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Spiritual Warrior Death in Sweat Lodge in Sedona, Arizona

posted by Ellen Scordato

by Ellen Scordato

This past weekend I clicked thru on a link in a tweet from a buddhist poster, and discovered what led to several articles about the sad deaths of two people at the Spiritual Warrior in Sedona, Arizona, led by James Arthur Ray, a self-help author.

Both the Times and Fox News articles about the sweat lodge deaths seem to have the same details: Sixty-plus people squeezed into a sweat lodge for 2 hours, part of a $9,000-per-head weekend spiritual retreat. Two were taken out, with neither breath nor pulse, a 38-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man, both of whom had been in excellent health. Nineteen other people were taken to the hospital; some are still in critical condition.

Online, it seems that the “New Age” world is awash in opinion, condemnation, questions, fear, sadness, sympathy – the whole gamut of reactions to such a tragedy. Some say the lodge ceremony belongs to the Native Americans who have practiced it for centuries, and should never be held by non-Native Americans, and never for profit.
800px-Sweat_lodge_nez.jpg


(1910 Edward Curtis photo of Nez Perce sweat lodge)

Others say
the New Age practice of Large Group Awareness Trainings (the industry
term for this sort of weekend) needs to be regulated. I know that I’ll
be reassuring my friends and family that the Zen and Shambhala weekends
I’ve been on have NO similar ceremonies included.

I’m not sure
what to think, but I have tremendous sorrow for the dead, the injured,
the families  left behind, and the survivors. To me, it seems they were
searching for a transcendent experience thru extreme physical means.
Who am I to say if that is right or wrong, spiritual materialism or
not? It might be the grossest sort of spiritual materialism for some
and not at all for others.

But I do question the motives and
wisdom of the person running the retreat. Did he intend to bring people
to the edge of death? Did he explain this was what was going to happen?
His website exerpt on Google reads:

“Create Harmonic Wealth in all areas of your life with James Arthur Ray: financially, relationally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Balance is bogus!”

One astute techy retrieved James Arthur Ray tweets (the guy was a prolific tweeter), which he deleted after the deaths. Very telling, very sad, and very thought-provoking.

How
will the media treat this? How will we spirtually minded folks treat
this? How will it be sensationalized, or treated sensitively?

What do YOU think?

 



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Michele

posted October 13, 2009 at 1:38 pm


Here is a copy of the email that he sent:
For All Those Affected by the Tragedy in Sedona
I am shocked and saddened by the tragedy that occurred at Spiritual Warrior in Sedona, Arizona, Thursday evening. I wish to express my deepest heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives as well as offer my prayers for a speedy recovery for those who were taken ill. Because there are so many more questions than answers at this time I believe it inappropriate to comment further until we know more.
Out of respect for the deceased and their loved ones and for those who have taken ill and for whose speedy recovery we pray, we will not be replying to individual postings. Instead, we thank you for writing, and we hope you will share in our continued wishes of support, strength and comfort to all those impacted by this tragedy.
We also want everyone to know that a friend has been at the hospital monitoring the condition of those still ill. Our love and warm affection is with all who mourn and with all of you in this time of grief, sadness and challenge.
With never-ending love and prayers,
James Arthur Ray
President/CEO
James Ray International, Inc.



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Robert

posted October 13, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Lets be clear this was not a native american sweat.
This was a for profit event run by people that have no business playing with the ways of the creator. Tourists don’t belong in sweat lodges.This is what happens when you play with and disrespect the religion of native people.



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Sensei T

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm


As the Buddha taught, nothing is missing in us and nothing is wrong with us. Until people start to really accept this, people like James Arthur Ray will continue to make their millions on hope and fear. True warriorship is attained through self-respect and being brave to be ourselves. But people like James Arthur Ray and other’s who sell people “the way” to wealth, abundance, and enlightenment are only selling spiritual materialism….I really think it is a lesson to all of us that we are not on this earth to ADD more to who we are…..how about SUBTRACT the things that are not us so we can get to the “gold” inside of us (as they found in that auspicious clay Buddhist statue in Thailand that lasted hundreds of years and then one day a monk looked inside of a big crack in it…and GOLD!). I am deeply saddened and my hearts go out to all those impacted by this event. I also feel it brings up honest and sincere discussion that is layered in psychology, culture, science, spirituality, etc. Group mentality is another great topic here….WHY didn’t these people leave the lodge when they started feeling sick??????? EIGHT rounds!



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Stu

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm


Let’s be further clear here, this was a tragic situation. This does happen to be a free country so people have the right to learn about anything they want. If there is a market then someone can fulfil that need. I do believe Robert is way off base in stating the religon of native people were disrespected. But then it is doubtful Robert understands there is a difference between religon and spirituality. If in fact there is a creator of all, then all are his children, and all would be entitled to follow their creator in whatever form they choose.



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Dr. Sunn

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm


$9,000 for enlightenment??? No sweat!!!



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Greg Allen Morgoglione

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm


Mr. Ray seems to be of the opinion that This Here Now is never good enough. He reminds me of Neale Walsch, who I believe was asked to leave beliefnet because he plagiarized another author’s work.
New Age spiritualism is the same old story – “This Here Now sucks. What you are after is That There Then. I can show you how to get There. Come to my seminars, buy my books, give me lots of your money, and one day you will wake up…”
Of course what you will wake up to is the fact that This Here Now has long been your dream. Being Here, Now, in Time, is the Original Dream of Being, coming true Here Now.
Perhaps you have heard it this way: “This Is It!”
A good guru picks your pocket and sells you back your watch. I suppose this is an extreme example…
Thoughts and prayers to those affected by this tragedy.
Hopes and wishes that James will man up.



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Bill

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm


I am not sure there is much to be gained from the continual speculation on what happened. Let the investigation take this where it must without our input. The people who attended chose to attend. They were adults who were indeed seeking something and let us hope that they found it. While the sweat lodge is a part of native american ritual, and I understand their dismay over the use of this in a for profit venture, it is a part of the cleansing process that is metaphorically connected to the spiritual journey. That journey and its metaphors are not owned by native americans or by any other group for that matter. Call it what you will it was a seeking. No one who attended or planned this event intended to end the life of another. Let us all join together to mourn the dead, comfort the survivors and embrace the journey.



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M

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:13 pm


Real answers come from WITHIN, not by giving $10,000 to some supposed “self- help/spiritual guru”. People who seek out these “leaders” lack their own courage, trust, and inner wisdom. Oprah and others further encourage this “seeking out” behavior by introducing and endorsing people like Ray.
I hope the 60 in attendance were able to “get” some answers ON THEIR OWN from this event. It is “priceless”.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm


The chord this strikes with me, for some reason, is my own aversion to the notion of a For-Profit spiritual retreat. Don’t get me wrong, I am 110% in support of teachers who do valuable work psychologically and spiritually in helping others making a living off of teaching and leading retreats. I see no reason spiritual/new-age/buddhist whatever teachers can’t make a living, and in fact they must if they are really going to help people.
But when this turns into a $9000 per person event, with greed and profit seemingly driving the teachings, it just seems completely misguided to me.
Perhaps my aversion is towards the Profit motive in general, and would be best directed away from Mr. Ray and toward the Robber Barons on Wall Street.
But there seems something karmic in this story about what happens when the sheer profit motive gets tied up in spirituality.
Am I off?



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Patricia

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:48 pm


Yes, those 65 people chose to pay James Arthur Ray $10,000 each for “enolightenment.”
However, James Arthur Ray made the decision to cram 65 people into a phony sweatlodge that was four feet tall and only 400 feet wide. He has to answer to HIS decision, which was clearly done from greed and carelessness. Karma is a bitch.



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P

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:02 pm


When people tell you who they are, believe them.



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Greg

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm


Great analysis Ellen. I think you cut right to the heart of it.



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CROW

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm


KARMA. plain and simple.
this guru should be in jail for murder.
signed, a LAKOTA pipe carryer and sundancer in service to all, Not myself AND free of charge!



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Your Name

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm


This is so sad! I have been to a couple of sweat lodges, guided by a Cherokee Medicine Man. There was a “love donation” of $25 so he can continue his work with troubled teens incarcerated, by leading them through sweat lodges and other Native American practices.
I myself agree that spiritual teachers have a right to make a living, and if you are very good at what you do, than you have the right to charge more – but $10,000/person???? That is completely outrageous! My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost their lives and their friends and family members as well those who are still ill from this unfortunate incident.



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marina richards

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:45 pm


I am a woman of Aboriginal ancestry, and am very involved with my traditional Elders, and the sacred ceremonies that they conduct.
I have been taught that the ceremonies are:
NOT FOR SALE and NOT FOR SHOW.
It would be considered appalling and ludicrous if an individual attended Catholic Mass a few times, and then took it upon themselves to lead Communion and Mass at a “weekend warrior workshop”
The Sweat Lodge is a powerful ceremony, and needs to be approached with the utmost respect. A person needs to earn the RESPONSIBILITY of pouring and this can take many years. Humility is the 1st requirement. unfortunately this events brings home the teaching that…when you play with fire……My prayers to the families
2rzkub



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LunaLove

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm


like almost everything else, the West manages to make everything materialistic.
‘Spirituality, transformation, et al’ has morphed into yet another ‘business’.
Donation, contribution, trust should be the templates- when the price is extreme, well, the price will most likely BE extreme. As my mother says, “you get what you pay for…”.
If your teacher is distracting you so that they can pick your pocket or empty your wallet, there might be a problem.
Enlightenment is a lifelong process, not an alternative to a weekend in Fiji.
Sad for the souls of the departed, the participated, and what it is.
Faith in karmic balance and that which is fated.



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Crow

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm


after being blue screened three times i realise the Tankashilas are telling me to have more compassion or i cant post.
Medicine men are chosen at birth, live a life of complete sacrifice and their prayers are answered. They do not charge a dime, If someone can help with gas or food or lodgeing, thats plenty.
ive seen the creator heal cancers, and all types of serioius disease, theres no miracle at all, the Tankashilas even tell us this, Its easy just have real faith and a good heart. and they will do the rest.
This is the very reason why these ways must be protected and respected for all to truly benefit from the very real presense of Wakan Tanka and the Tankashilas.
I will pray for the fraud who charged these poor souls a price no one should have to pay, NOT FOR THESE WAYS!
This guru should be held accountable, not allowed to flea the crime scene.



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SideNote

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Prayers to all those affected by this tragedy, absolutely.
Nothing new to add to what’s been said. The way it comes out for me is basically this.
Needs answers to:
1. Who did he receive transmission/education from in order to do sweatlodge?
2. Who did he check with to make sure the sweatlodge would be safe?
3. Did he send the “death” tweet after the tragedy or before?
And undoubtedly a good few more questions as well. But those three are the main ones that arise for me.
A side note: if OneCity were to pressure BeliefNet into vastly improving its blogging interfaces, that would be so appreciated. It takes a lot of work for even a fairly savvy internet user to get to a page where all comments are listed in the order they were posted, after a thread has become active for a while. And having to use “@” as a way to respond to comments is unsatisfactory. Surely it’s possible to create a blog interface that enables registered users to reply to other readers’ comments, in a similar manner to DKos or HuffPo, etc.
Do we have any traction in the quest to improve commenting tools here?
Can we have an opportunity to register as a reader of the site in order to avoid the “captcha” requirement?



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dirtbubble

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm


People should not be dying or injured in a sweat lodge ceremony. The leader of this event is culpable for negligence and possibly fraud. If he knew what he was doing, this would not have happened.



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SideNote

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm


By the way, thanks so much for your blog. The comments of request to improve the blog interface are definitely notwithstanding my appreciation of your great efforts to offer to the community.



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Robert

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm


I don’t think the attendees intended to disrespect native ceremony, I’m sure they were ignorantly along for the ride and thought they were really in for something spiritual. Unfortunately they have gone about their quest in the wrong way. However the Tankashilas will not be mocked. I will pray for these people because they obviously need guidance. If the red road is for them it will find them. If you seek the red road find an elder and they will guide you. This knowledge is a gift and should be cherished.
CROW thank you for your sacrifice and gift. Those that have not been to lodge or seen the tree, in a good way, will never understand.
Fire keeper



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Jerry Kolber

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:13 pm


So sad. Sounds like there were too many people and not enough attention being paid. Whether or not you think the Secret is just a piece of spiritual materialism, people should be safe when entrusting their health to such an intense ritual. Much sympathy for all involved.



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Hal W. Lanse

posted October 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm


The real issue here is not that the sweat lodge practice is extreme; but that individuals failed to use their common sense. Not only did they place themselves in harm’s way, they paid to be there! This is all too common in spiritual practices. I can’t help but connect this article to Ethan’s article on vegetarianism. How many people think they’re being “good Buddhists” by giving up meat only to find that they have developed neurological disorders or rickets due to their diets? To take it further: How many people have gone to the brink of financial ruin through excessive tithing? How many have avoided life-saving medical treatments while waiting for the faith-healing to kick in? The real question is: Why does the need to be self-righteous grow so strong that it overrides some people’s survival instincts? Now there’s something to ponder.



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Your Name

posted October 13, 2009 at 10:25 pm


may all who read this know that no matter where you go in this life, to trust your self over all others walking this planet, understand that you have in you all the knowledge and wisdom to not only keep your self safe and healthy but to contribute your unique gift and talent to the rest of the world. To trust your self is to check in with your self often, everyday, follow your intuitive nudges,and be your self regardless of the rest of the sheeple say. If that is what these two people had done,following their intuition to be there, then indeed,they were at the right place at the right time and their work is done.



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Scoob

posted October 13, 2009 at 11:09 pm


Ellen, the story is non-news anymore. Obamas healthcare plan seems to be going forward, yet altered,
and there are way more important things to focus on. Personally I think Ray is complete idiot who should be probably be served and summoned before a Grand Jury. Sixty-plus people jammed into a a sweat lodge, and I’m guessing without access to water, and also with an overdose of CO2. After the autopsies come in, I wouldn’t be surprised if most people died from a combination of heat stroke and renal failure.
This reminds me of the quack that smotheedr a child in Denver a number of years back for the purpose of
having him ‘re-experience’ his primal birth.
(And just because Jim Jones passed out the cool-ade in 1978, and people drank it on their own volition,
doesn’t make him any less criminally liable)



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comment

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:19 am


the release that everyone who attends a James Ray seminar has to sign has been posted online.
it says right in there, that people are risking their lives and could die.
http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,77450,77484#msg-77484



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Your Name

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:20 am


A sweat lodge is a sacred Native American ceremony. A Mass is a sacred Catholic ceremony. I don’t think you should call whatever someone comes up with a sweat lodge or a mass.
What this guy does is not a sweat lodge, it was his own thing.
If someone who was not a priest made up a ceremony with self flagellation to connect with Christ and drinking large quantities of wine, and charged thousands for it. Would it be a sacred Catholic Mass?
No and selling it as such would be fraudulent.
Same with selling made up “Natvie American Ceremonies”
It is not the kind of spiritual leader I would want.
It is disrepectful to Natives and their sacred ways. Especially when you have deceived people for money and not respected their lives like that. All around bad karma I think.



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scoob

posted October 14, 2009 at 1:15 am


I find the previous comments a bit nuts.
Nothing about the irresponsible money-grubber who put jos event to together, but rather blaming ‘the victims for their lack of judgment. That’s a lot of nerve and blaming the dead for faith in a false and dangerous cult leader. Sure, if you put me down 100 yards on a target range, I might consider that the bullets that missed by my head’ were a dharma lesson, but this is starting to get into that crazy delusional Michele Roach style of rationalization. Buddha always said, believe nothing, accept nothing especially “faith” utiil you have porven it false of true (and apologies for the bastardization of the translated worlds.)
Or as another poet of this century said, ” Don’t follow meeters, just watch the parking meters.
And Damn….don’t drink the cool-ade.



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broken

posted October 14, 2009 at 6:53 am


Thank you Ellen for this article. I’ve been reading many angry voices on this subject, and it is so nice to hear someone taking a step back and approaching this topic without self-righteous judgment. I very much appreciate your thoughtfulness.
I paid to attend the Spiritual Warrior event, but was unable to make it. I have been to 3 other James Ray events and continue to value the knowledge he has shared with me. This tragedy has shaken me in many ways. A friend of mine is in a coma. A kind and loving community is in a state of grief and mourning, while at the same time being the subject of some heavy condemnation and ridicule. One of my favorite teachers is in a major crisis and I am struggling to separate the truths he has shared from the choices he has made. And of course, I am in a state of sobering reflection as to whether or not I’ve been suckered, brainwashed, or misguided into believing the things that James Ray has taught me. If the reporting on James Ray and his events were honest and accurate, there wouldn’t be any question that I was duped. But the media has it’s own credibility issues here, and that makes it all the more difficult to process this.
For the sweat lodge, I fully acknowledge the need to shine the light on any questionable aspects in this tragedy. I have many questions too. But if there ever was an opportunity for sensationalized media, this is a perfect fit: a high priced spiritual retreat, a charismatic teacher, and a tragic event under extreme and unusual circumstances. It is easy to see why reports would imply that the attendees were either tricked or just plain foolish. I have yet to read a report that suggests that there might be something in these events that makes them worth the price.
From where I am at this moment, I believe it has been worth it. In the two years since my first event, I have overcome some deep-seeded fears and created a life that I never would have thought possible before. This includes an amazing relationship with my kids and my wife (who is a Christian), and a successful business that I love. In the events I attended, every day helped me to explore who I am and what I am here for. There was no prescribed path and we were encouraged to seek our own connection to God on our own unique journeys. We explored topics on spirituality, finances, relationships and mental health. Scientific evidence was consistently and accurately referenced. The people were wonderful and I have never met a community filled with such unconditional love, where I felt so accepted for being who I am. I met two of my best friends at these events.
I won’t be attending any more James ray events, if there are any more. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But I will continue to pray and grieve for those who died and those who are suffering, including James Ray.



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Your Name

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:01 pm


Sad, is all I could think of when I first heard this story awhile back. I come from a Lakota family, raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in the Dakotas. What we think is how sad that people have to pay to learn their own spiritual pathway, when it is free to those willing to seek, ask questions, live what they learn. I don’t know, I suppose what’s easy for us is hard for others? Looking at the native tribes throughout the U.S., there are over 550…you can make judgements based on the what one might see on the exterior but go in deeper, and you would find a deep rooted spirituality that is not for sale. Many of us frown upon people who sell the sweatlodge as part of their “course.” We feel it is a depraved way to think that one can make money off of others need to connect, yet there they are, charging thousands of dollars for a chance to experience true ‘native ways.’ My heart goes to the families of those who perished, and my prayers are for those that stand with hands outstretched , ready to take your money to teach you how to be.
Aho!



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Caroline

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:05 pm


Who yet knows the details of what induced the unfortunate deaths? No one has publicly announced this yet… so is it not a bit early to speculate or condemn.. or to excuse for that matter?
As to high priced events like this… one really must wonder if people truly imagine that enlightenment is for sale.
The Buddha.. among others.. speaks of the middle path… neither great privilege and wealth nor abased impoverishment and misery are guaranteed paths to enlightenment.
My view is this… too many people have laid waste to their own and others lives seeking money… and they somehow want to imagine this gains them some advantage on the path to enlightenment.
If the “wise man” is awash in money or charges more than workman’s wages for his wisdom it is extremely unlikely he is truly wise.



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Uglicoyote

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm


I’m ok, you’re ok…if the check’s ok.



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Owen G.

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:41 pm


Sometimes enlightenment comes in the form of common sense, rather than an expensive death in the desert.



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bren

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm


not a matter of judging!! they had no business operating something of this nature without an expert being present! mr james should have cancelled all engagements due to the tragic incident but its all about $$ /i was amazed so many didn t know about it in marina del ray and when some found out walked out!its a beautiful place north of us in red rock country sedona area and great place for one’s self worth but that does excuse what happened 2 lives were lost so far!!! sad it is about $$$$ from what we can see! the lodge owners made a big issue of making a stone heart for the 2 lives lost- all well and good but thats the issue! where were the permits and you dont pack 64 people into a sweat lodge!!!!! duh!!! when our heart dr looses a patient he cancels all further appointments for the week-please!!! stop making excuses for poor handling of a tragic situation. big lawsuit i see!!!!



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Roger

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm


This incident was not a spiritual event, it was a typical scam by someone making money off people’s quest for spirituallity. Happens all the time unfortunately.
There are people of all spirtual groups, religions, etc., who are more than willing to offer advice, direction, and help of all types for free. Any event that is designed to make a profit has to be a red flag.



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bren

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm


i agree owen but many people are not familiar with sweat lodges
it was up to the lodge owners to have an expert there not to rely on novices!! this could have been avoided! common sense doesnt always pervail unfortunately and many probably thought what an experience what is the harm! little did they know!!!



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Your Name

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm


These people that pay $9,000 are fools themselves for following the ways of a person (James Arthur Ray) who has profited tremendously from those who aren’t wise enough to know how to live their lives. If you look at these people that go to Ray’s retreats you will find that they are desperate for meaning in their lives. Hey – be happy with what you have and if you can get a little more in life THAT is the bonus. $9,000 should have been spent on spending time with your family and close friends. A portion should have been set aside for a rainy day and the rest could have been donated to a charity of your choice. Without these fools where would Ray be – probably in another sweat lodge himself desperately looking for the meaning of life!



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Pat

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm


I attended a thanksgiving weekend at Shambhala Mountain Center in 2002. In addition to a wonderful feast, daily meditation, hiking…interested people were invited to join in a sweat lodge that was presided over by a native american teacher who was strongly affiliated with the Shambhala community. This was a positive experience for all. The unfortunate event in Arizona was obviously the result of poor planning and lack of exertise.



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Aurora Whitebird

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm


For over 18 yrs I have participated in and later, poured for (ran) many sweat lodges, after being trained by a traditional elder and given permission to do so. I was told to NEVER charge for a sweat lodge ceremony, as this is spiritual and for the people. We always check with all participants before entering the lodge for any health issues, blood pressure, heart, asthma etc. and tell them to sit outside the lodge by the fire, or just inside the door for easy and quick exit if needed. Never have I done more than 4 rounds and sometimes a medicine round (last) for extra healing work if requested. We have never had a problem or anyone that wasnt able to leave the lodge and rest by the fire and be totally fine before leaving the grounds. This was messed up from beginning to end, and someone is responsible. This was not even close to a traditional sweat lodge, never should have been charged for, and obviously was run by someone who didnt have a clue. Sad for all concerned, especially the families of the victims, who didnt get even the courtesy of a response by the man getting the money. Shame shame. Charge for a seminar, a retreat experience etc. but the sweat lodge is something special, and used properly can be life-changing. But never should be charged for. Karma can be cruel.



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Elisa

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm


What happened to common sense ? I did EST in the 80’s and turned away from it when it started to feel like an AMWAY convention. It did help me in some ways but there was a moment when my common sense and innate intelligence raised a red flag. I started on the “cleansing path” and subsequently discovered Buddhism years later. I fast for 7-10 days once or twice year, on my own without danger or excess. But I learned to do this on a web site where I paid for this information. I was encouraged to trust my feelings and seek help when needed. Problems arrive when people do not trust their own senses and feel the need to “submit” to an outside authority instead of their common sense. There were far too many people in a small confined space and the $9000.00 I may have spent would never have influenced me to enter this sweat lodge, with little hope of exiting in a timely fashion. There is no safety in numbers. there is only safety and wisdom when one accepts responsibility for ones own creations and life.
The danger is that all “new age” ideas get trashed by events gone awry as this one did. Obviously there was profit to be made and common sense went out the window. The people responsible for this organization should certainly be made accountable for this tragedy.
Common sense dictates that people who make money by assembling masses of people assure their safety, no matter for what purpose. I think this makes sense.



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casey

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm


Dear Ellen, These lodge experiences can be truly transformational. They’ve been done for thousands of years, and were death an unfortunate side effect, lodges simply would not have such history and ceremonial esteem. No, something went terribly wrong. We don’t know what yet, and may never be told. But judging sweatlodges by this occurence is like judging cars by deaths that occur in them.



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NDN

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm


I am Native American and do not believe a sweat lodge should be part of a package deal to people who have no idea what to expect and what the true meaning is of a sweat lodge. This is a very spiritual and personal experience and needs preparation and prayer. No one should pay $9000.00 for a sweat lodge experience unless the sweat lodge is made from sable or mink and has a jacuzzi. Wannabes Beware of False Leaders….



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Donna

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm


As Aurora responded there should be no charge for a sweat- just a gift of tobacco to the sweat leader and the fire keeper, although we sometimes pass a hat for donations to pay for the firewood
I have been in some hot sweats but the choice to leave is always given Our Pipe bearer who leads the sweat will ask if we are ok and even give a door (opening the sweat sooner) if needed. the rocks come in usually in a series of 4 and sometimes they come all at once so the fire keeper can join us, whowhee it get hot then-I breath through my towel and then a good pipe bearer will throw some water on the rocks along with some bear root. I have stayed in the sweat for several hours from sundown to about 9 or 10 after fasting all day and then we feast and I usually feel exhilarated and the next day a bit drained. One of my fav sweats was after a new year snow storm The pines covered with snow and the sky twinkling with stars
last weekend I went to Mexico and thought about doing a Mayan sweat, but I thought that the sweat was a personal thing and my spiritual guide came to me when I was ready and not when I was searching for new experiences, a tourist on vacation. the heart brings you to it
one thing I have learned that even death has its place and maybe that wasn’t what we think is the right way to do a sweat or to die but it was
their way and time
and we can celebrate that their hearts
were in the right place
and we celebrate their lives
and we celebrate their joining their ancestors
completing the circle
I doubt the capitalist’s heart was in the right place
but he will now have to look at his way
and he will have to decide for himself
how he continues
I will pray for him too
and
to all my relations
let me walk in a good way



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Anan E. Maus

posted October 14, 2009 at 3:44 pm


sounds like a horrible accident. But I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.
Could be a bunch of different causes…not enough oxygen, some kind of toxin…maybe the wood had been treated with arsenic (which is not uncommon for certain woods…of course not the ones that are supposed to be used for sweat lodges/ saunas….)…
As far as it being a desecration to the sacred beliefs of Native Americans…the person who posted above me suggested as much…I have no reason to doubt that.
Certainly would not be the first time European culture desecrated some sacred to Native Americans.



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Barbara

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm


After participating in several sweat lodge events, and speaking with Native Americans about it, I decided long ago that my own bathtub was a more appropriate place for me to “cleanse”. For one thing, I was told that women never used the sweat lodge, it was only for warrior men, who are going into battle and have a real need to boost their egos and prove their strength. (Women self cleanse every moon, and suffer plenty with childbirth.) I also had a realization about my own fascination with Native Spirituality…what I am drawn to is their connection with the world around them…is that something that can be immitated and retain it’s authenticity? Or must we find our own relationships with Nature? Do we not believe we can? I think this is the “crux of the busquit”…I read somewhere when the Dalai Lama was asked about self hatred (by an anglo) it took his interpreters over 20 minutes to explain the concept…he had never encountered it before…he said we have the wrong kind of ego in the West- the kind that says we’re better than someone else, but we lack the kind of ego that says we can do it…we can connect with truth in the comfort of our own cultures and minds. (I also heard a Lakota woman on the radio once talk about how shameful it is in their culture for any member to accumulate wealth when members of the tribe were needy…if people want spirituality, maybe they could start by expanding their idea of “tribe” and ease the suffering of some of their “poor relations” (neighbors)) I mean really, all this talk about getting more concious, gaining enlightenment, is only talk until we make a move to ease someone’s sufferring…I’m not judging here, we’ve all had the old icecream cone stuck in our forheads at one time or another..



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Susan

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm


I am actually disappointed in the innuendos described in this buddhist centered article written by Ellen. I thought this is where we go for loving and peace related thoughts? Should we not open our hearts to all involved in this tragedy including the leader? There is a little common sense involved here. Do we really think that the leader would purposely engage in this activity if he felt it could result this way? Doing so would obviously effect his livelihood, so there is no way if there was even a slight chance that someone would take that risk. Especially after running this retreat for 7 years without a single issue. No, in looking for the best in people, I am certain something went horribly wrong and in no way shape or form was it somehow planned. It is easy to allow your ego to interpret all sorts of thoughts on simple words that were posted on twitter. It is much more challenging to open up your hearts to all that were involved and keeping an open mind. Through an open mind, all questions become clear.



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Rhonda Chase

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:23 pm


We were given these ceremonies and they hold not only spiritual, sacred and healing powers but powers to open doorways to the spirit world of bad medicine. Non natives, and natives without the given right and abilities to hold these ceremonies shold not do them. Any ceremony done for money is not a “spiritual” journey. When are people going to learn? is it not enough that you took us and forced us onto tiny reservations? Took away our children, took away our language, took away our right to practise our spiritua;ity and our traditions? Was it no tenough that you practised genocied upon us? That you force us to carry cards identifying who we are and how much blood we are? Is it no tenough that to this day you still hold grudges about carrying out promises and treaties you made for taking away our rights as human beings and the first original status as residents to this land? You have stolen, lied, tried to kill, committed murder by starvation, and illness. Now, you take a sacred ceremony and charge people to pretend that you are “trancending”. I didn’t realize that God took non-native credit cards in order to distribute “blessings”.
I think all people, unless you carry a STATUS card like we have to, should just have a meeting or go to your church and leave our traditional ways alone. You have taken enough.



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Michael L. Lewis

posted October 14, 2009 at 6:54 pm


I have many times conducted my own sweat lodge, both associated with vision quest and on its own, according to instructions I had received from my Yaqui and Nahua teachers. I would never consider myself qualified to conduct the ceremonies for others, nor would I consider others not shamans qualified to conduct the ceremonies for me. By qualified, I mean much more than a weekend workshop with Little Phony Joanie.



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Patricia Kamm

posted October 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm


I think this is outrageous that a self-proclaimed “guru” would allow that kind of outrageous use of a Native American practice. Has this individual had the opportunity to participate in this ritual, and has anyone explained to participants as to how the practice is run in Native communities. I personally have never participated in a Native American spiritual quest oriented to this particular practice, although I am familiar with its history and cultural significance.
I have sat in a hot sauna however, and would never think to sit in such an environment for more than a few minutes at a time. This is a disgrace (more like another slap in the cultural faces of) not only to the community of Sedona, but also to the Native American community at large.



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t. hansen

posted October 14, 2009 at 7:13 pm


What I’m wondering is, why didn’t the participants that felt ill, go out of the sweat lodge on their own? Were they told to tough it out or weren’t allowed to leave? I just don’t understand that.



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Mmw

posted October 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm


This is yet another example of what happens when people try to appropriate another culture. Most Americans are ignorant about Native culture and because we live in a “we can buy anything we want society”,think it’s okay to buy a sweatlodge experience. Americans aren’t the only one’s with romantic red man delusions,Europeans also are willing to pay to play Indian.
If you follow a spiritual path out of respect for the Native people of the present and certainly out of respect for the ancestors of the past please do not participate in Native Ceremonies unless invited to do so by legitimate medicine men and women.Please do not pay for ceremonies. It’s not about ownership it’s about respect.If you really want to honor Native American cultural then spend your money on helping real Indians who live in dire poverty,coping with high rates of suicide,drug and alcohol abuse,domestic abuse…



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Dr. Jerry Stubben

posted October 14, 2009 at 7:48 pm


thirty five years ago a Peyote Keeper sold some sacred Peyote to some hippies….we found him a few days later dead in bed on his back, eyes staring upward and mouth wide open. the elders said that his ancestors came to take his soul to the next world so that he would never do such a thing again in this world. may the ancestors of those who deceive and profit from those who come to them for spiritual knowledge come and stop them from any further action in this world…aho



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Iric Siegert

posted October 14, 2009 at 8:13 pm


The first issue that comes to mind is the health risks of a large group. A sweat lodge (or a sauna) packed with people is a disaster waiting to happen. How tightly were they packed? What instructions were the participants given about looking for personal health warnings? Were the participants encouraged to stay as long as they could, or to pull out when they were ready or feeeling bad? Did they have enough water for people in a generic group.
The second issue in my mind is what were the results supposed to be? What were they told? Could they have recognized when they did not get the enlightenment (or whatever), when they came out? The 1970s Chrysler cars that were supposed to make people think they were driving Mercedes comes to mind…
The last issue is how will this affect the rest of us who are spiritual healers and guides. Will we see a trend towards more control and accreditation? Just because I can’t see how it could be done, doesn’t mean that something totally inappropriate won’t be created.
Lastly, and the biggest question for me is; Could this have been prevented? If I know that a person is causing harm to another, I will speak up and take what appropriate actions that I can. But can something like this be validated and controlled? I have no idea.



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spiritual warrior

posted October 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm


fascinating that there are so many spiritual experts here, but so little compassion. is this how the Buddha would respond?
for those who insist that everything be free- have you ever bought a book on spirituality? then you are a hypocrite. you paid a charlatan. and according to some here, that would make you a fool. it doesn’t matter what the price was. “expensive” is a completely relative term and “perceived value” is an individual matter.
what were you thinking? were you brainwashed by the excerpt on the back of the book? did you get scammed into believing that you could find enlightenment in the pages between the covers? just think, with all that money you spent on your book, you could have fed a starving child for a month. but your greed got in the way and now somebody is dead because of it. shame on you.
perhaps if you received the same judgment as you are dishing out, you’d learn a bit about compassion. let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone.



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pattykat

posted October 14, 2009 at 9:20 pm


I have to say ….I was totally appalled after reading this.I just want to say that its so sad ..what extent that people will go to,to find inner peace or strength or whatever that thing is that they are searching for in their lives.To put an actual price on an experience such as this….I have no words to speak.There is something so wrong regarding what’s happening in our world today.Basicly people are looking for a quick fix…like every other aspect of life today.



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Sad

posted October 14, 2009 at 9:31 pm


In the first place we should question how anyone could charge over 60 attendees close o 10,000 dollars apiece and not put a dime back into this thing by hiring the right facilitators and experts to construct and conduct a
safe experience for these people?
Even if he had spent 2% of what he made overall this tragedy would not have happened
How much would it be to have Oxygen and defibrilators along with paramedics on hand? How much for a proper structure?
And not even $60.00 for a permit?
Greed seems to be the only sense I can make of this tragedy.
My sympathies go out for the deceased and ill and their loved ones
Greed will always be exposed.



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Genaro Flores

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm


Gossip is the way of things, and part of the tragedy is that judgments, without good information or personal witness to these deaths and injuries, fly about and are even propogated by this blog in the first place. Who among us was there? Who knows any detail at all much less all of the details. Refrain from gossip, be impeccable with your words, spread compassion and white magic, don’t make this personal by issuing forth your underinformed and overentitled opinions, make no assumtions…. Let us pray and not adjudicate, let us bring our higher selves, and know that it is likely that the organizers of this event are also in pain from such tragedy. Speak and think from love.



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jojo

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm


as adults regardless of religious beliefs or spiritual beliefs we all make choices…that is the one freedom we still own..CHOICE



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Grace G.M.Eagle Reed

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm


The sacred ‘sweat lodge’ is more than a place to sweat toxins out, it is an intense sacred and spiritual place lead by experienced medicine people who are in touch with Great Mystery. This man who charged people to go into this place was like slapping God in the face if you can imagine. This then is the arrogance of the white race that still permeates this nation. This is not about prejudice it is about shot cuts to spirit. All have their path and unless you have been properly prepared the sacred sweat lodge is not one I would recommend. May peace find us all and may we negotiate our shadows with dignity and grace.



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Your Name

posted October 15, 2009 at 12:19 am


Death is always near us. Life is very fragile.
Anytime we step into our cars, it can be the last trip.
That is why we license drivers and inspect cars.
Clearly, this is a situation that should require rules and regulations
for such a large crowd. Time amd time again,it takes tragedy for
reasonableness to prevail. So many examples come to mind, from the
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, to the Titanic Disaster, to the
falling of the Twin Towers.



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Canyonrose

posted October 15, 2009 at 1:35 am


I feel compassion for all involved in this tragedy, even the greedy inexperienced self proclaimed spiritual guide who conducted this so called ceremony. While there was most likely no intention to do harm, the participants put their trust and lives in this greedy do-gooder,and their trust was betrayed by greed and inexperience.
Considering the size of the lodge, the number of people crammed into the space, the fasting that took place before, and the duration of the sweat, it sounds like a recipe for disaster. A two hour sweat is something you work up to, not something to do the first sweat. While every participant was sovereign in their choice to participate and stay in the sweat lodge, they should have been coached to listen to their physical body and better sense as an indicator signaling their time to leave the sweat lodge, rather than the urging of another person compelling them to stay.
The karmic price is pretty steep. The obscene revenue form this event(60 people x $9000.00 = $640,000)dishonors the sacred concept of a sweat. At any price – sweater beware of false prophets making huge profits at your expense.



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Canyonrose

posted October 15, 2009 at 1:37 am


I feel compassion for all involved in this tragedy, even the greedy inexperienced self proclaimed spiritual guide who conducted this so called ceremony. While there was most likely no intention to do harm, the participants put their trust and lives in this greedy do-gooder,and their trust was betrayed by greed and inexperience.
Considering the size of the lodge, the number of people crammed into the space, the fasting that took place before, and the duration of the sweat, it sounds like a recipe for disaster. A two hour sweat is something you work up to, not something to do the first sweat. While every participant was sovereign in their choice to participate and stay in the sweat lodge, they should have been coached to listen to their physical body and better sense as an indicator signaling their time to leave the sweat lodge, rather than the urging of another person compelling them to stay.
The karmic price is pretty steep. The obscene revenue form this event(60 people x $9000.00 = $640,000)dishonors the sacred concept of a sweat. At any price – sweater beware of false prophets making huge profits at your expense.



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Peace and Love

posted October 15, 2009 at 2:48 am


Unfortunately James Arthur Ray and others from “The Secret” fail to realize that spiritual principles cannot be bought or sold. This is a sacred healing that cannot be done without the right intent and spiritual purpose. Nothing good can come from ill intent and for someone who claims to be a spiritual warrior who practices spiritual laws he should know better. My heart goes out to all the people that were under his care and who he was responsible for their well-being. There are many in the spiritual new age movement who are into NLP and other ways to control others. Many of the so called “peak performance types” put people in rooms for three days where they deprive them of food, water, and exit from the place until they let you go. Of course they say “you are free to go” but you are “strongly encourage” to stay. So even if he just “suggested” that the people in the sweat not go out that would be very powerful for someone who has given up complete control for the promise of more wealth, health, or whatever he promised them. The fact that James Arthur Ray had the audacity to leave when their was a problem shows you what kind of leader he really is and to even consider doing another seminar or workshop within the same week is unthinkable to most of us but there he is telling us how “he is being tested.” I hope that he wakes up and realized the consequences of his actions. His actions are speaking much louder than his words ever could. While I have never been to a sweat, I have been invited and have worked with others who have and have even been given instruction as to how the ceremony should be performed. It is something that should be performed by a Native. At first glance at the photos it is obvious to all that this was an improper sweat lodge. The dimensions are wrong and the materials are wrong. This is ethically, legally, and most of all spiritually negligent. Even with the proper sweat, prayer, and ritual, I would not attempt to do a sweat without a medicine man or tribal leader who has permission to conduct it and has many times. This can only be seen as arrogance and negligence and nothing more. My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of those who died and those who were injured and remain in critical condition. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.



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sue A

posted October 15, 2009 at 8:23 am


I think it is a great pity that there are as many people ready and willing to be manipulated for purposes of greed or fanaticism as there are fanatics and manipulators.



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Vixen

posted October 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm


Many Native Americans are quite disturbed by the bastardization of their sacred ceremonies and rituals carried out by people doing them for financial gain, people armed with a flimsy weeekend certification given to them by another poorly trained, (or even completely bogus)profiteer. While there are non-Native Americans who HAVE trained extensivly with highly respected medicine men, there are scores more caught up in the novelty of it all out there trying to turn it into a business, something that goes so far away from the original intent of the ceremonies themselves that they ought to be ahamed of themselves. There are far too many ‘weekend warriors’. Ask an authentic medicine man, and you will know. This unfortunate incident puntuates the concern many Native Anerican practioners across the country. They have been warning us about this for years now. Westerners are of course caught up in the beauty of the Native way, the wonder of the connection with the Creator, and the unique paths to Him. It takes years to develop the intuition and skill of a true medicine man, and some feel that they are chosen by the ancestors and their Creator. I have the sad feeling that while Mr Ray didn’t intent to kill anyone, and thought he had been doing these sweat lodge ceremonies for years, he was also extracting a high price for the service. This time, he extracted the supreme sacrifice…. the deaths of two participants and the hospitalization of others. While there are Westerners posing as medicine men, there are also Native Americans who start preforming ceremonies without the proper authority from their own tribalgoverning body. These are no more qualified than thier non- Native counterparts, nothing more than profiteers. Done properly, these very sacred and solemn ceremonies have great value to humanity, and it would be a terible thing to see them intruded on by those who think they need more regulation. I would hope those seeking such experiences would take great pains to find autnetic medicine men, and be extremely careful with those asking for large amounts of money.



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Your Name

posted October 15, 2009 at 2:20 pm


I agree with Vixen that many Native Americans are indeed troubled by the disrespect given to their sacred ceremonies. I have attended many sweats. Those sweats have been done in the tradition of the Lakota people with the utmost respect for the meaning of the ceremony and the traditions that surround it. Each time there has been the utmost care taken in making sure that those who are “first timers” are monitored and details of the experience explained prior to going in. It has been explained to me that it is not an endurance contest.
It bothers me that so many of us are seeking answers or experiences and often don’t know where to turn and who to trust. There are always those who are waiting to take advantage. The teaching that I have received is that what we seek is always inside us already. We don’t necessarily need a teacher, a guide, a “spiritual warrior” to lead us to our inner journey.
I have never paid for the experience of the sweat lodge, although I have brought food or given tobacco to the leader of the sweat. Everything in the ceremony has meaning from the number of branches used to create the lodge to the number of logs that go into the fire.
I feel very sad for those that died and the others who attended and were adversely affected by this experience. May the creator bless them and guide them in their ongoing journey to find peace.



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Isabella Bellini

posted October 15, 2009 at 5:07 pm


For a person that claims to be spiritual you seem to be pointing the finger of blame directly to James. No one knows what happened in that sweat lodge at this point in time. Of course he didn’t plan on “bringing people to the edge of death” Shame on you for sensationalizing this horrible tragedy. What is your motive? It is certainly obvious to me. You seem to fit right in with all the superficial media drones. Maybe you need to look at your own “spirituality” to see what drives you.



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Scoob

posted October 15, 2009 at 10:54 pm


“Sweat Lodge Deaths Investigated as Homicides.”
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/15/arizona.sweat.lodge/index.html
Shades of Marshall Applewhite, aka Do (or rather Doh!
Buy me a nice new pair of white Nikes, a potent dose od phenobarbital mixed with applesauce or pudding, and then washed down with vodka. Additionally, plastic bags were secured around their heads after ingesting the mix to induce asphyxiation. Well, at least Applewhite hadn’t the insanity to introduce
Jihad to his followers, though he might of, had it hit popular culture back then.
Oh btw Isabella, if you aren’t willing to try the cool-ade, maybe you’d enjoy toying with
the current teen “pass out game”. You might see a clear light as you have the out-of-body experience of seeing your body being bagged and tagged.



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Lakotawoman

posted October 15, 2009 at 11:17 pm


I live here in Sedona. I am a telepathic, intuitive reader. I am a healer. I am greatly disturbed by this. I have much to say but it is hard to put into words. I am very serious about my work, it is not about the money, it is about helping the consiousness of all…Why this happened, possibly many reasons. Who really knows.
When one delves on the path of guidance to others it has to be done with a unconditional heart of love and light, no intention, no reward, NO EGO…we are all vessels of light and love. My life is rewarded by the beauty that I see, the beauty in my walk and talk…I am greatly disturbed by this. Blessngs be,
Lakotawoman



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SimpleTruth

posted October 16, 2009 at 2:48 am


ubject: Statement concerning Sedona Deaths
As Keeper of our Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, I am concerned for
the 2 deaths and illnesses of the many people that participated in a sweat
lodge in Sedona, Arizona that brought our sacred rite under fire in the
news. I would like to clarify that this lodge and many others, are not our
ceremonial way of life, because of the way they are being conducted. My
prayers go out for their families and loved ones for their loss.
Our ceremonies are about life and healing, from the time this ancient
ceremonial rite was given to our people, never has death been a part of our
inikag’a (life within) when conducted properly. Today the rite is
interpreted as a sweat lodge, it is much more then that. So the term does
not fit our real meaning of purification.
Inikag’a is the oldest ceremony brought to us by Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit).
19 generations ago, the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Oyate (people), were given
seven sacred rites of healing by a Spirit Woman – Pte San Win (White Buffalo
Calf Woman). She brought these rites along with our sacred C’anupa (pipe) to
our People, when our ancestors were suffering from a difficult time. It was
also brought for the future to help us for much more difficult times to
come. They were brought to help us stay connected to who we are as a
traditional cultural People. The values of conduct are very strict in any
of these ceremonies, because we work with spirit. The way the Creator,
Wakan Tanka told us; that if we stay humble and sincere, we will keep that
connection with the inyan oyate (the stone people), who we call the
Grandfathers, to be able to heal our selves and loved ones. We have a
“gift” of prayer and healing and have to stay humble with our Unc’i Maka
(Grandmother Earth) and with one another. The inikag’a is used in all of the
seven sacred rites to prepare and finish the ceremonies, along with the
sacred eagle feather. The feather represents the sacred knowledge of our
ancestors.
Our First Nations People have to earn the right to pour the mini wic’oni
(water of life) upon the inyan oyate (the stone people) in creating Inikag’a
– by going on the vision quest for four years and four years Sundance. Then
you are put through a ceremony to be painted – to recognize that you have
now earned that right to take care of someone’s life through purification.
They should also be able to understand our sacred language, to be able to
understand the messages from the Grandfathers, because they are ancient,
they are our spirit ancestors. They walk and teach the values of our
culture; in being humble, wise, caring and compassionate.
What has happened in the news with the make shift sauna called the sweat
lodge is not our ceremonial way of life!
When you do ceremony – you can not have money on your mind. We deal with the
pure sincere energy to create healing that comes from everyone in that
circle of ceremony. The heart and mind must be connected. When you involve
money, it changes the energy of healing. The person wants to get what they
paid for; the Spirit Grandfathers will not be there, our way of life is now
being exploited! You do more damage then good. No” mention” of monetary
energy should exist in healing, not even with a can of love donations. When
that energy exists, they will not even come. Only ‘after’ the ceremony,
between the person that is being healed and the Intercessor who has helped
connect with the Great Spirit, the energy of money can be given out of
appreciation. That exchange of energy is from the heart; it is private and
does not involve the Grandfathers! Whatever gift of appreciation the person
who received the help, can now give the Intercessor what ever they feel
their healing is worth.
In our Prophesy of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, she told us that she would
return and stand upon the earth when we are having a hard time. In 1994 this
began to happen with the birth of the white buffalo, not only their nation,
but many animal nations began to show their sacred color, which is white.
She predicted that at this time there would be many changes upon Grandmother
Earth. There would be things that we never experienced or heard of before;
climate changes, earth changes, diseases, disrespect for life and one
another would be shocking and there would be also many false prophets!
My Grandmother that passed the bundle to me said I would be the last Keeper
if the Oyate (people) do not straighten up. The assaults upon Grandmother
Earth are horrendous, the assaults toward one another was not in our
culture, the assaults against our People (Oyate) have been termed as
genocide, and now we are experiencing spiritual genocide!
Because of the problems that began to arise with our rebirth of being able
to do our ceremonies in the open since the Freedom of Religion Act of 1978,
our Elders began talking to me about the abuses they seen in our ceremonial
way of life, which was once very strict. After many years of witnessing
their warnings, we held a meeting to address this very issue of lack of
protocol in our ceremonies. After reaching an agreement of addressing the
misconduct of our ceremonies and reminding of the proper protocols, a
statement was made in March 2003. Every effort was made to insure our way
of life of who we are as traditional cultural People was made, because these
ways are for our future and all life upon the Grandmother Earth (Mitakuye
Oyasin – All my relations), so that they may have good health. Because these
atrocities are being mocked and practiced all over the world, there was even
a film we made called “Spirits for Sale”.
The non-native people have a right to seek help from our “First Nation
Intercessors” for good health and well-being, it is up to that Intercessor.
That is a privilege for all People that we gift for being able to have good
health and understand that their protocol is to have respect and appreciate
what we have to share. The First Nations Intercessor has to earn that right
to our ceremonial way of life in the ways I have explained.
At this time, I would like to ask all Nations upon Grandmother Earth to
please respect our sacred ceremonial way of life and stop the exploitation
of our Tunka Oyate (Spiritual Grandfathers).
In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!
Namah’u yo (hear my words),
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White
Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle.



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Scoob

posted October 16, 2009 at 4:37 am


I’m a little disturbed by this entire thread, which seems to want to show irrationally how some are making an effort to straddle the fence, of their own rationalized apologies and investment in what they’ve put so much of their (unproven and based upon faith) as the Buddha might say.
And you should be rightfully disturbed if you’ve been spending your life with false prophets for your own lack of center, and who now seem to be imploding on you.
People often put their faith and trust, time and money into Charlatans to only set themselves up for even disheartening future failures, and self blame and find themselves ‘falling’ even further’ , with even more self blame and a sense of personal failure upon themselves….along with the legal and culpability of the money and ego focused upon “teachers”, as well as the with the oh so common sexual (and frequently overlooked patterns of sexual abuse…be it at Naropa or within the Sivanda community, Kripalau, etc., sometimes to themselves and tragically sometime to their children who the’ve trusted to a percieved yet corrupt spiritual community and master.
There was a wall-to-wall issue in Tricycle Magazine about 7 years ago devoted to the Buddhist practice and Psychoanalysis. Most of the authors were well respected and well published ananlysts as well as esteemed Buddhist teachers/leaders in the S.F community. The take away that they all seemed to agreed upon was that most people are drawn to Eastern thought as a way of “solely negating”. I unfortunately can’t site the issue, as I loaned it out, and it was never returned. (Maybe tis my challenge to track it down)
But the gist, agreed upon shrinks and practitioners in both Zen, Vajrayana, Theravada, etc, that is as we become more involved with our self-pity and pain
We tend to dwell on our depression, pain and unbearable extisential angst (which is a part of the wonderful paradox of being human.) One thing they all seemed to agree upon was that Eastern thought and practice is not about sitting on
a pillow and meditating/negating your pain away. But rather taking yourself on as a warrior, and that most( not all of course!) of the ‘pseudo enlightened ones’… be damned.
And while I’m not quite an Tibetan art/deity /schoar, the practices and emanations that we invoke originally designed in our practices are created to cut through the delusion of permenence. I’e, the Blade Cutter as a most profound example
but unfortunately most people in the west, under suffering of so much internal pain,hope and desire, they can just sit on a pillow, watch the clouds pass and let go. And while most Western religions seem to find converts in their promises of life-after-death….the Eastern approach is often taken by folks who believe you can meditate their pain and suffering away by negation, that they’re not “really real”.
Interestingly, the person I find to be the most clear and communicative on the what I’ll call Buddhism #101 is Bob Thurman.
Yes, of course once you get into module -four of his lectures, it starts getting a little thick in terms of the nuances,
and Bob can spend a wonderful and magical hour exploring the beauty and gems of the Jewel Tree
but he has an amazing way of cmmunicating, and essentially just “spitting it out” during his more primary modules.
And what Bob is able to communicate to you, amazingly passionate and brilliant scholar that he is, usually can fill your
mind and self-observing ego for a full week (until you return to Tibet House for the next module.
Anyway….The essence of the Tricycle issue was that you have to to do the “work”, as the shrinks say. And if you’re lucky to have a smart pscyodynamic shrink like Mark Epstein or Bob Thurman (not a shrink of course, but an inspiration)…you’re off to a good start.
Because if you were abused as a child, sitting on a pillow for a 100 years is not going to negate the feelings,
both from an ovberving ego, as well as the unconscious and repetitive patterns this will cause in your life and relationships to yourself and your loved ones.
Anyway for what it’s worth….My two gupta coins/today paper Rupees



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Gemfire

posted October 16, 2009 at 10:28 am


This “guru” told the participants to fast-no food, no water-for 3 days prior to the sweatlodge. In the high heat of the sweatlodge, the participants would have been extremely dehydrated, electrolytes out of balance, blood sugar extremely low to nonexistent. The wooziness of this physical condition would have been construed as a higher spiritual experience by the participants, thus making the “guru” look good. Its a wonder they didn’t all die. The guru’s ego and lack of commonsense, also the participants lack of common sense is what killed them.
I have partipated in many sweat lodges. I was always told to eat lightly that day, but keep very hydrated. We also were told to bring bottles of pedialyte to keep us hydrated during the sweat. No one ever got sick, or died, and we all had a very spiritual expeience.



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Your Name

posted October 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm


(For some reason, my edits didn’t appear after entering the security code…. my apologies for this repeat post but it is what I had to say)
Many Native Americans are quite disturbed by the bastardization of their sacred ceremonies and rituals carried out by people doing them for financial gain, people armed with a flimsy weekend certification given to them by another poorly trained, (or even completely bogus)profiteer. While there are non-Native Americans who HAVE trained extensively with highly respected medicine men, there are scores more caught up in the novelty of it all out there trying to turn it into a business, something that goes so far away from the original intent of the ceremonies themselves that they ought to be ashamed of themselves. There are far too many ‘weekend warriors’. Ask an authentic medicine man, and you will know. This unfortunate incident punctuates the concern of many Native American practitioners across the country. They have been warning us about this for years now. Westerners are of course caught up in the beauty of the Native way, the wonder of the connection with the Creator, and the unique paths to Him, but seem to be looking for the fast-track to Wakan Tanka. It takes years to develop the intuition and skill of a true medicine man, and some feel that they are chosen by the ancestors and their Creator. I have the sad feeling about Mr Ray. I don’t think intended to kill anyone, and though he had been doing these sweat lodge ceremonies for years, he was also extracting a high price for the ‘service’ which ironically diminishes its true value. This time, he extracted the supreme sacrifice…. the deaths of two participants and the hospitalization of others. While there are Westerners posing as medicine men, there are also Native Americans who start performing ceremonies without the proper authority from their own tribal governing body, nor have they received proper instruction from an authentic medicine man themselves. They are no more qualified than their non- Native counterparts, nothing more than profiteers. Done properly, these very sacred and solemn ceremonies have great value to humanity, and more importantly, honor and bring us closer to the Creator. It would be a terrible thing to see these ceremonies intruded on by those who think they need government regulation (Think of how sacramental peyote has been maligned and then regulated by those who don’t even understand it) I would hope those seeking such powerful experiences would take great pains to first ask themselves why they are really seeking them, and then find authentic medicine men. They should be extremely careful with those asking for large amounts of money. I was invited to the ceremonies I have attended, and the only mention of money was a donation for the less fortunate in society. People gave as little as a dollar, sometimes 5, sometimes much more, but nothing was made over a large donation… it was treated the same as the smaller one. As for the victims of the Sedona tragedy, including Mr Ray himself, let us pray for peace, and a safe, gentle journey to the presence of the Creator, and may that journey take place in its own time, neither hindered nor hastened.



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Zintkala

posted October 17, 2009 at 2:52 am


James Arthur Ray has stolen one of the most sacred ceremony of the Lakota: inikagapi. He is a fraud and should be held accountable for the death of these two persons.
I am surprised that nobody mentions the responsibility of Oprah Winfrey.
She has given a voice to James Arthur Ray, and I do believe that she should be held accountable for the sweat lodge deaths in Sedona.
Because of her, people have believed in this man who stole one of the most sacred ceremony of the Lakota.
Because of her, people have been traumatized.
Because of her, people died.
I am really shocked that she acted without proper judgement when she let James Arthur Ray sell his ******** during her show. This is a shame!
I do not understand that nobody intervenes in blogs and forums to tell people about her responsibility.
Why? Because she is rich?



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Dan

posted October 17, 2009 at 11:03 pm


I’m sorry, it is hard to read posts from people whom which I have no idea what depth of understanding they have of James A. Ray and his teachings… Can I request everyone to mention their experience in reference to James Ray’s events before or after commenting?
The reason being in my experience, I attended the first several events that James Ray offers and it served me well with a lot of bring home value. It contained nothing strange, nothing out of the ordinary… Here is the big BUT, as I moved forward in the JRI program, I experienced something very different from the bait that brought me in… I am referencing Practical Mysticism and Spiritual Warrior. I had no idea what I signed up for was so different from the first events. I didn’t know I was going to be chanting and dancing like animals or bending re-bar on my thought, I knew of the walking on fire, but not the fasting, holotropic breathing (crazy NUTS), spirit quest, sleeping in tents, and lastly the SWEAT LODGE! None of these I previously signed up for, but I did it for the experience. Shoot, I had already paid all this money, might as well experience what I paid for… and wow…
My experience at Spiritual Warrior event threw me over the edge. To preface, I am a raised Catholic and plan to remain one. I felt it was ok to experience different cultures/religions as am experience, but during SW, I felt too involved in a movement/cult, there were others that were treating it like a new religion and James was Jesus. If I remember, he related himself to Jesus who is like Buddha; they were enlightened as he was going to be. … Read More
Sad to hear the SW event in 2009 ended in people’s death. My event in 2005 ended in an really awkward silence the last day because one participant was rushed to the hospital after passing out during the sweat lodge event. I left the sweat lodge before the first hour was up for obvious reasons, but was tasked to facilitate others as they exited the sweat lodge. I remember the fire tenders were amazed by the amount of stones that was called into the sweat lodge. I also remember looking inside the tarp covered door over an hour after I left the sweat. I saw a dozen or more still inside laying on the sand, barely moving!
Well, back to my real reason for this post… can everyone please preface or follow their comment with what their experience is with James A. Ray? So you understand, let me start…
JRI-Harmonic Wealth Weekend -2004(I think)
JRI-Practical Mysticism – 2005
JRI-Spiritual Warrior – 2005
Thanks.



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344thBrother

posted October 18, 2009 at 6:43 pm


This is no type of traditional sweat ceremony.
It cost $10,000 bucks. Totally wrong.
$600,000 bucks for a 5 day experience! Nice profit. I guess the power of positive thinking wasn’t enough in this case. If it’s an honest mistaken belief, negligence and possibly manslaughter, If it was just a way to make money and they knew it was dangerous, that may well be murder.
Analysis by a 30 year veteran fireman: (Me)
The walls were below ground and thirty inches high which would concentrate the heat and effects of the heat and smoke.
The low , nearly flat roof wouldn’t leave much ceiling room for breathing and would project the heat/steam/smoke layer straight down onto the participants and would not allow the heat to collect at the top and dissipate as in a normal domed sweat lodge
Plastic tarping inside the structure may release toxic gasses and is an extreme fire/burn hazard. Plastic would exclude oxygen from entering except through the entrances. People could have expired from oxygen depletion and C02 accumulation.
Temperatures inside the dome would not be evenly distributed. Any air movement could cause pockets of very hot gasses to collect
The interior of such a structure when superheated by many red hot rocks, could transfer heat and steam at up to 600 degrees F. It’s a lot like being inside a structure fire which hasn’t been ventilated. It can become intensely hot very quickly from the ceiling down. Firemen don’t wear those thick suits for nothing.
The structure was much too big, with too many people in it. How many helpers were inside in communication with the outside?
Was there only the one exit? That is a complete violation of any occupied structure, for very good reason. it would be easy to become disoriented in a superheated, pitch dark circular structure full of people with only one exit and inadequate ventilation.
Any fireman knows that what is most likely to kill people inside a burning structure is smoke and superheated gas, even if they’re found lying on the floor.
How much “Sandlewood” did they burn? How thick and toxic was the smoke? Were the stones so hot that they ignited the ingredients that were thrown on the stones? Were open flames visible? Any open flame would consume the Oxygen very quickly.
How much water was poured on the stones? Were thick clouds of superheated steam generated as in a traditional sweat lodge? Who added water to the stones? Who was in charge of the interior?
Who were the helpers inside the structure? Did people inside have communications with the outside?
How many ventilation points were there? ? At what point was ventilation accomplished? How was it done? How quickly was it accomplished?
How badly were some people burned? Where were they sitting? What part of their bodies were burned? Head and face? (Heat and smoke inhalation issues) Along one side or the other? (Lying on the floor and too hot to breath)
Did the participants report disorientation? Did they report any helpers available to assist people having a difficult time?
Did they provide adequate ventilation? Was the structure too full of people in an unventilated space, thus concentrating the C02 they breath out, using up the Oxygen, and causing hyperventilation? Were they experiencing shortness of breath at any time?
Did anyone have inhalation burns or burns of the lips/mouth/throat?
How many hot rocks were used? It would take a great many stones to heat such a large space (Approximately 1660 cubic feet). The radiant heat near the stones must have been intense. Were the people in front pushing back to get away from the radiant heat?
Each person inside had approximately 25 cubic feet of sitting and breathing space. Is this adequate? How long were the people who became sick and died inside the dome?
peace
Dave Short



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Rachel

posted October 19, 2009 at 6:28 am


This is a very tragic and sad story. My prayers to all involved. I must comment that this man did not have the teaching or the right to run these ceremonies. These are sacred, ancient, Native American ceremonies. They belong to the Native American people, and there are spiritual laws that govern these ceremonies. You CANNONT accept money for these ceremonies. Nor should they be run by those who do not have the life time of training or the cultural background necessary to have just a small understanding of what they are dealing with and how to run this sort of ceremony.
Our prayes are with the individuals and families of all of the people who have been associated with this man, and for the man himself.
Our hope is that the non-Native people will take notice and learn from these tragedies, so this will never happen again.



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P.T.C

posted October 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm


I don’t know Ray or how this lodge was constructed/conducted, but if it’s like the lodges I have attended, it would seem that many of the ideas being tossed around here are unfounded:
Carbon monoxide? Not likely. The stones are heated in an exterior fire, then brought into the lodge. At the lodges I’ve attended, the hot stones were swept by attendants to be sure that they were free from ash or coals, which might fly off, burning attendees.
Co2 or oxygen depletion? Possibly, but it is doubtful that such would cause kidney or other organ failure.
How many exits? One, possibly two… but if it was built like the lodges I’ve attended, the sides were not secured, so every part of every wall was effectively an “emergency exit”.
Was two hours an unusually long sweat? No, those I’ve attended have lasted up to four hours. It does get HOT inside. VERY hot, and steamy. That’s the idea.
Also, an attendee of one of Ray’s previous lodges (Dan – above) states that he left the lodge after only an hour. Apparently no one was forced to stay inside.
Charging for the lodge? The charges were for the entire multi-day experience, of which the lodge was was only a part. I make no excuses for Ray or his practices, but lets not allow personal disdain to distract from the real issue: What caused the injuries and deaths?
I think I may have an answer:
In the lodges I’ve attended (which were conducted by esteemed Apache and/or Lakota elders) certain herbs were scattered on the hot stones, where they instantly vaporized. Herbs that are commonly used include Sweetgrass, Tobacco and Osha (or Bear Root, as mentioned above by Donna). I’m betting that it is the “Bear Root” that will ultimately be found to be the culprit.
Osha (Bear Root) grows wild throughout the Rocky Mountain Southwest. It defies cultivation, and is nearly always harvested from the wild. Native Americans have been harvesting and using this sacred herb for ceremonial and medicinal purposes for centuries. It can be purchased online from numerous sources, and it is generally recognized as a safe and useful herb.
But there is a potential problem: Osha looks almost identical to two other herbs – Poison Hemlock and Water Hemlock – both of which are deadly poisonous. These may also be found growing in close proximity to Bear Root or Osha.
These plants are so similar that to the untrained eye, they would be nearly indistinguishable. In fact, one is commonly mistaken for the other – the best way to tell the difference is by the smell of the stems and leaves of the plant: Bear Root has a spicy, celery-like smell, whereas Hemlock has been described as smelling musty, nasty – like “mouse urine”.
I believe it is possible, even likely that someone who was harvesting Bear Root may have inadvertently harvested Poison Hemlock or Water Hemlock by mistake, and that the poisonous root was in turn sold or given to Ray’s crew, who placed it on the hot stones, believing that it was Bear Root.
The poison roots would have instantly vaporized when they hit the stones, filling the confined space in the lodge with deadly toxins. The symptoms of Hemlock poisoning are consistent with those suffered by the attendees in the lodge: Progressive paralysis, inability to talk, respiratory failure, coma and death.
Renal (kidney) failure is another symptom of Hemlock poisoning – especially with Water Hemlock. Also, it is important to remember that most cases of Hemlock poisoning were caused by eating the plant. In this case, it would have been the result of BREATHING VAPORS, so the symptoms would manifest differently, and likely much more quickly.
If Hemlock poisoning was indeed the cause of the injuries and deaths, it would not detract from the tragedy, but it would certainly indicate that this was not the result of any criminal behavior. Simply a tragic accident.
I have forwarded this information to the Yavapai County Coroner and sheriff’s office in the hopes that they will look into the mater further.
Again, I have no dog in this hunt. I don’t know Ray or any of the victims, and make no apologies for anyone. But I would hate to see blood-lust and vengeance win out over logic and reason.
My prayers go out to all.



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Debbie

posted October 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Sam conti, M.A., L.P.C., C.A.C.II

posted October 19, 2009 at 7:02 pm


The following statement most clearly expresses the feelings here at our tribe also. I have participated in sweat lodge for over 25 years and at 66 continue to practice with my dear friends of the southern Ute Indian Nation. Without a knowledge of the contextof sweat, it can have no spiritual power. I am sorry those people lost their life. They just didn’t know.
Statement from Chief Arvol Looking Horse
As Keeper of our Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, I am concerned for the 2 deaths and illnesses of the many people that participated in a sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona that brought our sacred rite under fire in the news. I would like to clarify that this lodge and many others, are not our ceremonial way of life, because of the way they are being conducted. My prayers go out for their families and loved ones for their loss.
Our ceremonies are about life and healing, from the time this ancient
ceremonial rite was given to our people, never has death been a part of our inikag¹a (life within) when conducted properly. Today the rite is
interpreted as a sweat lodge, it is much more then that. So the term does not fit our real meaning of purification. Inikag¹a is the oldest ceremony brought to us by Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit). 19 generations ago, the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Oyate (people), were given seven sacred rites of healing by a Spirit Woman ¬ Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman). She brought these rites along with our sacred C¹anupa (pipe) to our People, when our ancestors were suffering from a difficult time. It was also brought for the future to help us for much more difficult times to come. They were brought to help us stay connected to who we are as a traditional cultural People. The values of conduct are very strict in any of these ceremonies, because we work with spirit. The way the Creator, Wakan Tanka told us; that if we stay humble and sincere, we will keep that connection with the inyan oyate (the stone people), who we call the Grandfathers, to be able to heal our selves and loved ones. We have a
³gift² of prayer and healing and have to stay humble with our Unc¹i Maka (Grandmother Earth) and with one another. The inikag¹a is used in all of the seven sacred rites to prepare and finish the ceremonies, along with the sacred eagle feather. The feather represents the sacred knowledge of our ancestors.
Our First Nations People have to earn the right to pour the mini wic¹oni (water of life) upon the inyan oyate (the stone people) in creating Inikag¹a – by going on the vision quest for four years and four years Sundance. Then you are put through a ceremony to be painted – to recognize that you have now earned that right to take care of someone¹s life through purification. They should also be able to understand our sacred language, to be able to understand the messages from the Grandfathers, because they are ancient,
they are our spirit ancestors. They walk and teach the values of our
culture; in being humble, wise, caring and compassionate.
What has happened in the news with the make shift sauna called the sweat lodge is not our ceremonial way of life! When you do ceremony – you can not have money on your mind. We deal with the pure sincere energy to create healing that comes from everyone in that
circle of ceremony. The heart and mind must be connected. When you involve money, it changes the energy of healing. The person wants to get what they paid for; the Spirit Grandfathers will not be there, our way of life is now being exploited! You do more damage then good. No² mention² of monetary energy should exist in healing, not even with a can of love donations. When that energy exists, they will not even come. Only Œafter¹ the ceremony, between the person that is being healed and the Intercessor who has helped connect with the Great Spirit, the energy of money can be given out of appreciation. That exchange of energy is from the heart; it is private and
does not involve the Grandfathers! Whatever gift of appreciation the person who received the help, can now give the Intercessor what ever they feel their healing is worth.
In our Prophesy of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, she told us that she would return and stand upon the earth when we are having a hard time. In 1994 this began to happen with the birth of the white buffalo, not only their nation, but many animal nations began to show their sacred color, which is white. She predicted that at this time there would be many changes upon Grandmother Earth. There would be things that we never experienced or heard of before; climate changes, earth changes, diseases, disrespect for life and one another would be shocking and there would be also many false prophets! My Grandmother that passed the bundle to me said I would be the last Keeper if the Oyate (people) do not straighten up. The assaults upon Grandmother Earth are horrendous, the assaults toward one another was not in our culture, the assaults against our People (Oyate) have been termed as genocide, and now we are experiencing spiritual genocide! Because of the problems that began to arise with our rebirth of being able to do our ceremonies in the open since the Freedom of Religion Act of 1978, our Elders began talking to me about the abuses they seen in our ceremonial way of life, which was once very strict. After many years of witnessing their warnings, we held a meeting to address this very issue of lack of protocol in our ceremonies. After reaching an agreement of addressing the misconduct of our ceremonies and reminding of the proper protocols, a statement was made in March 2003. Every effort was made to insure our way of life of who we are as traditional cultural People was made, because these
ways are for our future and all life upon the Grandmother Earth (Mitakuye Oyasin ¬ All my relations), so that they may have good health. Because these atrocities are being mocked and practiced all over the world, there was even a film we made called ³Spirits for Sale². The non-native people have a right to seek help from our ³First Nation Intercessors² for good health and well-being, it is up to that Intercessor. That is a privilege for all People that we gift for being able to have good health and understand that their protocol is to have respect and appreciate what we have to share. The First Nations Intercessor has to earn that right to our ceremonial way of life in the ways I have explained. At this time, I would like to ask all Nations upon Grandmother Earth to please respect our sacred ceremonial way of life and stop the exploitation of our Tunka Oyate (Spiritual Grandfathers).
In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!
Namah¹u yo (hear my words),
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White
Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle.
Received via myspace on October 14, 2009



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Peedy Oor-ree-on (Little Laughing Bear)

posted October 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm


Evidence of the greed and manipulation of people like Ray may be at last brought to light by the tragedy of death at the Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat yesterday, when Ray hosted a supposedly traditional Native American sweat lodge. Authorities may be puzzled at the cause of the deaths and some 20 plus other people having to be rushed to the hospital, but I am not. I am of Cherokee descent, a member of the Cherokee Nation, and I have conducted many “sweats.” To even consider a lodge large enough to hold sixty-four people is a travesty. There is no question in my mind that the deaths and malaise were caused by oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. If Ray were attempting to follow a traditional path for a sweat lodge (Inipi) ceremony, it would call for each participant to make a prayer in turn around the lodge, followed by opening the door and allowing people who want to exit the lodge and drink water. But the time required for sixty-four people to pray would have depleted the oxygen in the lodge, as well as dangerously straining the body’s natural cooling system. Even in the most rigorous “warrior” sweats of our people, usually no more than six or eight participants enter the lodge. There are four rounds done, each time allowing fresh air to fill the lodge, participants to drink, and new “ancestors” (heated stones) brought in. Even in the longest ceremonies, with the hottest stones and most steam, a round would rarely exceed around thirty minutes.
There is another travesty here. A traditional sweat lodge ceremony, poured by a native leader, never carries a charge. I know that Ray is selling motivation, not just purification, but to charge $9,000 for a four day “retreat”, is proof to me that Ray is peddling power. Ray and other so-called New-agers give the spiritual traditions of native people all over the world a bad name because of their greed and manipulation.
My prayers go out to all the people who suffered at Sedona, and to all and everyone sincerely seeking spirituality. I hope you learn that you can’t get it by paying for it.
Mitakuye Oyasin



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Dave Dalzell

posted October 21, 2009 at 9:53 am


For all who may not know. James Ray is a shameless opportunist. May the dead rest in peace, and the survivors try to avoid the next carnival that comes to town. What we are all looking for is already what we are.
Dave Dalzell



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Dennis Sigala

posted October 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm


Hau!
First and foremost, Our prayers to those that lost their lives and families that are suffering due to some wannabe White Man!
James Ray! You do not have the right to conduct our Ceremonies that are sacred! This applies to all you other New Agers that think they can practice our most sacred rite. Inipi was not given to the white man.
And those that try to emulate us will have have to face what the Spirits have brought them. This is very sacred. And I condemn all those that are making money trying to copy us. It never fails! And now it would not surprise me to see the government trying to get their nose in our Religion! Because of James Ray! I say to all of our Native People.
You should report these wannabe’s and let them be exposed.
Mitakuye Oyasin
Dennis



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Desiree

posted November 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm


I have to say within this tragedy, there is a powerful global message or example made to teach us to not tamper with spirituality. Growing up in Flagstaff Arizona, I had many First Nation friends that invited me to sweat ceremonies and it was one of the most purest versions of sacred power I have experienced on the planet and I am completly honored that we live in a day and age to where the First Nation people are open to sharing their knowledge with others and the only reason why I could think they would want to keep it from the rest of the world is that alot of us are not ready to experience. It is very real, very powerful and I would be very scared to conduct an operation by profiting from the spiritual realm.Like the old saying: dont bite the hand that feeds you comes to mind in matters like this.Its like stealing from yourself and that just doesant work. I could also say that economics comes into play and I have noticed that it makes people very “cut throat” because they do not have finances met and it seems like an easy solution. This was clearly a “no-brainer”…we all need oxygen to breathe and this situation screams simply greed,fear and desparation to seek power wich is already built into us all as a whole.



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Ehekateotl

posted November 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm


People, an accident is an accident. But if you say, in life there is no accidents… than you have to see this for everithing, and it will be the same: Deeply, we can´t judge.



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Vincent Esprit

posted July 9, 2010 at 3:50 pm


interesting man is spiritual …there is a growing need for some form of spiritual grace…I am really sorry to hear of this accident.
vincent



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Damian Bruno

posted July 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm


Horrible accident. Was there negligence, maybe?? I have experienced several sweat lodges in my life since living in Sedona, granted they where given by a local Native American. Also they where only a few people in the lodge and we could gain easy access tot he outside world if we needed. It would be a shame for this incident to scar the ancient ceremony!



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ging

posted April 26, 2013 at 10:20 pm


of course like your website however you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to inform the reality however I will certainly come again again.



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