Sweat Lodges Are Sitting Bull

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

After reading the horrifying reports from eyewitnesses about the so-called "New Age Guru," James Arthur Ray, forcing people to stay inside a sweat lodge while his "followers" vomited, lost consciousness and died, I have the following observations:

Anyone who charges you $9,695 dollars to make you so ill you must be taken to a hospital is a con man.

Anyone who tells you that vomiting is "good for you, that you are purging what your body doesn't want, what it doesn't need," is a sadist.

Anyone who ever refers to you as a "spiritual warrior" is a crook.

I once took part in a sweat lodge in Utah. First our medicine woman -- yes, that is what we called her! -- lit a bunch of grass and blew the smoke all over us. This was called "smudging" and was supposed to cleanse us. Then we entered the sweat lodge which was constructed of our oars (we were rafting down the Colorado River at the time) and big blue plastic tarps. The "sisters" who had the curse were not welcome in the sweat lodge. Their "energy was bad." They had to sit in the "moon lodge."

The rest of us, not on the rag, had to sit inside the tarps while our priestess (we also called her a "priestess" -- I can hardly believe it as I write) poured Colorado River water on heated rocks, and some one we called "Miss Manners" beat a drum. We also shook our rattles which we had made out of gourds.

I began to feel faint. I can't tell you how hot it was -- I'm guessing about 125 degrees, maybe 130. We were passing a ladle of lemonade, and saying "To All My Relations," and I accidentally drank a mug of filthy Colorado River water. When I thought I could take it no longer, I found that I could not stand up. My energy had been completely sapped. It was at this point that our Priestess ask us to begin our "Wolf Howls."

I have wondered to this very day if American Indians ever did this kind stuff? I doubt it. It's too stupid, too phony, too white.

If you really want a "vision quest" I suggest you save the $9,000 and take a walk in the fall leaves, lay out under the stars, look deeply into your dog's eyes, smoke a joint, drop acid or eat a mushroom.

It's cheaper, healthier, and may save your life!

Tormented? Driven witless? Whipsawed by confusion? Ask E. Jean