On October 8th, 2009, Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, suffered multiple organ damage and ultimately died as a result of a sweat lodge ceremony she attended in Arizona. She wasn’t the only one. Two others died, as well. And 21 of the 55-65 people in attendance at the 2-hour ceremony were taken to area hospitals and treated for such things as dehydration and kidney failure. How does this happen?
The sweat lodge ceremony was the closing event of a five-day “Spiritual Warrior” retreat led by self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray, who has been mostly silent until now, with an exclusive interview granted to New York Magazine. He doesn’t really say much in the interview ‚Äî that he had no idea what was going on until after the sweat lodge was over, that he did indeed tell people that purging was normal, that he feels very bad about the incident, and that … oops his lawyer won’t let him answer that one ‚Äî but it strikes me as odd that he would choose New York Magazine as the source of his interview. I’m not sure why really ‚Äî I realize that it contains plenty of good news coverage, but it somehow seems more a call to his readers than to the families of those who suffered due to his or someone else’s negligence at what was supposed to be a healing retreat.
The man has two books on hold due to this crisis. Is he just trying to speed this along or is that just far too cynical?
And why is no one writing about what really happened? Was there anyone else in charge of the sweat lodge, or just Ray? How do you let a sweat lodge ceremony get so far out of hand? I’ve been to plenty of sweat lodges, and have never seen anyone vomit or pass out. This is not normal, mister! Accident, homicide, both?