Even just trying to put the sensation of visiting the sweat lodge in Elliðaárdalur down on paper seems an exercise in futility; I don’t think words could ever quite mediate the scale of physical and mental effects experienced during a session.
At least, let me tell you this: Heiðar and Nonni—an on-or-off couple according to whose gossip you’re paying attention to—‘imported’ a native American some twenty years ago who served as their mentor in the traditions, songs and preparations of native tribes when it comes to cleansing the spirit through elongated periods of sweating and chanting in total darkness. They then built a mud-igloo of sorts in their backyard, which luckily happens to be the best green area in Reykjavík—Elliðaárdalur—and now they regularly welcome groups of people there for extended seven hour sweat sessions. Think red hot glowing rocks, aromatic oils and chanting. Also, rabbits constantly roam their property and shit all over the place.
For people steeped in Christianity, even just the prayer at the outset of each session, where we address the East and the West and the North and the South and thank Mother Earth and Father Sky, is pretty awesome. Did I mention that you’re already wearing coloured sunglasses at this point because Heiðar and Nonni know that gazing into the fire with tinted shades on is miles beyond cool? The colours! That pink!
The sunglasses are only one of the post-Christiania gay hippie astronomy twists that Heiðar and Nonni put on the whole thing—their sweat lodge is definitely a frontrunner for most postmodern phenomenon in Reykjavík whatever way you look at it. Disclosing exactly what that means or describing it in detail would ruin the surprise (don’t worry, there’s no nudity nor butt-banging nor drugs involved, not on a regular basis anyway) but I’ll just say that no one from my group has ever left unsatisfied and I’ve been three times.
They claim that they have had babies as young as a few months (why would they need to cleanse their spirit though?) and people on the brink of ninety in sessions. Somebody told me that sweating is really popular on New Year’s Eve. I know some people go for a session almost every week. Others come from weird families and grow up on this stuff. I went for my birthday with a bunch of my friends and it was great. But all I really know is that a session is never the same but then again it’s always the same because every time is awesome.