Friday, September 30, 2011

White Men Can't Sweat Lodge: Background

New Age huckster James Arthur "Death" Ray, currently free on bond, is still awaiting sentencing for the negligent homicides of three people in Arizona in October 2009.

Ray was convicted in a jury trial on June 22, 2011 under the cross-hairs of the summer solstice Cardinal Grand Cross formation.

Ray's attorneys filed a motion for a new trial July 13, which was denied by the judge in the case, Warren Darrow, September 14. There have been multiple delays of a pre-sentencing hearing that would involve Ray's supporters providing testimony in hopes of lowering his sentence, which has possibilities ranging from probation to nine years in prison. Judge Darrow now says he will schedule the week-long hearing and sentencing to begin sometime after October 15.

Note: The sentencing has now been scheduled for November 18, 2011.


James Arthur Ray has a long history of recklessness and negligence causing harm to participants of his phony seminars. Participants were made to sign long, detailed waivers indicating their acknowledgement that personal harm and even death were possible while attending one of his events. The waivers released Ray and his company from liability including "physical, emotional, psychological, financial or otherwise."

From the waiver: "I am fully aware that I may suffer physical, emotional, financial or other injury during any of the Activities and there is and can be no assurance or guarantee regarding my health or safety in connection with my participation in the Activities. I understand that (1) there are inherent risks in the Activities; (2) people may have been seriously injured by participating in the Activities; and (3) if I voluntarily choose to participate in the Activities, there is a risk that I may receive injuries requiring medical attention."

- In May 2005 at a James Arthur Ray event at Disneyworld, a woman shattered her hand after Ray allegedly bullied her into repeatedly attempting to break a board with it. Happiest place on Earth, indeed. The woman filed a negligence lawsuit against Ray, who settled it out of court with an undisclosed sum in 2007. - In October 2005, officials were called to a James Arthur Ray "Spiritual Warrior" seminar after a man became unconscious during another sweat lodge ceremony at the same Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat Center in Arizona.

- A man reportedly sustained injuries during another of Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" exercises in 2006 when participants, after signing the aforementioned waivers, were told to put the sharp point of an arrow against the soft part of their necks and lean against the tip. The man did as he was told, the shaft of the arrow snapped and the arrow point cut deeply into his eyelid, narrowly missing his eye.

- In July 2009, a woman committed suicide by jumping from a three-story mall balcony during a James Arthur Ray event in San Diego. Ray had reportedly instructed the participants to dress up as homeless people and play the part in public. Ray and the rest of the participants left the mall knowing the woman was missing from the group.

- And of course, in October 2009, three people died and 19 others were hospitalized, some with permanent health damage, after the botched sweat lodge at Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" seminar near Sedona, Arizona.

Ray's practises were deeply unstable and suspect long before things escalated to injury and death. In his seminars, he used several techniques he was not trained to use. One of these techniques was Holotropic Breathing, where people were led to accelerate their breathing in order to "reach altered states of consciousness without drugs."

Another was a "team-building" technique called the Samurai Game in which Ray played God and ordered participants dead. The (dead) participants would then lie nonspeaking and unmoving until Ray ordered them to get up again.

Ray is pretty much the dictionary definition of New Age cultural appropriation, and one of the most heinous examples, of course, was his use of faulty sweat lodge practises, inaccurately appropriated from native people without permission.

From an excellent article written by Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic: "Sweat-lodge trial: James Arthur Ray often misused teachings, critics say"

"Years before the deadly 2009 ceremony, Ray "was approached several times by native leaders and told he was not trained to run Native American ceremonies," said David Singing Bear, an Eastern Band Cherokee and Sedona resident who has run sweat lodges.

Singing Bear said that Phillip Crazy Bull, a Lakota chief who died in 2006, spoke with Ray in 2005.

Such training matters for physical safety reasons as well as for spiritual authenticity, says R.J. Joseph, a Cree filmmaker and former Native American program director at Sedona's Enchantment Resort. "Desert people aren't really vision-quest or sweat-lodge people; they've adopted those ceremonies from Plains Indians. So when you have a fast or vision quest, it's generally in cooler climates. You certainly wouldn't put anybody out in the desert for two days with no water. Not in the desert," he said.

Almost every aspect of Ray's sweat lodge was inauthentic, said Wambli Sina Win, a former Oglala Sioux tribal judge who has written about sweat-lodge practices. "Whatever he led was not a sweat-lodge ceremony as I understand it," she said. "He evidently learned bits and pieces and created a Frankenstein.""

Ray also appropriated Hawaiian huna as well as Peruvian spiritual practises, falsely claiming he had been initiated into them. Ray was also approached by Hawaiian huna leaders who told him to discontinue what he was doing.

From the article:

"Ray used techniques that he said he had learned from being initiated into the shamanic rituals of Hawaiian huna, traditional spiritual and healing practices of the islands. But Ray was not initiated or ever given permission to pass on these teachings, of which he had only superficial knowledge, according to his huna teacher, Dr. Matthew James, president of Kona University. He said the training process to become a huna teacher takes a decade or longer; Ray took several short introductory workshops from James in 2004 and then began holding his own version of huna ceremonies at a local hotel.

"I had someone from my office call James up and say 'what you're doing is improper, you weren't given permission, you need to stop right away,' and his response was that he was going to keep doing it," James said. "So we informed him he would no longer be able to take training with us.""

- The Astrology of James Arthur Ray -

I've written previous posts about the transits at the time of the 2009 deaths, which echoed transits going on at the time of the Jonestown Massacre in 1978.

What follows is my astrological interpretation of how James Ray exhibits some of the placements in his natal chart. This does not mean that all people with these placements exhibit the same traits. The signs of the zodiac are multi-layered with many, many different possibilities for expression.

I could find no birth time or place for James Ray, but his birth date is listed on several sources as November 22, 1957. Assuming this is correct, this would make him either a 29 degree Scorpio Sun or a 0 degree Sagittarius Sun. My personal guess, considering the deadly ramifications of his character flaws, is a 29th degree Scorpio Sun.

The 29th (anaretic) degree of a sign holds possibilities for the most wise and masterful use of the sign's energy and also for the most irresponsible and detrimental. It's a make or break degree. The anaretic degree holds the energy and lessons of the entire sign as well as the responsibility for their proper application, and this can make lesser men and women grow restless, reckless and impatient, trying to shrug off the responsibilities and requirements of the placement.

- Saturn-Mercury in Sagittarius: Shirking Responsibility But Enjoying the Jovial Spoils -

With a natal Saturn conjunct Mercury in Sagittarius and a Sagittarius Moon, we see a man falsely adopting the cultural knowledge and wisdom indicated by Sagittarius while refusing to keep himself in check (Saturn).

Ray completely shrugged off the Saturnine responsibilities that come with being a true Mercurial conduit for the transmission of ancient cultural knowledge. Instead, he rode the (to him, unlimited) expansion of the rhetoric of The Secret and the so-called Law of Attraction to a deadly end.

The irresponsibility, recklessness with people's lives and souls, and carelessness that this man has exhibited are extremely grievous, to say the least. Ray was impatient, arrogant, a man who believed he already knew it all - exhibiting some of the worst qualities of Sagittarius.

He pumped up his natural charisma and the excitement people felt in his presence, capitalizing on rabid New Age Guru Mania, while accepting none of the responsibility for those gifts. This is a man who skipped steps (Saturn) at every possible turn.

As mentioned in the Bob Ortega article, many practises Ray was using required a decade or more of apprenticeship under a shaman or spiritual leader. Ray was co-opting these techniques after a few brief introductory sessions and then charging thousands of dollars for them. This is highly irresponsible and highly dangerous, and those who truly understood what he was playing with warned him repeatedly. He didn't listen (Mercury is in its detriment in Sagittarius), and many people were harmed because of it.

With a natal Jupiter in Libra dispositing his Mercury-Saturn and Moon in Sagittarius, the crucial elements were: putting into practise a full understanding of energetic balance and justice (ie. knowing right from wrong) as well as forming equal relationships with the people around him and concerning himself with their welfare. Ray failed on all fronts.

With Venus in Capricorn, Ray certainly has friends in prominent public positions, taking his place beside the Oprahs and the Larry Kings of the world without having the foundation (Saturn) to back up his big, splashy, grandiose claims (Mercury in Sagittarius). This is a man who did not put the work in to become who he said he was, failing his Saturnine lessons miserably.

- Coercive Persuasion - North Node-Mars-Neptune in Scorpio -

Ray has a Mars-Neptune conjunction in Scorpio conjunct a Scorpio North Node. This is a grouping of energy that requires the utmost responsibility since, at the tail-end astrological Piscean era, this combination is rife with potential abuses and misuses.

This, of course, makes it a perfect combination for a narcissistic Neptunian guru type who uses common brainwashing techniques to promote a false understanding of his skills in order to bilk people of their money and energy.

With this combination, Ray knows people's weak and naive spots intuitively - and capitalizes on them.

Variations of misanthropy are a possibility with Scorpio energy - common within a New Age that wants to "transcend" the distasteful condition of being human altogether - and this trait is quite apparent in Ray's character and behaviour.

With a natal Chiron in Aquarius, Ray is able to take his indifference and the emotional detachment from fellow human beings to deadly extremes.

An online comment from a person injured at one of Ray's speaking events:

"I attended a James Ray event in Dallas in January, and I was injured, and James Ray did not care – not in the least. He was using a teaching tool to demonstrate that what you wanted was right out in front of you – simply take it. He was holding out his teaching CD’s. People from the audience were standing up and taking them. On about the 4th one, I stood up. I was sitting on the front row. A man came up from behind me, jumped on my back, knocked me to the ground and took the CD. Instead of urging people to be careful or asking me if I was okay, James Ray CONGRATULATED the man for having the courage to take what he wanted. He never even stopped his high pressure sales tactics to ask if I was okay. This happened less than six inches from his very feet. After the event was over, I waited a long time to tell him that I was injured. I am disabled with Multiple Sclerosis and injured my ankle and knee as the result of being knocked down – and also had an injured back, neck, and shoulder from the man jumping on my back. Do you want to hear how James Ray responded when I informed him that I was hurt in the incident? He smiled BROADLY and said “It sure got crazy, didn’t it?” And he laughed. He literally did not give a darn about me or anyone else in attendance."

Psychologists would say Ray is utilizing coercive persuasion on the people with whom he comes into contact. The influence of Neptune in Scorpio permeating his physical energy and presence (Mars) allows Ray to mesmerize people, a snake charmer exerting control on hidden levels.

Scorpio is a sign of extremes - of life and death, of emotional, psychological and psychic crisis, of domination and subjugation. And it is in these arenas that Ray committed his crimes. A common theme with Ray is pushing people - to a crisis point, to their breaking points, to a simulated point of their own deaths, where Ray would have their lives in his (horrifically irresponsible) hands. This forced a transference of personal power and responsibility from the individuals to Ray and attempted to create a level of false trust.

(All the better to remove your funds with, my dear.)

This is a common tail-end Piscean era sham: the Master-student relationship. The "Master" is set up as being above the student - more enlightened, more God-like, more spiritual, more powerful, more in-the-know - and it is frowned upon for the student to question or disagree. Ray used this one all the way to millions in the bank.

- The Pitfalls of Letting the South Node Drive -

And this draws us to the point that is really key to it all - his Taurus South Node. Ultimately, it was about the dollar, dollar bills. The story from Ray (who knows if it's true) is that his Daddy was a preacher man. A dirt poor preacher man. And little Jamie Ray didn't even have enough money for a Boy Scout uniform so he could join the troupe.

This set up an unhealthy South Node fixation.

Whether he called it Harmonic Wealth (TM), manifesting abundance or achieving your dreams through the law of attraction, it was all about the money. This is what Ray was after, this was the underlying basis for his seminars, and this is what a lot of the people who took his seminars were after. The get rich quick, pseudo-spiritual-style.

Ray spoke the language of the Scorpio North Node: transform, change your life, push past your boundaries, give up control, face your fears, face death! But here we see the problem with following a single dude claiming to have the answers. He was talking to himself. The energetic rules that applied to him and his natal chart were not the rules that applied to the tens of thousands of people he scammed and hurt.

Ray was aggressive, coercive, manipulative and abusive, using some of the worst traits of Scorpio, but all wrapped up in a mesmerizing Sagittarian charisma and dirty attraction.

As the faulty sweat lodge participants grew uncomfortable and ill and wanted to leave the plastic tarp-covered hothouse, Ray told them to push past their boundaries. He told them they were "better than that." He sat at the entrance of the hothouse so people had to pass him (badgering them to stay) to get out. He used his presence (Mars conjunct Neptune in Scorpio) to bully and intimidate people into doing things they did not want to do, so that they would feel "unspiritual" or "unenlightened" if they could not pass his tests. This ultimately cost three their lives and many their health.

Ray was not using his Scorpio North Node to empower people. He was using it to get people to empower him by transferring their personal power and responsibility over to him as well as large sums of their money.

The South Node is a point that holds a great deal of talent - and also horrendous pitfalls. Ray was skilled at money-making schemes, and he also used these talents in some of the most abusive ways possible.

The South Node is not an area where we are meant to be hanging out all that much, and the constant focus on more and more and more money, wealth, abundance, accumulation created a situation where the nodal polarity was dangerously overcharged and unbalanced.

As with the entire The Secret phenomenon, the energy was built up to a dangerous and unsustainable point. Anyone with any type of real understanding of energetics could see that. Something had to give, and it did. The lives of the innocent were sacrificed to this tail-end Piscean era multi-level marketing huckster shitshow.

Jupiter Rx is currently conjunct James Ray's South Node, and this is a perfect example of how Jupiter's expansion is not always a beneficial thing. Jupiter is putting a spotlight on the abuses Ray has committed via his South Node obsession with mass accumulation.

- Tip of the Rotten New Age Iceberg -

At the same time, James Ray is not an isolated case. He's a sacrificial lamb for something much larger and more malevolent - a fall guy for the corrupt energetics of the entire The Secret phenomenon and even broader than that, for the New Age scheme itself.

As stated, the energy of The Secret phenomenon was pumped up to an insane, dangerous and unsustainable point. It was fatally flawed, as is New Age as a whole, and something had to give. Those further up the dirty pyramid sit on their fame and their millions, won through equally corrupt methods, and continue the scheme to this day in one form or another. They're guilty of metaphysical crimes if not physical, Earthly ones. They're just sophisticated enough to get away with it.

The current timeframe for the pre-sentencing hearing (post-October 15) is set for just after Venus, Mercury and the Sun in Scorpio oppose Jupiter in Taurus along Ray's nodal polarity.

Previous posts on the subject are here: James Arthur Ray


freeforall said...

I certainly hope this "New Age shyster" has to take responsibility for his actions!

Now, I also wonder about the people who were foolish enough to cough up $10,000 to give their power away!

A grand lesson for all of us to learn to tune into our own intuition and stay grounded in our own power. Very Plutonian indeed.

Willow said...

You know, I think a lot of it is straight-up brainwashing techniques.

Elizabeth in Montreal said...

Brilliant, Willow. I do feel the victims share some of the responsibility, while understanding your point about brain washing. Still, just as I feel some of Bernie Madoff's victims were also greedy - after all, they "believed" it was reasonable to expect an 18% profit on their investments! - I also feel as you point out that at least some of Ray's victims thought his techniques would better their finances. There's a book I'm reading about this titled Spiritual Materialism, although the subject is much broader than merely practising "spirituality" in the hopes of gaining materially. Also, in general, with Neptune transiting in Pisces for the next fourteen (?) years, I feel what some refer to as "spiritual escapism" will play itself out in very scary ways. Personally I consider myself to be on a spiritual path but not really a New Ager in the woo-woo sense of the term. I have experimented on and off for years with LoA and verified to my own satisfaction there is something to it, but not in the sense that all of us can get rich practising it, if that makes sense. It has actually improved my life in many ways, but not really that much financially. To be honest, mostly I went from being happy a good part of the time to being happy almost all the time and things do tend to go more smoothly, but that's about it - which is by no means negligeable. This being said, I abhor the unmitigated, unrepentant crapola proferred by the Wayne Dyer types - don't even get me started! On another topic, by "anaretic," do you mean 28-29 degrees, as in the 29th or penultimate degree, or do you mean 29-30 degrees, as in the 30th or final degree of a sign? I have seen both referred to as the anaretic degree and am wondering what your position is on this, partly because most of my natal planets are in those degrees. I know from personal experience that this can cut both ways and that if you are really determined (which I am, because Pluto aspects everything in my chart and I have several planets conjunct in Scorpio) it can be very productive. My feeling is it can indicate this incarnation is critical to the soul's evolution and so the lifetime is (potentiallay) highly transformational and that much surrender to this agenda is required. Anyway, another story for another time and thanks for what you do!

Willow said...

Oh, I wasn't aware that the 28th degree was sometimes refered to as anaretic, too. I'm talking about the 29th.

Willow said...

A November 9 news story on the sentencing hearings from the Verde Independent: