On Thursday, Oct. 8, more than 60 people crawled into a “sweat lodge” seeking the enlightenment promised by New Age guru James Ray, co-author of The Secret and self-proclaimed personal development expert. Two hours later, two people in the prime of their lives were dead, and 19 others were hospitalized, one in critical condition.
The ceremony, referred to by some media outlets as a “sweat box ceremony,” was part of Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” retreat in Sedona, Ariz., that also included a “vision quest.” Participants paid a reported $9,000 each to participate in the retreat.
While the families of those who died so tragically cope with their grief, we just have to ask this: what the fuck?
It’s clear that the vision quest and sweat lodge ceremonies Ray was offering were loosely very, very loosely based on American Indian hanbleycha and inipi ceremonies. But in his quest to package and profit off the Divine, here are a few secrets that Ray apparently missed.
For starters, no true wicasa wakan (holy man) charges people money to participate in sacred ceremonies. At nine grand a head, Ray stood to gross more than $450,000.
Second, those who pour water at Native sweat lodges are typically people who’ve spent their lives focused on learning and passing on these sacred ceremonies. Chances are they chopped wood, carried stones and ran the fire for years before pouring water at an inipi. They know the purpose of the lodge is prayer, not a test of machismo. They know, too, that heat and steam can heal, but it can also hurt if not taken seriously.
And, lastly, they’re almost always Indian. This is a particularly inconvenient fact for some white folks, particularly New Agers, who want to believe that every culture is theirs to do with as they please.
As lamentable as it may seem in this country where everything comes prepackaged for carryout and quick consumption, you just can’t buy your way to enlightenment.
Sex vs. cell phones
A recent study conducted by cell phone giant Samsung Mobile found that three out of 10 Denver residents would rather give up sex than relinquish their cell phone. Among men, 20 percent would trade tail for their cell phone, while the figure rose to 33 percent among women.
The purpose of the survey was obviously self-serving, a cheap ploy, a way for Samsung Mobile to get its name in print. But the results of the survey strike us as dubious at best.
Clearly, Samsung only surveyed people over the age of 80 or those under 12.
Anyone with a functioning set of gonads is going to prefer orgasms to text messages.
The same survey conducted in the B-dub newsroom found that 100 percent of editorial staffers would gladly toss their cell phones in the recycling bin if given the choice between their Nokia and getting nookie.
Hide the bong
Thousands of CU students are rushing to prepare for their parents’ arrival in Boulder this weekend. Nearly 4,600 visitors are expected in town Oct. 16-18, as parental units descend on campus for Family Weekend and a chance to see the place that is taking all their money. On hold until Oct. 19 are countless rounds of beer pong, dozens of drug deals and unknown numbers of quick hookups.
Perhaps trickiest of all is hiding the bong. Here are some suggestions:
1. Buy a cheap bouquet of flowers, fill bong with water, and call it a vase.
2. Put it next to a Bunsen burner and tell Mom and Dad it’s part of a science experiment.
3. Paint it and call it art.
4. Fill it with pencils or toothbrushes.
5. Put it in your roommate’s closet.
6. Set it in the bathroom next to the Vaseline, and tell them it’s your roommate’s Austin Powers Deluxe Penis Enlarger.
7. Fill it with orange juice and stick it in the fridge. (Clean it first, OK?)
8. Tell them it’s a prop from CU’s upcoming production of Hair.
9. Say your roomie has a medical marijuana card for chronic back pain.
10. Stick a candle in it and call it a candleholder.
We hope these tips prove useful. As for your supply of ganja, either smoke it before Friday, or stick it with your spices and tell them it’s organic oregano.