October 25, 2009

How Sedona's sweat lodges operate

'Sweat lodge' tragedy shines spotlight on ancient ritual

By Scott SeckelPractitioners insist sweat lodges are safe, if led by trained lodge keepers, as they are called. Lodges are highly ritualized in how many rocks are used, how much water is put on them and how often the door is opened as well as many other factors including construction and the number of participants.

"A reputable retreat company would not be conducting the lodge themselves," Preston said. "In our case we use Native American practitioners because they use a format which has been established for centuries."

Lodge keepers who aren't native have "almost always" been trained by Native Americans, Preston said.

It's a complex process. Apprentices can train for one to two years just to tend the fire outside in which the lava rocks are heated.

"If someone came to us and said, 'It's our own thing,' that would be a huge red flag," he said. "There's some art to it ... (Native Americans) know exactly what they're doing, and they don't kill anyone doing it."

No safeguards have been put in place, before or since the three deaths, according to Johanna Mosca of Sedona Spirit Hiking and Yoga. Mosca, who has done more than 50 sweats since 1994, does not have a lodge on her property.

If her clients want to sweat, she calls local practitioners.

"The precaution we put in is knowing the person who is leading the sweat lodge," she said. "I would allow my 90-year old father to attend a sweat lodge.

"I totally trust the people I know in Sedona who are leading lodges as sacred practices. Things go awry when things are led for profit and people are not conscious. I think this was an isolated incident. I hate it that it makes Sedona people look like irresponsible woo-woo jerks."
Comment:  Why would we think New Age practitioners are "woo-woo jerks"? Because they teach things such as colonic therapy and dolphin energy healing? Because they misuse Native lore involving crystal skulls and "Mayan signatures"?

For more on the subject, see How James Ray Fleeced His Flock and How Sweat Lodges Can Kill.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

The "colonic therapy" scam goes way back. Kellogg's used to make a big deal about it (before they morphed into a cereal company), and there is some guy on late-night infomercials selling colonic cures.