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Last tweaked March 23, 2023

Come on, spring!

"They took a well balanced spiritual place and ruined it. The managers don't care about their guests or their employees. It was hard to watch the place turn into something less spiritual and free-minded."

      -- former SMS front desk receptionist on indeed.com


"This used to be one of the most sacred places in my life and it is beyond heartbreaking what has happened here. Truly a great loss for the west coast community. No more Bathhouse... It got bought by city folk who care not for anything but their profit and are anything but spiritual. People like that should not buy sacred lands."

  -- Down T., Nevada City, CA, 4-19-21 Yelp review


______________

New Stewart 'ownership's' plague of

reprehensibly misguided intent

See below. Also 12-Part Series, New Day Dawning and intro to Rants & Raves

Quick take: bathhouse closed permanently as far as present 'ownership' is concerned. Tubs torn out to re-purpose building (reportedly rescued by local for safekeeping); lodgings now only open for booked group retreats -- no more individual visits (and no spa to even entice one.) Name of place officially changed. Stewart Mineral Springs website scrapped. Operation, a separate for-profit legal entity under Pneuma, its  nonprofit umbrella, reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection a while back.

More reposted online review excerpts:

"There are years of magical energy, prayers and love that have been steeped into this place; now it feels like it is being erased."

-- Michele Feasby, Instagram post, 2018

"The new owners have changed the very fiber and culture of the space we have all loved for decades."

-- Anu H., Nevada City, Yelp review 

"Apparently change of ownership can be a killer for sacred places..."

-- Vladimir V, San Bruno, CA Yelp review


A 2020 Yelp review re-posted in its entirety:

"I'm writing to express deep sadness and profound disappointment at the Pneuma group for dismantling the bathhouse - the bathtubs and rooms have been removed, and the place renovated to be a 'retreat space'.


"The springs are a sacred place offering healing waters to people who came from around the world for decades. This is not a place 'owned' by anyone - it is meant to be stewarded by whoever manages the land. Now, the Pneuma group, a non-US organization in a quest for money, has taken out the baths and the bathhouse [Ed. - or at least in a quest to gain total control of the realm to do their own thing, mitigating overhead by renting out remaining facilities to tradition-indifferent outside groups].


"There are no more springs for anyone to benefit from. Pneuma has violated a sacred trust and duty to preserve an ancient, unique resource and sacred site. Ironically, they now hold 'chakra and mantra' workshops in the space previously provided for people to explore the inner realms on their own.


"They are capitalizing on the destruction of a place they clearly don't understand and should not have been in control of. There are no words for the violation of their responsibility to steward this sacred place. Shame on you, Pneuma."

      -- Benicia B., S.F., Yelp review 8-11-20 

This review was soon deleted from Yelp site, not even left in "not currently recommended" bin near bottom like some of more controversial or irrelevant postings. No need to wonder why: speaking truth to power touches the forbidden third rail, shocking to the running of any ethically compromised, nontransparent operation.


Excerpt from same poster's 12-12-21 Yelp update:

"This non-US group has completely erased a site long considered a sacred healing site through generations. Now they host silly retreats about faux shamanism and hock their pseudo spirituality. Where before this was a place of refuge, it is now an empty shell. Avoid this place and the indelible grief that permeates it."



"The love seems missing from the place - 

it has a  more clinical feel to it"

-- Leo H, Los Gatos, CA Yelp review, c. 2018

"We noticed a change in vibe as soon as we opened the door to the office. Gone were all the beautiful pictures of Shasta and crystals as well any ambiance at all."

-- Beth C., Oakland, CA Yelp review, c. 2018

" It is sad the new owners took a good thing and

changed it so drastically ..."

-- Gretchen G., Mt. Shasta, CA Yelp review, c. 2018


What the #%[email protected] happened to

Stewart Springs??!

Click title for 12-part sussing, including recent history, by former longtime volunteer, along with strategy to rescue place. See also below, entire page, including op-ed and re-posted sweat lodge ban rants (scroll way down). Over half the site now addresses current dilemma, what led to it, and visualizing redemption of now-kidnapped beloved realm 

Furor over Kicking out Sacred Sweat Lodge

 December 2017

scroll two-fifths down this page 

Rants on Banning Clothing-Optional

 (click above & scroll 3/4 down)

First New "Owners" in 34 Years

as of January 19, 2016

(click and scroll past long editorial conclusion)



Paradise Lost?

Springs's 'Remote Stewarding':

From Bad to Worse

Updated November 2022


by Stuart Ward

__________

Recent years' enormous changes everywhere naturally included the Springs...


...but even before the pandemic hit, forcing the initial temporary closing of Stewart's bathhouse, turnover in absentee 'owners'  in January 2016 had already radically changed the place once the initial nine month, de facto grace period lapsed.

During those first months things stayed pretty much the same, including management, clothing-optional policy and weekly public-friendly sweat lodge ceremony. So much so, many people assumed 'ownership' change came only much later, on seeing new faces, atmosphere and attitude at the front desk -- or later yet (May 2020), on the stunning announcement of abandoning spa service.


At first the only sign of devastating waves of change to come -- besides an actual one on the sundeck door in amazingly small print, announcing the pending ban of clothing optional policy -- had been a seemingly innocent tiny stone Inca figurine placed at the base of tree by the cold plunge area. Looking back, it was like a planted seed patiently biding its time.

Soon enough all hell would break loose.


Drastic changes -- first banning clothing-optional, then a year later kicking out the sweatlodge for 45 years open weekly to the public by love offering -- made for sudden, SERIOUS disenchantment among countless fans and supporters. Visitorship tanked overnight. Only a reported sputtering of new visitors beyond outfit's own affiliated groups, family, and friends --  plus the usual straggle of non-discriminating and/or uninformed -- ever seemed to fill the yawning chasm.

The place's once robust revenue stream has been drying up ever since -- needlessly in the eyes of spring devotees -- leaving the operation treading water or sinking for having unapologetically private-minded designs on the 'property' they legally snagged.  Purely to further their own interests they messed with the rare institution's nearly century-and-a-half-old sterling tradition of providing the greater public an affordable purifying, healing and rejuvenating spa and retreat...


...a tradition that in recent decades embraced clothing-optional and weekly sacred sweat lodge ceremonies, which together greatly enhanced the synergy of the place, making the visiting experience feel more inclusive, free minded and liberating.

Had it only been minor changes suiting absentee stewards' lifestyle values and ways, like putting little personal imprints on things and fine-tuning policies, that would've been one thing.


But no. They willfully destroyed wholesale decades of cultural evolution and down-home dedication to affordable natural purifying, healing and rejuvenating 


They mindlessly obliterated the place's casual relaxed air, so critical to the effective operation of any genuine spa retreat worth its salt. They showed how little interest they had in working to preserve and further the longtime dedicated service, appreciated the world over.


Shocking re-purposing of bathhouse

Then came the pandemic, and a few months later, on May 1, 2020, over four years after assuming legal title, came a stunning announcement -- their first general-public online communication ever beyond copy sizzle -- of the "painful" decision to close the bathhouse...permanently.


While other regional rural spring resort spa compounds also had to close over Covid concerns, they were relatively thriving before it hit and will undoubtedly bounce back as the ostensible pandemic fades away. (Some have long since re-opened, at first with restrictions, like Harbin, requiring masks even in soaking pools and sauna; and Jackson Wellsprings, now a mix of walk-in hours and reserved times).

With Stewart's already wobbling on the ropes due to the fan-base rejecting the new overseers' wonky, depressingly diversionary plans, which included banning c/o and kicking out the sweatlodge -- changes, again, made long before the virus ever showed up -- there's no telling what might now lie in its future.


Pessimists assume the worst, thinking the place is gone forever. Optimists patiently wait for Pneuma's "covetous fever" infection to run its course before appropriate new stewardship come to the rescue. Realists say it could go either way...perhaps depending on whether or not enough fans collectively visualize the current 'owners' coming to their senses, abandoning their half-baked schemes, 'selling' at a fair price, and an enlightened new stewardship working to redeem the realm.

Judging from their website (and the visitor review re-posted near top of this page), the absentee stewards -- oxymoron if ever there was one -- were dead serious about their stated intention to re-purpose the bathhouse into an extra retreat and workshop space or some such. The historic spa center would reincarnate in 2023 as...Shambala House. (Shamelessly Gutted Bathhouse might be a more appropriate name.)   see New Day Dawning

Writer's not fully certain if the wonky repurposing plan was announced before or after the pandemic hit...but if before, as strongly suspected, it would indicate nothing less than the premeditated murder of the beloved 145 year-old institution...and along with it the abiding universal spirit of a grounds long dedicated to affordably serving the health and well being of the greater public.

If made after -- as it seemed 'owners' might've wanted to make appear was the case -- the pandemic provided one incredibly convenient, quasi-plausible excuse for taking such drastic action. In the fog of historic global disruption of 'normal' life, it appeared only to be joining the meltdown of countless other businesses that had operations bite the dust or were forced to take drastic measures to keep afloat.  

In any event, anyone who's ever felt an abiding fondness the place doubtless viewed the series of unconscionable changes as mindbogglingly inappropriate, dumbfoundingly nutzoid and unspeakably shameful...defying as they did the realm's age-old, extraordinary tradition: offering the public natural healing, rejuvenation and lodging in a relaxed, unassuming, affordable manner...


...and if they've an ounce of conscience, it's an attempt they'll come to regret, if they don't already.


Again, writer suspected the conversion plan was dreamed up early, perhaps even before the actual sale went through...in any event, long before a steep reality check on what's vital (and what isn't) to human welfare and mankind's collective higher fulfillment was delivered to their now semi-private banquet table in these radically changing times.


In due course, such emerging new realities might well evaporate the baldfaced, public-be-damned attempt to co-opt the global public's beloved healing retreat.

Their posted sizzle of coming attractions might prove little more than a rapidly fading fantasy.


The posted mission statement on the new Pneuma Retreat Center site fairly gave away through careless spelling its perhaps less than altruistic intent: "Our mission is to inspire and support people and communities that are working to create an awakend humanity." Awakend humanity? Sounds scary. Mad scientists spearheading some grand mutation experiment, maybe?


In recent decades the place became wildly popular as a de facto rural community center for the wider region as well as a rendezvous and destination point for myriad travelers both domestic and international. Many fans believe any attempt to willfully alter such a treasured institution just to suit some inappropriate, private-minded interest, is guaranteed to fail in the long run.


As others have said in reviews (see re-posted reactions to the sweatlodge removal a ways below), it's likely only a matter of time before the land rejects them -- fundamentalist-leaning 'bourgeois spirituality', convoluted psycho-babble and all (God love 'em anyhow).  


Why anyone ostensibly in the healing field would ever choose to heap such horrible karma on themselves defies all comprehension.


Their justification was doubtless that since they'd forked over a small fortune ($2.6 million US) to gain legal title, they'd gained the inviolable right -- private property rights being sacred in the divisionary materialistic world -- to do with it whatever the heck they wanted. They probably knew they'd have a tough row to hoe, what with myriad fans' longtime attachment to the place. Maybe they hoped they'd all just fade into the sunset once getting a brief royal snit fit out of their systems. Defeated, fans would sigh and move on with a wistful, "Oh, well, nice while it lasted" resignation.


Initial suspicions

Cynic in the builder of this part Stewart Springs blog, part history, part review- and article-re-posting site first thought their 5-1-2020 announcement of the "permanent" closing of bathhouse was maybe only the latest ploy (banning c/o being the first, kicking out the sweatlodge the second) to get the general public so pissed, they wouldn't care WHAT the hell they did with the place anymore.


Then, at some future point, they'd quietly re-open bathhouse spa for their own exclusive use -- once beyond the radar of outraged public scrutiny that'd been raining on their parade ever since c/o ban and sweatlodge eviction, putting a serious crimp on ever enjoying 'their' brand new, misappropriated land.


But THEN (rendering writer's suspicion baseless) they shut down the bathhouse permanently...and actually tore out the tubs, fully intent on re-purposing the building, sending public outrage into the stratosphere. (Wondered if maybe they kept the two tiled tub stalls intact that they took forever, years earlier, fancying up -- replete with over-elaborate, blindingly shiny, expensive plumbing hardware -- for high muckety-mucks to indulge in a royal soak every now and then.)


Obviously, it turned out they were dead serious on intent to scrap the bathhouse spa  -- based on credible reports of others, that is; writer hasn't set foot on the grounds since December 2017.


The dastardly deed was done with unspeakable disregard of the realm's legacy: providing seven generations of affordable natural purification, healing and rejuvenation in a nature-rich retreat. One devastated person called their actions  "a crime against humanity", a sentiment no doubt shared by desolated fans everywhere.


They'll surely learn in time that the sale of the 'property' was a 'legal' transfer in itself doesn't mean diddly-squat beyond the three-dimensional material realm and seen in the spheres of spiritual law, universal compassion and cherished public sentiment.


Rise of the control freaks

In the 2020 book Twilight of Democracy, The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, by Pulitzer prize winner Anne Applebaum, it's argued by a behavioral economist quoted that in any country a third of the population has a authoritarian-leaning disposition (vs. libertarian).  It's a frame of mind that "wants to overthrow, bypass, or undermine existing institutions, to destroy what exists." Interestingly, this third includes both the far right AND the far left together. One in three; a sobering thought if true.


Such are discomforted by the complexity brought by inclusiveness and diversity -- qualities the Springs held in at least some measure -- finding escape-from-freedom relief and comfort in  the uniform sameness and tight regimental order and an omniscient leader telling them exactly what to do and how to think.


So what's happening with the Springs is perhaps only a reflection of recent global polarizing of societal energies in which minority thinking got a tenuous foothold on things for a while, making matters needlessly unpleasant and trying for the two-thirds majority of more freedom loving, public-minded beings.


(Unrelated...a renowned financial analyst, the late Larry Edelson, discovered what appears to be a major 80-year war cycle in both America and beyond:  1780, American Revolution; 1860, Civil War; 1940, World War II. Now we're in the 2020's... Pray for peace.)

Shedding light

Back to the sorry plight in our own neck of the woods... The mindblowingly shocking magnitude of the detour of the place totally flies in the face of the claim reported by former manager Rowena, that on purchasing they told her they liked the place 'pretty much just the way it is' (if true, obviously they were lying through their teeth).


It might well make one wonder how such an ignominious fate could've ever befallen the  realm in the first place.

By examining the history of the Springs, both recent and older, this site hopes, among other things, to shed light on WHY such a thing did happen...and ultimately remind fans that such a lamentable fate is NOT written in stone, that the situation is not irreversible, that one shouldn't abandon all hope for the place.


The way the fans choose to view it is critical to the chances of saving it.


With enough envisioning a future with the realm again serving as a viable community resource and healing center for greater humanity under new, hands-on, progressive stewardship, it CAN be manifested in the fullness of time. 

 A new reincarnation... place rescued by enlightened, public-minded investors and benevolent supporters, everyone who see it as the invaluable mystical rural healing realm and community treasure it is/was. One to be enjoyed by all, especially nature loving, holistic thinking, growth-minded people. One integrated at last with an infectious can-do spirit and grounded community involvement (as is hour-distant Jackson Wellsprings, just north of Ashland, Oregon, off highway 99).


IF ENOUGH conscious beings visualize the best of all

possible futures for the place, in due course it WILL manifest. 


January 19, 2021 marked five years of the dubious new 'ownership'. If they'd plotted some five-year plan, possibly they stepped up planned changes when Covid hit, offering plausible cover for scrapping spa service ahead of schedule.


But, dare one hope, maybe they'd given themselves five years to turn the place around to suit their misguided purposes and make the operation profitable or at least semi self-supporting and now see the writing on the wall. Maybe even now they realize they were in abject denial for thinking they could ever pursue such a diversionary fantasy there, and now reality's proven it unworkable and highly inappropriate. Maybe by now they're starting to feel duly chagrined and are at least toying with the idea of relocating elsewhere and surrendering the place to some willing, appropriate stewardship at a fair-minded price.


Regardless of actual time frame, if enough far-flung friends of Stewart Springs envision such an outcome, it could very well happen.


Call it the thousandth monkey effect.

Bleak events leading

to current dire straits

Following a momentous Springs visit by new 'owners' from Los Angeles, Mexico and South America in mid December 2017, the springs's operation suffered the final deal-breaking sea change in the eyes of the place's myriad fans.


Longtime general manager Rowena P. was at last stepping down -- two years AFTER the sale. She'd acted mostly by remote from hundreds of miles away during the last two of a controversial, health-plagued, 12-year profit-driven run while a non-empowered, on-site staff rubber-stamped

strict marching orders from new 'owners' passed through her. THEN a new on-site management was finally brought on board, long-range plans ratcheted up and they really went to town.

From frying pan to fire

Within a week, the spring gazebo's prayer altar was emptied and the 45-year sacred sweatlodge kicked off land -- last straw for countless fans a year after banning incredibly popular clothing-optional had shocked many senseless.  A once-magical realm, suddenly radioactive with lost heart, destroyed culture and blinded vision, was instantly shunned by countless who'd cherished and supported the place for decades.

Shameless flasher website

A year later, in 2019, coinciding with the third year anniversary of the wa-y-y absentee new 'ownership' on January 19 (in noteworthy, most peculiar synchronicity, also the grand re-opening date three years earlier of Harbin Hot Springs), they replaced the old creaky tiny-print website with a short-lived streamlined one. (All pretense was abandoned after the roundly public rejected their watered-down, oppressive spa change, and one was simply redirected to the Pneuma site.)

Loaded with eye-catching graphics, slick text bites and shameless flashers, the site confirmed suspicions of most: when not enjoying their little Shangri-la themselves and running private workshops, the seemingly tone-deaf, hospitality-indifferent 'ownership' appeared out, by coasting on place's reputation, to attract more upscale, urban, flirting-with-awakening visitors...those less into grokking profound spa purification and rejuvenation than throwing disposable income at promise of some vaguely pleasant, nominally healing, tightly packaged country resort escape... or maybe just after a bare-bones overnight lodging in the boonies...


...plus those maybe wanting to book spiritually-focused events, workshops, weddings, or retreats and didn't seem to mind too much how the former casual, open-minded atmosphere had been heedlessly scrapped and replaced by a wound up one that put such an unapologetic

choke-hold on the realm's former open-minded, quasi bohemian energies that it beggared belief. 


No matter that the mindful, low-key radical body freedom of simple nudity, which had allowed one to experience profound, often instantaneous re-integration of body, mind and spirit, was suddenly verboten. It was as if overnight the place's low key, mindful body freedom had become distasteful, disrespectful, immoral.


Or that the beloved historic bathhouse's seven-generation-long, grand dedicated tradition of offering powerful healing mineral-water purification to the planet had been ao matter-of-factly gutted.


Or how 45-year sacred Karuk sweatlodge, anchoring countless visitors in down-to-earth communion and celebration of life and grokking ancient ways of Native American culture ns providing unique spiritual understanding, was unceremoniously kicked off the land.


Or that the people's altar of love and gratitude offerings in the old spring gazebo above the creek was torn down, initially replaced with a cheery sign reading:

No Trespassing - Violators will be Prosecuted


With that sign, from the very get-go they'd tipped off a hard-ass attitude of "the public be damned; it's our baby now and we'll do whatever the hell we please with it; so go jump in a lake (not our creek) if you don't like it". (Sign was likely prompted by curious visitors who'd climb over the gazebo railing to check out adjoining neglected sacred red spring.)

2020 vision &

coronavirus outbreak

2020 started out so promising... number the very hallmark of clear vision...then the dread virus struck and things got blurry fast. Almost overnight, 'normal' life on the planet vanished.  

Coronavirus pandemic concerns soon seemed to preempt everything. What was or wasn't happening at Stewart's suddenly became of little or no interest to most...with the possible exception of the dumbfounding 'owner' announcement May 1, 2020, of the decision to permanently close bathhouse and, soon after, as indicated elsewhere on their site, revealing their plan to re-purpose the building to make more retreat and class space (gutting the tubs of course not even being mentioned)...and the heck with continuing to offer the long accustomed mineral baths and saunas and cold plunges.


Apparently spa service was never any more abiding interest. Their watered-down, mandatory cover-up variety that fans, used to precious body freedom, spurned was maybe offered just for appearance sake, knowing it would go over like a lead balloon.  It provided a quasi plausible excuse to get rid of spa service altogether.  (Either that or they'd've maybe been okay with a watered-down, mandatory cover-up spa and really thought it might fly, but when that was rejected they simply decided to scrap the entire operation, no problemo.)

Again, that seemed to be the official time-line decision...that it was only AFTER the pandemic that they decided to make the tough call, done ever so regretfully, crocodile tears falling like rain, the sacrificial lamb slaughtered in order to further their own projects.


But writer seems to remember their site long ago, pre-Covid, talking up some mysterious Shambala House. It was baffling, as could not place any such structure on grounds beyond the already mentioned A-frame, restaurant, and conference hall. 


Then at some point they added pictures to the text...of the bathhouse.


To writer's knowledge, it's the first time the bathhouse had been shuttered since the 1980s beyond

a week for annual maintenance and long-ago seasonal winter closings (the latter of which ended in late 1999, when the place at last went year-round).

Drastically ending bathhouse operation might, again, ultimately prove that the unwieldy, exclusive-minded intentions of the 'absentee stewards' are too sketchy and inappropriately diverting from the place's former dedicated focus to ever pan out and be supported -- maybe even by their own rank and file ... the grandiose dream of adapting the legally-kidnapped Springs for specialized private use, a few outside-groups subsidizing costs, going over like a lead balloon ... on one level aided and abetted by the advent of current transformation-minded populace forces insisting on a more just, fair, and sustainable world for everyone sharing the ride aboard this little azure ball whirling through the heavens.

Countless fans hold that "buying" the de facto historically public-serving, dedicated spa retreat did NOT entitle them to do with it whatever they wanted to.


Not without serious consequence. The resulting Mt. Everest of bad karma is such that one would think anybody truly conscious and awakened (vs. just awakned) -- mindful of the land and its long-steeped tradition of true public service, healing and simple hospitality -- would've never even dared THINK of  pursuing such a senseless course.

But again, possibly in the back of such expedience-friendly thinking in their far-away realms they've been mulling over the situation.


Maybe they are even now considering divesting of the place if it indeed appears their diversionary fantasy is going bust and pockets aren't deep enough to keep pouring cash into a bottomless pit.


 



Place revalued

in time. Move check-in to inside front gates?

Places like Stewart's are gaining critical new importance in these rarefied times...  More than ever it deserves a new, service-dedicated stewardship, one willing to establish a nonprofit labor of love that in time will pay for itself -- follow the bliss and the money will follow. Maybe it's years down the road -- or it could happen tomorrow. (Who knows anything for sure these days except that only love is real?)


Such places, nestled in the clean simplicity of regenerative nature and offering the simple natural medicine holistic-minded beings crave, serve as much needed sanctuaries for an awakening, if now much bent, humanity.


Bathhouse operation could resurrect -- with vital aid of plumbing aces who can suss out and reactivate the intricate mineral water heating and delivery systems now idled, mineral water going unused into the creek  -- under new, hand-in-glove stewardship that naturally inspires a widespread involvement and support by the countless de facto friends of Stewart Springs. 


Possibly over time there could emerge a brand-new bathing compound, one of inspired and practical design, tearing down the current one. Historic sentiment aside, it never did have an optimal spa layout for maximizing the easiest and most blissful spa experience. Critically, it wasn't separated from the distracting hubbub of office and revved-up arrivals fresh off the road, or the frequent laundry room churn. It had people excitedly chatting right outside one's tub stall, its 3/4 wall letting sound spill over; head bonker ceiling beams for anyone over 6'3"; plus all the maintenance and employee break room chatter, massage meet-ups, outdoor employees coming in and marching up to the one refreshment station located right by tub rooms and sauna...


Barring tackling such an ambitious and costly project, the existing bathhouse could at least be reconfigured to move laundry work and the office elsewhere and converting the current office to, say, a long needed steam room. For many love being steam-cleaned as much -- some even more -- as getting dry roasted. And the current tiny private office to the left of the front door might return to serving once again as the historic entrance foyer. It'd make a perfect place to leave shoes in cubbies and thus jump-start getting into the spa zone (taking a page from Oregon's Jackson Wellsprings).


One regular visitor, Tom, decades ago had suggested setting up a check-in booth right inside the front gate, similar to Harbin Hot Springs' former mustering-in procedure.  Then everyone entering the grounds would be checked in and have paid for day use or overnighting before entering the realm proper. A printed paper taped inside windshield with time stamp would keep the status of everyone on track.


Once having paid, maybe first having to wait a few minutes to appreciate the creek song and inviting trees, the sometimes chaotic road energies would settle down, making for a far more focused visit. (A new main office could be built elsewhere, maybe on the former parking lot above bathhouse or on the lot below former sweatlodge.) The sketchy energies of idly curious visitors driving in -- especially voyeurs who used to park along the upper road to blatantly gawk at all the naked people outside below the bathhouse, some with binoculars -- would all become ancient history.


Parking space on the grounds has, alas, always been limited, so maybe offering a discount for visitors ride-sharing would reduce the problem. Some enterprising souls could possibly start up an approved shuttle service at busiest times.








 < Former love offering inside the Spring's mineral water gazebo by the creek. One of two, actually; the other, in A-frame parking area, the county Health Dept. put the kibosh on, citing allowing only one source for some obscure reason; the combined second source had enabled many more people to enjoy soaking in mineral waters in recent times.

In any event, the ongoing global crises might well serve as a grand wake-up call to shake humanity out of its outmoded ways. Such radical changes could enable Stewart Springs to at LONG last get free of its chronic, often-sketchy, woefully dysfunctional, sometimes mindnumbingly inappropriate operational mindsets...and return things to something akin to the way the place began so long ago (in historic 'civilized' times, that is)...a vital, down-home, nonprofit-in-spirit (if not in fact) healing and rejuvenation retreat affordably serving the greater good in a down-home style with a dollop of graciousness, echoing the Stewart family's historic 78-year run.

Stewart Springs only in memory

for now...

...after the once thought inviolable dedication to serving the public by providing a rustic healing spa resort was scrapped with seemingly no more than a passing thought.


But, again, if enough Spring enthusiasts, especially those who have treasured Stewart's as it was before late 2016, 

grok how and why place's once dedicated purifying, healing and rejuvenating focus got so far out of whack in the first place -- through a motley succession of expedient-minded post-Stewart stewards, away from long established, grounded service -- it would energize a quantum shift and manifestation of a new, at long last hand-in-glove stewardship...


...a perfect match according to the lights of genuine rural spa enthusiasts, retreat seekers and nature lovers everywhere.

What blueprint?

The original, long ago public benefit blueprint of founder Henry Stewart and wife -- dutifully followed later by daughter Katy and her husband and a select few other stewards since -- had faded so much over time that, on one level at least, current absentee stewards perhaps can't be blamed for trying to make such a shockingly inappropriate detour from the place's traditional operation. 


For, to the casual eye, looking at the place on its face, it's sterling legacy had faded so much almost as to have never existed.

Briefly visiting as booked groups over the years for workshops and long seeking their own place, Pneuma people and/or their associates had likely one day approached the manager to express possible interest in taking over the place if Foggy wanted to sell and the price was right.


Their hire-ups/funders were perhaps at best little more than remotely aware -- or possibly even concerned  -- of the realm's rich, pure minded public service tradition...one every true-blue spa-culture fan, budding newbie and aware visitor seemed to naturally intuit and resonate with (while doing their best to tune out any bothersome profit- and  excessive control-minded energies)...some even reportedly tuned into a protective angelic presence said to watch over the grounds. (On a lunch break now, maybe?) 


With the then-legal steward failing to appreciate the importance of selling to an appropriate new steward and thus perpetuating the realm's extraordinarily public-minded tradition of the place, it was ripe for the plucking.


Never mind that countless visitors had had life-transforming experiences there. Writer over the years witnessed several -- some in high, wide-open crown chakra meditations, others walking around grounds in profoundly blissful states radiating fifty thousand watt energy fields -- experiencing moments of extraordinary illumination. Writer, while never reaching such rarefied heights himself, had the experience of a lifetime volunteering there in spiritually rewarding joy of service.


It's said that, metaphysically speaking, the vortex energies of the realm magnify whatever energies any beings present choose to focus on.


Such an illustrious past, again, might've been invisible to the casual, less aware observer for having been long hidden under decades of less dedicated, profit- and/or focus-diverted operation. So much so, it made it appear that while the spa service was maybe nice enough for any so inclined, it was no great shakes...and so would be no big loss if scrapped and the bathhouse repurposed just so long as lodging and event space was kept open to groups for enjoying what attractions, both natural and man made, still remained.

Then again, perhaps the essence of their takeover thinking, to the cynical mind anyway, was something along the lines of: "It's a shame what happened to this lovely place. So neglected, so disrespected...and so under-exploited!


"We'll rescue it, fix it up, do our thing here while keeping it open to the public on a limited level, at least for a while...but, owner's prerogative, in  a way...ah, more suitable to our own lifestyle and values and dedication to furthering our own professional shtick. Heck, any spiritual focus at all will be an improvement after the shocking Sodom and Gomorrah the place had sunk to.


"Ultimately, we'll continue to offer it to select outside groups, if only to subsidize our own private gig, perhaps give people a chance to adjust -- not from any love for the great unwashed (gimmeabreak) -- to minimize any unpleasantness.  Heck, we'll transform it to serve our own exclusive gig so gradually, they'll never know what hit them til it's too late. (Ain't power grand?)"  

Intent: after greater wealth? Or just wanting absolute

control to do their own thing and enjoy place privately

while having select public groups subsidize costs a bit?


The current 'stewards'' intent, at least before the 'plague' hit and the bathhouse closed, had seemed to many to be just trying to milk more money out of the place by shifting the customer base and hoping to attract more upscale visitors and groups...those perhaps casually flirting with discovering more mindful ways of living (though naturally still embracing numbed-down body alienation)...those having the desire and money to sign up for their touted quasi-new age, psychotherapy-adjunct training classes and workshops (or rent the grounds for weddings and such)...NOT those already conscious and savvy to genuine, free-spirited rural spa culture, people who were of course summarily dismissed as kinky undesirables.


The double whammy of kicking out the sweatlodge ceremony and banning simple nudity put such a crimp in the place's former spiritual mojo and quasi liberated air that, for countless, it suddenly become Stewart Springs in name only. And their real intent soon became all too painfully obvious once dismantling the bathhouse, vintage clawfoot tubs and all. (And then scrapping their own revised Stewart Springs website, which at first had appeared still spa-dedicated if now slickly commercialized around the edges.)


Sure, for a while you could still get in a decent soak and sauna, maybe even have a pleasant creekside locale for special events and functions...but it was hard imagining anyone the least bit mindful really savoring the spa experience anymore...or any conscious group having anything remotely approaching a full-tilt, bedrock, soul-liberating experience.

To paraphrase a song lyric,  there was whole lot of disconnectin' goin' on.

Overnight, nude became rude

Designed to entrance, the now-deleted, revamped website had worlds more sizzle than substance. Zero info about new invisible remote 'owners' by name. Little to no sense of community.

And the laughable statement about how the new strict cover-up policy was for "a more comfortable environment" made one half-expect to read some reviewer maybe gush how "I experienced such delightful wedgies in the sauna and cold-plunge. Thank you!"

Concern for children's body-alienating programming in progress and foreign-guest sensibilities aside, some might've said such wording essentially translated to:

Now nudity-free to ease the worried minds of body-alienated everywhere, those happy to resist ever re-learning how to feel mindfully at ease out of clothes in natural settings and resenting like hell seeing others doing so, making one feel uptight and reminded how much they're still buying into systemic, age-old body alienation, which so often tends to put people more uptight for being needlessly bound up in defensive cloth armor out of false modesty and a hidebound moralistic mindset.

Whether one availed themselves of clothing-optional or not, it was the linchpin that enhanced the free-spirited healing air of the entire grounds -- the bedrock that enabled a more profound harmonizing with nature -- thus making the place so wildly popular in recent decades ... DESPITE an often-wonky, power-freak, profit-obsessed management.

New 'owners' -- who doubtless love the place too, if in a more controlling, private-minded sort of way -- again, appeared either ignorant of the realm's non-commercial, service-minded legacy or -- chilling if the case -- indifferent to it.


While busy drastically shifting focus, until finally closing the bathhouse they seemed to be catering to more conventional-minded visitors. Those wanting to buy some tastefully bland, warm and fuzzy getaway in boonies, maybe tinker with purifying a bit or get a whiff more enlightened in new, touted workshops and classes...

...happily dropping cash while remaining dutifully shackled in textile chains at the very place that until recently distinguished itself for being that rare oasis, like a handful of sister springs on the West Coast, that allowed visitors the option of mindfully enjoying nude (most of) the spa regimen...

...thereby potentially enhancing the overall comfort and healing benefit from the realm's special waters and transformational energy-amplifying vortex. In the process, visitors often experienced profound, life-changing body acceptance and liberation...if open-minded enough to give it a try and come out of the nudist closet (as it were). For, in their heart of hearts, most everybody -- being born naked -- is, beyond a lifetime of societal conditioning, a natural-born freebody* just waiting to re-emerge.

____________


* With rare exception of, it's said, roughly one percent of population who are classified as gymnophobiacs, or ones having an abnormal fear of nudity -- their own and/or that of others (vs. just a normal fear?).

_____________________


In any event...


...take clothing-optional away and the magic was gone for legions of desolated fans, plus a sea of potential newbies deprived of discovering and enjoying the blessings of nature in the place's uber-relaxed, liberating, free-flowing atmosphere...one that the open-minded (vs. clothes-minded), policy naturally fostered.

Elsewhere on the now-gone site, a rehashed, vague mission state‚Äčment and no-this-and-no-that policy page revealed how the new outfit was definitely NOT into running any public-minded spa service -- especially any shameless pagan one. It had essentially copied the former negative, reactionary, non-transparent operation model but then, critically, added its own fatal, bohemian-culture destroying twist...


..and totally disregarded -- unlike the former 'owner' (who to his eternal credit) let the longtime-local family management team redeem something of place's original spirit if only because it proved great for business -- the altruistic legacy of the pioneer founding Stewart family: providing a pure, love-of-service, de facto nonprofit, healing and rejuvenation retreat for the greater good of humanity.


One that made the place phenomenally popular for having a strikingly unassuming blueprint, running a healing refuge in such a forthright, affordable, folksy manner that people around the world found it an incredibly rare gift and rich blessing in their lives. Over time thousands of international visitors had made Stewart's one of their travel destinations, if not THE central destination.


see Pneuma's site

also SMS  history


Seeking nirvana

via psychotherapy?

New 'ownership' is part of a peripherally spiritual professional organization called the Pneuma Institute.

Into transpersonal psychology, sometimes referred to as the psychology field's 'spiritual' branch, (its efficacy debated by some within the field), the international outfit with apparent Romanian roots appears to explore, analyse, and promote peak experiences, altered consciousness, and enhanced awareness in general that transcend the 'smaller self', which, then combined with conscious breathwork, is worked into an innovative new tool for formal psychotherapy focusing on achieving the transcendent mind state of one's 'greater self.'

It seems that, in case of Pneuma at least, conventional Judaeo-Christian tenets were also thrown into the mix just for the heck of it. (Could imagine almost hearing some in the beginning proclaiming, "We are NOT 'spiritual'...but we ARE religious; so abandon false gods, ye pagans and nonbelievers -- and cover your shame!") Also, various new-age disciplines like yoga and transcendental meditation making for a peculiar hybrid that, for want of any better term, one might call bourgeois spirituality.

Peculiar amalgam's purported central aim: to train therapists and everyday students, in good part through conscious breath technique, to promote reintegration of body, mind and spirit on "profoundly higher levels" of enhanced awareness, thus ultimately helping raise global consciousness.

From website: "We are certain that only through peace born in the depths of our hearts can humans inspire and transmit inner peace to their society and to the world."

No argument there. Sounds great. One not knowing any better reading that might think, 'Well, 'bout time! At last, an aware and conscious Springs stewardship is working to redeem the soul of the place, finally save it from decades of unapologetic commercial exploitation and sad neglect...

...the realm can finally become a reinvigorated, affordable sanctuary grounds promoting higher awareness and natural, organic being...Hallelujah! Turning nature-rich Springs into a thriving, infectiously can-do, community-active oasis that true-blue fans have so long dreamed of...the place finally will join the wider region's other progressive-minded rural spring resorts.

Ojala que; if only...

Pit experience

Alas, current 'owners' of what was for the better part of 147 years an affordable, public-friendly rejuvenating retreat and modest casual resort instead appeared bound and determined to mess with its tradition simply to suit their own private needs...to the point of total ruination as far as a global legion of fans is concerned.


They went worlds beyond the mere jonesin' profit focus of the former 34-year absentee steward, San Francisco based John Foggy. More than just impressing their own conservative mindset on place. For they scrapped the spa outright...in so doing at last showing their true murky colors: intent to totally seize the place in order to pursue their own specialized gig and allow affiliated groups to enjoy it privately, while maybe renting out the grounds now and then to certain select groups to help subsidize costs...


... AND THE PUBLIC BE DAMNED.


It would almost seem that they'd been suffering the public for a while as if only to help pay the freight...and, again, perhaps give once faithful visitors a chance to say goodbye, while gradually unfolding the wonky long-term plans to transform the place ever further away from serving as the low-key, public-friendly spa retreat it'd been forever.


This in shocking contrast to what more than a few genuine-spa enthusiasts have always held the vision of the place becoming...or rather, returning to: in essence (if not in legal fact) a nonprofit purifying, healing and rejuvenating refuge...one embracing the clean simplicity of nature and dedicated to serving the greater good of humanity, thus restoring the founding Stewart family's 78-year-long love-of-service mission... 


...an enterprise well-ensconced in nature that in its 'civilized' variation echoes the timeless First Nations people's profound reverence of land and waters' healing properties...medicine that had possibly saved founder's life as young man and made him a true believer.

   see history

Former everyday visitors of more modest means and bohemian leaning had become barely tolerated (and then only so long as one didn't even dare THINK of skinnydipping), as the outfit attempted cultivating more affluent -- or at least more conventional-minded -- visitors to help cover costs.


Actually, covering seemed to be the main theme all around: covering costs, covering bodies, covering intentions...

Misguided intent, as far as a now-estranged fan base is concerned, seemed to be privatizing or semi-privatizing the place to expedite pursuing and privately enjoying their own peculiar amalgam of psychology shtick, quasi new age applications and conservative social/religious affiliations...


...again, indifferent to or ignorant of the place's historic dedication to providing humanity with an affordable, people-friendly refuge in which to experience deep spa purification, healing and rejuvenation in the welcome arms of nature.

They'd turned  their backs on the countless conscious, growth-minded, spa-savvy visitors, those who deeply valued the place's healing culture -- one any authentic rural mineral spring retreat hopes to cultivate -- plus, again, a teaming sea of others primed to discover and embrace such liberating, nature-rich retreats like long-lost friends.


They all seemed to be thrown out into the cold without a thought.


The unspoken message heard loud and clear: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Away from Stewart Springs'  now-gone official website, the place had all along been referred to as Pneuma Retreat Center. 

Cheshire Cat at Work

The realm of Stewart Springs as countless had known it over long decades was being erased ... not unlike the guiding trail through dark woods in 'Alice in Wonderland', swept away by the big bushy tail of the mischievous Cheshire.

Mediocrity triumphing ingloriously.

Slowly and methodically re-branding and re-purposing the place, if misguided plan ever succeeds long term, the former universal healing refuge would be forever unacceptably subordinated to having the public subsidize the outfit's clinical quasi-new-age shtick as a workshop and event retreat for students, members, employees...plus any event and workshop planners among the public willing to drink the Kool Aid.

Even this, before ending spa service, conceivably might've been at least semi-okay (think California Big Sur's Esalan) IF in the process they hadn't turned  the former quasi-bohemian, free-spirited climate upside down and inside out...which of course they did in spades.

Countless now-bereft fans knew only all too well -- long before they gutted the bathhouse -- how they banned clothing-optional, kicked out the Karuk sacred sweatlodge and emptied the gazebo's prayer/love offering altar. Also, how they upped bath rates -- twice -- took away the free monthly employee bath perk (not even a token discount) and increased the house take on gift shop consignments and masseuse services.

Locals day? Formerly, regional residents got nearly half off; after, only a few token dollars were shaved. "We love our visitors!" the neglected old official Springs site still gushed a whole year after abrupt changes clearly spoke otherwise, sentiment having become a cruel fossilized vestige of kinder times (albeit always ever so tenuous).

"We respect all religions and spiritual traditions," the outfit claimed on its Pneuma website.

Would it were true, but actions belied such noble sentiment. Or could it be that they simply refused to acknowledge ancient earth religions that predate -- and were ruthlessly co-opted by -- organized Judaeo-Christianity?


In any event, Jesus wept. As things stood, it hardly made for a peak experience for any longtime aficionado, somehow unaware of the devastating changes until arriving all psyched...whereupon being shocked senseless.

More of a pit experience.

Such visitors -- before new 'ownership' at last unfurled their dismal colors now snapping in the breeze, striking sorrowful disbelief and righteous indignation in the hearts of the realm's fans everywhere -- were already having many of said transcendent experiences, thank you very much...

...along with altered-consciousness episodes by the truckload...and countless life-liberating, uplifted-awareness, reintegrated body-mind-spirit breakthroughs...all complements of the place's inherent rare earth medicine, deeply experienced for having the freedom to lose unneeded cover if one so chose...no constrictive condom of cloth as it were, dulling and crimping sensory wellbeing and thus profoundly speeding body-mind-spirit integration. Put simply, being in the altogether enabled feeling more together. One more deeply experienced the sauna, coldplunge, and sunning deck's palliative effects, thus matching the experience in one's private, nudity allowed tub.

Such a formerly experienced positive, even euphoric, mindstate was of course something ostensibly valued by the group, at least going by Pneuma's transpersonal psychology mission statement.

Which naturally led one to ask...

What the #%#@! is wrong with

this picture???


Rather than the place being devoted to healing by allowing becoming more one with nature in the eternal present, beyond thought, in the process often experiencing immediate and profound benefit, it became manifestly clear the new outfit appeared hell-bent on co-opting the realm just to further their own gig.


A cynic might've viewed efforts as trying to put God in a box and under a microscope, dissecting and over-intellectualizing transcendental mindstates in some

formalized effort to roll out a lucrative, super-structured enlightenment model for indoctrinating therapists in new ways to aid psychotherapy clients with big bucks festering in distant bergs.


Again, the approach itself might be laudable enough, no doubt doing good for any affluent enough and so inclined to pursue such a formal therapeutic approach, good for what ails you.

 

But, in bitter mind-boggling irony, it was attempted by overhauling Stewart's from being a refuge for the many to immediately benefit from to a place to teach and perpetuate its psycho-therapeutic approach for the few to benefit from over time.


Result? It worked overwhelmingly against the ability of any former everyday trekker with even a whisper of bohemian spirit and affection for genuine spas to any longer enjoy the long accustomed affordable, uplifting reintegration of body-mind-spirit via soak-sauna-plunge...until recently experienced DIRECTLY, immediately, on the spot.

It was a bizarre situation too weird to wrap one's mind around easily -- or  want to even try. For in attempting such focused re-purposing of Stewart's, with the subsequent severe cultural disruption, it only worked to inhibit Pneuma's purported desire to uplift human consciousness...


...except maybe for the well-deserving bourgeois, affluent spiritual babes in the woods enrolling in academic classes, yoga workshops and intensives...and "neon-Jesus-glowing-in-the-dark" (Dylan) assemblages of insider group events; plus general-public Stewart newbies wowed by inherent magic and charm of place regardless of set-up...and, over time, aforementioned therapy patients quietly freaking in distant neurosis-rich cities -- those willing to pay the big bucks to have someone essentially remind them to breathe deep.

Their very mission statement shows a yawning chasm between ostensible goals and a mindset that banned clothing-optional:


"We are living a crucial moment in the history of humanity. New schools, institutes and universities are needed to teach an unbiased type of thinking that can generate a radical change. In turn, this can cause a permanent revolution inside the human being through Love [emphasis added]. Only in this way will it be possible to create a harmonious society." 

Again, true enough words, beautiful, even.

But if the former open-minded clothing-optional policy, implicitly recognizing simple, mindful nudity as a powerful expression of love and harmony, allowing for a more profound healing experience, wasn't generating positive radical change in the hearts of visitors (so long as group energies held together despite absence of more mindful management support), then writer doesn't know what could've -- half as well or a tenth as easily.


Winter outdoor nudity was often for hardcore spa enthusiasts only, cooling down from the sometimes 200 degree F. sauna by plunging into the  sometimes 30 degree F creek and screaming like a banshee, or rolling in the snow, thus embracing hot-cold polarity therapy that the hot-sauna-cold-plunge cycle is full tilt. 


For mindful clothing-optional has the incredible ability to open one to again embrace the physical self and feel newly genuine as when infants and toddlers, thereby almost magically fostering intense reintegration of body, mind and spirit.


The rejected option to pursue conscious freebody awareness obviously has staggering potential to serve as a tool in helping raise planetary consciousness.

So easily fostering positive radical uplift in body-mind-spirit when pursued mindfully, the policy was light years cheaper and FASTER than anything, when experienced in Springs's appropriate nature-rich, purifying-intent environment -- and ratcheted up through the grounds' believed magnifying vortex energies.


But in eyes of new absentee stewards, such an option perhaps made for TOO radical a change. Too uncontrollable. Too California. Too REAL. Too in the moment. It made their own would-be shtick look tame, maybe even lame, in comparison to those embracing mindful body freedom and fast-tracking personal and social radical transformation.


Or they'd been so intent re-purposing the place to suit their own private shtick that, beyond simply rejecting clothing-optional spa, they honestly didn't give a flying leap about providing spa service at all. (Or, again, giving them some benefit of the doubt, maybe a conventional, cloth-bound one they'd've been okay with, but Stewart's ingrained body-liberating, 18-year tradition couldn't be flipped to the old, body-oppressive one, so junking the entire bathhouse operation was the only logical solution,  trying to recycle the valuable space for other uses more in line with their own thing.)


The writer witnessed one he now believes to have been one of Pneuma's high muckety mucks cruising the hall one day early on during the years-long sales negotiations. He was so completely caught up in his own thoughts, walking purposefully and matter-of-factly checking out the space, pointedly ignoring everyone around him as if he were all alone, that it struck me that probably the actual appreciation he held for genuine healing spas would have fit in a thimble with enough room left over to hang out a " Space for Rent" sign.

In a nutshell: immediate affordable soul enrichment and body-spirit-mind healing -- once had by anyone entering  the realm with open mind and heart and willing to embrace nature's wisdom and overcome any lingering exaggerated body self-consciousness (or who didn't get bent out of shape by those who did) -- was indifferently sacrificed...along, now, with the very bathhouse itself, to a mindset promoting a delayed, pricey kind led by professionals invested in super-structured, formalized, tell-me-I'm-not-crazy-Doc psychotherapy...


...all within a new, buttoned-down environment reflecting new 'owners'' conservative ways...


...and, again, place's former time-honored, dedication to healing greater humanity through its rare and powerful mineral waters be damned.

The place's set-up appeared FAR more concerned with perpetuating the Institute first and foremost, its ostensible overarching intent of raising planetary consciousness coming in a distant second.


The outfit's therapeutic approach, to any with a cynical turn of mind, seems mostly aimed at those with more dollars than sense, ones who think you must pay, and pay dearly, to attain any spiritual enlightenment and peace of mind.

Not to be a johnny one-note here (okay, too late), but it bears constant repeating:


Current 'owner' focus and intent has all along thwarted the ability of multitudes of free-spirited, conscious beings to affordably enjoy, unfettered, the beloved realm's powerful healing energies in an open-minded atmosphere for immediate and profound benefit.

With the open healing spirit suddenly as good as banned and bathhouse spa service scrapped altogether, any continuing event organizer is effectively supporting and reinforcing betrayal of place's true spirit with every cent dropped.

Likewise any choosing to work there. They'd been unwittingly or knowingly serving as accomplices. Either concern for making rent eclipsed the certain knowledge the place's unassuming ways had been tossed off like used tissues, or they failed to ever grok the realm's extraordinary public-service legacy in the first place.

It's so depressing, the writer needs a shrink. (Hey, they might be on to something...)


One might suspect the outfit is perhaps all along only flirting with spiritual awareness as a mere adjunct to dry psychotherapeutic approach, keeping it wrapped up in frosty clinical mindset (and incongruously linked to conventional

religious doctrine to boot) rather than letting everyman and everywoman -- that is, any would-be therapy patient -- plunge into enhanced well-being full-on, as Stewart Springs enabled in its own low-key, nature-friendly way...affordably, easily, effectively... allowing for often spontaneously gaining profound body-mind-spirit reintegration through the ultra-relaxing, clothing-optional spa regimen's powerful purifying waters -- thus having zero need for any expensive, drawn-out psychotherapy in the first place!

Sunshine...on

my shoulder

Obviously one of the best arguments for going bare in nature is how (judicious) exposure of one's entire skin to the healing rays of sunshine produces serious vitamin D, activating serotonin in the brain that magically lifts one's mood with the release of feel-good endorphins. It's worlds better, easier, and faster than taking any anti-depressants or undergoing drawn out, pricey therapy.

Nature is the supreme healer.

Some might cynically view the situation as no less than the shrink industry trying to snap up the Springs to sideline its service -- co-opting super-natural therapy, marginalizing it from serious competition in the healing field -- in order to more easily push their own lucrative, intellectually top-heavy, super-structured gig.

It's perhaps not too unlike the status quo resisting legalization of medical cannabis as unfair competition to those pushing often useless, frequently harmful, mad-scientist, laboratory-concocted snake oil remedies euphemistically called pharmaceuticals...


...at least until staking out their OWN budding-market lion's share, that is... protected through lobbied and bought legislators, enacting corporate-friendly policies that in turn squeeze out or force to go outlaw countless small family growers who'd hoped to continue earning their livelihood in a service field long respected and deeply understood.

Not to unduly demonize...

Again, it's not that the outfit doesn't undoubtedly do good. Obviously, there are problems spa treatments alone can't begin to cure.

Pneuma's European-origin eclectic teaching model, rooted in the 1960s' humanistic psychology branch, focuses on achieving positive wellbeing and transcendence rather than seeking out neuroses under every rock. It no doubt works just fine -- but elsewhere, in more consciousness-starved regions time-warped in the old millennium and thriving on such professional specialties of dire necessity, providing a healing tool for those affluent enough to divvy up the big bucks for long-term psychotherapy.

Not in the Future State of California -- leastwise not in the nature-loving, free-spirited, infinity-minded rural TOP of California with the natural spirit lifter of Mount Shasta...and most especially NOT at the ancient mystic healing portal long known as Stewart Mineral Springs.

New wine takes new containers.


Is the rare healing nectar of Stewart Springs realm to be forever watered down and blended for packaged, wine-in-a-box approach, reflecting other regions' and mindsets' enlightenment and self-empowerment levels, just to accommodate an outfit's private-minded bureaucratic needs, conservative mindset and desire to use the place to pursue their exclusive gig?

Those who have cherished the sacred realm's fitfully-free and bohemian minded, sometimes holy-stoned, culture for decades -- despite last 'owner's' offputting profit focus -- hold that the new absentee stewards' intent is NOT in any alignment with Creator's loving universe.


 


Livid Outrage Over Evicting Sacred

Sweat Lodge

and other deal-breakers

Removal of the 45-year Karuk tribe sacred sweat lodge in mid December 2017 sparked a firestorm by stunned Springs visitors on Yelp, Google Review, and SMS Facebook sites -- most posts long since deleted.


The following flurry of excerpted reactions were posted online in December 2017 through January 2018.  The gathered collection reflects perhaps the strongest unified voice ever made of Springs

devotees' love of the sweat lodge and the grounds as a whole...unfortunately coming only after losing the first and now in possible danger of losing the second.


Note: certain passages are emphasized by the editor, by italicizing and/or underlining, but any ALL-CAP words are the reviewers' own.


"You are dead in the water. How dare you ask the tribe to leave...this is OUTRAGEOUS and from someone who has been there, and paid, over 100 times, you will NEVER get my business, nor that of ANYONE I can tell. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME."

     -- Nancy Neubauer, SMS Facebook review

"I am deeply saddened by the new administration...They have chosen to kick out the Native American lodge that has been there for 45 years! This is devastating. I will not come back...I pray for the land and the new owners..."

     -- Carla C., Weed, CA revised Yelp review

"I am so amazed at brazen callous and disrespect of the new 'owners'. To kick first Nation people off of land they have utilized for thousands of years! Shame. I will never be back to the springs under current ownership or practices..."

   -- Jessica Zern, SMS Facebook review

"...the new owners of Stewart Mineral Springs have disallowed the Native American sweat lodge from continuing on their property.

Late revered Karuk  medicine man Charlie Thom led sweat lodge at Springs for decades. His father, then a boy, and grandfather were survivors of the tragic massacre of 1870s at and around tribe's longtime sacred healing land now known as Stewart Springs. They'd been camping further upstream, where it was a bit cooler, during hot summer weather  

It seems as if all their new changes are geared so that they can have a high 'fallutin' retreat center for rich Bay Area folks. Maybe I am missing something and don't know all the facts, but I have heard that us locals will not be welcome there when their ultimate vision of high-end retreat center comes to pass..."

         -- Alan Cooper, SMS Facebook

"...[V]ery sad to find out that the new management has taken away the sweat lodge, not caring one bit for the native people and what it represents to them and all of us. I feel you're taking something away that not only nourishes the community but also bonds, heals and strengthens the community... i refuse to support such blind and money hungry establishments."

   -- Sigfredo Hernandez, Google review

"This USED TO BE MY MOST FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD.....now I can sadly say I will not return until the current owners sell it to better care takers or have a serious 'come to Jesus ' about their HORRIBLE MANAGEMENT.

"I have been a regular devout client for 15 years... I have rented every building on the property and used to come weekly for a decade, I have hosted weekend workshops and many ceremonies and raised my child bringing him to the native sweat lodges.

"The new owners have changed the very fiber and culture of the space we have all loved for decades.

"They have changed their rules around 'clothing optional areas' to a puritan bathing-suit-only mentality. The clothing optional aspect is something that everyone I know that has frequented this healing springs has LOVED about the place.

"After 40+ years of tradition of honoring the Native Americans and providing a place for their Sweat Lodges they have banned this vital and deeply respected aspect of the community from carrying on their sacred ways on their ancestral lands.

"The employees did not seem happy. Their overall practices are a disgrace to the legacy of healing that these springs hold for many many many people. Their lack of care for the local community is shameful.

"The current owners and management have sucked the beauty, joy, innocence and purity from this sacred place with their attempt to sanitize our sacred waters with their mal-intent. There is a deep sadness in my heart, I am praying for change. I deeply look forward to returning to my favorite place on earth...but not as it is now. I will stay positive that change will come."

     -- Anu H., Nevada City, CA, two Yelp reviews combined

"To Stewart Mineral Springs: Where is the sweat lodge? Where will people go for Healing? ...I am dismayed. There is no honor in this."

   -- Susan Shannon, findaspring.com

"I am deeply saddened as I write this review. This place has been the grounds for indigenous ceremonies providing healing and comfort for thousands of people for the last 45 years. New owners have decided to... change the clothing optional policy to clothing mandatory, and removed the people of this land.

"...This location was once a very sacred and safe space But it looks like all of that is changing now. The new owners of the land are obviously money driven and unaware of the sacredness of the sweat lodge ceremony that was offered here every Saturday of the year for 40-something years...

"Unfortunately the owners of this land will now learn about energy and not in the best way."

      -- Shay W., Campbell, CA, Yelp review

"stewart mineral springs used to be a beautiful, wild and wonderful place. i felt very fortunate to live so close and went weekly.

"new owners took over last year and every change they've made has been awful. from nixing the clothing optional option and disallowing people to stretch in the sauna ["No yoga in sauna" sign slapped on door; no doubt result of one freebody down-dog too many - Ed.]... to removing some of the more blissful offerings from the lobby, the loveliness is gone.

"recently they put an end to the weekly sweat lodges led by local indigenous elders that have happened there for 45 years, on land that has been sacred to indigenous people for centuries. this is a huge blow to our local community.

"i will not return until this place changes ownership again. hopefully these folks won't totally destroy it before that happens. i encourage all...to discontinue any sort of support of this place.

"please share this far and wide...they remove access to the local indigenous people who have prayed here for eons... Please make sure people know about this. I am sure they have their excuses but I'm sorry, this is not right at all, regardless...

"This will be the third time I have written this review, and while Yelp claims business owners can't pay to have reviews removed, suspiciously this one has been removed twice, though it is a clear and honest review.

"I am a local and spent a lot of time at the springs over the years until the new owners took over. The surrounding land is gorgeous - the section of the PCT [Pacific Crest Trail] that runs nearby is a regular hiking favorite of mine. In fact, I often loved a morning hike to the Deadfall lakes, followed by a soak and sweat afterwards.

"One would suspect, unfortunately, that the new owners wish to privatize the springs entirely - most recently by telling the local Native Americans that they can no longer run the 45-year-long sweat lodges on the land, which were attended by a loving community and tourists alike...

"Many other beloved aspects of the springs are being done away with as well: clothing optional opportunities have been removed entirely (have fun in the cold plunge wrapped in a sheet!), and I find the "remodeling" that's currently happening (removing the wood from the tub rooms and replacing it with tile) to look sterile, like a hospital. Finally, they have raised the locals rate TWICE since taking ownership. This shows, definitely, a lack of concern and regard, for sure. Many people in our local community are seniors with limited income, artists and musicians, who sought out the springs weekly for healing until the rates became unaffordable for us.

"There are other, better options for the time being, at least until this place changes ownership once again - it has had many owners in the past, none of whom have treated the local community so poorly..."

      -- Dori M, Mt. Shasta, CA, Yelp review + SMS Facebook

"In solidarity with the land, its natural state, and the local tribes... this business stewards nothing and does not give back. To continue to patronize this self-serving business is a vote against the common and the local indigenous people."

   -- Karen El, SMS Facebook review

"This place used to be cool before the new and greedy owners took over. Raised rates, took away the native sweat lodge, and ended their clothing optional policy...They don't want you there if you're not rich. They don't care about locals. They raised rates yet don't seem to use any of it to update the place at all... Greed has taken over this great spot. I'm not giving them a penny ever again and I hope other locals choose to follow suit..."

   -- Marty Glassley, SMS Facebook review

12/14/2017

"I was shocked by the exorbitant $35 fee to sauna and soak in a tub of piped-in heated mineral water. I asked how such a unique natural resource came to be privately owned after thousands of years of indigenous usage, where one could imagine tribes laying weapons and differences aside to heal in the therapeutic waters.

"I was told a story of how the local band of Karuk people were massacred on the grounds years after healing the man that would eventually purchase the land from the government. (How the government can sell stolen land, I don't know, but we all know it's nothing new) The woman told me that as a result of such a bloody past, Karuk and other local indigenous tribe members have held weekly ceremonies there to help heal the land, descendants and soothe residual spiritual disturbances.

"I found this news hypocritical in light of the gigantic fake monument to colonialism all visitors must pass through in the form of the Army-style stockade gates and parapets reminiscent of the very institution responsible for the attempted genocide of the Native Peoples.


"Now, apparently under new ownership, there will be no more First Nations-led sweat lodges on Saturdays, in addition to the new ban on the nude human form and their outrageous regular fees and continual raising of the discounted fee for locals. 

"The people who run this place are clearly happy to ignore the fact that this place is a resource for all people, stolen the [bloodied lands] of indigenous people in order to turn a profit. Their predatory business practices, disrespectful shunning of The Karuk People and homage to colonial military power signal a sad continuation of American history of oppression."

     -- Drew S., Oakland, CA Yelp review

"Once it was a respite for locals and travelers alike. Matsuru Emoto even came to the property to speak about the purity of its water. It was a sacred place. Now, new owners have come in, kicked out the local tribe ... raised the prices and pretty much ruined the whole thing. So sad."

   -- Wendy James, SMS Facebook review

"...this sacred space is one of first places I visited in the Mt Shasta area many years ago and a place I held near and dear to my heart. When I moved to Shasta as a new mom it was a great place to rejuvenate and I visited regularly. Since the new owners have taken over and policies have changed I have only been twice. Now, I am brought to tears as I hear the family that welcomed me with open arms into their Karuk Sacred Sweat lodge and have been asked to leave their sacred land.

"So much disrespect is being shown to this native indigenous tribe, who are honored in our community and deserve much respect, and lands that were here way before these owners came along. I myself and many others have had much healing and growth from those sweats. To the amazing Karuk tribe who have taken my family under your wings, give thanks for all you do and I am sorry for your great loss.

"I will not be going back to Stewart Mineral Springs. There are many amazing mineral springs close by, whose owners honor the sacred land and indigenous tribes, where I will choose to support."

     -- Rosy Ware, SMS Facebook review

"It is with great sadness that I hear about the change in ownership at Stewart Springs. Raising the prices, kicking out the sweat lodge and changing its rustic nature and availability for locals to do ceremony will make it a place I will likely no longer choose to visit. So sad; this was a very sacred and special place."

   -- Bonnie F., Castro Valley, CA Yelp review

"...the new owners...ripped the heart out of this place by kicking the local indigenous sweat lodge..."

     -- Angel Cassidy Burst, SMS Facebook review

"I'm so dissatisfied with the new owners. First they took away clothing optional, then they cut the pay of their massage therapists, then took out the sacred items, and now the worst and most disrespectful action, they removed the Karuk Sweatlodge... This land is not really their land. It's sacred ground of the Karuk people. So much disrespect. Very rude. I will not be bringing any spiritual groups to this place until the sweatlodge has returned..."

     -- Lauren Willow Anderson, SMS Facebook review

"A beautiful place where I have enjoyed going to bathe and do sweat lodges with the Indigenous locals. When I learned that the new owners are making big changes like raising the prices and trying to turn it into a high-end resort, I was devastated. It appears that instead of working with the locals, these new owners have shunned them, instead making them stop doing a decades old ceremony that brings lots of people to pray and sweat at the site as well as to take the baths. If these new owners believe they can make a go of it without working with the local people, including the Indigenous tribe(s) that were there long before they arrived, they are destined to fail.

"It's so sad to see Stewart go down this road. I won't be going back unless the sweats are reinstated..."

     -- Hope I, El Sobrante, CA Yelp review

"Shame on you for breaking a 45 year sweat tradition...I see you losing a lot of local and regional support over this decision!"

   -- Laurie Sweets, SMS Facebook review

"Too bad new owners don't get it."

    -- Patty Speelman-Sherman, SMS Facebook

"What no more sweats?!...unseen energies will not be happy."

    -- Shannon Wedgley, SMS Facebook review

"...[M]y personal experience with the sweatlodge was transformational. It was beautiful that they shared that sacredness in tradition and opened it to whoever wanted to attend...sad and truly disrespectful..."

     -- Kat Mysers, SMS Facebook

"Really sad...the greed factor is such a turnoff. The spiritual community of Mount Shasta could boycott the place..."

    -- Shananda Ann Kumara, SMS Facebook 

"It never felt right there for me. I was always uncomfortable. The land looks dirty and used up and not taken care of... the energy of the land did not feel right to me..."

     -- Kimberley Ann Montgomery, SMS Facebook

"...I refused to go starting last summer. Being on the inside as an employee I saw much I didn't agree with and it's by far much worse now. When I was there, I prayed for a cleansing of the land..."

    -- Sequoia Therese, SMS Facebook

"I remember the first time going here and loving the peaceful atmosphere and the most amazing group of people were running a sweat lodge. It was a very profound healing for me and I was brought into a beautiful way to pray and the most amazing group of people who to this day I call family. I am devastated to learn the new owners have asked these amazing people to leave this place where they have been providing this service for 45 years.

"I always recommended this place to people but no longer can. I hope you know that you have hurt so many peoples' heart by doing this. As our beautiful teacher has taught us we will continue praying for you and the world because that is what we do."

    -- Tina Wood, SMS Facebook review

"I'm very disappointed and saddened and upset that they have kicked out the Native sweat lodge. I think it is all about the money now. Who cares about the history and soul of this place? ... 45 years the sweat lodge has been here. Why are you ending this? Is it a liability issue excuse to run people out?..."

    -- Carla Charraga, SMS Facebook

"I love this place with all my heart. I healed so much here and have grown so very much from my experiences here, but since the new owners have come in and instated new policies that inhibit the free expression on one's self... It went from full transparency to having to cover up. (Clothing optional was one of the most potent aspects of SMS healing qualities... also the magical feeling of free expression of beauty of its guests.) Yes these new rules have allowed shy newcomers to enter but at what cost?

"And now...the sweat lodges lead by local indigenous elders will be discontinued? Is this fulfillment of Hopi prophecy that at the end of days indigenous American ceremonies will cease? The world is on fire. Will we see the error of your ways with love and understanding? Or will we come to realize this only after economic failure? ..."

    -- Elmer de Jesus Contreras, SMS Facebook

"The new owners...are disrespecting the Karuk & the local people."

      -- Jeanne Baker, SMS Facebook

"Without the sweat lodge this place is not worth it. The sole fact that the Native people were kicked out gives me enough reason not to go. I cannot believe the new owners would ruin the most magical and sacred experience ever. Until the sweat lodge returns, I will not return."

    -- Jenny N., Sacramento, CA


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Things are bad, all right. But this too shall pass...

All aware beings who have deeply loved the place and events envision a positive future for the Springs... either with present new 'ownership' hearts miraculously melting or, barring such an unlikely miracle, with the abject failure of current oppressive regime and privatization scheme in due course and the eventual re-sale to new, appropriate stewardship that can joyfully redeem the original altruistic healing spirit of the realm.

The collective vision and concerted efforts by the unorganized but de facto Society for Preservation of Stewart Mineral Springs can work miracles.


As mentioned, most of the above re-posted Yelp reviews were soon deleted from site, ostensibly for "violating terms of service" -- 'owner' furor over earnest visitor push-back being allowed to air at all, perhaps? And SMS Facebook first suspended its review site, then briefly -- and oddly -- added rants back to main page before, in September 2018, finally deleting entire feedback page. Glad to have rescued so many heartfelt writings in time, saving them from oblivion.


Frustrating to speak your mind only to have one's words deleted, discounted as being bad for business...regardless of how sincere, insightful and true the words might be.


What's that saying? In times of oppression, speaking truth is deemed a revolutionary act?



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Remember, contained within the Chinese character for 'crisis' is the character for 'opportunity'.

Have people treasured place enough to INSIST it redeem its higher destiny as a purifying, healing and rejuvenating ground, one everybody the least bit open-minded and aware can enjoy freely and affordably?

Bestir the imagination. Envision a thriving, affordable healing refuge for growth-minded people everywhere under an in-sync nonprofit stewardship, working hand in hand with the wider Mt. Shasta region's community.

Countless fans are certain the extraordinary realm deserves no less.

Blessed be


see 12-part "What Happened to Stewart Springs?'

(formerly residing here on home page), for more inside dope and informed perspective


New Day Dawning


also: Intro to Rants & Raves

Writer Stuart Ward served as  hard-care SMS work-trade assistant manager and grounds keeper 2000-2002 under Mary H while living on grounds, and built and maintained bathhouse cold plunge for 14 years. He's self-published books on body acceptance and body freedom, inspired by his own experiences at Stewart's.

All Things Stewart Springs

~ Exploring & defending the once & future magic healing realm ~