and gathered all the gifts for Toy for Tots from the surrounding suburbs. Despite being told that it would have a hard road to travel, I maintained my interest in the sweat lodge and other healing modalities and, several years later, I started working with a Lakota/Cherokee elder. I became a fire tender and spent years working and learning from him. One year, we did a lodge every single week, right through the winter. In the end, he gifted me ALL the songs. He told me, “The Lakota kids aren't learning this.” He continued, “We need someone to carry on the traditions or it will all be lost.” He gave me the name Path Keeper and told me that my job was to help heal people and to keep the red path alive. I honor that.
During this time, a friend invited me to Guatemala to study with the Mayan elders. They do temazcals there. It is their form of a sweat lodge. The Lakota or North American indigenous peoples don't own sweat lodges or the practice of sweat lodges. They are done globally, throughout many cultures, throughout all of time. In Finland, they have become so entwined in the national culture that you can still find people who were born in the lodge/sauna. The same goes for the Mayans. While in a lodge once a participant asked if kids could come in. “Come in?” Laughed the elder. “They are born in here.” He meant it quite literally. The Mayan sweats are very different and more robust than the North American ones. Allow me to explain; the Scandinavian lodges use a heater with stones and water, the Lakota lodge just uses heated stones, the Mayan temazcal has a firebox built into the side of the stone dome. They have fire tenders who just keep feeding it from the outside. These lodges are rough and can last for many hours. You are sitting inches away from a roaring fire and the only thing separating you from it is a sheet of eighteen gauge metal. The techniques they use to generate airflow in the lodge structure are rather impressive. I learned of them and incorporated them into my lodges, as a precautionary measure, even though my lodge is cloth and naturally breathes. These elders sponsored me, and I spent years visiting Guatemala and Mexico and learning their ways. In 2010, I was initiated and had my first vision quest. Ironically, the name they gave me was Path Keeper. They were completely unaware of my Lakota given name. The Mayan elder told me, “We need someone to carry on the traditions or it will all be lost.” One of the things I learned from the Mayans, and incorporate into my all-day events, is their healing despacho ceremonies. It is the most beautiful mandala building prayer ceremony. I was so influenced by this that I went on to create hundreds of mandalas and now have a book entitled Mandalas. I also scored some music for mediation with the same title. You can check that out here. www.themandalaevent.com
In addition to transmitting the knowledge that Lakota and Maya elders authorized me to teach, I incorporate elements of meditation, yoga and the Christian spirituality that I learned while walking the Camino de Santiago with a Shaman. Other learning processes that helped form who I am include studying sacred plant medicines with the Shipibo in Peru and worked in a healing center in the Amazon Jungle.
Six years ago, I rented space on an organic farm. The land was very spiritually charged and the owner invited me to build a lodge. He had wanted one for quite some time. I met with my Lakota elder and asked for permission. I did another vision quest and he gifted me my pipe. He said, “You cannot charge for this lodge and you must hold one for all who call for it.” I built the lodge and soon I was receiving calls from those in need of healing, including addicts. Having recovered myself I always answer anyone's call. I never charged. I did this for years. The fact is, I was losing money. I couldn't aﬀord to do the healing anymore with all the costs that the lodge incurs. There are mowers and trimmers for the grass, chainsaws, gasoline, wood, tarps, cloth and general supplies. Plus the cost of renting the land. It all adds up. I went back to my elder and asked if I could charge. He said, “Of course. You have paid your dues. I didn't want you to go broke healing people. You have earned it.”
Simply put...I have been trained and sanctioned by both Lakota and Mayan elders. They requested that I used the training to help others. I am here.