Slowly, more information has been coming out about the Arizona sweat-lodge deaths that occurred during a “Spiritual Warrior” retreat led by New Age guru James Arthur Ray. (I’ve blogged on this three times already.) It turns out that previous Ray retreats had also required medical interventions, as the Washington Post reports:

Documents released in the investigation of a fatal sweat lodge ceremony show that people lost consciousness and others suffered broken bones at past events led by self-help guru James Arthur Ray, but Ray largely ignored the medical problems that arose. …

In documents released Monday, a man Ray hired to build the sweat lodge told investigators that he was hesitant to assist with the ceremony for a third year because participants previously had emerged in medical distress, and emergency help wasn’t summoned. Theodore Mercer said the latest ceremony was hotter than in years past, but Ray repeatedly told participants, “You are not going to die. You might think you are, but you’re not going to die.”

Mercer’s wife, Debra, told investigators that one man emerged from the sweat lodge halfway through the October ceremony believing he was having a heart attack and would die. She said that instead of summoning medical aid, Ray said “It’s a good day to die,” according to a search warrant affidavit.

When Ray was advised that two participants were unconscious near the end of the two-hour ceremony, Debra Mercer said Ray did not appear overly concerned and said they would be OK until the end.

A similar report by the (UK) Guardian adds a little snippet about one of those previous retreats:

But the leaked report does reveal previous incidents when problems arose at Ray’s sweat lodge and other strange ceremonies. One man described Ray telling him to shatter bricks with his bare hands, which he did, breaking bones in his hand in the process.

I’m sure J.A. Ray — one of the people behind The Secret — would probably make the excuse that the man hadn’t sufficiently “attracted” the brick’s shattering, or he wasn’t sufficiently clued in to the secret of smashing bricks, ergo his injuries were to be expected. Or some other vague metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.

To date, Arizona and Yavapai county authorities have claimed this is a homicide investigation, however, their record of coddling Ray — including refusing to question him when they had the chance, then allowing him to leave their jurisdiction — in addition to their statements that they aren’t even sure they’ll ever file charges, strongly suggests that’s exactly what will happen … i.e. no charges will be filed, and Ray will escape justice.

P.S. How much of a “secret” could The Secret be, if it’s the subject of a multi-million dollar publishing empire? Just wondering aloud.

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