All of us here at Sedona.tv would like to extend our condolences to the families and friends of those who tragically passed away after a Sweat Lodge held as part of a “Spiritual Warrior” Retreat hosted by James Arthur Ray on October 8th at the Angel Valley Retreat Center outside Sedona. We are deeply saddened to hear that now three participants have passed away as a result of this tragedy and our hearts go out to all of those involved and affected.
Many Sedona residents have been surprised by the level of international publicity this story has received. This tragedy has been intricately tied into Sedona and the “New Age Movement” in this area however, according to the facts of this case, this entire tragedy has very little to do with Sedona besides being held nearby the city and now being investigated by local authorities. The national and international media have been hyping this story up with headlines like “A New Age Tragedy in Sedona” and “The New Age Sweat Lodge Death Tragedy” including many references in news stories to the New Age movement in Sedona. However, this tragedy had nothing to do with Sedona or Sedona’s New Age movement other than it’s close proximity to Sedona’s beautiful red rock country.
Here are the facts:
#1) The Angel Valley Retreat is located 11 miles outside Sedona equally as close to Cottonwood as Sedona. Although the Angel Valley Retreat Center has a Sedona address, it is rented out for various seminars, retreats and events that the local owners have no participation in.
#2) James Arthur Ray, the self-help guru who rented the Angel Valley Retreat Center to host this particular event, does not reside in Sedona. He has a home in Beverly Hills. He hosts events like this all over the country. This was simply the place he chose to hold one of many of his events. Spiritual Warrior events are also held in San Diego, Chicago, Tahoe City and San Francisco. If this had happened in one of those locations, would it still be referred to as a “New Age Tragedy?”
#3) Mr. Ray refers to the techniques he teaches in this “Spiritual Warrior” Retreat as “techniques that I searched out in the mountains of Peru, the jungles of the Amazon (and a few other places I don’t care to recall).” He does not mention developing any of these principles in Sedona.
#4) James Arthur Ray does not characterize any of the principles he teaches as “New Age.” I did a search for the term “New Age” and did not find one mention of it on his extensive website.
#5) Those who attended the Spiritual Warrior Retreat and sweat lodge came from all over the country, not Sedona.
Sedona has been known the world over as a spiritual mecca and a hub for the New Age Movement over the last few decades. However, Sedona is first and foremost known for it’s breathtakingly stunning red rock mountains. Sedona has also been named one of the Top 25 Arts Destinations in America (American Style Magazine, 2007-2008) with over 50 world-renowned art galleries and dozens of well-known artists calling Sedona home. USA Weekend Today named Sedona the #1 “Most Beautiful Place in America.” This beautiful little city also has a reputation for fantastic festivals and events; friendly townspeople; award-winning restaurants, artists, resorts, spas and golf courses. We’re known for Jeep Tours into the backcountry, for a history of famous filmmaking with legendary actors and actresses like John Wayne, Elvis and more. The 7-mile stretch of Highway 179 through the Village of Oak Creek, “The Red Rock Scenic Byway” was recently named Arizona’s only All American Road. The 28-mile stretch of road through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff is also designated as a Scenic Road and was named one of the Top 10 Most Scenic Drives in America by Rand McNally (especially this time of year in the Fall when the leaves are on fire with bright hues of gold, orange and crimson).
Although the New Age Movement is part of Sedona’s heritage, it does not alone define Sedona. In a case like this, the media tends to paint a picture of Sedona where you’d expect to find aliens landing in the street, people chanting on every street corner, the guy sitting next to you at the coffee shop “Om-ing” over breakfast and visitors being sucked into vortexes everywhere you look. That simply isn’t what you’ll find when you come to visit Sedona! Many come here to reconnect with their spirits or to have a “spiritual experience” because the energy of this place is so magical, but in reality, Sedona is simply what you make of it. Want to experience some of the most brilliant art in the Southwest? Come to Sedona. Want to relax in a 5-star spa sipping champagne getting a red rock hot stone massage? Come to Sedona. Want to see the most beautiful fall folliage in Arizona? Come to Sedona. Want to play in a natural waterpark carved into slippery red rock cliffs? Come to Sedona and visit Slide Rock State Park. Want to stay just hours away from the Grand Canyon, hike the red rocks, take jeep tours onto them and have a fun-filled adventure-pack vacation of a lifetime? Come to Sedona. We have so much to offer you.