Apr 29, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 36

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Judge Darrow Hears Arguments

The day started with some very heated argument over what Det. Diskin can testify to. (I missed the beginning of this because CNN was asleep on the job but more on that later.) When In Session began broadcasting the legal arguments, they were discussing the case of Daniel Pfankuch and how it informed the direction of Det. Diskin's investigation. There is much about this situation that is debatable. It happened 6 years ago. There is some conflicting witness testimony and there are seemingly irreconcilable differences in interpretation as to what happened. Both Pfankuch interview transcripts and those of other participants can be found here.

People on the scene at that sweat lodge event described Pfankuch as hullucinating, combative, and ultimately unconscious. His wife had to force him to leave the sweat lodge. He wandered around hitting and kicking people and was generally irrational before passing out. He believes he had a near death experience from which he really didn't wish to return. His wife, Michelle, pounded on his chest and pleaded with him to come back. Another participant named David Duhaime aggressively cooled him by hosing down his head with cold water. Duhaime believes he would have died, otherwise. Duhaime demanded JRI staff members call 911 but they refused to do so without checking with Ray who had gone to take a shower. He became "very animated" and believes he persuaded them to call because but they didn't. Amayra Hamilton did and James Ray screamed and yelled at her for it.

Pfankuch was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was treated for heat exhaustion and syncope. Daniel Pfankuch, though, believes he was told he had heatstroke and that is what he told Det. Diskin. The hallucinations and combative behavior are also consistent with heatstroke. He was also dehydrated and kept on IV fluids for some hours at the hospital.

Apr 28, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 35

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Sheila Polk Argues for Inclusion of Exhibits

Getting Det. Diskin's direct testimony into the record is a game of inches.

In the balance between trial testimony and legal wrangling, the latter probably tipped the scale today. There were lengthy legal arguments during breaks and numerous sidebars, mostly about what Det. Diskin could and could not say and what exhibits could be admitted with his testimony.

The day started with over an hour of argument over what exhibits would and would not be allowed during Diskin's questioning, with the defense arguing that many of the evidence photos in question are prejudicial. In other words, they depict an accurate portrayal of James Ray. It could be inferred from some of them, according to Tom Kelly, that Ray is a flight risk. That's only because he fled almost immediately after the event, avoiding police questions and returning to his home in California. It might look suspicious to the jury that Ray left his wallet behind. But Sheila Polk explained that it would be made clear that he only left his wallet and other personal effects because his room was in the process of being searched and he could not enter it. So it's really only as peculiar as it would be for anyone to grab an early flight, and leave their wallet in anther state rather than wait to retrieve it.

Ultimately, Judge Darrow ruled that items like the wallet, that constitute indicia of occupency, were allowed in, for a narrow purpose, and with address information and the like removed.

Apr 27, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 34

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Amayra Hamilton at Sweat Lodge Memorial Site

Today marked the end of the Hamiltons' testimony. It involved more torturous cross examination by Luis Li, which I'll get to in a moment. But I have a few closing thoughts on these very important witnesses who we won't see again unless and until they are recalled.

Michael and Amayra Hamilton are very polarizing figures. Even amongst those who want to see James Arthur Ray convicted, there are many who wanted to see them roasted on a spit by Ray's defense team. Michael Hamilton draws particular ire. I will say that having listened to him, I think there is a slipperiness to the man. That said, I would probably get real slippery if I were being questioned by Truc Do, just as a survival mechanism. Ask a simple question, get a simple answer. Push poll me or put words in my mouth... well, don't expect cooperation. So, I can see both perspectives on Michael Hamilton. He's a little too good at evading aggressive questioning but it was very aggressive questioning and he's in a rather vulnerable position.

Amayra Hamilton, I thought, came across as very likable. She seemed as sincere as she did decisive. She stood up to Li when he tried to belittle her and mischaracterize her testimony. And considering that her cross examination was the most sneaky and smarmy I've ever seen Li, I admired her all the more for recognizing when he was being manipulative.

Apr 26, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 33

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Judge Darrow Precludes Prosecution from Calling Haddow

This morning Judge Darrow heard arguments about the prosecution's decision to call Richard Haddow this week. I read the defense's motion to preclude Haddow as a witness last night. After reading their fairly solid legal arguments, I determined this to be a stunt on the part of the prosecutors. I don't think they ever thought they'd get Haddow into the courtroom. They're just calling the defense team's bluff.

As I expected Sheila Polk argued that they needed to call Haddow because the defense team has twice referred to Haddow's "report" when cross examining witnesses, even though they never intend to call him as a witness. She also attempted to leverage the fact that they relied on the Haddow material to block further testimony on prior sweat lodges, including the 2005 Daniel Pfankuch incident. They did not get the 2005 sweat lodge admitted but Judge Darrow reaffirmed his ruling that the defense cannot invoke a report with a witness who is completely unfamiliar with the source document.

A weary Judge Darrow upheld the defense's argument that rule 15.6(d) was not followed and excluded Haddow as a witness. Again, no surprise here. And it seems fairly obvious that those simple legal criteria would have been ample. So I find it kind of interesting that the defense team's response was such overkill. They also managed to completely discredit Haddow and his findings, which I would think might make it all the harder to rely on that information, in any way, in the future. Here is what the defense felt the need to emphasize in their motion:

Third, even if admission of Mr. Haddow's testimony for the State were constitutionally permissible, which it is not, a hearing and full briefing would be necessary to determine Mr. Haddow's qualifications as an expert. As the State itself has acknowledged, there are significant questions as to whether Mr. Haddow, who is neither an environmental engineer nor a medical doctor, can properly opine as an expert on many of the topics of his report. See State's Response to Defendant's Motion for Mistrial, filed 4/12/11, at 5 ("[T]he state was concerned about Mr. Haddow's qualifications.")


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The Power of your True Nature

"There is great power in our True Nature and great healing in letting go of all that no longer resonates with it. When we allow our True Nature to flow through our lives, through our words and actions, we come into a natural alignment with our essential selves," explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt. "Living in that alignment we can focus out into the The Great Oneness and focus inward to energize our deepest core purpose." The Earth and the Way of Nature- the flowing harmony of ecosystems and the wild beauty of nature-are the great teachers of True Nature. The religions of the world teach us to look up for our answers for how to live here on earth. And in that upward glance we lose sight of ourselves and begin to shape ourselves in the images we have been fed. Looking up, we miss the obvious: The Way of Nature is right here with us and within us as we are within it. Our answers for who we are and how to live well are right here. The resurgence of interest in earth-based wisdoms is a response to our own searching for our way back to our True Nature. Shamanism in particular offers us skills and practices to engage the Earth, actively and intentionally, as the teacher and to find our way back to our true selves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Apr 25, 2011

Horoscope for April 25 - May 1

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

Aries (March 21st - April 20th)
Social connections are your primary focus this week, Aries. For the first half of the week, the lunar transit through your 11th house of friends, groups, organizations, and wish fulfillment keeps you very outwardly directed as you seek to expand your career reach and add to your social network. You may learn to use new technology or become more computer savvy while you have the urge to do things for yourself and become an expert in a chosen field. A romance may evolve from a friendship, or an existing relationship either becomes more supportive of your outer world activities or ends if it no longer is viable. The end of the week is a time to rest and renew yourself. By the beginning of next week, you will be shaking the dust off the plans you shelved during the recent Mercury retrograde. This is your busy season - make the most of it work-wise, but remember to take care of your physical needs for rest and play.

Taurus (April 21st - May 20th)
You need a lot of quiet time now, Taurus. Internal processing is going on as you feed new information into your consciousness. Friends or a group may be on hand or nearby to act as sounding boards or encourage you, but no one will be deciding anything but you. Only you can know what you need or want. Now is a time to seek clarity and certainty before you take any actions. Once things are settled on the inside, things on the outside will fall into place, too. Mercury may have gone direct, but all those impatient, forward-moving Aries planets are being held back in the 12th house of your subconscious. The key is to find your own sense of safety and calm and not let the stresses or instability of life turn your attention away from your own personal path. Next month, you finally get to emerge and grow.

Astrological Trends for April 25 - May 1

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

Tackle the toughest mental challenges first thing on Monday, April 25th, when the moon in the intelligent fixed air sign of Aquarius trines Saturn in the cardinal air sign of Libra. The moon is also forming a supportive sextile to Mercury, the planet of communication, in the cardinal fire sign of Aries. Mercury in Aries opposes Saturn in Libra. This triangulation of aspects makes today a good problem-solving day. Reason, intelligence, discernment, and originality combine to create a strong brainstorming energy. All through this week, until Sunday, the sun in Aries is forming a trine to Pluto in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn. Pluto in Capricorn and the benevolent planet, Venus, in Aries are exchanging some restrictive energy through a square aspect between them, which can affect relationships, personal desires, and general demeanor. Venus in Aries is conjunct Uranus in Aries, which makes the impatience of Aries more so and mixes in some unpredictability. The square from Venus to powerful Pluto in strict Capricorn may add delay, control, jealousy, or "sour grapes" energy that can affect your outlook when you set your sights on having something or someone and immediate gratification just isn't happening. The positive side of this aspect is that you may be inclined to persist in your efforts to achieve your desires, even when things seem impossible. The planets also deliver some extra faith and staying power through a sextile between Pluto and Neptune conjunct Chiron in spiritual Pisces and a sextile between the sun in grounded Taurus and Neptune/Chiron. These supportive sextiles give you the strength to overcome and to heal difficulties, both physical and emotional. Later this evening, the moon in Aquarius forms a sextile to Mars, the planet of action, in Aries. Mars is currently sandwiched between Jupiter and Mercury, both in Aries. Now that the Mercury retrograde period is over, you can use the power of this lunar aspect to look ahead and prepare yourself for growth and new beginnings you may have had to put on hold the last few weeks. This aspect also can be used to clear up misunderstandings between people or to participate in activities that are both physically and mentally stimulating with a friend or a group.

Put yesterday's plans into action on Tuesday, April 26th. The general tone of the day is much the same as Monday, with the moon still transiting the fixed air sign of Aquarius. This morning, the moon exchanges an optimistic sextile to Jupiter in Aries, giving you a green light to move ahead and expect things to work out in the best way possible. If you happen to be an inventor or designer of some kind, you may feel like you are in the state of creative flow where genius ideas come out of nowhere. All week, the sun in Taurus trine Pluto in Capricorn promises success if you just keep plugging along. In any given month, the Aquarius moon transit isn't always practical or purposeful. Sometimes it can be too far-out, future-oriented, or erratic, creating nothing more than some unexpected events, sensational celebrity news, and an increase in your social activities. This month, the Aquarius moon has back-up from planets that can ground the genius, humanitarian energy into real-time and make it stick. Perhaps society as a whole can benefit from these few special days and institute workable solutions to world problems.

Apr 22, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 32

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Judge Darrow Rules on Prior Sweat Lodge Testimony

There were no big surprises in Judge Darrow's rulings this morning. Daniel Pfankuch is out. So is the 2005 sweat lodge entirely. He also ruled that there'd be no more prior incidents admitted because at this point it is cumulative. 

The testimony on prior incidents that has already been given will not be stricken -- at least not at this time -- which is what the defense had specifically asked for.

Judge Darrow also said that if the defense opens the door on prior incidents with their cross examination, he will allow the prosecution to pursue the issue on redirect.

Apr 21, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 31

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Polk and Mercer Sort through Photos

Sheila Polk finished up strong today in her redirect of Debbie Mercer. She went straight for the weed barrier that Tom Kelly had claimed yesterday to be plastic. Mercer had explained that she thought it was fabric. But Polk set out to completely demystify it. It's a fabric barrier that Mercer described as ripping easily with with common garden tools. It is covered with a layer of course sand. So, no. It's not a candidate for creating any sort of airtight seal with the sweat lodge coverings.

Polk also asked Mercer about questions Kelly had asked her about the structure of the sweat lodge. Things like, did she know what a "heat barrier" was? That's a term from the Haddow email that Kelly tried unsuccessfully to ask/tell Mercer in his backhanded attempt to impeach her sweat lodge construction with testimony from an expert he never intends to put on the stand. Also to establish her culpability in the making of the faulty sweat lodge. Mercer had no idea what heat barrier meant. She did know where the heat came from, though. The rocks, the number of which were determined by the pourer: James Ray.

Then Polk asked her some specific questions on air circulation in the sweat lodge. Of course, this was also a bit over Mercer's head. She did assume, though, that the amount of time that the sweat lodge door was open would impact air circulation. The door was also controlled by Ray. Predictably, Kelly objected, pointing out that Mercer doesn't know anything about air circulation. Funny, because it was Tom Kelly who opened up that line of questioning in his zeal to introduce his highly selective reading of the never going to testify Rick Haddow. It turned out that Mercer didn't know anything about carbon dioxide, either.

Apr 20, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 30

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

There were all sorts of mad doings in the courtroom today as trial resumed from its extended break. But first some extraneous In Session material you may have missed. And what could more extraneous than an interview with Bob Proctor.

Bob Proctor is standing by his man James Ray. Although he does think that Ray law of attracted this mess to himself. He's not really sure how or why but, you know, the law of attraction works every time. Proctor was interviewed on In Session last Thursday. Fairly useless but for this one deliciously laughable tidbit. Asked about the myriad of academics and professionals who think Proctor's beliefs about the law of attraction are crazy, he said, "Well they obviously don't know what they're talking about." It made me chuckle only because I distinctly remember Bob Proctor admitting in The Secret that he doesn't know what he's talking about. The relevant bit of sheer nonsense can be found at about 13:00 on the counter in the above video.

Now if you don't understand it doesn't mean you should reject it. You don't understand electricity, probably. First of all, no one even knows what electricity is. And yet, you enjoy the benefits of it. Do you know how it works? I don't know how it works. But I do know this. That you can cook a man's dinner with electricity and you can also cook the man.

Apr 19, 2011


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

What Weather Teaches with Nan Moss and David Corbin

"We are passionate about using shamanic skills and practices to become fully human, about approaching and manifesting those potentials that human beings represent," say Nan Moss and David Corbin of The Shaman's Circle. "We are interested in using our knowledge, our minds, our emotions, and our bodies, to help support the well-being and evolution of this world and all its residents." Join Nan, David, and host Christina Pratt as we explore Weather Dancing, Cloud Dancing, and the intimate relationship between our inner states, the weather, and our ability to transform the damage humans are doing to the environment. Nan and David share the belief that through their shamanic practice, weather teachings, and through circles of Weather Dancers formed from their Weather programs, change can happen, wounds can heal, and nature and humans can work together towards an alive and vital future. Nan and David are our next guests for the Society of Shamanic Practitioners sponsored interview series. In this series we explore how contemporary shamans are meeting the challenge of their world where the relations of things are profoundly out of balance. It is the ancient role of the shaman in all cultures to tend the balance of things. How are these shamans meeting this extraordinary need today?

This week's guests:
Nan Moss & David Corbin

Nan P. Moss, C.S.C., and David Corbin, M.S., C.S.C., are faculty members of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, teaching the beginning to the most advanced courses for the Foundation at locations throughout the Northeast, including Boston and New York City. Additionally, they lead 5-day shamanic workshops and month-long intensives at Esalen Institute in California.

Their interest in the spiritual aspects of weather is a longstanding one, and Nan and David have been teaching and doing research on the spiritual aspects of weather for more than 10 years. Their book, Weather Shamanism: Harmonizing Our Connection with the Elements was published in 2008 and their introductory workshop, WeatherDancing: Shamanism and the Spirits of Weather, has been offered in the U.S. and Canada since 1999. They also published CloudDancing: Wisdom from the Sky, a set of shamanic divination cards and guidebook using cloud images.

In addition to their training in core shamanism, Nan and David have also studied with indigenous healers from various cultures, including Siberian, Tuvan, Saami, Chinese, and Native American. They are founding members of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. They have a private shamanic healing and counseling practice in Port Clyde, Maine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Apr 18, 2011

Horoscope for April 18-24

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

Aries (March 21st - April 20th)
Making your life purpose your work, or making your work more meaningful, is the major task of your week, Aries. The recent full moon may have helped you to see that you are here to be of service, but that doesn't mean you can't make money or achieve personal success and recognition for your effort. The moon walks you through career advancement activities this week, from business plans, sales or money negotiations, establishing a reputation, marketing, and connecting with people or organizations that can assist you. It's not all about work and money, although you do crave money a bit more than love now. The planets are helping you be the flower to the bees. You don't have to actively pursue love while you are so attractive to others - just appear open and approachable.

Taurus (April 21st - May 20th)
Your special blend of sensible and sensual makes you an ideal lover and mate, Taurus. Love is first and foremost on your mind this week. Some Bulls may be dreaming of their soulmate, others are ready to confess romantic interest to a potential partner who has been just a friend, and those who are already with a partner may be planning romantic retreats and a renewal or deepening of friendship and affection. The sun enters your sign this week, telling you it's time for some personal beautification and some shameless self-promotion. Feeling better about yourself and projecting a fresh, confident image helps you in business, career, and important meetings with people who may be able to help you get what you want. You can be kind without being perceived as meek or soft when you like yourself well enough to be assertive and tell people what you expect to receive.

Astrological Trends for April 18-24

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

The anticipation of transformation and healing is in the air on the morning of Monday, April 18th, as the moon in the fixed water sign of Scorpio forms a quincunx to Uranus in Aries and a supportive trine to Chiron conjunct Neptune in Pisces. The words I hear for this aspect pattern are "sudden grace." An unexpected intervention in a moment when things seem to reach a crisis point is possible. Venus is in the late degrees of the mutable water sign of sensitive Pisces and is now close enough to Uranus in Aries to be feeling restless, impatient, and unpredictable when it comes to matters of the heart. All this week, a nice configuration of semi-sextiles is in place between the Venus/Uranus conjunction and Neptune/Chiron in Pisces, as well as the sun in Aries. This interesting blend of planets and elements may produce feelings of sweet anticipation and delight in new romance or creative activities. The emotional depth of today's Scorpio moon is enhanced by a sextile between the moon and Pluto in Capricorn. You may feel more strongly about things than you usually do or find you have a greater need for things to be done your way. The Aries sun forms a supportive sextile with Neptune conjunct Chiron in Pisces. This sextile can make you a hero or champion to someone else. Do one good deed today or volunteer when needed. Saturn in the cardinal air sign of Libra opposes Mars conjunct retrograde Mercury in the cardinal fire sign of Aries, which is an energy you integrated last week. It can make you - and everyone else - more critical of people, especially in relationship situations. Remember to use the magic words, "please" and "thank you", and pay attention when someone is speaking to you. Around dinnertime, the Scorpio moon forms a quincunx to Mars conjunct Mercury in Aries and also forms a mild semi-sextile to Saturn in Libra. This is a good influence for talking about sensitive subjects, revealing inner secrets, or airing grievances, as long as you do so in a non-accusatory manner. New levels of understanding can be reached in relationship if you and the other person show honor and respect for each other's feelings.

Mixed emotional states are possible on the morning of Tuesday, April 19th, as the moon in the fixed water sign of intense Scorpio forms a neither all-good nor all-bad quincunx to Jupiter in Aries. You may feel some trepidation as you approach anything new, preferring to wait and watch, but if that isn't an option, you will hide your hesitancy behind a brave exterior. A lack of lunar aspects from mid-afternoon to early evening makes the remainder of the day quiet and uneventful. Use the fixed and persistent energy of the Scorpio moon to complete projects. Tomorrow, the sun leaves the cardinal fire sign of Aries and enters the fixed earth sign of Taurus. The Scorpio moon heightens emotional sensitivity and perception of energy, so you may sense the shift in the sun signs, which could make you feel edgy or unsettled now. Aries brings a cycle of new beginnings and Taurus helps to ground things and cultivate them so they grow strong. Late this evening, the seductive Scorpio moon forms a trine to Venus in Pisces conjunct Uranus in Aries and also forms a quincunx to the sun in Aries. Surprise your partner with an adventure in a new location and finish the evening with some close intimacy. If you are single and looking for a partner, go somewhere you've never been before or try a sport or activity you've never tried before. The elements of risk and adventure act like an aphrodisiac this evening.

Apr 16, 2011

James Ray: Sweatlodges and Plagiarism

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Last night Jeanne0o0 posted something on Twitter about yet more material being posted on James Ray's site that really doesn't flatter him. Loathe as I am to give him more traffic, I peeked. I was about three paragraphs in to this blog post before I said to myself, not only isn't this flattering, there's no way it was penned by James Ray or any of his help meets. It's way too well-written. So I googled some of the text and discovered that it came from Prescott eNews. I've cited this publication many times in blog posts following the James Ray debacle. The reportage is always excellent and this article is no exception. So, in that sense, I guess it's no surprise that he stole it. Let's face it. Misappropriating other people's intellectual property is what he does. Just ask Stan Grof inventor of Holotropic Breathwork or Lance Giroux of the Samurai Game®.

Not only was there no link or any other attribution to the original, the article was not excerpted. It was republished in full, which you cannot do without permission. I couldn't find an email address for Lynne LaMaster of Prescott eNews on the site but I found her on Twitter and shot her a tweet to see if she knew her article was now on Ray's blog and if she'd given permission. She had not.

This morning she tweeted that she had posted a comment on both her site and James Ray's blog calling for removal of the plagiarized material. But when I looked at James Ray's blog, I found that Lynn LaMaster's comment had been removed. Her article had not. JaneLWilcox confirmed that the comment had appeared there earlier this morning.

Apr 14, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 29

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

The folks at In Session seem confused. They were all stunned, they announced this morning, that Judge Darrow didn't give the defense its mistrial. As the day progressed, they became noticeably perplexed that the thrashing prosecutors had coming to them didn't come. There was much discussion, before Judge Darrow took the bench this morning, of the kind of instruction the jury would hear about the suppressed information and how humiliating it might be. But it was well into proceedings before the subject of an instruction came up and with the understanding that it was something to be taken up at a later time.

From the very beginning of this trial, the bias of the In Session panel has been apparent. I believe the word I used to describe Sunny Hostin at that time, as I listened to her breathless description of James Ray's appeal, was "starfucker." My initial assessment holds. And Beth Karas disturbs me more and more. She continues to misrepresent the state's response to the mistrial motion and to completely disregard their position. Now, I fully acknowledge that the defense team's mistrial motion is a slick piece of rhetoric. I'm sad to see that people who are both attorneys and reporters fell for it so completely, while absolutely refusing to read the prosecution's side of the story similarly at face value. Their partiality is blatantly apparent. It's a sad reminder of how far journalistic standards have fallen; something this former journalism student finds tragic.

But LaVaughn, you say, your bias is also screamingly obvious. True. But I'm not a reporter. I don't represent a news network. I'm a blogger. Bloggers, for the most part, are self-appointed op-ed writers and advocacy journalists. I don't purport to be writing anything but my opinions and observations. Reporters for a news organization have a higher duty to provide a balanced perspective. And the folks at In Session have utterly failed.

Apr 13, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 28

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Truc Do and Tom Kelly Listen to Bill Hughes

Today was something of an emotional roller coaster ride. I started my viewing this morning with In Session. Big mistake. Their pregame show was all about the likelihood of a mistrial and the prosecution's weak response. They somehow managed to completely ignore everything about the cumulative nature of Haddow's findings and the plethora of information already in evidence attesting to those same issues. Beth Karas touched on this briefly but claimed that the response only cited information from civil suits. Oy. It's the email in question from Rick Haddow that stemmed from a civil suit. Many of the prosecution's citations pertained to state witness testimony. Far be it from the In Session talking heads to let facts get in the way of a good story.

Oral arguments were presented by Luis Li and Bill Hughes for and against a mistrial due to the alleged Brady violation by the prosecution. Luis Li blithered for close to an hour, repeating the central claims of their motion and then... some... other... um... I'll get back to that. Bill Hughes responded with a terse, under ten minute reading of the central points of the prosecution's response. Then came a full body blow from Judge Darrow. He sided with the defense, saying grimly that no other matters could be heard today. He did find there was a Brady violation and he would take some time to determine a remedy.

The talking heads on In Session were quick to assume that it would be a mistrial because Judge Darrow made it known that he would not return to the bench this afternoon. Instead he would post a written response.

Apr 12, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 27

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

I had a feeling yesterday morning that today was going to be another "snow day." And it was... sort of. And not in a good way. Court was canceled today to allow prosecutors an opportunity to prepare a response to a mistrial motion from the defense. This is their second attempt at a mistrial in under a week. What else happened in that time? Hmmm... Oh right. Judge Darrow ruled that he would allow in more testimony regarding prior sweat lodges. The outraged defense team warned at that time that they were planning mistrial motions and prosecutorial misconduct charges. So this isn't a huge surprise.

I'm guessing that this motion pertains to the prosecutorial misconduct to which they alluded last week. According to this motion, prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense, thus violating Brady. Specifically, they failed to turn over an email containing a preliminary report from an expert named Richard Haddow of the Haddow Environmental Research Organization until last week. The email contained a number of bullet points listing factors contributing to the cause of death in Liz Neuman's case and refers to the two other deaths and illness of others in the same general area of the sweat lodge. Haddow claims that because the rock pit is slightly off center in the sweat lodge and because the sweat lodge is covered with non-breathable materials the moisture and carbon dioxide in that section of the sweat lodge would have been severe.

Says the defense, because they did not have this information before the beginning of the trial, their entire strategy has been impaired. This information would have altered their opening argument and their cross examination of witnesses would have been different. Their contention is that this was a deliberate attempt on the state's part to withhold information damaging to the prosecution.


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Spirit Teachers and Better Humans

"The spirits are teachers, not therapists. They are here to teach us to be better humans," explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt. The helping spirits are here to help us sort out how to live well in our time. Even Death and the Trickster along with plants, animals, and the elements are part of this cast of compassionate characters who are tirelessly committed to teaching us to be better humans. The spirits do not come to assist us for self-help or enlightenment; they come to assist us in doing the precious, unique thing we have come here to do in a way that is good for all living things. The idea that first contact peoples were a barbaric lot who were civilized by their colonizers has thankfully been dispelled, especially now that we see all around the globe the greed, toxic hazards, and ignorance at the heart of the colonizer's unsustainable plans. It was the spirits who brought the ways to live morally and ethically together, rescuing humanity from its most base nature and teaching us the enlightened self-interest inherent in truly living as One with all things. Join us this week as we explore why we need the dark, inscrutable, and luminous world of spirit to be truly human and why we should bother to be better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Apr 11, 2011

Horoscope for April 11-17

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

Aries (March 21st - April 20th)
Headstrong Aries, please have some patience with yourself and other people this week. People who live with you and those who work with you may all be unsure of how to behave around you because you are quick to react. If you have been making changes at home or work, you may not be entirely happy with the results yet. Part of the feeling that something is not quite right comes from unrealistic expectations or a lack of clarity in how you imagine things should be. Instead of pointing fingers or complaining, connect with your inner self and allow some creativity and imagination to flow. Laughter and play can work miracles for you and make people more cooperative. The middle of the week holds some highly productive energy for you. Imagine you are acting in a play called "My Life" and performing in front of an audience. Would you dress up more? Smile more? Complain less? How can you give your best performance? The full moon in your 7th house of relationship helps you define boundaries and find balance in relationship or acknowledge your own shadow side.

Taurus (April 21st - May 20th)
"Is anybody listening to me?" could be your lament at the beginning of the week, Taurus. It's not just your imagination or Mercury retrograde that make communication feel difficult. There are some tough but short-lived aspects to communication houses in your chart. If you happen to be a writer, it is not the time to submit manuscripts. It is also not the time to buy tickets for a long-dreamed-of trip to a foreign country. I believe there is a perfect order to everything, so there must be a good reason the planets are inclining you to think and rethink, explore options, and enjoy the pleasures of home rather than scurry about. Family and friends are there for you and keep your frame of mind positive. Just before the weekend, something good happens when the energy shifts forward, communication and creativity flow, and you say, "Now things are looking up." One of the rules of manifestation is that we can specify the "what," but we can't always control the "when" or "how" of what we wish to receive. The full moon this weekend in your 6th house of health, service, and work may help you see the correlation between your health and your thoughts and beliefs. You could decide to explore alternative healing methods. If work is an issue, then you may want to meditate on your life purpose or integrate your spirituality into your job.

Astrological Trends for April 11-17

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

You may feel at loose ends emotionally, and even uncomfortable in your own skin, the morning of Monday, April 11th. The moon in the cardinal water sign of Cancer makes a challenging square to the sun conjunct Jupiter and Mercury retrograde in the cardinal fire sign of Aries. Your emotions could be resisting what your mind and body know you have to do. Mars conjunct Uranus in Aries is still creating tension and possible conflict between the new and the old through a square to Pluto in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn. This problematic energy arrived last week, but finally dissipates this Saturday, so hang in there! If something needs to be reformed, by all means, charge head-on, but avoid stirring up trouble just because you feel like it. Also, remember that other people may be affected by this tension and you will be more tolerant when faced with difficult people. The square between the Cancer moon and the Aries trio of planets fades later this afternoon and the day becomes calmer. Your emotions may still be sensitive due to the Cancer influence, but you feel more self-contained now, with less resistance to taking care of what needs to be done. Love and romance may be in the air as Venus forms a parallel to Chiron and Jupiter forms a contra-parallel to Chiron. The chance to meet a lifelong partner or true soul mate is enhanced by this energy. Existing relationships can weather the stressful aspects and the Mercury retrograde with the patience and forgiveness this energy imparts. Later this evening, the moon in Cancer forms both a quincunx to Neptune/Chiron in Pisces and a scintillating trine to Uranus in Aries. Falling in love at first sight or some exciting, spontaneous romantic encounter is possible. The moon contra-parallel Pluto intensifies the feeling, nurturing Cancer energy and also helps you validate your own emotions. Trust your intuition and follow through on hunches.

What a difference a day makes! A dynamic and positive aspect pattern makes Tuesday, April 12th, feel like the complete opposite of yesterday morning. The moon is now in the fixed fire sign of Leo, where it makes a supportive trine to Mars, the planet of action, in the cardinal fire sign of Aries. The moon also forms two quincunx aspects: one to purposeful Chiron in the mutable water sign of Pisces, and the other to intense Pluto in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn. Knowing your purpose and making big things happen is what this energy is all about. It greatly increases your stamina, creativity, self-direction, and follow-through, enabling you to succeed at almost any task. Late this afternoon, a sextile between the Leo moon and stabilizing Saturn in the cardinal air sign of Libra is like the final finishing touch to your day. If you utilized the power of today's aspects, you will be bringing something to a highly satisfying close by dinnertime. Leo loves to play and Libra loves to relate, so use the sextile between the Leo moon and Saturn in Libra to reaffirm a relationship by doing something fun, like dancing, playing tennis, or taking a walk together.

Apr 8, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 26

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Luis Li Attempting Not to Raise the Judge's Ire

The day started with a bit more legal wrangling. I missed most of it due to other pressing news events taking up all the CNN feeds... and of course the Cayce Anthony pretrial hearings. I did catch bits and pieces, however, on In Session. The major concern seemed to be getting on with the limiting instruction so that the jury has some idea in what context to view the testimony of all these ghastly, horrifying, very bad for James Arthur Ray, prior sweat lodges.

Luis Li broke the issue down for Judge Darrow.

Li: I think the jury has to be reminded that the state must prove everything beyond a reasonable doubt. And so this instruction hued very closely to not only rule 404b but to the court's ruling of uh, of February 3rd, 2011. And it's critical that it be given because what's happening is the evidence is getting just so...

Darrow: Just a minute Mr. Li. Thank-you.

Li: Well, it's a good chance for me to use a different word than mushed. The evidence is getting conflated and, and, and, combined into an unidentifiable mess. And it's up to the court t' -- we' -- and what I mean by that your Honor is that, uh

Darrow: Again, I'm thinking about everything that came in the opening and all the other evidence and, and I'm just puzzled by that, but go ahead.

Li: Your honor, I apologize for the characterization if it...

Darrow: No, I see a lot of characterizations in things that get filed and believe me I'm gonna only look at the substance...

Li: And I appreciate that.

Darrow: You can characterize it how you wish.

Li: I appreciate that your honor and I will, I will attempt to characterize it in a way that doesn't raise the court's ire.

Apr 7, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 25

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Luis Li Demonstrates Impressive Printing Skills

Luis Li began his cross examination of Ted Mercer by asking a bunch of questions about the Hamiltons regarding things he wouldn't know anything about. He asked if he knew Angel Valley was registered as a ministry or if he knew that the Hamiltons were ordained ministers in the Order of Melchizedek. Mercer knew they were ordained but didn't know in what. Of course Li's absolute murder of the word Melchizedek probably didn't help. Did Mercer know that Angel Valley has tax exempt status? No.

Then Li asked him if he knew that Angel Valley charged Spiritual Warrior participants who stayed there $1600? He had no idea what they charged. Were they allowed to charge like that as a ministry? Mercer did not know that either.

Wouldn't those be better questions for, I don't know, the Hamiltons? But of course Li's not asking to get answers. He's asking to get that information in front of a jury without qualified answers.

It amuses me that Li is acting like he has sticker shock over the Angel Valley rates when he's representing a client who was charging nearly $10,000 a head... not including room and board.

Apr 6, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 24

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

James Ray: Hunk or Charlatan? Discuss.

Connie Joy and Lori Lovens are two of the bright, capable survivors of James Ray's self-improvement program who give the lie to stereotypes of Ray's followers as weak, gullible, and desperate. Both have written books sharing what drew them in to Ray's web and the events that caused them both to extricate themselves.

Tragedy in Sedona: My Life in James Arthur Ray's Inner CircleConnie Joy is a veteran of numerous James Arthur Ray events and seminars, including the 2007 sweat lodge. Like many people that year, she was made quite ill by the heat. Even so, it took the discovery that money she and her husband Richard had "invested" in the World Wealth Society all went to lining Ray's pockets, instead of charitable purposes, to finally break from Ray. In this wonderful interview on A Book and a Chat Joy breaks down the realizations she had before and after separating from Ray. I highly recommend taking in this one hour discussion which can still be heard on BlogTalk Radio.

I originally posted on Connie Joy here after hearing her interviewed on In Session. I find her first-hand observations on Ray's machinations to be astute, insightful, and compelling. She speaks from a place of having been immersed in something only to later understand how much she and her husband had manipulated. In this interview she explains how Ray utilizes Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and group hypnosis in his seminars. She and her husband, who have always been cautious and conservative with their money, found themselves very uncharacteristically paying out huge sums to Ray before having their rude awakening.

Apr 5, 2011


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Shamanism and the Trickster

"The Trickster cannot be trusted," writes author Lewis Hyde, "It is a contact that puts us slightly at risk; we open ourselves to disruption whenever we call on him." But it is that opening that allows miracles, the impossible, surprise and the reversal of fortunes. Work with the Teacher supports us in our mastery along the steady path of our lives. However it is the Trickster who reveals the short cuts that allow us to get there-to the full, loving expression of our soul's true purpose-while we are still young enough to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, this week as we explore the ways that we unwittingly cut off The Teacher in our lives, relying instead on old, soul-killing patterns of judgment, control, and distrust. Yet even when we are at our most wretched, positional and righteous in our suffering the Teacher-usually in the guise of the Trickster-is there to open the way back to balance and wholeness. Author Lewis Hyde explains that the trickster made the world as we actually find it. Other gods set out to create a world more perfect and ideal, but this world--with its complexity and ambiguity, its beauty and its dirt--was trickster's creation, and the work is not yet finished. Join us as we explore the art of the Teacher and within that, the life saving, sacrifice demanding, crazy logic of the Trickster.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Apr 4, 2011

Mr. Deity Explains the Barbecue

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

My daughter has been coming home with concerns about heaven and hell. The things kids pick up on the streets these days. You try to protect them from dangerous ideas but, honestly, it gets more and more challenging all the time.

Apr 3, 2011

Horoscope for April 4-10

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

Aries (March 21st - April 20th)
An overhaul unlike any you have ever had before is possible this week, Aries. You are likely to be in an extremely alert, critical frame of mind that won't let anything slide by if you feel a reaction to it. Obviously, this will create some interesting situations when you begin to examine work mates, house mates, or life mates. Reinventing yourself affects everyone in your sphere of influence. Some may be surprised by your behavior or the things you are beginning to express. On the job, you could begin doing tasks for which you have no formal training, but possess a natural talent. Your work situation may become complicated if you outperform someone and they feel insecure or jealous. Asking for a raise or increasing your fees could stir things up, too. Your partner and family will be running behind you, trying to slow you down or irritating you with their dense questions or limiting views. You may feel like a super-human, but they're afraid you will crash and burn. If you think it may help, assure them you have a sky full of planets in your sign backing you up now.

Taurus (April 21st - May 20th)
Issues of faith, belief, and trust may arise for you this week, Taurus. Security is very important to you and lately you may be feeling unstable. Perhaps the little material, worldly concerns have been piling up or the bigger "meaning of life" question has been turning your attention within for answers. How can life be so wonderful and beautiful and terrifying and ugly all at the same time? You may be dealing with dishonesty or misrepresentation or discovering that doctrines you believed are false or organizations you thought were legitimate are not. It may be your job to call attention to something that just isn't right. Only you can decide for yourself what is best for you, no matter what the issue. As the week progresses, you stand strong in your new course of action, feel better about yourself, and address the things that are making you feel unhappy or insecure.

Astrological Trends for April 4-10

Cross-posted from Aloha Astro

Mercury retrograde issues may annoy or upset you on Monday, April 4th, as the moon in the cardinal fire sign of Aries joins retrograde Mercury, the planet of thought and communication, in Aries. On the positive side, this conjunction can help you identify which things need the most going over by tuning in to your emotional responses when you think about them. Mars is also conjunct Uranus in the sign of Aries, adding more quickness, impulsiveness, and fire to the already strong Aries energy. Genius solutions or ideas may stay in the planning stage until Mercury turns direct on the 23rd of April. Like the expression goes, "The faster you hurry, the behinder you get." But wait! There's even more Aries energy with Jupiter, the benevolent planet of growth and expansion, conjunct the sun in Aries. Worried that all the fire is heating your life up too much? This is one instance where an opposition can be a good thing. Currently, the sun and Jupiter in Aries oppose Saturn in Libra. The icy coolness of Saturn and the critical, reasoning nature of Libra will act like air conditioning when all the Aries planets get you fired up or hot under the collar. All those Aries planets would like to do things without considering the consequences, but a retrograde Mercury and an opposition to Saturn put some safety measures and stopgaps in place. The earthy, romantic, sensual sextile between Venus in Pisces and Pluto in Capricorn is still in place, blessing lovers, artists, and hedonists with heightened senses. Inspirational Neptune in the final degree of the inventive and future-oriented fixed air sign of Aquarius is semi-sextile the pairing of Mars and Uranus in Aries. This "weak" minor aspect could actually bring changes in technology or political reform that have a significant long-lasting effect. Later this afternoon, the Aries moon forms a supportive sextile to Neptune as Neptune leaves Aquarius and enters the mutable water sign of Pisces and joins Chiron in Pisces. You may feel romantic or nostalgic as a result of this aspect. Make new memories with your family or revisit old ones by pulling out the photos or videos. It is also an excellent influence for healing broken communication or misunderstandings between family members or turning your own problems over to a Higher Power for healing. Sometimes giving up is the best way to win a battle. The moon conjunct Mercury is also semi-sextile the Mars/Uranus conjunction in Aries, indicating that when you release your attachment to something, a change in circumstances can happen swiftly and unexpectedly. At bedtime, the moon enters the grounded fixed earth sign of Taurus. With the Taurus moon sextile Neptune and Chiron, you are practically guaranteed a restful sleep full of sweet dreams, especially if you act on the romantic and sensual energy of this lunar aspect. It has me humming "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics.

Apr 1, 2011

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial: Day 23

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Fawn Foster

The day started with more legal wrangling, with Tom Kelly looking like the cat who'd swallowed the canary through most of it. He got little to no resistance to his request to use the prior acts of today's witness for impeachment purposes. Judge Darrow excluded an old DUI and one other, but he was left with a couple of felony convictions he could work with. He looked cheerful and even engaged in a little friendly banter with Bill Hughes.

Prosecutor Sheila Polk quickly seized the high ground, however, by starting her direct examination laying out the witness's convictions for false reporting to police and drug paraphernalia. And witness, Fawn Foster, completely seized the day by being forthright, honest, and humble about her own history. Going to prison was the "biggest blessing that ever happened," she said. She had left prison with "a new attitude, a new set of teeth, and just a whole new life." She owes her sobriety to the criminal justice system and she's been clean and sober since 2006.

It's hard to impeach someone who is as open as Fawn Foster. And there is just no artifice to this woman.

Foster is an employee of Angel Valley Ranch and brims with affection and gratitude for her opportunity to clean toilets, kill weeds, and work in the kitchen. In 2008, her stepson was working there as a chef and called her in when they were short-staffed. She has been there ever since.

Opinions and ideas expressed in the comments on this page
belong the people who stated them. Management takes no
editorial responsibility for the content of public comments.