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Arizona Sweat Lodge Deaths
Three participants attending a sweat lodge in Sedona, AZ with the purpose of a 'religious awakening', aimed at helping people 'find a new vision for life', have died and dozens of others were hospitalized.

Sweat lodge deaths, James Arthur Ray, Stanley Milgram: The misused power of authority, and obedience:


[quote]There's a lot of issues raised by the actions of James Arthur Ray, from inappropriate obedience and the misuse of authority, to the misuse of sacred ceremonies.

And James Arthur Ray has both misused his authority, and the people in the sweat lodge followed him too eagerly.

In the process, he has also outraged native Americans. In his article Commercialization of sweat-lodge ceremony appalls Native Americans. Glen Creno writing for The Arizona Republic this morning, October 22nd explains the objections, and how a true sweat lodge experience differs from the travesty created by James Arthur Ray.

Ray is, of course, under investigation for his travesty of a sweat lodge experience that left two dead and 19 hospitalized.

How did this happen? The answer comes from the research of Stanley Milgram conducted in the early 1960s. Milgram wanted to investigate the boundaries of obedience. His research, which would probably not be conducted today, found that if a white-coated scientist directed people to deliver painful, even fatal electric shocks to another, more than half would obey.

The college students in the study were told that they were helping the scientist investigate how people learn. As part of that research they were to deliver a series of electric shocks to the learner who had volunteered for the project. In reality, it was the students who were the subjects. The
I have never heard of a sweat lodge ceremony before, the closest I can imagine is a tornament they have in northern europe somewhere in which there is a contest to see who can sit in a sauna for the longest.

So what is involved in the original ceremony, and how does this Ray guys version differ?

It is sad that so many people just respect authority, or make assumptions about people in certain situations.

For instance in our halls at uni we had two main gates in and out of the housing area, we each had a phob (fob? Gizmo) to let ourselves in. Obviously the gates were there to keep thieves and rapists out, but people would just tend to hold the gate open for someone if they came walking over and appeared to rifle through their pockets for a key.

What I would do, because im partly evil and like to see people sweat, is hold open the door, but then stand in it, and not let them through until I had seen the key.

Better to be safe than sorry though, I could not in good conscience let any tamara deardree or harrietta in, they may have hurt someone.
Sweat lodges are a Native American spiritual ritual that are now being sought after by many New Age-ish type (and other) people in their religious quests and 'spiritual journeys'.


One thing that may be a differing factor between Ray's lodge and a traditional lodge, that is being investigated, is that the lodge may have been constructed out of highly improper materials such as plastic - thus emitting toxins with the high heat.

The investigation will hopefully show what factors lead to the deaths and subsequent hospitalizations of all the others - whether it was the materials used in the building of the lodge, the encouragement of people to 'stick it out' and not leave the lodge even though they weren't feeling well, or a combination of events and effects.

It's good to know you take the time to get an idea of whether someone should be entering the buildings at your school. I've seen so often where people are supposed to use their badges to get into a building and someone will just stand there, holding the door open for anyone behind them to enter. Could be the door holder recognizes the people they're allowing in, but I'd guess probably a lot of the time they don't.

Edit - another thing about sweat lodges - traditionally they're held on reservations, and to participate one who isn't Native American, or part of a particular tribe, must be invited to participate. Now, there are loads of non-Native American people setting up sweat lodges as part of these 'healing and spiritual' rituals, but they're done as money makers and are held on non-tribal land.
Edited by Hypatia on 10/23/2009 14:26
Sounds like another load of dangerous shit to me. But I suppose people will do anything to get out of their own heads.
Bob of QF
If I recall, the Traditional sweat lodges were either constructed as a hole in the dirt-- you climb down into it via a ladder, or else of wooden or stone-hut construction, with a smoke-hole up top.

Doors were tiny, crawling in was the norm.

Ventilation was always restricted, and if my memory is still working properly, certain specific wood and herbs were used for the fire, in addition to plenty of water to create extreme high humidity along with the heat.

One of the points, was to literally sweat like crazy. (hence the white-man's popular name for these rituals)

The enclosure would fill with strong herbal smoke and steam, and the temperatures would rise quite high (for a human occupied locale).

Then, you would sit still, and not speak-- soon enough, you'd hallucinate (or pass out, falling to the cooler, and less smokey floor-- a natural balance).

I've not participated myself, but I've spoken with people who have-- using traditional Native American Amerindian rituals (by invite). Some said it was interesting, but gave them a splitting headache is all. Others indicated they hallucinated, not unlike during a high fever (like, say the flu or a bad cold). None of the folk I talked to thought it was magical, but a few likened it to a meditative state or trance.

Some I spoke with, liked it for that experience alone.

None thought it was in any way dangerous-- and none I spoke to saw anyone passing out-- had this happened, the native american guides would've removed them-- the point is *not* to pass out, but to achieve a meditative trance.


What happened in the story, is a fine case of assholes making a fast buck on the stupid and gullible...

...I feel like I ought to, but I find I have no sympathy for fools who cannot see through a charlatan like Ray.

If, for some odd reason I felt compelled to participate in a sweat lodge, I would take pains to study as much as I could about the native american traditions-- including the reasons they say, for doing these. Part of the study, would include interviewing NA folk who participate in the ritual. If they subsequently invite me, so much the better.

But, I'd sooner smash my foot with a hammer, than participate in such an obvious sham as put on by the likes of Ray or his ilk.....
Edited by Bob of QF on 10/23/2009 19:15
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
I happen to love saunas. I have always found my use of same cleansing in a physical and sometimes emotional way. This guy and his use of sweat lodges was obviously different. I am not so sure that native american use of sweat lodges was to achieve some level of mystical consciousness I have always understood it to be about cleansing the person. This is my perception and not based on significant knowledge.

I heard on a news show last night that he charged $9,000 for the whole experience. Yes a charlatan and one who should do some hard time.
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