I blogged a couple days ago about the “sweat lodge” incident at the Angel Valley Resort near Sedona, AZ. Authorities are conducting an investigation into it, including allegations that other people had been sickened before during similar events, according to a CNN report:

The two people who died and the 19 others who fell ill at a central Arizona resort after spending time in a sauna-like “sweatbox” were attending a program by self-help expert James Arthur Ray, authorities said Saturday.

The dead … were among the 50 or so visitors at the Angel Valley Resort near Sedona attending Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” program.

Nineteen others were treated for injuries sustained in the sweatbox, a dome-like structure covered with tarps and blankets. Hot rocks and water are used to create steam in the enclosed environment.

Waugh said investigators are looking into evidence that “may turn this into a criminal prosecution.”

Investigators are looking into similar events held previously in other locations by Ray, who refused to speak with officers at the scene, Waugh said. A follow-up interview is expected to happen.

Ray didn’t have remorse enough to talk to police, but he did have enough to profess his anguish over the Internet:

Ray posted a noted late Friday on his Twitter page, saying: “I’m shocked & saddened by the tragedy occurring in Sedona. My deep heartfelt condolences to family & friends of those who lost their lives.”

On Saturday he posted another message, saying he’s “spending the weekend in prayer and meditation for all involved in this difficult time; and I ask you to join me in doing the same.”

Will the idiot park himself in a “sweatbox” and sicken himself in the process? One wonders if he’d be a “New Ager” enough to do so.

Ray, of course, is fond of playing the part of persecution victim for his New Age beliefs. Larry King once interviewed him:

“Well, you know, it’s interesting, Larry, because any time a new idea comes to the fore, it goes through three phases. It’s first ridiculed. Then it’s violently opposed. And then it’s finally accepted as self-evident, normally after the opposition dies.”

This is the old, “They’re making fun of me so I must be right” defense. Well, Mr Ray, if you managed to sicken 19 of your sheep followers and kill 2 more, then maybe your “new ideas” should be ridiculed!

The CNN report explains more about the site of this incident, including the New Agey reasons that New Agers hang out there:

Angel Valley Resort advertises itself as “a place to relax and heal … where powerful earth energies are present and active.” It was founded in April 2002 by Michael and Amayra Hamilton, both of whom are teachers and counselors there.

Uh huh. Right. Whatever. CNN even went on to discuss the practice of using “sweatboxes” by native Americans and asked some of them about it:

The use of sweat lodges for spiritual and physical cleansing is a part of several Native American tribes’ cultures.

A traditional Native American sweat lodge is a small dome-like structure made up of willow branches carefully tied together and covered in canvas. Rocks are heated in a nearby fire pit and placed inside the lodge, and water is poured over them to create steam.

“We are curious to find out what happened there,” Richard Moreno, a member of Pira Manso Pueblo tribe, told KPHO-TV. “I’ve been participating in the sweat lodge since the age of 3 and I’ve never recalled being sick from being in the sweat lodge.”

I wonder, too, what these New Agers were doing in there, that caused 19 to fall sick and 2 to die inside?

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