For Some Seeking Rebirth, Sweat Lodge Was End

A little bit late to the party, the New York Times finally reports on the now infamous James Arthur Ray sweat lodge death scandal, managing to dig up some rather peripheral figures such as Page Bryant, a psychic in Waynesville, N.C., “who was among the first to claim in the 1980s that Sedona had several “vortexes” of high energy — the initial lure for the legions of seekers … [and] became fed up and left nearly two decades ago ‘because of the craziness I saw going on in the New Age community.’”

The Times does fill in some details I haven’t seen reported elsewhere though, so for those still interested in the rise and likely fall of Mr. Ray (star of ‘The Secret’ and profiled in the disinformation book Beyond The Secret), here’s an excerpt:

SEDONA, Ariz. — Midway through a two-hour sweat lodge ceremony intended to be a rebirthing experience, participants say, some people began to fall desperately ill from the heat, even as their leader, James Arthur Ray, a nationally known New Age guru, urged them to press on.

Investigators looking over a sweat lodge at a retreat center near Sedona, Ariz. Three people died after an event there this month.

“There were people throwing up everywhere,” said Dr. Beverley Bunn, 43, an orthodontist from Texas, who said she struggled to remain conscious in the sweat lodge, a makeshift structure covered with blankets and plastic and heated with fiery rocks.

Dr. Bunn said Mr. Ray told the more than 50 people jammed into the small structure — people who had just completed a 36-hour “vision quest” in which they fasted alone in the desert — that vomiting “was good for you, that you are purging what your body doesn’t want, what it doesn’t need.” But by the end of the ordeal on Oct. 8, emergency crews had taken 21 people to hospitals. Three have since died.

Mr. Ray, who calls himself a teacher of “practical mysticism” and has gained widespread exposure through writings and an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” has come under intense scrutiny in the New Age movement that is a cottage industry here. The Yavapai County sheriff, Steve Waugh, has opened a homicide investigation, but Mr. Ray has not been charged.

Dr. Bunn, who had signed up for the $9,695 “spiritual warrior” experience, offered the first eyewitness account of the sweat lodge. Details were confirmed by relatives and lawyers for other participants. …


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4 Comments on "For Some Seeking Rebirth, Sweat Lodge Was End"

  1. rasinamon | Oct 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm |

    The Sweat Lodge is not something that is allowed to be charged for money, as is any other Native American Ceremony. There are forces at work in these ceremonies that most people do not understand, they are positive healing forcese if performed correctly. The purpose of these ceremonies is prayer, healing, and spiritual elevation if done in the correct manner. When you ask a Native Elder what happens if you misuse these ceremonies they may tell you that something bad will happen. This is a perfect example of this lesson learned the hard way. If anyone charges money for ANY Native American Ceremony, the result will be harm be it spiritual or physical as in this case. No “spiritual warrior” needs boatloads of cash from ceremonies to further their cause.

  2. Two things pop into my mind on reading this story:
    1. Life is not user friendly
    2. If you want to be a “spiritual warrior” you've got to pay the price. Apparently close to $10,000.

    • so a trip to the quack camp is about the same as 3 years rent on my apartment…i need to start a cult

  3. so a trip to the quack camp is about the same as 3 years rent on my apartment…i need to start a cult

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