Andy sweats his way to healthier thinking
By Tommy Hallissey
A thin-armed 47-year-old white man, named Andy, crawls on his hands and knees into an igloo shaped structure of wood, called a Purification Lodge, on a Mohawk Reservation near Micena, New York. Inside, it is so dark Andy can’t see his hand in front of his face. Outside, Mohawk Indians dressed in street clothes chant prayers of healing for him. Andy sits near a fire pit of red-hot stones for close to two hours. Even stones, our oldest relative, have life, believe the Mohawks. The heat is so intense Andy thinks he might die. He sees white spots.
The following morning the gray-haired medicine man takes Andy in a motorboat to an island on the St. Lawrence River for a Vision Quest. He will be left entirely alone for 24 hours without food or water. Native Americans traditionally do a Vision Quest at the age of 12 or 13 in hopes of achieving spiritual enlightenment. The medicine man drops Andy off. Turning away he says, “You’ll face every fear you ever had. You either face your fears or you forever run from them. Remember one thing your fears are your pathway to enlightenment. Good Luck, you’ll need it.”