The Women’s Lodge – Photo by Leah Schroeder
One of the founders of The Mother Earth Gathering Womyn of All Nations received instruction through a dream three years ago, to build The Lodge of Everlasting Life. This was a gift from the ancestor whose remains were found and re-buried in the area near Seven Sisters Falls. It was a gift for the women. She was the same ancestor who guided the founders to bring together the women to this area. One of the elders taught her this lodge was a very powerful ancient lodge that was used for ceremony and fasting. It was a lodge that wasn’t being used anymore.
Over this past year we talked about it often. It was important to build it for this year’s gathering. When I learned more about this lodge in the weeks preceding the gathering, bringing it back became even more significant.
A month before this gathering, I fasted at our gathering site for a few days. During my time there I thought about this lodge. It felt like this was a task for the women to build together. It was something we were reclaiming.
A few days before the gathering, a small group of us were called together to build this lodge. I set out early in the morning with two other women to begin gathering saplings for this project. It seemed appropriate and powerful to have three women begin this process – a divine number.
When we arrived at the gathering site, we looked around for appropriate trees. We were looking for young Ash, Birch, or Tamarack. On the west side of the site is a large outcropping of granite rock. On the north side is a river. On the east side is a wooded area and to the south is a dried up marsh area with a narrow stream running through it that flows into the river. It was through this area we decided to go in search of the trees we needed. On the other side of this marshy area was another wooded area where we were guided to go.
We made our way through the marsh, jumped over the stream and headed into the woods. We found a grove of what we thought were Ash, but later found out were Alder. We were told they carried Unicorn Energy, which somehow felt fitting for reclaiming this ancient lodge that had been lost. An eagle circled over us as we arrived at this spot, letting us know this was where we needed to be. One of the women asked the young trees, which ones wanted to be part of our lodge. For each one that said yes, tobacco was offered and we began the work of chopping down these saplings.
We were told we would need about fifty-six saplings to form the lodge. In the first hour and a half, the three of us had fifteen ready. We cleaned off most of the branches to make it easier to haul them back to the gathering site. I carried five saplings, dragging them out of the woods, through the long, dried grass of the marsh, over the stream, through more marsh until I arrived back at the gathering site. As I dragged these saplings I was aware of the power and significance of what I was a part of. It felt like I was making a sacred pilgrimage.
As we arrived at the site with the first set of saplings, more help arrived. We sent them off to get the next batch of saplings. The person providing the teachings found some taller Ash in the wood area to the east of the gathering site, and was very quickly able to harvest enough to make up what was needed for the lodge.
More people arrived to help. After lunch we walked around the site to find the perfect spot to build the lodge and began the process of marking out the area, digging holes for the poles and assembling the lodge. The process was a beautiful ceremony. There were both women and men helping and supporting each other through this process.
We received some very basic teachings of the lodge as we built it. We were told this year was about learning to build it. Every year it will get bigger and we will learn more as we go. Once the frame of the lodge was complete, our work for the day was done. The energy inside this space was warm, comforting and strong. Some of the leaves were left on the tops of the trees that were used. The lodge frame was simple, but beautiful with the added greenery. It felt alive which acknowledged its connection with the Earth.
Two days later people began to arrive to set up for this year’s Mother Earth Gathering Womyn of All Nations. I was asked to lead a pipe and water ceremony on the first morning of the gathering, inside the Women’s Lodge, as we referred to it, to pray for blessing for this lodge and the gathering and open and prepare it for use during our time together. It was both humbling and an honour to be asked to take care of this task.
When I woke up that morning, mist rising from the river, the horizon just turning pink, I didn’t see anyone else stirring yet. I had no drum to call people together, so I entered the Women’s Lodge on my own. I prepared a smudge and walked with it around the outside of the lodge and then around the inside. I sat in the centre of the lodge and prayed the strongest prayers I have ever prayed and felt in my heart as I held my pipe. I prayed prayers of gratitude for this lodge and to Spirit for being there to guide and support us. I prayed for guidance and for deep healing for this gathering. I smoked my pipe and continued with praying for blessings and healing for the water. I was joined by one other woman during this time.
A few hours later I asked one woman to help me begin to dig a fire pit in the centre of the lodge. We worked together for a short while. Then one of the men helped me with digging it out the rest of the way. As we were working on this, another woman stood at the entrance of the lodge and began to play some spiritually guided music on her wooden flute. She played in the four directions, both inside and outside the lodge as we continued to work. This was another powerful, sacred moment.
Tarps were added around the outside of the lodge, with the centre open for the fire.
That evening, the lodge was filled with people as we shared in a powerful full moon ceremony. At one point, before it got dark, we were gifted with a rainbow that could be partially seen through the opening in the top of the lodge.
We sang and drummed and shared and let go of a lot of inner stuff that needed to be released and healed that night. We did that inside the protective, loving warmth of the Women’s Lodge, connected with our Mother Earth and receiving the loving energy of Grandmother Moon. It was a sacred experience completely guided by Spirit. It was beautiful. It was powerful.
This beautiful ancient lodge, a powerful symbol of the Sacred Feminine has been re birthed and reclaimed. May the loving energy of this action radiate out to empower women around the world to embrace the power of their own sacredness. This is where we start to heal and bring humanity back into balance with the Earth.
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Leah Schroeder is a Reiki Master, ThetaHealing® and Integrated Energy Therapy® Practitioner, http://www.lifeforcehealingservices.ca . “I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. For most of my 49 years this has been and currently is the place I call home. I spent 17 years working in Financial Services. A strong sense that there is something more I am supposed to do in the world, a fascination with energy and a series of intuitive nudges have led me to begin practising Reiki , ThetaHealing®, and now IET®. I have a desire to learn and practise other healing modalities, as well as serve children and empower young women around the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and stories with you.”