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Teachings of the Sweat Lodge by AaronPaquette Teachings of the Sweat Lodge by AaronPaquette
Teachings of the Sweat Lodge

24" x 36"
Mixed Media
on Canvas


A few days ago I was at the Royal Alberta Museum. I was asked to paint in their Aboriginal Exhibit, to gather inspiration there and put it onto canvas. I found the exhibit to be amazingly well done, but what was missing, what would be difficult to reproduce as a static display, was the living energy of the spirit of the people. The ceremony, the gravitas, the joy of the deep Spiritual Life imbedded in the culture. This painting was my response.


This is a painting of a very powerful ceremony, and because of that might invite some controversy. It is my intent to have this painting be used primarily as a teaching tool for youth. If we don't share, we lose.

Going to Sweat a couple weeks ago saw my wife and I driving past a lake surrounded by autumn colours, a chill in the air. She noticed it first: a bald eagle sitting on an old dead tree at the side of the road. We stopped and moments later my sister in law and her husband came back on the road, having turned around and deciding to stop and look as well.

The eagle stayed and allowed us to snap some photos, to gaze at it in wonder.

Then it gave three cries and flew away.

We continued our trek.


There is more wonder I could share about those days but instead I will talk a little about the sweat lodge in general terms.

It is constructed of a wood frame and hide is spread over top, creating a pitch black interior. In the middle of the circular lodge a hole is dug into which are placed red hot stones collected from the land and placed in a roaring fire until they are ready to be brought into the lodge. There is one entrance.

When the door is shut, water is poured over the rocks creating a cleansing, steamy heat, and you sweat out your impurities, cleansing your body. You also let go of any thoughts that are keeping you down, any sickness that is robbing you of strength. You pray for family and friends, you focus on what you are grateful for. In this way, your spirit is cleansed.

Of the ceremony I will say only this: there are four sessions in which there is song and prayer, presided over by the elders.

Afterward there is a small, shared feast of tea, salmon and blueberries or saskatoon berries.

My sister in law made the best berries that weekend.

We drove home relaxed and happy, a sense of well-being in our hearts and bodies.

I slept well!
Add a Comment:
setstudios Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2011
I love what you wrote about "If we don't share, we loose". This is so true, especially in regards to traditions and even stories about our families. It was only after the fact that I realize how much I lost when I never took the time to write down the stories of my mother and her life before she left this earth far too early. I am rambling, I just wanted to say, this is a beautiful illustration and thank you for sharing your imagery and stories with us.

Dominik19 Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is really wee-done, man !
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner May 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! Your work has been featured here [link] Please, :+favlove: the article if you like it, so that more people can see it :)
mammadragon Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2010
It's beautiful!
AaronPaquette Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thank you, md.
Wolf-Daughter Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2010  Professional General Artist
It's beautiful and well done. I love the colors. They have so much energy and life in them. I also love the veins or roots in the earth underneath the people, which are connecting them.
tarkheki Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010
Astounding piece of work- from the color palette to the execution, and the integrating the cultural and traditional symbols as well. Pure gorgeousness.
AaronPaquette Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thank you so much.
GentlestGiant Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I apologize...I didn't mean to request a print....I was trying to fav it....

I have had the honor or participating in the inipi or sweat lodge...It is a true delight to once again draw so close to our Mother and feel tunkashila's breath on your skin!!!

Thank you,
AaronPaquette Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
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Submitted on
September 22, 2010
Image Size
4.6 MB


6,522 (3 today)
63 (who?)

Camera Data

iPhone 4
Shutter Speed
1/15 second
Focal Length
4 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Sep 19, 2010, 10:46:08 AM
Adobe Photoshop CS5 Macintosh