It’s a really bad idea to mess around with people’s physical health if you aren’t certified in some way. Many people know that saunas and steam rooms, etc., can be deadly. Putting plastic on this structure is an obviously bad idea.

I like the fact that this native commentator on this tragedy discusses the spiritual perception of the rocks used in these ceremonies as having sentience and “choosing” to be utilized.  It’s another motif from an astrotheological/nature worshipping perspective.

A New Age tragedy in Sedona

First of all, there’s the question of the relationship of Indian religion to American culture. Non-Indians have been making a lucrative business out of the appropriation of native ceremonies for years. Ray’s weeklong event in Sedona cost each participant more than $9,000. A search of any number of websites advertising these “Indian ceremonies” will turn up sweat lodges that average over $100 per event, and four-day “vision quests” going for around $500, “all meals included” and “Visa and MasterCard accepted.”

Indians all across the country are upset, saying white people stole the land, killed the buffalo, and now want to steal the religion. The trouble is that most indigenous people in the Americas identify as Christian. Even the Native American Church, that features peyote as a “sacrament,” is incorporated as a church and uses the Bible as part of the altar display….

At the heart of the reaction of Indians to the tragedy in Sedona last week is that James Arthur Ray is not an Indian. Running a sweat lodge ceremony is not simply constructing a lodge, heating rocks, and pouring water. In my language, the rocks are mishomsinanek ewi nokmisek, “grandmas and grandpas”, and so they must be chosen carefully. The wrong stones can explode in the fire, or worse, in the lodge. They can give off toxic fumes or not heat properly. As one sweat leader many years ago taught me, “the stones choose you, not the other way around.”…