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.
by Michael Kiefer and Glen Creno
"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.
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_