Anorak News | Interview With Survior Of James Arthur Ray’s Sedona Sweat Lodge

Interview With Survior Of James Arthur Ray’s Sedona Sweat Lodge

by | 22nd, October 2009

james-ray-datdMORE on the James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge fatalities as Texas resident Beverley Bunn speak out publicly about the events that led up to the three deaths.

Ms Bunn tells of the New Age oven than killed three, saying how the the participants had “undergone days of physically and mentally strenuous events that included fasting. In one game, guru James Arthur Ray even played God.”

But it is ok because James Arthur Ray is doing fine. And he’s making puns:

I promise you I am doing a lot of learning and growing. I have taken heat for that decision, but if I chose to lock myself in my home, I am sure I would be criticized for hiding and not practicing what I preach.

Anorak’s Man in LA looks on:

The dominoes have started to fall, and James Arthur Ray is standing directly in their path. Yet another survivor of the October 8th sweat lodge disaster has come forward.

This survivor, unlike the previous three who’ve spoken directly to the media including Rumor Rat, is speaking through an attorney.

And according to that lawyer, she has a good reason for having him do the talking… her speech was affected by neurological damage resulting – allegedly – from the conditions inside the sweat lodge.

The survivor is 59 year old Patagonia, Arizona resident Sidney Spencer. She’s represented by attorney Ted Schmidt.

“If this sweat-lodge experience had been conducted properly nobody would have been injured, but it was reckless how they handled this thing,” said Schmidt.

According to Schmidt, his client was in the back row of people inside the make-shift tent, next to the three victims who eventually died from the conditions there.

“Each and every one of them, they were told that to succeed you need to see this through to the end and if you don’t you will have failed this activity,” Schmidt said.

Like so many others there, Spencer suffered multiple organ failures. She also has neurological issues and has difficulty talking. She is recovering with family in Tucson.

Spencer is the fourth victim to come forward.

Last night, a woman identified only as “Danielle” spoke off-camera to a CNN correspondent.

That interview in full:

“…(we) must live with the emotional suffering of this event.”

Gut wrenching words from a survivor of James Arthur Ray’s now-notorious Sedona, Arizona sweat lodge.

His name is Richard.  He’s from South Florida, and he’s one of the approximately 60 people who paid in excess of $10,000 to spend five days at the feet of Ray, learning the mystical secrets to happiness, health and wealth.

But when the steam from the heated volcanic rocks piled at the center of the make-shift tent cleared on that Thursday October evening, three members of the group were near death, and 18 others required hospitalization for physical injuries.

The scene inside the tent was unbelievably claustrophobic, Richard tells Rumor Rat in an exclusive question & answer session.  All those people crammed into a space the equivalent of a twenty-by-twenty foot room.

The only personal space you had was where you were sitting, nothing more,” says Richard.

JamesRayTeachingEvery 15 to 20 minutes, James Ray would open the doorway of the tent to allow people to bring in more heated rocks, onto which water would be poured.

Only when the doorway was open were participants allowed to leave.  And even then, according to Richard, Ray would strongly discourage them from leaving “by telling them to ‘push past the pain’ and ‘you are more than your body.’  It was quite a bit more stern than that however… all of us inside were trying to be supportive of each other and  encouraged them to stay.”

By the time two hours – perhaps even more time, Richard can’t be sure – had passed, the mental and physical states of the retreat participants were questionable.

(I) Remember, coming out of the tent most of us were still delirious & just trying to gather our own bearings. I was aware of people being passed out, vomiting, etc but didn’t realize anything more serious was going on until the paramedics, ambulances, fire rescue,  started showing up.”

“We were getting people out of the tents while the staff tried to tend to everyone outside the tent.”

As members of the Angel Valley Retreat staff tended to those who weren’t physically hurt but needed to process the emotions of what had just happened, James Ray slipped out of town.

“We don’t know why James left,” Richard says.  “We can only assume his attorneys told him to get out ASAP… how he handled this since is not acceptable.”

In spite of what Richard experienced, he is reserved in the way he lays responsibility for the horror of that afternoon in the desert.

“The bottom line in all of this is that nobody knows what went wrong yet and why people died this time.  Should and could steps have been taken to ensure our safety?  Absolutely.”

According to Richard, reports that Ray had hired a nurse to be part of the event are not true.

“There was not a nurse on staff,” explains Richard.  “There was someone who used to be a nurse there that also just happened to be at the event as a volunteer.  She was not ‘hired’ to be there as a nurse.”

The events of that Thursday afternoon came on the heals of what Ray referred to as a “vision quest,” during which participants are dropped individually into the desert area surrounding the Angel Valley Retreat.  It’s designed to be a time that includes meditation, prayer, complete fasting and water deprivation.  Most say the Vision Quest lasted 36 hours.  Richard couldn’t be sure:

“We were taken out very late at night with no watch so we didnt really know what time it was when they dropped us off or when they picked us up.”

Early in the five-day experience, Richard says many of the participants shaved or cut their hair extremely short.

“Most of us shaved our heads to release ourselves from our attachment to our looks & other people’s opinions,” explained Richard.  “A few of the women did not shave their heads but opted to cut their hair.”

In the days that immediately followed the retreat, James Ray gathered many of the participants on a conference call.  Richard was included on that call, but his recollection of the details are vague.

“Yes, I was on the call,” he says.  “But to be honest with you, I came away even more disillusioned & wasn’t really sure what his goal or purpose of the call was.” – RR

The, reported, transcript of that call can be read here. Gather round. You are among freinds now…

Transcript Of James Arthur Ray’s Conference Call To Arizona Sweat Box Victims, And Last Tweets

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Posted: 22nd, October 2009 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comments (93) | TrackBack | Permalink