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The Cleansing or Wipe Down Ceremony goes back to the days of tribal warfare when the warriors of different groups would meet in the battle fields and sometime these conflicts would lead to death. It’s important to understand that warfare in those days was not like war now. At that time war was about gaining honors and the best way to do that was to touch or strike your enemy and get away with out being touched yourself. This could be done with a hand or even a stick, some time called a Coup Stick. The act of agility, stealth, and bravery was called Counting Coup. Warfare was more of an intense physical exercises or sport – but at times people would end up dead.
Now, killing an enemy was not the goal, but it was also not a looked down upon as life and death was better understood when living so close to nature. But what was recognized is that the act of killing someone, even accidentally, has spiritual, emotional, and mental ramifications. It was known that if a warrior involved with another person’s death was allowed back into the village without precautions then trouble would start. The warrior would no longer have the spiritual guidance they once had, they would have “bad luck”, and conflicts would arise in their immediate family. All of this would effect the rest of the village in a negative way, and could spread like a virus into the rest of the tribe . Many of the symptoms experienced by the warrior would be what modern psychology called Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
So, to address the issues that arise out of taking another human being’s life a ceremonial process was devised using the sweat lodge. In this Cleansing/Wipe Down ceremony the warrior would enter a sweat lodge which was complete empty of all medicine items or herbs. The warrior would go in naked and sit in the back of the lodge and a supporter would bring in a certain amount of heated stone (5-7) and place them into the stone pit at the center of the lodge. Once the stones were place and a bucket of water put near the warrior. The door would be closed and the warrior was left to pray and communicate to the spirit of the slain warrior.
Inside the sweat lodge the warrior would pour water on the hot stone and pray for cleansing from the death of another human. They may pray to the Great Mystery, the Powers of Creation and their spirit guides. They would talk to the deceased person spirit. Through the ceremony the warrior would come to understand what actions needed to be taken, if any, to right this wrong so there can be peace. Eventually, when the prayers were complete and the understanding of any steps needed to be taken were understood, the warrior would exit the lodge and then be able to enter back into the village and his home.
Now, jump to the modern age and look around and you will quickly find that the societies we live in and most of the people are suffering from what could be called Mass Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have the symptoms that has historically been associated with involvement with death. This is not just on an emotional or psychological level – it is also spiritual. Most people cannot hear the spirit and they do not know their guides. People cannot hear the voice of the plants or animals anymore. Many people literally see nature as soulless or even dead. The reason for this is the massive unhealed historic trauma of war, genocide, slavery, and countless deaths that our ancestors were involved with both as the victims and perpetrators. The backlog of death that has never been cleansed has created societies which are covered in the “dust of death”.
The Dust of Death is a concept that when ungrieved trauma and loss is allowed to remain with a person that a dust covers their mind, heart, spirit and physical senses. This dust blocks their ability to see the good in the world, to have the clear mind, to feel joy, to truly connect and to know the spirits of life. At this time, the dust of death isn’t just covering one person, its over whole societies. This, of course, is why tribal cultures did Cleansing/Wipe Down Ceremonies before warriors were allowed back in the village. We are living in a society which is the end results of not having this ceremonial process.
But now we’ve been given the understanding and ceremony! Some of us have learned the sweat lodge altar, the Cleaning/Wipe Down ceremony and we facilitate this for people around the world. I have personally been teaching people to hold these ceremonies and altars for the past 10 years in various parts of the globe which have hosted me. In many communities’ people are supported to enter the Cleansing/Wipe Down ceremony to address their personal and ancestral traumas, their personal and historic interactions with death, and to cleanse away anything that blocks them for connecting fully to life. The process that people go though now is basically the same as the warrior would do in the past. The purpose is slightly different because most people have not had direct involvement in ending human life, so the focus in put toward the ancestors, resolving anything that blocks a person from living into the fullness of connection.
Just to note, anyone who does a Cleansing/Wipe Down Ceremony has to make 2 commitments:
Typically, these two commitments must be explored and explained for full understanding – which is beyond this writing.
I hope this helps to explain more about the ceremonial healing work we do here at Helpers Mentoring Society. If you’re interested in going through the Cleansing/Wipe Down ceremony reach out to us at [email protected] If you are interested in learning how to facilitate this ceremony then you’ll want to continue join the Helper's Joureny course.