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Friday, October 9, 2009

Two Die in Arizona Sweatbox

Some 50 people were in a sweatbox while on a spiritual retreat in Arizona. For some reason(s), 21 of them were overcome and required medical attention. Nineteen were taken to the hospital, while two died. Of those, two are still in critical condition and six have been released. Authorities, including homicide detectives, are investigating but there is no immediate explanation for the deaths and illnesses.

Sweatboxes are common in many Native American religious ceremonies, usually animistic and/or shamanistic in nature. The Sedona, AZ, retreat at which this happened offers holistic treatments and spiritual retreats "in a natural environment."

© C Harris Lynn, 2009


  1. I see two candidate for this year's Darwin Award....

  2. It turns out the retreat is run by famous self-help guru, James Ray, who basically fled the scene following the deaths. He also left some message about 'what needs to die so that you may live' (paraphrase) on his Twitter account. The cryptic tweet was quickly changed following the deaths; Ray expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

    ABC News interviewed an actual American Indian who uses a sweat lodge as part of his religion. He noted authentic sweat lodges are built of all natural materials, as plastics, rubber, and other man-made materials can excrete poisonous residue which can be deadly (as may be the case in this incident).

    Spokespersons for James Ray, a frequent guest of The Oprah Winfrey Show, said the sweat lodge has been a part of the retreat for seven years without incident.

  3. A third person who was in the sweatlodge has now died. Family members of the 49-year old woman say they plan to file suit against Ray, but declined to mention the grounds. The Arizona police have called the deaths "homicides," but (again) have not elaborated on how they came to this conclusion. An investigation is still underway.

    You know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking someone picked the wrong 'shrooms.

    Seriously: part of the traditional sweatlodge ritual involves taking mescaline or, basically, LSD (specifically, mescaline or mushrooms). For $10k, I'm thinking the attendees were given the option of "enhancing" their "vision quest." Except that someone picked the wrong 'shrooms (or buttons or tabs, et.al.).