Let me first start by saying that it was my first visit to the Iskotew Lodge, but despite being so I was immediately comfortable. The smudge was very powerful: I felt tingles down my spine and let any stress fall away. As I climbed into the hammock/swing I was surprised at how comfortable I was, and when the covers were placed over top of my body I was incredibly at ease. Five years ago I broke my back, I’ve been steadily recovering but I’m in pain often, so I was surprised and relieved by the tingling sensation that I was feeling over my entire body. As I began to drift off to the soft sounds of Darlene’s voice and the chirping of birds I had racing thoughts — some about work, others about my family — all of which was taking me out of the moment; but once I allowed them to roll off of me I was able to focus on my breath. In and out, in and out as I was taken on a journey of relaxation. I remember walking along side Rideau River near Strathcona Park and was struck by the image of a black swan and the bridge that they are currently building; I then found myself drifting down the Ottawa River and felt a calling that these life forces needed help. I then remember myself being in a sled being pulled by dogs on a forest trail – I’m not sure where I was going but recall being happy that I was warm. When Darlene called me back, I wanted to stay in my cocoon; to remain safe from stress. As I sat up I felt a similar sense of relaxation that I felt after a sweat that I did a year ago, the kind of relaxation that you’re just happy to be alive and have the ability to experience life. When I spoke about work to Darlene I was surprised at how it felt separate from me, distant, even though I was about to leave to go there. It felt that I had hit the reset button. All in all I’m very happy I had the opportunity to have the experience and today, the day after, I feel more in control of my emotions and more in tune with what I need and how I move ahead. Allister, Ottawa, Canada

I really wasn’t sure what to expect today but I did thoroughly enjoy every moment…my thoughts: You are so warm and welcoming, the smudge at the beginning of the ceremony was the best smudge I have ever had, including the first.  The sensations felt in the swing are everything and nothing.  Everything – safety, love, warmth, serenity; nothing – I was comfortable that I was almost asleep.  In my mind’s eye I saw 2 men, one had the demeanour of a wise older man and he carried a staff, the second was a younger brave wearing a breast plate, a feather in his hair and he also carried a staff.  The other visitors were a heron, a bear and a buck.  The soothing sound of your voice and the knowledge that you were praying for my healing were incredibly comforting.  Your touch was kind and gentle but there was something else that I can only describe as authority or confidence or intention…if any of that makes sense. This was a very sense-filled ceremony, I did not want it to end and when we talked I didn’t want our conversation to finish. Chi miigwetch for your vision and for sharing it with so many of us.  Even though I slept deeply when I returned home I am certain the same deep sleep will come this evening. Beverley Anger, Ottawa, Canada

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