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Ken Muldrew

Dar Williams has a nice song about seeking,
Farewell to the Old Me

"And I followed a lot of vital, crazy thoughts because,
it's where the meaning was
And I tried to find it every other way"

Mike Schilling

You're looking at me
I'm looking at you
We're looking at each other and
We don't know what to do.


You must read Teresa Nielsen Hayden's brilliant analysis of the case.


I have been incredibly upset about what happened at those sweat lodges. If it occurred as early news stories suggest, then Ray will need to conduct future workshops among his fellow inmates.

From reports:

"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..."

I agree with the Sister that he used and abused a sacred process which needs to be managed by an authentic shaman, by which I mean a highly experienced and sensitive adept who understands how to "hold a safe space" for people who are vulnerable. This includes being attuned to every single person at all times. This is why you don't get a lot of sweat lodges with fifty people crammed in. Shoot, I've been to gospel concerts that had uniformed nurses in the aisles to deal with folks fainting. And Ray had no medical support whatsoever!

Out of curiosity, I checked out Ray's website and was disgusted by his self-righteous blather about what happened. Statements about how he would continue his scheduled programs because his work is "too important." (As is income for your legal defense, James.) Zero self-reflection. No pause for respectful silence. It reminded me of all the money men on Wall Street who have learned absolutely ze-ro from their catastrophic failures. Only worse.

The other week, I began a six-week online workshop with Clarissa Pinkola Estes. (Mother Night, via Sounds True) Estes wrote Women Who Run With The Wolves and was highly visible in the early nineties. Then she went back inside, into silence and research, until - just now - she was ready to come back out with something of value. I am struck by how rare this is. Too many people who speak to spirit - and I'll grant that many of them start from a vocation - have become product machines, always on stage. Ann Coulter-ish. You can get drunk on that. It corrupts. It makes a mockery of true seeking, which must include silence and fallow periods.

I don't blame the victims at all, but I do marvel that 50 people thought it made sense to fork out $10,000 for five days with this "performer." The retreat center costs $155/day for room + meals. Okay, so that's $775 to sleep... and NOT eat. What did they think they were getting for the other $9,000.00? What was Ray providing for this $450,000.00? Or was part of their seeking connected to such a profound sense of unworthiness that they figured it would take just an awful lot of money and suffering and sacrifice to be be made whole? This haunts me.


I was about to point you and your readers to Teresa's analysis, but MaryL beat me to it. The resulting discussion is enlightening or at least informative as well.

Kevin Wolf

Ray is the worst sort of huckster in an industry (yes, industry) built entirely of hucksterism. Whatever the true seekers were seeking, and however sincere they were in their quest, they allowed themselves to step into the snare of a con man. (What's the quip about being so open minded your brains fall out?) I sincerely hope Ray does jail time and that, when the lawsuits are settled, he's ruined.

My condolences to those grieving over this.

BTW, saw a Native American on TV being interviewed about the sweat lodge Ray had set up, and his first point was that they'd made their lodge using plastics, which when heated release toxins. You could see the look on his face as he explained this, like he couldn't really believe anyone had been that stupid.


"Sister P, naturally, appeared to believe that her friend’s daughter, the seeker, could have found the answers to all her questions within Christianity, if not within the Catholic Church."

This is why Catholic nuns are rather fierce and awesome. And far more independent thinkers and feminists than they ever get credit for. That your Sister P. rightly was dismissive of quack gurus is one thing. I'm not clear exactly whether she actually advocated any Christianity even if it wasn't Catholic, or if that was your interpretation, or paraphrase, Lance.

But I utterly agree with the sentiment expressed either way. In a weird era where our Pope is inviting Episcopalian married clergy to come to Rome because they utterly loathe gay people too, I can believe Sister P. speaking her mind that way. Love her.

As an Irish Catholic altar boy in the Bronx, the priests and nuns I met were indeed role models. Fierce, smart, and funny. I'm gay, and i can see some priests I served under were too, in retrospect. They never laid a hand on me, they were exceptionally kind people. I've never felt so part of my community as I did then, never felt so included and part of something, ever since.

Nuns could be mean. But I recall one, Sister Mary Francis Regis, an Irish nun, having a jolly chat with my Irish cop dad when i started 2d grade, 1976. Yes, I really do remember this. And from then on, she would address me as "ye little rebel", with a wink. No doubt she and Dad were discussing the IRA. God. I had no idea what she meant. But nuns are interesting people, to understate. Sorry for the TMI.

I still dig Christianity- if not doctrinaire Catholicism- for Christ's basic message of love, charity, sympathy, compassion. Stripped of the bunk of centuries, the message and philosophy is there. Son of God? Perhaps not. His philosophy just seems as radically compassionate today as it was in his world of Roman-occupied Judea. It's hard to be a gay person with Christian sympathies. Nowhere to go, now that we've wickedly and purposefully split the Episcopalians, I guess.

minstrel hussain boy

Tachih Nádáh

when we do it, it's different. it's about other things.

i despise that the sweat lodge this charletan was using to brutalize people for what ever sick fucking reasons he had keeps being described as "a native american ceremony."

this wasn't anything remotely native american. this was one sick white fuck's indian dream sequence.

it was about as native american as the blue eyed chuck connors' depiction of geronimo.


MHB, That seemed to be Sister P's feeling too, although she phrased it a bit differently, of course.

Belvoir, Sister P was trying not to advocate anything. She was trying to explain why the seminar had to be canceled, but her anger and grief kept rising up. I don't know all of what she really thinks, but I gathered from what she said about seekers that although she found her answers in the Church she believes each person has to find theirs wherever they find them. She doesn't think her friend's daughter was wrong for looking for answers inside a sweat lodge instead of at a mass. She thinks the "guru" was what MHB says.

minstrel hussain boy

and lance, please pass my condolences along to the good sister.

it is a shame. and a tragedy.

one good way to test the "validity" of folks who claim to pass along native american spirituality and teachings is to see what, or how much they charge. apache holy folks, healers, and other spiritual people will only accept gifts of tobacco, food, or blankets.

never. money. if there's money changing hands you got yourself a poser.

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