Traditional Mi’qmac Sweat Lodge Ceremony
facilitated by Grandmother Elizabeth & Luis Lopez

A sweat lodge ceremony is an ancient purification ceremony that involves entering the “womb” of mother earth, a structure created by bending young saplings together to create a kind of small basket or wigwam, which is then covered with many colorful blankets to create a womb-like dark space. There is a dug pit in the center of the lodge floor, which is where hot stones are placed and splashed with water to create a kind of steam bath. 

Inside the lodge, we pray together, traditional songs are sung, and herbal medicines and incenses are placed on the hot stones to further cleanse and heal our body, mind, and spirit. There is a tobacco pipe ceremony inside the lodge, and water and rest is given to all in between each of the 4 prayer rounds. It is a very beautiful and healing ceremony, conducted in a traditional, heart-centered, and sacred manner.

Many of the teachings shared within this practice are based on the Medicine Wheel of Life. This particular form of sweat lodge ceremony has been passed to share in a sacred way by spiritual elder Grandfather Albert Ward from the Mi’qmac people in New Brunswick, Canada. Grandfather Albert is a respected healer and spiritual teacher who has traveled extensively throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada, sharing teachings and ceremony with all people for the last 30 years. 

After studying with Grandfather Albert for the last 17 years, Elizabeth was asked to continue these practices, leading sweat lodges, talking circles, and other traditional ceremony for all people. Ceremonies are conducted throughout the Hudson Valley in small community gatherings, as well as within spiritual retreat centers and drug rehab treatment facilities.

We will also be having a talking circle ceremony prior to the lodge, so that some teachings and ceremonial customs can be shared with everyone in preparation for the sweat lodge.

Art by, Aaron Paquette

10 am: talking circle ceremony to prepare guests for sweat lodge ceremony
11 am: sweat lodge preparations
noon: lunch
1 pm: Light fire for lodge
5:30 pm: Community Meal
7 pm: Closing Circle

What to bring:

 -Pipe tobacco (8-10oz.)
-1/2 yard each of silk ribbons (1 inch wide) in 7 different solid colors:
red, white, yellow, black, green, blue, purple (*optional*)
-1 gallon of water
-A snack to eat before lodge 

Clothing: (This will be worn into the lodge and will be damp, so please bring an additional change of clothes.)
Women: long, comfortable skirt and t-shirt, head scarf
Men: swim trunks, bandan

Important: In preparation for our sweat lodge ceremony, all participants are asked to refrain from the use of any alcohol/drugs at least 4 days and 4 nights prior to attending. No photos or videos are allowed during any of the ceremonies. 



‘Grandmother’ Elizabeth has been a devoted student of Mi’qmac spiritual elder Grandfather Albert for over 17 years, and was given the teachings and responsibility by her Elder to conduct ceremony in a traditional and sacred manner for all people. Initially seeking the path of Native American ceremonies for her own personal healing at age 17, she continued traveling around the US and Canada studying, praying, fasting, healing, and singing with her Elder and the global community that traveled with him for over 15 years. She has been deeply immersed in the ceremonial practices, traditional songs/music/dance, herbal/wild medicines, language and culture of the Mi’qmac people, and organized large community ceremonial gatherings with Grandfather Albert for over 15 years. She holds monthly community talking circles and sweat lodge ceremonies at her home in the Hudson Valley, as well as within retreat centers and rehabs.  In addition, she has spent much of her life immersed in variety of forms of prayer and study, including within Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu monastic communities. These practices all inform her work as a composer, harpist and vocalist for the ensemble “Mamalama”, an ethereal ‘otherworld’-music orchestration performing her originally composed, modern sacred music. A varying ensemble of many uncommonly paired instruments (European/Paraguayan harps, Andean flutes, ethereal choral voices, hammered dulcimer, charango, homemade music boxes, indie-chamber-music style string sections, mandolin, frame drum, piano, shruti box), the music is approached more as a form of contemplative practice than as a performance. The songs come from experiences found within prayer, spiritual healing, and from dreams. She is currently composing her first inter-disciplinary ‘earth opera’ called “Seeds Under Nuclear Winter”, a large-scale production which encompasses live music, dance/movement, multi-sensory experience, and visual art. 

Elizabeth also has a private practice of delivering live harp and vocal music at the bedside of those who are actively dying within hospitals and nursing homes. She has studied with music-thanatology pioneer Therese Schroeder-Sheker, and integrates monastic/contemplative music practices into her work with the dying.

She is a foundational composer with ‘SageArts’, a non-profit organization whose mission involves writing deeply reflective pieces of music collaboratively with local elders, in celebration of the wisdom and experience inherent within each elder’s life. She is also a mother, and cares for a household of 7.


Luis Lopez

  Luis is the fire keeper for our sweat lodge, and supports the Elders and participants with all ceremonial preparations. A native of Ecuador, Luis first came to America to tour all around the country with his band Andes Manta, a group of four brothers who perform traditional and original Andean music on over 35 different instruments. From Inupiaq tribal regions of Alaska, to the Grand Canyon, Carnegie Hall, and St. John the Divine with the Paul Winter Consort, Luis has been traveling the country and sharing the ancient, uplifting music of the Andes with a diverse audience for over 30 years. Luis also makes native Andean instruments, crafting a variety of traditional and originally designed wind instruments and drums. He is also a father, a painter, and cares for a household of 7.


Join us on Friday for a special music concert with Mamalama & Andes Manta!

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