The steam baths were great celebrations of cleansing and
community. Sometimes peyote was consumed for added height
and delight, although just being in a steam was a consciousness-
raising experience of its own.
A large fire lined with rocks burned for hours on end, 'till the
rocks were red-hot and ready to go into the sauna hut. Bay leaves
would be gathered and used by dipping into a bowl and
sprinkling the water onto the hot rocks, creating great clouds of
The sauna itself was a dome of branches covered in canvas,
inside which was a fire pit with room around it for the people.
They crouched in the glowing heat and humidity,
sweating, glistening, minds filled with the intensity of it all, each
person in their separate space, yet All One. Heavy.
For anyone too overcome, they need only speak the word
"uncle" and the flap would be opened to let them out.
Afterwards, there was the cold water from the hose to diminish
the body heat and invigorate the soul.