So called self-help guru James Arthur Ray, a millionaire white man from Southern California, held these “Spiritual Warrior” weekend retreats in Sedona, AZ, where he preyed upon the desperation of the middle-classes with promises of “healing” and of awakening a “power within you (regardless of what everyone else does) to create the life you desire and deserve.” His particular mish-mash of New Age mumbo-jumbo and motivational speech became deadly when he appropriated the sweat lodge ritual from First Nations to jack his gullible followers out of U$9,000 a head for the weekend retreat.
As the “Spiritual Warrior” has fled the scene of his crime, Native people are decrying the appropriation of their sacred ceremonies (as they have been for a while now), while most of the media concentrates on the sensational and the irrelevant.
The essential point that is not being raised loudly enough is that was not a Native ceremony. It was a white man playing Indian, messing with things that Medicine People take 4 to 8 years of training to learn, and using it to exploit the fear of the white middle-class of losing its social status.
Because, yes, the whole point of the retreat was to “create wealth in all areas of your life” and “double, triple, even multiply by ten the size of your business.” How transcendent! As with everything else under capitalism, spirituality is measured in monetary value – and the only winner in this equation is James Arthur Ray.
As for 2012 – enough of this bullshit too.
Imagine if someone walked into your house, looked at your calendar ending in Dec. 31st, 2009 and went to your window and start belching that you predicted that the world will end in a couple of months – all the while ignoring you standing there, telling them that that’s just the end of the year. It’s exactly what’s happening with 2012.
All these people talking about 2012 never ever fucking bothered to ask the Maya – the leaving, breathing Maya. Is the continuation of the mentality of extermination of Native cultures – to eliminate them physically or culturally to steal their land and resources; the mentality of Columbus, of the colonizer, of Manifest Destiny.
Worse yet, they throw over themselves the mantle of protectors of Indigenous wisdom, of true believers of Native ways, and if anyone question them, it is the questioner who becomes the one who is trying to destroy Indigenous culture – and only the sage white middle-class weekend “Shamans” that can protect it. So much stolen, so much destroyed and trampled upon, so many perversions of cultural heritage – sweat lodges, dream-catchers, Polynesian-styled “tribal tatoos”, Tiki Bars, Ayahuasca… The list is almost endless.
And it is the same with the “sweat lodge” ceremony – to infer to First Nations the character of mythical creatures or relics from the past, to strip from them their humanity and living history, to try to erase the 500 years of Native struggle for survival in this Continent – from the Mapuche in Chile to the Inuit in Alaska.
To complement they own hallucinations, they throw some bad science behind it. If scientists question their bad science, then again they become the defenders of Native culture. It’s only bad science, folks, and none of this is helping anybody:
Others that have said it way better than me.
Selling the Sacred by Valerie Taliman