October 09, 2009

New Age sweat lodge kills

2 Dead, Several Hospitalized at New-Age Sweat Lodge in ArizonaAbout 50 people were in a "sweatbox"-type structure when they were overcome at the resort, which provides Native American-style spiritual retreats, Yavapai County sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said Friday.

Many people began feeling ill after about two hours in the sweat lodge.

About 21 people were taken by ambulance or helicopter to area hospitals, where two were pronounced dead, D'Evelyn said. The dead were only identified as a man and woman, both middle-aged.

Two people taken to Flagstaff Medical Center were listed in critical condition on Friday. Three others who were admitted to a hospital in nearby Verde Valley recovered quickly; two were released overnight and one was reported in good condition on Friday.
Authorities puzzled by deaths at Sedona-area sweat lodge

by Michael Kiefer and Glen CrenoPeople have died in sweat lodges in the past. They were either sick tribal elders who voluntarily stayed until they died or people who were in poor health.

"The sweat lodge needs to be respected," Bruchac said. "When you imitate someone's tradition, and you don't know what you are doing, there's a danger of doing something very wrong."

The victims were attending the ceremony during the final day of a five-day program called "Spiritual Warrior," which [James Arthur] Ray has conducted at the resort annually since 2003. Ray's Web site lists the cost for next year's program at $9,695 per person.

Ray's program brochure promises participants will push themselves past their "self-imposed and conditioned borders" and "learn (and apply) the awesome power of 'integrity of action.'" It describes the sweat lodge as "a ceremonial sauna involving tight, enclosed spaces and intense temperatures."

Ray, a frequent guest on TV talk shows, calls himself "a personal-success strategist," and his Web site details a sampler of international spiritual philosophies that he has fused into his program.

His book, "Harmonic Wealth," contends that one can become a millionaire through spiritual study.

The Associated Press reported that, eerily, Ray made this posting on his Twitter account just hours before the deaths: "Still in Spiritual Warrior ... for anything new to live something first must die. What needs to die in you so that new life can emerge?"

The posting and two others were deleted Friday afternoon.
Comment:  Are these the first people a New Age religion has killed? Probably not.

So 50 people were crammed into the structure shown below? It looks like it could comfortably hold about 12.

For more on the subject, see New Age Mystics, Healers, and Ceremonies.

Below:  "Investigators look over the "sweat lodge" on the grounds of Angel Valley Retreat Center, near Sedona, where multiple people collapsed after exiting the sweat lodge Thursday. Two later died and about 20 were transported to area hospitals." (Photo by Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic_


Anonymous said...

So the person who conducted these false/imitation sweat lodges wasn't an actual indian trained in this particualr field. Its very pathetic when the white man uses indian ceremonials for self profit. As it appears to be the case with this one. It cost one, almost $10,000 per person just to participate in this bogus program. And the people who participate in this program are not that wise to begin with.

I'm waiting for that day when it becomes illegal for non-indians to imitate and falliciously perform actual genuine indian ceremonies. The man responsible for these deaths needs to go to prison and pay for his stupidity.

Shadow Wolf--

Anonymous said...

A post about other people who have died in pay to pray 'sweats', http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=390878854&blogId=408258383

m. said...

I do not sympathize with the fraud who is responsible for this, and I am finding it hard to muster up any sympathy for the victims. You do not mess with a tradition of great significance, it is incredibly dangerous. Let this serve as a lesson to all those who've (mis)appropriated from us.

If these types of people believe that all the world's their banquet, I wish they'd just go away and convert to Buddhism. Maybe they'd then start believing in 'karma'.

Anonymous said...

Shadow Wolf---

I have Indian Blood, but I am more white than Indian. Like you I believe the Indian heritage should be left the the Indians who know how to do their spiritual rites.

No white/non-Indian man should try or use Indian rites unless trained by a Indian who know how to preforms said rights