Monday, July 4, 2011


On June 27, 2011, an email was sent to Ms. Polk in response to requests to write in to the Yavapai county prosecutor from those advocating for the victims of the sweat lodge tragedy in 2009, Liz Neuman, Kirby Brown, and James Shore on Facebook page, Tragedy in Sedona. Special thanks to everyone supporting the movement. I’m compelled to share with everyone that is following the James Ray vs. Arizona trial the opportunity to expand their awareness and understanding of what exactly we are dealing with here as we follow the facts to the truth.

Ms. Polk, I am told that it is very important that former JRI students write in to express all sentiments and facts about our experiences. I attended SW 2008. I've been working on a blog post and have copied the most concise part of my story for this purpose. I hope this is helpful. My deepest wish is that no one else gets hurt or dies. It's been very difficult for me to find out the truth as I watched the trial. I am hurt, traumatized and devastated! I do not believe James Ray will stop doing what he's doing unless he is stopped! It was unfortunate that so much about JAR and JRI was kept from the Jury. If he gets the maximum sentence for all three negligent homicide convictions then maybe, just maybe there will be enough time while James is in prison for all those that continue to follow him to realize that James is not a man for anyone to follow.
Thank you for all you've done.

James went through his spiel about what the sweat lodge would be like. I heard what he said but NEVER did I imagine that no matter how extreme the exercise would be that it would put anyone in danger. I believed it to be yet another well organized and well managed challenge set up by James and the James Ray International (JRI) team. I enjoyed being challenged during events, but in my day-to-day life, not so much! The reason I committed to finishing the Journey of Power (JOP) program was because I wanted to feel empowered so the challenges in my everyday life would not seem so overwhelming and insurmountable. I was determined, for myself, and it was very beneficial to accomplish all I did. I’m grateful that the opportunity was provided. One thing I know for sure, I would have NEVER put my life on the line for this purpose. Part of my personal quest was to develop strength and focus so I could be the best mom I could be to my two Autistic sons. I wanted to make sure that the devastating demise of my marriage and the intense divorce process I was experiencing didn’t break me because my children needed me. I was on a mission and I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of these events and exercises. My life was spiraling out of control. It was like, “ENOUGH!” In the meantime, I put my trust in James Ray and his program. It almost cost me my life!
In the sweat lodge I was in the back row at about the nine o’clock position. I seemed pretty alert and aware throughout all the rounds but I could not go into detail at all about the chants or what James said throughout the rounds. I do remember everyone yelling out their intentions but not much of anything else until the last round. I was very hot. After some of the participants left the lodge during the earlier rounds I stretched out on the ground; face down with my head toward the wall of the lodge for most of the ceremony. I was digging into the dirt with my fingers to feel any amount of coolness. Before the last round the door was open and James was asking participants if they wanted to come back in. James went on and on asking people to come back in. I started to get angry thinking how inconsiderate he was prolonging the start of the last round. I couldn’t believe what he was doing. He obviously was not thinking about everyone inside the lodge that had not left at all throughout the sweat and how challenged we all must have been feeling while he joked around with people, leaving the door open for an extended period to see if he could convince those outside to come back in. It seemed like forever! James in the meantime was also by the door getting air! I was furious! In order to calm myself I started to pray. I now realize I should have left the sweat lodge at this point but it didn’t even cross my mind. Finally the door closed but I don’t remember it closing. I do remember hearing James start calling to the spirits. The last words I heard him say was “she’s wearing a bright pink top” which was what I was wearing. I was suddenly overwhelmed with fear. I was terrified! The last thing I remember were my own thoughts, “this whole thing is evil, James Ray is evil and everyone at JRI is evil!” To counteract the intense fear I was feeling I prayed, “God please help me!”
I was told by a participant the next evening that either she was the one sitting next to me, or she observed the person sitting next to me, I forget exactly, but this person yelled out to James that I had said I needed to get out and I couldn’t take it anymore. I have no memory of this. Supposedly, James Ray replied that the round had begun and no one was going to leave until the round had ended. 
The next memory I had, I was standing in the center of my cabin facing a dream team (DT) member. My roommates were all present lying on their beds talking to one another.

(For the sake of maintaining some flow to my story I will call this DT member Harriet. I changed just about everyone’s name so nobody’s actual name is being used, unless I was given permission to do so).

It felt like I was thrown into my body suddenly. Harriet was standing in front of me a few feet away looking at me. She asked me how I felt. I remember I answered back without hesitation, but in slow motion and in a monotone voice, “EMPTY.” I experienced a split second where I had no thoughts streaming, no feelings; I was totally at peace. I was not quite all in my body yet, not quite all there. Prior to this moment in time, I have no memory going back to the beginning of the last round. Hours had passed. I believe it was dark out. Later, I understood that everyone had showered and changed and had already eaten dinner. After my response, Harriet immediately told me to pick out some clothes so we could head out to the showers. I walked over to my suitcase which was wide open on the floor against a wall. I knelt in front of it and started to pick up different items. I would look and then drop them but my mind was not engaged. Harriet came over and started to pick out an outfit asking me what I wanted. I couldn’t make decisions so she took the initiative and picked something out for me to wear. I was assisted to the showers a few hundred yards away from the cabins. At this point Val, a participant from what I understood, came to help Harriet. I had dirt all over me. One of my helpers turned the shower water on for me and instructed me to wash up. I knew I wanted to wash my hair but I couldn’t tell what bottle contained the shampoo so they put the bottle in my hand. I was able to get showered while they supervised to make sure I didn’t hurt myself. They helped me dress and then I believe I was taken directly to the Crystal room on a golf cart (I’m not totally clear about this but I don’t think I walked—it was a bit of a distance).
When we got to the Crystal room, the last farewell meeting of the Spiritual Warrior retreat was about to begin. I was put in a seat in the last row of the hall about twelve feet away from the door. A few people came up to me expressing how good it was to see I was doing okay. Someone said, “You scared me! I’m glad you’re alright.” I said “I don’t remember anything.” Carry, a JRI employee, came up to greet me and to tell me that she had been with me most of the time taking care of me. I told her I didn’t remember anything. As James started his lecture, she quickly whispered that she would tell me everything later. As she was pulling away to get back to her duties, she said someone was getting me some fruit from the dining hall and I should try to eat something.
As the meeting started I felt VERY thirsty. Melody, a participant sitting next to me asked me if I wanted water from the cooler near the door. I nodded or whispered or both, desperately feeling a dreadful thirst, “YES, please!” The inside of my mouth was so dry it was difficult for me to move my tongue or lick my lips. I could not stop drinking water. She kept asking me if I wanted more, I kept saying YES, and she kept getting it for me. I’m grateful now that we were working with a Dixie cup or a small cup like it because I may have guzzled down way too much, way too fast if I had a larger cup. It didn’t take long; at one point it started coming back up. I ran out the door, with my hands covering my mouth and vomited outside. When I finally stopped throwing up Peggy, a DT member asked me if I wanted to go back to my room. I mean, I couldn’t think to know what else I could do at that point. I was not well! She drove me back to my cabin in a golf cart and dropped me off. I was alone. I had a water bottle by my bed so I kept trying to quench my thirst. I tried to lie down but I found myself running outside to throw up again. I remember at one point I had to go to the bathroom. Instead of walking all the way to the bathrooms, I thought about going in the bushes but it felt like I was going to have an explosive purge so I headed toward the bathroom praying I would have the strength to get there. I have no idea how long I spent caring for myself. In the middle of the night I woke up and had to go to the bathroom again. My roommates were back and asleep. I don’t remember them coming back from the meeting. I don’t remember how I made it through the night but I remember sitting up in bed at times in a daze, staring into space. I obviously slept on and off.
I got up in the morning feeling okay. I was able to shower and dress and go to the dining hall to eat breakfast without any problems. I seemed fine. Quite a few people came up to me to express their concerns and how happy they were to see me. It was interesting because I sat down to eat at a table with at least eight to ten people. I was not saying much at all. I was finally eating a meal so I was focused on that. There were stares and people were talking back and forth across the table about a few topics but nobody mentioned the sweat lodge or anything that happened the day before. One guy talked about a rescue he was involved in and described how he pulled an unconscious person out of somewhere. I wasn’t sure if he was testing to see if I remembered being taken out of the lodge. At the time I didn’t put two-and-two together. I spent the day with most of this group walking and hiking around the property. The retreat was over but everyone was leaving at different times throughout the day and into the night so we made plans to see as much as we could without leaving Angel Valley grounds. Later that evening, after dinner, we went into Sedona for dessert. The whole day went by and nobody ever mentioned anything about the sweat lodge event. I didn’t feel comfortable bringing it up. Losing my memory made me feel a little paralyzed. I was a little paranoid too so I thought it best not to say anything. I also thought it was very strange that nobody in the group had anything to say about the sweat lodge, but then, it was typical. The JRI vow to secrecy obviously made relating to one another on certain levels seemingly impossible…all in the name of integrity.
After I was home for a week or two I could not sort this experience out on my own so I reached out to the JRI employee that cared for me, Carry. In an email I described to her everything I wrote here, everything I remembered from the last round to feeling thrown back into my body. I asked her if she could share anything that might help me understand what happened. I joked and told her I at least wanted to know I didn’t go crazy and run around in the nude or something. During his testimony, Ted Mercer said I behaved like a three year old child. Cynthia, a participant, told me that shortly after the sweat had ended she came to check on me while Carry and Mariah were pinching my feet to get me to come back. When Cynthia asked the two JRI employees what was wrong with me they told her I was "out of body (OOB)." She felt great concern and told them that I should get immediate medical attention! She thought a 911 call was in order and suggested that maybe I needed to be on oxygen or an IV or something. One of the two women helping me told Cynthia that it was not JRI protocol to seek unnecessary medical attention and that I would be fine. The loss of memory about that day without feedback or information about what happened does not feel good. It’s tricky to process. Carry at JRI replied to my email and assured me that I was well taken care of the whole time and she was with me most of the time before someone else took over. She said that I did have an OOB experience (OOBE) but also said that it was best that I give myself time to process what happened so I could make sense of everything for myself without anyone’s input or interpretation. Typical, this is very typical JRI protocol.
I had done some research and it was very scary to learn that not everyone returns from an OOBE. I have no idea why I returned if not for the sheer determination to care for my children! Was it really a choice? Stories on one website mention people having very wonderful OOBE’s, but their memory was not impaired. Their consciousness was intact as they left their body, throughout their experience and as they came back. But then, their experiences were not induced in a traumatic, reckless and dangerous manner. I wonder if that’s what made it different.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to hear from Carry but I accepted her reply knowing that even if she wrote it herself, she was clearly coached to withhold any details about what happened. It would be a futile endeavor to demand answers. If I was at a hospital, I would have gotten lots of information, helpful information about my stay and care. I would have felt reassured that I was well taken care of in a safe and appropriate environment. I knew secrecy (to avoid negative publicity) was a strict JRI policy. I was just hoping to get any information that might fill in the gap of time that had lapsed. Honestly, I wanted my memory back. Instead, I got nothing or what felt equivalent to a door slamming in my face! Anytime you dealt with a JRI employee, for the most part they were courteous with a great big show-all-your-teeth smile on! I had to suck it up. Employees do not budge if they are told to do something a certain way for fear of being called out by James. The same level of professionalism, authority and loyalty was expected when you were chosen to dream team an event so I knew the deal.
The past few years I periodically looked up information on Soul Retrieval and OOBE but found little comfort in any of it. Without a doubt, I should have received medical attention!
Spiritual Warrior was different than all the other seminars. Not being fully informed about all the physical challenges set up at the Spiritual Warrior retreat created a high risk situation for each participant that attended. Yes we had a choice but we were at a James Ray “boot camp” and most of us were used to going with the flow, being completely vested and following James’ lead, as it was part of the program to do so, BUT primarily in situations that posed no physical dangers. There was no way to know that this grand finale, a sweat lodge ceremony, was going to be so dangerous. There was no way to know that James was pushing all of us to a dangerous edge in one specific exercise, the very last activity of the retreat, the pinnacle event in the JOP. I knew about the hair cutting but little leaked out from people that previously attended Spiritual Warrior about the sweat lodge. I don’t ever remember hearing anyone that attended past SW events talk about the sweat lodge ceremony. The pledge of silence about the SW SL was obviously intense. In the three years I was involved, I do not recall anything “leaking out” about this activity. What I heard from participants testifying during the trial was quite shocking! It made me sick, which made it difficult to sit and write about my personal experience. Participants and dream team members knew the rules and were trained and told to keep their personal seminar experiences to themselves. I understood this to be a courtesy. It’s also a way to keep people from expressing anything negative that would discourage other potential participants from signing up for a seminar. James Ray was a business man and his strategy seemed to be a kind gesture but it was not that at all. The silence was something that not only benefited JAR directly; it also gave him more control over everyone going through his program. This policy about not telling was a very big deal.
I went into the sweat lodge with the goal to do my best as usual. James promised an incredible transformation and that’s what I wanted, that’s why I was there. I knew the deal. This was not a carpet ride to a magical world where all your dreams come true instantaneously. It was going to be an experience, and an experience changes your perspective and your perception. What ultimately happened was, I was taken to the gates of the spirit world in a most traumatic, reckless and dangerous manner, unknowingly to boot! If a short course on heat related illnesses, heat stroke and their symptoms were offered as a prerequisite, I would have been more aware when I was physically near the end of my capacity to endure more. We were supposed to endure the heat for as long as we could. We were focused on finishing all the rounds in the sweat lodge, ideally without leaving. The goal was to overcome our own resistance. Similarly, a marathon runner doesn’t attend a marathon to quit half way unless physically he was unable to endure it any longer. A short course on shamanism and knowing exactly what James was credentialed to do would have also been helpful.
It was very difficult to see, in the moment, at that time, knowing we were there to be challenged, that we were actually being subtly abused; believe me it’s blatant now! We were there for a challenge so it was not easy to see the difference. It’s more obvious after watching the trial and listening to the details about the entire event and prior events. The individual exercises we participated in at SW, as a whole, put a significant strain on the body; to end with the sweat lodge was insane! Just about all of us that attended followed along and did what we were advised to do to get the most out of the retreat. We didn’t know James watched participants, year after year at this event, having adverse reactions to the sweat lodge heat and chose to continually make it even more intense each year. We were lead into the sweat lodge by James Ray just as those unfortunate people in concentration camps during WW II were lead to supposedly take showers in what turned out to be gas chambers. It may not have been at gunpoint but with unimaginable tactics of manipulation weaved into a JAR program.
Thank you!
Mary Latallade

I knew before I started attending James Ray seminars that I didn’t actually need a spiritual teacher. I knew that many of the authors marketing how-to books or programs on how to make money, were the only one’s making the money. In the beginning I was pulled in a little by the idea that I could possibly create a business and generate a decent income. For the most part I was there for other reasons. I always had a healthy skepticism. James was actually the first teacher I followed. It was hard to question it, when a series of synchronistic events lead me straight to James at a perfect time in my life. I was able to pay for a package before James increased his fees which included Spiritual Warrior. I hosted a free two hour event right as James’ notoriety peaked, where I earned ten thousand dollars in commissions. Everything fell into place. There was no question that I wanted to study with the guy. I asked myself why along the way but as long as my arrangements to continue on the journey were not complicated and no one suffered for my absence, I was willing to finish the courses I signed up for. At the time I needed something to help me get through a challenging time in my life. It was one of those things where I knew the JOP program was exactly what the doctor ordered. The program was fun, fulfilling, exciting, challenging and intense. I got PUMPED! You know the feeling when you’re ready to kick some ass! I was so happy. I was on my game during every seminar I attended; not so much in 09.
Particularly at SW, I know that when I was there, I was in the zone about what I was there to do. James was our leader, the program creator, the one holding the vision in mind, the big picture of the results these experiences would bring into everyone’s lives once complete. What was his vision? I keep asking myself questions like, “What could have been James’ goal when he continued to make hotter sweat lodges knowing people were getting sick and going out-of-body (OOB) year after year?” He must have gotten reports about my out-of-body experience (OOBE) and how long it took me to come back. Wasn’t my experience a wake-up-call that maybe he was going too far? Did he not think for a moment what he would have done if I didn’t come back? I’m certain it crossed his mind. He had several hours to think about this. Am I really supposed to believe that James did not even think that someone could die if he kept pushing people harder and harder, year after year, especially after my OOB at SW 2008?

I paid for safety! If I sign up for a boot camp experience, I expect it to be a safe, well planned, and a logistically perfect event—top quality considering the SW tuition! The JOP and the JRI program appeared to be of high quality. Most of the seminars offered were conducted in four or five star hotels. The events were very well organized. There have been a lot of comments in the media about how much participants spent on JAR seminars. This is America! People spend all their money on anything they damn well please. Look around you! Look in the mirror! Regardless of what former JAR students chose to spend their money on, never mind bashing preferences, businesses like JRI that offer high risk activities or services must provide a safe situation and a sound program. Regarding SW, important information about previous JRI sweats was not disclosed to participants, and very poor safety precautions were provided. This unique retreat was supposed to be challenging and it was. James obviously made some detrimental decisions about the SW retreat.

Was James attempting to develop a legal method (psychoactive substances are frequently used) to take people to the edge of existence and back hoping to create a group of higher functioning, enlightened human beings, shamans? Bam! We’re talking Nobel Prize! Remember Creating Absolute Wealth black tie party? Did JAR think he might earn one someday? Maybe he believed participants, when pushed enough into an altered state, could actually become superhuman beings, human beings operating at their full potential in every area of their lives (=harmonic wealth!). Maybe his next book would have the title “Achieve Total Harmonic Wealth in Every Area of Your Life after only Two Hours in a Hellaciously Hot Pseudo Sweat Lodge, Guaranteed!” That would make him famous worldwide and maybe then he would become the first personal transformation motivational speaker to reach billionaire status. Sound insane? What WAS he thinking? What WAS he trying to accomplish?
In Session Field Producer, Jim Kyle states: "Besides," as defense attorney Tom Kelly indicated, "this is James Ray's business, why, logically, would he want to kill clients?"
Did James plan the outcome he’s living right now? Probably, unconsciously, he created his current reality by overlooking major details when it came to participant safety, lacking regard for human life and recklessly creating a situation that was over the top dangerous! Ultimately it was his state of mind that created the situation he’s in. So, did he do it “knowingly and intentionally,” I’d say, absolutely! James has been watching the impending “train wreck” coming for years. He just decided not to do anything to change the outcome, he focused on other things. I believe it was in 2008 that James started surrounding the stage he stood on at every event with retired police officers as body guards, wearing suits and ties so he was protected during seminars. I thought that was interesting, the fact that he felt he needed to create a barrier between the participants and himself. If he was terrified then, he must be really terrified now.
JOP seminars were at times small groups (approximately 60 attend SW) to a few hundred or more (400-900) in attendance; thousands have gathered at different events throughout the years. As a student of the program, it turned out to be a very supportive environment for me because of the people that kept showing up. It was rather nice to be around participants. They were positive fun-loving people, a great team with powerful team spirit; a large group of go-getters. The energy was awesome and amazing! The fact that we were all like-minded was to me incredible! Since my late teens I had developed an aversion to group memberships due to a past experience but JOP students made it acceptable. It was such a large group, and we, as far as I could discern, all believed in the potential of human transformation. If one wasn’t of this mind, then there would be no reason to even follow a guy like James. JAR students were adherent to a new way of working with the mind.
Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Evolve your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind, explains mind power, how it works, and how to create new habits that will change you into the person you’ve always wanted to be, and thus, change your life. Several times in the last few months as the SL situation is being discussed in the media and online, I’ve heard it said more than a few times that JOP participants must have had low self-esteem to pay all that money and then be tortured. At first I was defensive about this statement because I kept hearing it over and over, but after some thought it didn’t make sense. Those that choose not to live on a spiritual path do not always understand the drive some people have toward expanding inner consciousness and understanding of the Self. I believe spiritual seekers, those truly devoted to inner work, are like the forerunners of human change and evolution!  There’s new information that can give us more quality of life, and understanding. Suboptimal states of mind that may rule people’s lives in the most chaotic way (depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc.) can be healed; childhood traumas that keep us from living fully can also be healed. I’m not saying psychotherapy will become obsolete, but personal and spiritual development done concurrently can certainly accelerate progress and heal the problem in the end. After many years (most of my life) I no longer suffer from anxiety or depression, or any symptoms I had dealt with since I was quite young. Certainly, Dr. Dispenza’s story about healing his spine is compelling to say the least. At the JOP seminars, participants were willing to open their hearts and talk about personal issues to one another, to talk about our dreams and visions of a future we wanted to manifest. It felt good to be involved. Like anything else, at first it was fantastic, the second year it was still pretty good but by the third year everything was questionable. When it got as good as it was going to get, I knew it was time for me to move on. I was pretty adamant about my plan. I must say, I am grateful that the participants, a large number of like-minded people, were provided with an occasion to come together to study. It was fun. Thank you all.
When I attended my last seminar, Modern Magick (MM) at Dana Point, in California, April 2009, I was sick in bed with the flu in a five star hotel. I was reading James’ book, Harmonic Wealth. I came to a sub-section in chapter twelve titled Soul Retrieval. James didn’t go into too much detail about this ritual but it seemed to hit home for me. I flashed back to the sweat lodge experience, right at the start of the last round. I thought, maybe that was what James did during that last round when he said something about my bright pink top. Did anyone else hear this? Maybe he was calling to the spirits to take me out of my body. From what I understand now, that’s not how soul retrievals happen. I don’t know what the hell James was doing! I didn’t know enough about shamans and what they do to understand it. Was I hallucinating? I don’t think so. I know I didn’t experience a Soul Retrieval, but at the time I thought I found another piece to the puzzle. I actually thought James, as a shaman, had been able to push my consciousness out of my body by suggestion in that sweat lodge. The fact of the matter is, due to James’ mysterious and secretive persona it was never really clear what spiritual abilities and skills James actually possesses. The man was a force. I heard JOP students talk about him being a very powerful person with some incredible spiritual talents. A common question among participants at a seminar would be, “has James ever showed up in your dreams?” It’s hard to tell what the truth is and what’s smoke and mirrors. It’s a power stance to remain somewhat mysterious. James succeeded to keep students either intimidated or confused and ever curious!
MM 09 was a four or five day seminar. I think on the third or fourth day I decided to share about what happened to me at SW during one of the open mic exercises. I didn’t say where it happened and who was with me when it happened. I shared that I was having a significant breakthrough. I was wondering if my sweat lodge incident was a contributing factor so I started by telling that story. I said generally that as I understood it, a shaman took me out of my body for several hours. I told him I had no memory of this and although I’ve been puzzled about this experience, I believed I may have gotten more clarity when I was reading his book under the sub-section, Soul Retrieval. I also said that there was more I needed to know because he really didn’t go into enough detail about it. (Oops!)
OMG! I was just laughing to myself here. Before I go on I have to explain two things. In the three years I attended seminars I spoke during open mic maybe three times. I knew James well enough and saw what he had done to too many participants over the years and I had no desire to get caught up in one of his sensational moments where he would humiliate me or make an example out of me. But this was my last seminar with him. I was DONE! He WAS damned intimidating, but I wanted my say! I wasn’t about to walk away with this still unresolved issue without saying SOMETHING!
So there I was, standing in a room with several hundred people telling my story. As I was talking I kept losing my train of thought for long periods of time! I did this a least three or more times. It was embarrassing and I kept apologizing but every time, after a long stretch of silence, I would suddenly get my thought back and kept right on sharing. Well, after a few memory lapses, James started putting pressure on me. I could see he was getting uptight and at one point he said something like, “well, what about that?” He was not nice about it either. I was calm. I had no plans of backing down. I held the floor until I got my story out. I shared that I had a lucid dream the night before, right after an intense experience during a trance dance exercise that evening. The dance metaphorically was about feeling safe and testing to find out if I could trust the other participants to keep me safe while I was blindfolded during the two hours of tribal dancing. I walked and danced in a nonsensical pattern across the floor in many directions; walking backwards until I would walk into a participant in the outer circle (half of the group were surrounding the huge dance floor to protect the dancers). They would gently stop me and guide me into the middle of the dance floor every time. The dream I had was about someone chasing me down dark streets in a bad neighborhood and finding a safe place to hide by going into the entryway of a brownstone style apartment building. The family living on the first floor heard me and took me into their home.
Do you think I had a great need to feel safe? In the end, when I finally got my breakthrough story out, James basically said that the reason I was losing my train of thought was because I needed more time to integrate all my experiences. He didn’t comment on anything else I said. He didn’t fill in any of my gaps of time; he didn’t explain anything else about soul retrieval that may have been helpful to me. He did tell the audience in general that if they needed services from a shaman that all they needed to do was see him. I thought that was interesting because, although James had shared earlier in the program that he was initiated into several shamanistic orders, I had never heard James refer to himself as a shaman before.
What at first seemed like a fun program where I could enjoy myself, learn and grow, turned out to be a very uptight atmosphere. By 2008 I felt like you were only welcome to continue in the program if you were a devoted and loyal follower or student, and you had the money; you needed more and more money to do this, to stay “plugged in,” as James would put it.
As I remember it, James was doing a hardcore sales pitch throughout the nine days of the MM/World Wealth Society event in 2008. I was not willing to invest not even another penny in his program. As a matter a fact, I left my wallet in the hotel room just in case I felt hypnotized or was cornered by James somehow and told to pay for more seminars because I would not progress if I didn’t do what was best for me! I was that nervous about being pulled, no, sucked back into JAR’s world somehow.
There is no doubt in my mind; James Ray is an unmistakable force. I kept my eyes wide open. In the end, I felt if I really needed a teacher, I knew I deserved much more, way more than what James had to offer as a spiritual teacher. It was over.
Not one fool followed James Arthur Ray, yet he fooled us all!
I am responsible because I was involved. I have the power and ability to choose what’s best for me. When I got home from MM 09, I got on my computer and I unsubscribed from the JRI website so I would no longer receive emails. I cut the cord!
Likened to the story of Elmer Gantry, James Arthur Ray was a charlatan. He is a rare human being, a magician that mesmerized many. We are all one, he would say often. It is scary to call someone out that may seemingly have the power to bring misery and hardship into your world somehow. After all, what about the Sociopath Profile does not apply to James Arthur Ray; “manipulative and conning, grandiose sense of self, pathological lying, lack of remorse, shame or guilt, shallow emotions, incapacity for love, callousness/lack of empathy, irresponsibility/unreliability; not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams, oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause, does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.” Other related qualities include: contemptuous of those who seek to understand them, does not perceive that anything is wrong with them, authoritarian, secretive, paranoid, seeks out situations where tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired, goal of enslavement of their victim(s), exercises despotic control over every aspect of their victims life (lives), has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim’s affirmation (respect, gratitude and love), ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim, incapable of real human attachment to another, unable to feel remorse or guilt, extreme narcissism and grandiose. He may state readily that his goal is to rule the world (or become a billionaire?).
Dr. M. Scott Peck, author of People of The Lie, warns that it may be dangerous to judge someone to be evil before we judge ourselves first. He also states that “not” to point that person out to warn others is also evil. Then, therefore, the judgment must be made. I hope former JRI students that have a story to share are inspired to speak out. The truth is in our stories. With that said, I declare that the code of silence is now broken! Shattered! Demolished!
James Arthur Ray will be held accountable and responsible for the deaths at SW 2009 one way or another for the rest of his life. It’s our responsibility to know who JAR is (or anyone like him!) and refuse to play his game any longer!
Mary Latallade

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sweat Lodge Tragedy 2009

This blog is being created for several reasons. I will share information that I hope will lead to greater clarity and understanding (for me and anyone else). I would like this blog to represent a platform for healing to take place, to present opportunities to relinquish judgment, and to explore the concept of forgiveness. This by no means dismisses the need for accountability and responsibility to those involved, including myself as I venture into creating this blog. My wish is that I maintain an open heart to allow inspiration to guide what I share here, and to be willing to surf the “flow” (tread the unknown) offering a public processing of my personal growth in the here-and-now. Topics will include being involved in the Journey of Power, with James Arthur Ray as my teacher, my experience at Spiritual Warrior 2008, and anything that I believe will be helpful to one or more, or many persons regarding “what’s going on” in regards to the sweat lodge tragedy.

I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the families of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman, who suffered a great loss due to the tragedy on October 8, 2009 during the Spiritual Warrior retreat sweat lodge at Angel Valley, Sedona, Arizona.
There are numerous sources disclosing information about the Journey of Power (JOP), which is the curriculum that James Arthur Ray set up as his product offering a series of seminars for the purpose of spiritual transformation, personal development or spiritual growth. All of the seminars were offered by James Ray International (JRI). There are other blogs online offering information from different points of view, there are YouTube videos of James Ray, the sweat lodge trial where James Arthur Ray is charged with three counts of reckless manslaughter by the state of Arizona, is aired by In Session on truTV, and the JRI website is still up and running as well. I also want to mention that there are two books that were written by participants available on, The Tragedy in Sedona and The Labyrinth. I haven't read them yet, but I hope to, so I can integrate anything helpful from the readings later on down the line. 
That said, I’m not filling in every detail assuming anyone that finds this blog will have enough background to follow me. I will share more about my actual experience at Spiritual Warrior 2008 later on. The link to the interview with Dan Harris, ABC News reporter, is available below under the picture of me at the event. I saw this picture that was taken in 2008 for the first time when it aired in March 2011. I had wondered what I looked like, what anyone looks like when their consciousness has left their body. It was scary to see myself in that state knowing "somewhat," what I had been through. I’ll explain more when I tell my story.
March 1, 2011    Good Morning America

ABC New, Dan Harris:
Sweat lodge participant Mary Latallade says she left her body for six hours and that when she came back, she was violently ill.
"I definitely, you know… I feel angry. You know James Ray is ultimately responsible when he runs these seminars," she said. "You do as he says. He plays that paternal role. And he let us know. He's dad and we're his kids and you just follow his lead."
When I attended a seminar called Quantum Leap in September 2006, James Arthur Ray commented that he wasn’t married; he had no children and possibly may not become a father in this lifetime. He explained that he was okay with this because he had us, his participants, and he stated something like, that was enough for him.
When I went to the free two hour seminar in Washington DC in January 2006 there were twenty five or thirty potential participants that went to see him introduce his program. I had already signed up for the first seminar online, then called the Power to Win, later known as Harmonic Wealth Weekend (HWW), after receiving an email in December 2005 describing an opportunity to learn about the Science of Success, a new paradigm. This new paradigm would outline how to change your thought patterns and to eradicate any beliefs and values that worked against becoming successful or reaching the highest potential in human functioning. As I read the email, I thought about signing up. It sounded so perfect for me. I ended up purchasing the event less than thirty minutes after I received the email. I will go further into why this email was so perfectly timed for me and why I instantly felt that the answer to my current personal issues at the time were synchronistically being presented to me. Needless to say, I wanted to meet James Arthur Ray. I wanted to check him out, so I drove round trip from North Carolina to DC for the two hour event. I was pleased. James Ray was impressive in his presentation. His energy was dynamic, he was entertaining and he was also quite convincing. He had a unique product and he was teaching something, it seemed, no one else was in the specific way he chose to teach it. It was exciting. I told him I had started the Science of Success course online and I was looking forward to seeing him in a few months.
James Arthur Ray was the motivational speaker, the teacher, the leader center stage throughout each and every seminar for the entire time I studied with him. He was a one man show. He set his seminars up to push people beyond their comfort zone and it started right when the doors opened at the beginning of every event hosted in conference rooms at beautiful hotels throughout the country. The doors were kept closed until everyone was gathered. When it was time to begin, the doors opened, everyone spilled into a room blaring with music and as each person chose their seats they were asked by dream team members (volunteers that help to run the seminar) to put their things down and start dancing!
I was instantly annoyed at the noise. I had been listening to soft new age music and Classical music for many years. I long ago stopped listening to anything else that rocked my world. I wanted quiet, relaxing, soothing sounds to live by. My buttons got pushed the minute I entered the room. I was to learn that everything during James Ray seminars is calculated and controlled for a reason, and more so than not, procedures and rules were going to test your tolerance and patience. Room temperatures were kept chilly, seminar hours were long so you got little sleep during the events, you had assignments you were asked to complete, and meal breaks were announced at any time of the day when it was convenient and fit perfectly into the day’s schedule. Your first lesson in the JOP program with James was, if you choose to stick around you either go-with-the-flow or you’ll soon discover that throwing tantrums about anything going on would not change a thing. You could stay and participate, accept what he offers in the program, check out what he’s all about or you could leave. It was your choice but he was the boss and that was pretty clear right away.
In March 2006, there were roughly 250 participants that attended the weekend event. The very first person I met, that came out to speak and give us instructions about how to enter the conference room, how the seminar would begin and what we were expected to do was, Liz Neuman, one of the dream team members that died at the 2009 Spiritual Warrior retreat. She was either a dream team member at an event I was attending or we worked side-by-side in many events as dream team members for the next three years. We weren’t close friends but we connected many times and we shared a strong mutual interest in James' teachings. She had already been on the Journey for a number of years when I met her and would continue to her death. In April 2009 I went to my last JOP seminar and decided to move on to explore other areas of study. She was an amazing, wonderful woman and I know she is missed by everyone that knew her. I learned from her and sought her help whenever I needed guidance. She was always available to help anyone that asked and I am grateful to have met her and worked with her.
Like many participants that attended HWW events, if you ended up feeling that the program was something that excited you, it was hard not to figure out a way to stay on the journey. I felt motivated to continue participating but it was not within my financial means to do the top level events. At Quantum Leap in 2006 I decided to sponsor a free two hour event in my area, called The Secrets of Attracting True Wealth. If it were not for the synchronistic events that followed, I would not have attended Spiritual Warrior and a few other upper level seminars in the JOP curriculum.
If James Ray was going to take the time to come to your home town to introduce his program, the deal was it would cost me nothing, except if I chose to advertise, but I had to get at least 250 people to register to attend the event. I put out a few flyers. I was guided by a JRI employee on how to promote the event and they worked with me as I searched for venues until they booked the event and the date was set. In the meantime James had already appeared in the movie The Secret and it wasn’t long before he was booked to appear on Oprah and Larry King Live. Through a link set up by JRI I was able to go online to check on the number of people registered for my event. After a few busy weeks I went online to see where the numbers were at and discovered 1500 people were registered to attend! It was pretty effortless. I took this as a sign, an opportunity presented to me to continue studying with James. That’s exactly what I decided to do. I made enough commission from attendees that bought products and signed up for events that I was able to purchase four upper level events for $10,000, including Spiritual Warrior. Now that was sweet! I was excited. I was having fun, unlike any other time in my life, for the first time in my adult life I was truly happy during the events, despite what was going on in my life. There was no question that I wanted to sign up for these additional events and finish the JOP program. I was exhilarated!
There are many questions that people may have about those of us that were drawn to James Arthur Ray’s, Journey of Power. Why? Each person that studied with James Ray had their own reason for being there. Some people were there to fit in somewhere, some people were there hoping to someday make their dreams come true, many people were there to learn how to reach their highest human potential in every area of their lives and some people were there because it was fun! Those of us, most of us, that studied with James would likely agree that the program was beneficial in many ways. I really did have a lot of fun. The people that attended the events were wonderful, intelligent, successful, caring, friendly ambitious people. Generally, I enjoyed just about everyone I met because we all had at least one common interest if nothing else, which was to learn and grow. I was grateful for the support I felt I had during a challenging time in my life. I was raising and homeschooling two boys diagnosed with Autism, and I was going through a divorce. I needed to find strength and power within myself and the confidence and conviction to do whatever needed to be done in my daily life. I prefer not to even give any thought to how things would have turned out for me and my boys if I wasn’t on the JOP during those very difficult years. I will share more about the results of being in the program, about discovering in myself a whole new person, the person I always wanted to be.