October 10, 2009

The brochure said you'd move beyond "self-imposed and conditioned borders" and "learn (and apply) the awesome power of 'integrity of action.'"

And was that really puffery? What was delivered was... death!
Shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, a man and a woman, reportedly in their 50s, lapsed into unconsciousness during a simulated Native American sweat-lodge purification ceremony led by a self-help guru and inspirational speaker at a Sedona retreat. They were pronounced dead at Verde Valley Medical Center, and 19 others were hospitalized for as-yet-undetermined causes....
64 people were taking part in the sweat-lodge ceremony, which lasted about two hours and was being hosted by James Arthur Ray, an author and spiritual self-help entrepreneur....
The victims were attending the ceremony during the final day of a five-day program called "Spiritual Warrior," which 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.
This all happened in Sedona, which the linked newspaper article calls "an international mecca for New Age beliefs and purportedly the site of numerous 'vortexes,' or natural energy confluences thought to enhance spirituality and well-being."

It seems to be a money vortex. $9,000+ to be packed into a very hot stuffy room with 63 other people who saw fit to pay $9,000 for such abuse — rendered subjectively beautiful via soppy thoughts about "Native Americans."

47 comments:

John E. said...

One must choose gurus wisely.

Don said...

Stuff White People Like!

rhhardin said...

The principle of least action makes arrows arrive at the buffalo.

former law student said...

where's the crackmc? He would have something pithy to contribute about such NewAge spewage.

Oligonicella said...

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

Well, through spiritual charlatanry maybe.

Stephen Snell said...

Reminds me of the old Far Side with the Lone Ranger finding a Native American-English dictionary: "kemosabe ... horse's rear? what the heck?"

Sedona is as sexy as these people (the guru and the marks) are stupid. Of course, at least the guru is getting paid.

traditionalguy said...

There is a darkness from occult mumbo jumbo that the Native Americans practiced that will kill you. Someone alert Crack Emcee.

Richard Dolan said...

Seeing this reminded me of all the attention Carlos Casteneda used to generate. Does anyone read his stuff any more? New Age seems so old and worn out, like the duo who met their end in the sweat hut.

wc: zinga. Yes, indeed.

Quayle said...

Don't you hate how "the man" has conditioned us to not want to die!

knox said...

I thought Neti Pots were "New Agey," but I got one in desperation a couple months ago. Took care of all my sinus problems. I haven't drowned once.

Bissage said...

I guess evacuating themselves upon death wasn’t the sort of purification they had in mind.

edutcher said...

traditionalguy said...

There is a darkness from occult mumbo jumbo that the Native Americans practiced that will kill you. Someone alert Crack Emcee.

You nailed it, tg.

You have to keep your electrolytes in balance in such a situation. For every Sitting Bull seeing soldiers falling into camp, there was probably a Purple Skunk who died under those conditions.

Anyone with Cushing's Syndrome or related afflictions needs to approach something like this with extreme caution.

WV "uncomedi" what Letterman's turned into

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, I mainly put up this post to get Crack to pay us a visit.

EDH said...

hosted by James Arthur Ray

That name should have been a big tip-off. Ready-made for a mug shot.

I wonder if these "sweat lodgers" had funny catch-phrases, like:

"Up your nose with a intubation hose."

"Hi there."

"I got a note."

and

"Ooh-ooh-ooooh!"

MayBee said...

The man was a friend of a blogger some here may know- Enoch Root (often at Protein Wisdom).

AJ Lynch said...

$9,000! I am in the wrong business. One of the TV news pics showed what looked like a big muddy pond in a back yard.

bearbee said...

$9,000+ to be packed into a very hot stuffy room with 63 other people who saw fit to pay $9,000 for such abuse -

College classroom?

David said...

I would strongly advise anyone getting involved in pagan / new age religion to be cautious. There are lots of problems. Here are some.

3. People turn off their sense of danger when they think something is "spiritual". Bad idea.
2. Lots of "customers" for the new age are the equivalent of girls buying teen witch kits to scandalize their mothers. In other words - among other problems - there are a lot of absolute clueless beginners, also known as "suckers". Predators, often not even unwise true believers but simple con-men, even with records, know there's a sea of suckers ready to be taken.
1. The number one reason not to trust new age authorities unless you have a pretty good idea who they really are and how they think when they're not talking to people they might be able to get money out of is: lots of people buy into the Christian propaganda that "pagan" = "immoral, no standards, make up anything you want," and for some people, that's exactly what they want. They get into pagan / new age religion, because they think it makes it all right for them to be unethical and make stuff up. People like this are poison, and when you realize you are dealing with one, it's a shock.

miller said...

This guy was a piker.

Now if he was a Treasury Secretary he could get MILLIONS of people to sweat out their cash.

traditionalguy said...

On the last day of a five day Spiritual Warrior program this group may have hurled one challenge to many at real Powers in the spirit world. The native americans did not use these contact rituals for thousands of years because they do not work. Our scriptures mention that their are borders that need to be respected in the spirit realm too(See, 1 peter 2:11).

traditionalguy said...

That was 2Peter 2:11.

kentuckyliz said...

64 times $9,695 = $620,480

Call it a religion and that's tax free, folks.

I need to work on my shtick. There's gold in them thar hills.

AllenS said...

For $100 you can take a shower at my place. For $125, I'll even do a little dance. If you bring enough beer, then I'll dance like crazy.

Methadras said...

I just realized that I'm in the wrong business.

Chris said...

I've discussed this with my friend. It takes more than knowledge and desire to be a good snake oil merchant. You need to be a bit of a sociopath.

Tibore said...

"Sedona is an international mecca for New Age beliefs and purportedly the site of numerous "vortexes," or natural energy confluences thought to enhance spirituality and well-being."

I was in Sedona right around this time last year. It was beautiful, breathtakingly so. It was fun. I'd go there again. I did indeed feel my well-being enhanced.

I sure as hell didn't feel any "vortex" of "natural energy confluences". Unless you include "wind" in that definition (and come to think about it, wind is a natural energy confluence, in a sense). Look, IMO, it's an awesome tourist trap. But let's not add some "spiritual" dimension to it that doesn't exist. Please.

-----

And as far as the sweat lodges go: I wonder if this is worthy of an entry at Whatstheharm.net

------

Word verification: tractic. Uhhh... a tactic involving traction? A canine infesting arachnid that likes running laps? Help me please, I can't come up with anything! <:-O

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"$9,000+ to be packed into a very hot stuffy room with 63 other people who saw fit to pay $9,000 for such abuse — rendered subjectively beautiful via soppy thoughts about "Native Americans.""

Sounds like a DNC fundraiser.

Windbag said...

Gosh, I'd pray for them for free if they came to me with a problem.

Penny said...

Do you suppose the survivors will glorify this as a "sign" of some sort? Or will their new found "integrity of action" move them to call the nearest lawyer?

Darcy said...

Maybee: I read that too this morning. This was kind of kooky, but sad all the same.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I see a Nobel Prize for Medicine on its way.

BJM said...

This story is right out of Ken Russell's "Altered States".

In an awful way, the couple got what they paid for; they are beyond self-imposed and conditioned borders.

@Chris

You need to be a bit of a sociopath.

That pretty much sums up politics too.

Beth said...

When in New Mexico, enjoy the awesome power of the green chile - you might even raise a little sweat. Leave the sweat lodges to folks who know what they're doing.

alan markus said...

64 people packed in a hot, stuffy "room"? It was described as a "crudely constructed sweat dome" The picture I saw reminded me of the backyard of the sex offender in CA who abucted that young girl and kept her hostage all those years. It looks like they threw a tarp over some junk and called it a sweat dome. I suppose low overhead is what kept the cost down to $9000.

fivewheels said...

I live in kind of a chic urban neighborhood, where there are a lot of people who get into new-agey crap like this. They're also pretty politically homogeneous, let's say. This is why I scoff when people bring up the "conservative war on science."

People who use that phrase aren't interested in fighting for science, they're only interested in fighting conservatives. If you were on the side of science (as I am), you would recognize the "enemies" coming from all sides.

Seeing as how this is the Internet and all, I'm going to go ahead and be mean: These deaths are Darwin Award candidates.

blake said...

In an awful way, the couple got what they paid for; they are beyond self-imposed and conditioned borders.

You hope.

Clyde said...

@ fivewheels

What are you, some kind of a homogeneousophobe? Andrew Sullivan's gonna be all over you!

raf said...

@Tibore: "Tractics" are how you go about plowing and planting, as opposed to "stractorgy" which is when you decide *what* to plant.

wv: tince. A cheaper form of stainless ce?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

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



Reminds me of Steve Martin:

How to become a millionare......first...get a million dollars.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I've got a small sauna in the basement of my house. Nice, made of cedar, good heater. You can use if for an hour for fifty bucks. I'll toss in a cold beer at the end.

At my cottage, I converted the previous owner's pigeon coop to a real nice free-standing sauna building. Fits four adults, easily. Tile floor, cedar walls, ceiling and benches. King-hell heating unit, with lava rocks. You can use if for an hour for one hundred bucks, and afterwards either (a)rollin cold powdery snow, or (b) jump into a cold, clear lake, depending on the season. I'll toss in a cold beer.

Either way. while you're in the sauna, I'll stand outside the door chanting "all you want to be is inside of you right now" over and over.

You ought to contact me pronto. this offer will go quickly, given its bargain pricing.

JAL said...

From the newspaper, quoting an author: The ritual in sweat lodges is helpful in restoring balance.

It's always been a mystery to me, what this might mean.

Metaphysics.

From the "Sedona of the East," may you all have balance tonight.

wv horwgl
Something from Harry Potter

Craig Landon said...

I saw this story, and all I could think of was Death, on the rocks.

A sweat lodge is an enclosed structure in which heated rocks are doused with water to create steam and saunalike conditions.

Bissage said...

Many great comments, here, but special thanks go to AllenS and Michael Hasenstab.

Way to work in the beer angle, guys!

Pogo said...

The new Obamacare plan has an option of sweat lodges for the elderly, preemies, and when individual expenditures exceed $200,000 annually.

Pogo said...

The saving grace of this tragedy was that the music was real perty.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

You know I saw this, right? What's up? Sedona is a NewAge "power spot" with a crazy number of suckers visiting annually. Go - you and Meade can imagine yourselves as a pair of she-wolves - believe me: at this point, I won't mind.

Carlos Casteneda was a scum bag cult leader.

Tibore,

"Look, IMO, it's an awesome tourist trap. But let's not add some 'spiritual' dimension to it that doesn't exist."

Dude, it does to them,...don't you read my shit? To them it's a power spot - practically a religious site.

Fivewheels - I'm with you, baby.

Pogo,

NewAge music? Dude. Uh-huh. Too many fucking pan flutes for me.

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