Sweat lodge enlightenment

Our special guest writer for the debut of Writer’s Bloc is well-known artist Roy Henry Vickers.

An elder and leader in Canada, Roy proudly carries the name Tlakwagila, an ancient chief’s name from the House of Walkus in Owikeeno, BC. It is a name handed down longer than recorded history. 

Roy writes about the Four Directions, in which we learn that we are all leaders, and that the human race is one family. The Four Directions is an integral aspect of the sweat lodge experience, a universal search for spiritual renewal. As a First Nations elder, Roy has helped many find that rebirth of spirit. 


Sweat lodge enlightenment

by Roy Henry Vickers

Sweat lodge traditions come from the four directions of the world. The four directions are the four doors of the sweat lodge experience. A circle.

We are one race, a race of humans, with many cultures, languages, and religions. The sky is our father, and the earth is our mother.

We are family, and the more people you meet, the more you see the great truth in this. 

What I have learned in this life has given me peace. With the understanding that I am on a good journey, I humbly give to you what sustains that journey.

The Four Directions


East is the direction of the Teacher.

I ask that my heart, eyes, and ears be open to the lessons available in each new day. By this I have something to teach. 

The sun gives life to the earth. The colour of east is yellow, and the element is fire. 

This is the direction of the children. I pray for the child I am, for my children, and for those children who are not yet born. I pray for each teacher of children, that we have good lessons of truth, strength, and beauty. 

The instrument of the teacher is the bell, used around the world to bring us together to learn. 

We are the future for our children, because we are their mentors. 

East is the direction of spring, a time for new life. 

Let that new life be a life of peace and healing.



South is the direction of the Healer.

And I pray that my healing continues, and that I live my life to the fullest. 

We all have trauma in our lives, and parts of us run away from the pain. To be whole, we need to bring these parts back. It is part of our healing, this recovery of ourselves. Healing begins in the spirit, and is revealed in the mind and the body. 

The element of healing is the earth. Our mother provides food for the body and medicines to help us heal. 

The colour of the south is red. This is also the direction for women, and I give thanks for all the women in my life, and the female in me. 

The season of the healer is summer. The instrument is the drum, the beat of the heart. We use the drum in healing songs all over the world.



West is the direction of the Visionary. 

When the sun goes down, in the darkness we see. This is our vision, our imagination.

We are all visionaries, and I ask that my healing and teaching help me to see clearly on my life journey. 

The element of the visionary is water. The colour of the visionary is black.

This is the direction of men, let us be good and gentle men. 

The instrument of the visionary is the click stick, it is one of the oldest instruments known to man.

The season of the visionary is autumn. It is the season of harvest, a season of preparing for winter.



North is the direction of the Warrior/Leader. 

I ask that the warrior in me have the courage to stand in the strength, truth, and beauty of who I am. 

This is the direction of the elder, the ones who have much wisdom to offer. I pray for the elders. When the cold winds of winter blow against us, I pray we have the courage to stand against adversity and to show the way, for every warrior is a leader. 

The season is winter, and the colour is white.

The lessons of the teacher, the healing of the healer, and the visionary’s clear sight, all guide the warrior to lead in a good way in this world. 

We are all leaders. Let my peace and joy help me lead in a good way.

The instrument of the leader is the rattle. Many babies are given this instrument. Let our rattle remind us that we are no stronger than an infant. We need the strength of our ancestors and the Creator to carry on.

Roy Henry Vickers

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Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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