Monday, October 19, 2009

Third Death in Sweat Lodge Bungle

Flagstaff, AZ -- A third victim of the Sedona sweat lodge tragedy died Saturday after being in a coma for over a week. Earlier this month, two other sweat-lodge participants were pronounced dead at the hospital after the cleansing ceremony went a rye. Nineteen other people were taken to area hospitals with illnesses ranging from dehydration to kidney failure.

On October 8, over fifty people were inside a temporary sauna-like structure as part of a "Spiritual Warrior" retreat conducted in Sedona, Arizona a center for New Age practitioners, vortexes and knock-off Native spiritual rituals. I spoke with a Navajo man in the Grand Canyon last week. He confirmed my understanding that a traditional sweat is conducted with a much smaller group. "Maybe 10 or 12 at the most," Ross said. "We use hot rocks only. No water." The Navajo man also explained that participants are segregated by sex. "Only men are in the sweats," he said. "Sometimes if the rocks are still hot, after the sweat, the women will go in."

Sedona Red Rock Country attracts New Age practitioners.

The Spiritual Warrior sweat lodge that has now produced three deaths, was filled with both men and women. James Arthur Ray, the self-help guru conducting the sweat lodge promises on his website that during the +$9,000-per-head Spiritual Warrior retreat "You'll accelerate the releasing of your limitations and push yourself past your self-imposed and conditioned borders..."

I am so sad that seekers of spiritual truth walked this path made crooked by the romanticized white-man's version of Native ritual practices and that they will no longer have a chance to seek further. "I am the way, the Truth and the life," said Jesus. "No one comes to the Father except through me." Why are we compelled to run from those words that present such a simple formula? Comments welcomed.

Vagabonding Lulu is an Arizona travel writer that shares travel news, free travel tips and commentary. Subscribe and "Follow" on the right hand side of this page and you will not miss any travel-savvy comments or free travel advice.

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