All Things Stewart Mineral Springs
Site updated February 24, 2021
"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
note to readers:
Company hosting this site, while gratefully saving builder from having to learn exciting code (not) or pay someone a small fortune to build and maintain site, recently changed platforms on me. This old dog is having to learn new tricks.
Page continuity is being newly formatted. Some internal links need reconnecting. (if link doesn't work, access noted page directly from top or bottom menu.) Will hopefully finally clear up chronic problem of various search engine results listing mobile-version with its spacey text lines and ginormous images if on computer (or lately, some search links not connecting to site at all).
Should get a new handle on things over time. As always, I try to keep content relevant in light of ongoing drastic changes and historic times we're now weathering. In meantime, apologies for any rough appearance.
Dread virus and Stewart 'ownership's' plague of reprehensibly misguided intent: now & future
Quick take: bathhouse closed permanently as far as present 'ownership' is concerned. Tubs and stalls reportedly have been torn out; lodging's still operational as far as known...for whatever that's worth.
"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
"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
"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 a quest for gaining total control in order to further own, non-public uses].
"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 (Soon entirely deleted from site, not even left in "not currently recommended" bin. No need to wonder why: speaking truth to power is like touching third rail, toxic to running any morally compromised operation, doing a snow job by pretending everything's peachy-keen.)
"The love seems missing from the place -
it has a more clinical feel to it"
-- Leo H, Los Gatos, CA Yelp review
"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
" It is sad the new owners took a good thing and
changed it so drastically ..."
-- Gretchen G., Mt. Shasta, CA Yelp review
What Happened to Stewart Springs??!!
See below - entire page, including op-ed and re-posted sweat lodge ban rants, followed by more semi-informed analysis and ranting
Furor over kicking out Sweat Lodge
see fair ways below
(click & scroll 3/4 down)
Springs Stewardship Intent: From
Bad to Worse
Updated or revised February 16, 2021
Enormous changes everywhere naturally included Springs...
...but before pandemic ever hit, forcing initially temporary closing of Stewart bathhouse, turnover in absentee 'owners' in January 2016 had radically changed place once first nine month, de facto grace period ended.
During that time things stayed pretty much the same, including clothing-optional and sweat lodge. (Perhaps the only sign of big changes to come was a seemingly innocent little stone Inca figurine placed at base of tree down by cold plunge area. Looking back, it was like a planted seed patiently biding its time.)
Then...all hell broke loose.
Drastic changes -- first banning clothing-optional, then a year later kicking out the ceremonial sweat lodge long open to public -- made for serious disenchantment among place's countless fans and biggest supporters. Visitorship tanked overnight. Only a reported sputtering of new visitors beyond outfit's own affiliated groups, family, and friends -- plus usual straggle of mostly non-discriminating and/or uninformed -- seemed to ever replace them.
Place's once robust revenue stream doubtless has been drying up ever since...all needlessly in eyes of fans, leaving operation treading water or sinking for having own private designs on place that so misguidedly messed with successful operation formula and spa focus. One that embraced mindful clothing-optional and weekly sweat ceremony, which together created that rare synergy of place's enduring and endearing multi-cultural, bohemian air in which to relax, purify and heal.
If it had only been minor changes, suiting owners' lifestyle values and ways, exercising 'ownership' prerogative to
make place their own baby by putting little personal imprint on things, that'd be one thing.
But, no. They willfully destroyed decades of cultural evolution, obliterated the long-embraced, down-home, fully engaging, open atmosphere, one absolutely crucial to successful operation of any genuine rural healing spa resort worth its salt.
Then came the now-dreaded virus, and few months later on May 1, 2020, came the online announcement of the "painful" decision to shut bathhouse permanently.
While other regional rural spring resort spa compounds also had to close, they were relatively thriving before COVID-19 hit and will more likely bounce back when pandemic finally fades away. (Some have tenuously re-opened, or had for a while).
With Stewart's wobbling on the ropes due to wonky, obviously private-minded intentions, changes, again, made long before virus ever showed up, there's no telling what might now lie in its future under current lamentable "ownership".
Pessimists dread the worst. Optimists await patiently. Realists say it could go either way.
Shocking re-purposing of time-honored bathhouse
Judging from their website (and recent visitor review reposted near top of this page), absentee stewards (now there's an oxymoron) appeared dead serious on intent to re-purpose bathhouse into some sort of extra retreat and workshop space for 'up to 13'. (Coincidentally the same number as there were tubs.) Historic spa center would supposedly reincarnate as...Shambala House. (Shameless Strangling of Popular Culture House might be more appropriate name.) see New Day Dawning
Not totally positive whether repurposing plan was announced before or after virus hit. But if before, as writer strongly suspects, it would indicate nothing less than the premeditated murder of a beloved 145 year-old spa retreat...and along with it the abiding universal spirit of a grounds dedicated to serving the greater good.
If made after (as it would seem owners wanted to make it appear was the case), the pandemic provided one incredibly convenient, quasi-plausible excuse for taking such drastic action, one reflecting that of many other businesses that so unfortunately had operations bite the dust or are barely hanging on.
Anyone who has loved the place over the years would agree that, if true that the bathhouse was indeed gutted of tubs and stalls, it's one stupendously inappropriate, dumbfoundingly nutzoid, unspeakably shameful action. One that defies any spirit of compassion or human decency.
One that, if they've an ounce of conscience, they'll surely live to regret.
No doubt, conversion plan was dreamed up long before huge reality check got delivered to their private banquet table in these radically changing times. For with progressive values again on the rise, resisting would-be authoritarian takeovers deriding democratic values, in due course time new realities just might evaporate any such boldfaced, public-be-damned attempt to co-opt public's long-treasured refuge.
Posted sizzle of coming 2021 attractions might prove no more than a wonky dying fantasy of private-minded repurposing of the venerable bathhouse flying blindly in the face of reality. In recent decades the place had become a de facto rural community center for wider region and rendezvous point and destination for travelers at large, both domestic and international. To try to so willfully and mindlessly destroy it to own suit some private agenda would seem guaranteed in the long run to court nothing short of unmitigated disaster. As others have pointed out, it's a matter of time before the land rejects them.
Why anyone ostensibly in the healing field would choose to heap such horrible karma on themselves is incomprehensible.
Obviously their thinking was that since they'd forked a small fortune ($2.6 million US) to gain legal title of property, they'd gained the inviolable right -- private property rights being sacred in our materialistic world -- to do whatever the hell they wanted with it.
Cynic in writer of this Stewart Mineral Springs blog had at first thought their 5-1-20 announcement of "permanent" closing of bathhouse was perhaps only latest ploy (banning c/o being the first, kicking out sweat lodge the second) to get the general public so disheartened and ticked off, they'll no longer care WHAT they do with the place.
Then, at some future time they would quietly re-open bathhouse spa...for their OWN exclusive use -- hopefully at long last under radar of outraged public scrutiny that's been raining on their parade ever since c/o ban, and then escalated worlds after later sweat lodge eviction...putting serious crimp on potential for any real enjoyment of 'their' legally stolen healing sanctuary. And then shutting bathhouse to repurpose... (One wonders if maybe they kept the two tiled tub stalls they fancied up intact, perhaps for high muckety mucks to indulge in a royal soak every now and then.)
It appears now they were dead serious on scrapping bathhouse spa...in unspeakable indifference to a seven-generations old, public-minded healing legacy of beloved realm.
They'll learn in time that the fact that the sale of the 'property' was a 'legal' transfer means precious little in the realm of spiritual law, universal justice and loving tradition.
Rise of 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 therein that in any country about a third of the population has a authoritarian disposition (vs. libertarian). It's a frame of mind that "wants to overthrow, bypass, or undermine existing institutions, to destroy what exists." Interestingly it includes both the far right AND the far left. Such are discomforted by complexity and diversity (what Springs had), and find relief in uniform sameness and tight order (what's being pursued now).
So what's happening now is perhaps no more than a sorry reflection of recent global polarizing of societal energies in which minority thinking has gotten a foothold on things for a while, making things impossible for the majority, even before the virus struck.
(Unrelated, 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; 2020, anyone's guess. Pray for peace. Might storming of the Capital building prove to be something akin to nation's own Kristallnacht, as former California governator pointed out? Let's hope not.)
Shocking magnitude of detour of place's function -- flying rudely in face of claim reported by old manager that on purchasing they saying they basically liked the place just the way it was -- might well make one wonder how such an ignominious fate could have ever befallen the treasured realm in the first place.
By examining the history of the Springs, both recent and old, this site hopes, among other things, to shed light on why such a thing DID happen...and remind readers that such a tragic fate is NOT written in stone, NOT irreversible, that one shouldn't abandon hope...that the way former fans choose to view it -- envisioning a future with place serving as a community resource and healing enter for all -- is crucial to saving it.
For right focus might serve in time to collectively manifest a startlingly new reincarnation...the place rescued by public-minded investors and benevolent supporters who see it as an invaluable resource to be enjoyed by all. One integrated at last with infectious, can-do spirit and grounded community involvement like hour-distant Jackson Wellsprings outside Ashland, Oregon.
Imagine the best possible future for the place and maybe in due course it WILL be rescued. (Maybe not; one can only try and keep faith in universal justice and compassion winning out in long run -- hopefully in our lifetimes.)
January 19, 2021 marked five year of new 'ownership'. If indeed they made some five-year plan, it might be some grand closing of front gates to general public is imminent. (Or, dare one hope, they'd given themselves five years to turn the place around to suit them and, seeing the writing on the wall by now, have decided to give up and let go of wonky diversionary fantasy.)
Recent bleak events leading
to current dire situation
Following a momentous Springs visit by new 'owners' from Los Angeles, Mexico, and South America in December 2017, place's operation suffered a final, deal-breaking sea change in the eyes of myriad longtime fans.
General manager Rowena P. was at last stepping down -- two years after sale -- having acted mostly by remote from hundreds of miles away during last two
of controversial 12-year, profit-driven run while non-empowered on-site staff rubber-stamped strict marching orders from owners as passed on through her.
Then new on-site management was brought on board...
From frying pan to fire
Within a week, gazebo's prayer altar was emptied and 45-year sacred sweat lodge effectively kicked off land -- last straw for countless fans a year after new ownership banned clothing-optional. Once-magical realm, suddenly radioactive with lost heart, destroyed culture, and blinded vision, was instantly shunned by countless who had cherished and supported place for decades.
Shameless flasher website
A year later, in 2019, coinciding with third year anniversary of wa-y-y absentee new 'ownership' on January 19 (in mind-boggling synchronicity, the grand re-opening date, three years earlier, of Harbin Hot Springs), they replaced old creaky tiny-print website with new, streamlined one.
Loaded with eye-catching graphics, slick text bites and shameless flashers, site confirmed the suspicions of many: when not enjoying little shangri-la themselves, seemingly tone-deaf ownership appeared out to attract -- at least for a while, before possible further privatizing -- a more upscale, urban, flirting-with-awakening visitor base...those less into grokking profound spa purification and rejuvenation than in throwing disposable income at promise of some vaguely pleasant, nominally healing, tightly packaged country resort escape...
...plus those maybe wanting to book spiritually-focused events, workshops, weddings, and retreats and didn't seem to mind one bit how former freedom to be one
with nature -- in process experiencing profound, often instantaneous, re-integration of body-mind-spirit through mindful, low-key nudity -- was now verboten...as if suddenly deemed distasteful and immoral.
Or how beloved historic bathhouse's seven-generation's old tradition of offering healing mineral-water purification service was indifferently gutted.
Or that 45-year sacred Karuk sweat lodge, anchoring countless visitors in down-to-earth communion and celebration of life and grokking ancient ways of native American culture, had been essentially kicked off the land.
Or that the people's altar of love and gratitude offerings in old spring gazebo was torn down, initially replaced with cheery nearby sign announcing:
No Trespassing - Violators will be Prosecuted
Shades of future signs posted on front gates, perhaps? Looks as if they might've tipped off hard-ass, public-be-damned, "it's our baby now and we'll do whatever we damn well please with it, so go jump in a lake if you don't like it" attitude almost from very get-go. (Sign was probably prompted by curious visitors who'd climb over gazebo railing to check out adjoining, totally neglected sacred red spring.)
2020 vision &
2020 vision &
2020 started out so promising...number the very hallmark of clear vision...then dread virus struck and vision got blurry fast. Almost overnight, 'normal' life on planet fairly vanished.
Coronavirus pandemic concerns soon preempted everything else. What was or wasn't happening at Stewart's became of little concern to most...with possible exception of the startling 'owner' announcement of May 1st, 2020 of deciding to permanently close bathhouse and, as indicated elsewhere on their site, revealed plan of re-purposing building by gutting tubs and soak stalls to make more retreat and class space...and the heck with offering any mineral baths and saunas.
Decision to permanently shut bathhouse, if indeed made after pandemic hit (which, again, writer strongly doubts), might've been something along lines of:
If outbreak is long-lasting and such businesses are forced to keep operations shuttered -- possibly needing to continue social distancing, masks, temperature testing, etc. -- potential Springs visitors will have become too wary of venturing on the road into the wild unknown...it suddenly having become perhaps a bit TOO wild. Sweat in hot dark room with total strangers coming from God knows where? Soak in a tub last used by WHO? How could one enjoy it worrying about whether attendant fully sterilized tub between use?
No thank you very much.
That seemed to be the official time-line decision anyway, that it was only AFTER pandemic that they decided to make the tough business decision to permanently abandon spa services, ever so regretfully.
But again, writer's fairly certain they had bathhouse-begone plans in mind all along...way before pandemic ever showed up. For writer seems to remember their site long ago talking up some mysterious Shambala House. It was baffling, as could not place any such structure on grounds beyond 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 was first time bathhouse had been shuttered since 1980s beyond a week for annual maintenance and long-ago winter closings, which ended in late 1999 when place went year-round for the first time ever.
Closing bathhouse might, again, ultimately prove that unwieldy, exclusive-minded intentions of 'absentee stewards' are getting too sketchy to ever pan out and be viably supported...grandiose dream of adapting legally-kidnapped Springs for own private-minded ends fading fast with advent of positive forces insisting on a more just, fair, and sustainable world for everyone sharing the ride on this little azure ball floating through space.
"Buying" up a de facto historic, traditional public spa retreat treasure does NOT entitle "owner" to do with whatever. Not without serious, ultimately self-defeating, consequences. Resulting Mt. Everest of bad karma is such that one would think anyone truly conscious and respectful of the healing land and its long-steeped tradition of benevolent healing and no-frills hospitality service would've never even THOUGHT of pursuing such a senseless act.
While possibly they're waiting out the storm, hoping to get by renting lodgings and event spaces afterwards for own quasi-new age circles and/or 'bourgeois new-age' general public, maybe in the back of their minds as an alternative plan they're considering divesting of the place if it indeed appears their grand diversionary fantasy seems to be going bust and pockets aren't deep enough to keep pouring cash into a bottomless money pit.
Place has undoubtedly been hemorrhaging funds like crazy from the get-go...ever since banning clothing-optional ten months in.
So maybe even now stewards are mulling over situation in their far-away realms, making contingency plans on how, when, to who, and for how much to let place go for when finally deciding to abandon ship and cut losses and recoup investment funds as best possible.
Place to be revalued
Regardless of pandemic's duration, places like Stewart's will gain critical new importance eventually... perhaps not until there are new stewards and maybe years down the road. (Who knows anything for sure these days except that love is real?)
Such places, nestled in clean simplicity of nature and offering the simple natural medicine so many seek, serve as much needed sanctuaries for healing, purifying, and rejuvenating of an awakening -- if now also much bent -- humanity.
Bathhouse, perhaps in new incarnation, could resurrect under new stewardship. That is, once society (hopefully) settles into some as-yet-unknowable kind of new normal once coming out other side of pandemic. One that lets people again feel comfortable being in close proximity with others without fear of catching the plague.
Possibly it could happen with a brand-new bathing compound of inspired and practical design, tearing down now apparently gutted one that, historic sentiment aside, never did have an optimal spa layout for maximizing most blissful spa experience, well separated from office, laundry, maintenance, employee break, and massage meet-up hubbub.
With time lag between getting infected and symptoms showing or remaining asymptomatic, it would've been all too easy for a visitor coming from, say, some superspreader event, to unknowingly infect others and possibly start deadly chain reaction contagion in our (as yet) relatively spared rural region.
Oil and water
Place obviously would've become like oil and water energetically if allowed to to re-open.
It was impossible imagining social distancing in sauna or on sundeck. Or other stringent protocols like wearing masks. Such a scene might've hearkened back to earlier days of place in 1920s and 1930s, when it appeared to be more of a no-nonsense health sanitarium rather than the informal springs resort and rural retreat modern visitors came to know it as.
But, again, who knows what the future will bring?
Spanish flu (now thought to have been a virus/inflenza, one-two punch) of century
ago lasted two years. Its second wave, hitting half year after initial onset, was far deadlier. (Overall, the Spanish flu pandemic killed more Americans than all wars of twentieth century combined. Some refused to wear masks in public back then, too. World War One had just ended and people wanted to celebrate after hunkering down so long.)
Late, gifted psychic Sylvia Browne predicted the current global pandemic in her 2008 book. (On encouraging note and for what's it's worth, she saw it disappearing as fast as it emerged...even if showing up again a decade later).
In light of all going on in these simultaneously tragic and extraordinary times, there's a critical need -- and great opportunity -- to look at Stewart Springs in a radically new light.
Current crises are serving as a grand wake-up call to shake humanity out of old outmoded ways, wherever they lurk. Such radical changes could well enable Stewart Springs to at long last get freed from its often-sketchy, dysfunctional, mindnumbingly inappropriate operational mindset and return things to something akin to the way it began ages ago...as a vital, down-home, nonprofit-in-spirit healing and rejuvenation retreat, affordably serving the greater good.
Stewart Springs in name
Once-thought inviolable dedication to serving the public good was seemingly scrapped without a thought...
...but if enough spa enthusiasts, especially those deeply fond of Stewart's as it was before late 2016 (another lifetime now) try to grok the buttoned-down mindset of the current absentee 'owners' of the Springs and, more
importantly, understand how and why place got so far off course in recent decades, through a motley succession of often inappropriate post-Stewart stewards, away from longtime, genuine, grounded-service purifying and healing spa -- then, again, it could serve to energize a quantum shift and manifestation of a public-minded, enlightened stewardship...
...one fitting hand-in-glove by lights of all real spa enthusiasts, nature lovers, and spiritual-retreat fans of even the faintest bohemian leaning.
Original long ago altruistic blueprint of founder Henry Stewart -- dutifully followed by his daughter and a select few other stewards since -- has faded so much over time that on one level current ownership perhaps can't be blamed too much for having made such an egregiously inappropriate detour from place's original dedicated operation.
They were likely little more than even remotely aware of realm's extraordinarily pure-minded public-service legacy...one that every true-blue spa-culture fan and awake or awakening newbie seemed to intuit so easily and contentedly resonated with while working to tune out any bothersome profit- and control-minded energies...some even seeming to tune in to a protective angelic presence said to watch over grounds. Countless visitors reported having life-transforming, experiences there and writer witnessed several reaching illuminated states of consciousness.
Perhaps takeover thinking was something along 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 public (at least for a while)...but, owner's prerogative, in a way more suitable to our own lifestyle and values. Heck, any spiritual focus at all will be a nice improvement. Even if done only to subsidize our own private gig and maybe give people a chance to adjust, rather than from any great love for the great unwashed. (Gimmeabreak.) Hey, we'll transform the place to serve our exclusive scene so gradually, they'll never know what hit them til it's too late, the schmucks!"
Intent: after greater wealth...
or simply wanting absolute control to do own thing?
Current 'stewards'' intent, at least before plague hit, seemed to many to be trying to make more money out of the place by shifting customer base and hoping to attract more upscale visitors and groups...those perhaps now flirting with discovering more mindful ways of living -- though still numbly embracing body alienation, having the desire (and money) to sign up for touted quasi-new age, psychotherapy-adjunct training classes and workshops...NOT those already awakened and savvy to genuine rural spa culture, people who were suddenly summarily dismissed as kinky and undesirable clientele for embracing clothing-optional rather then being dutifully shocked and appalled by such bizarre and shameless practices as public skinnydipping and nude sunbathing. (The very idea...)
Double whammy of kicking out sweat lodge ceremony and banning simple nudity put such a severe crimp in place's former spiritual mojo and quasi-liberated air that for countless, place suddenly became Stewart Springs in name only...and their real intent became painfully obvious once reportedly dismantling the bathhouse spa, vintage clawfoot tubs and all.
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 free-spirited ever really enjoying the spa anymore...or any conscious group having anything remotely approaching a full-tilt, bedrock, soul-liberating happening.
To paraphrase classic song lyric, a whole lot of disconnectin' goin' on.
Nude suddenly became rude
Designed to entrance, their site is worlds more sizzle than substance. Zero info about ownership. Little to no sense of community.
And Laughable statement about how new strict cover-up policy was for "more comfortable environment" made one half-expect to read some reviewer gush how "I experienced such delightful wedgies in sauna and cold-plunge. Thank you!"
Concern for children and foreign-guest sensibilities aside, some might say such wording essentially translated to:
"Now nudity-free to ease worried minds of body-alienated everywhere happy to resist ever learning to feel mindfully at ease publicly out of clothes in natural settings, resenting like hell seeing others doing such so blissfully, making one feel uptight...painfully reminded how much one's still buying into systemic individual body oppression.
Whether one availed themselves of clothing-optional or not, it was the linchpin that enhanced the free-spirited, healing air of the entire grounds -- one enabling a profound harmonizing with nature -- making place wildly popular in recent decades DESPITE often-wonky, profits-obsessed management.
Owners, who doubtless have loved the place too, if shown now in a rather covetous, controlling, private-minded way, again, appeared either ignorant of realm's singular non-commercial, service-minded legacy...or chillingly indifferent to fact.
Indeed, while busy drastically shifting focus, it suddenly seemed to be catering to more bourgeois, conventional-minded visitors, those maybe wanting to buy some tastefully bland, warm and fuzzy getaway in boonies, maybe tinker with purifying a bit, or get whiff more enlightened in newly touted workshops...
...happily dropping cash while remaining contentedly shackled in textile chains at very place that until recently distinguished itself for being rare oasis, like handful of sister springs on West Coast, that allowed visitors the option of mindfully enjoying (most of) spa experience in the buff...
...thereby potentially enhancing overall comfort and healing benefit from special waters and transformational, energy-amplifying vortex. In process, visitors often experienced profound, life-changing body acceptance and liberation IF open-minded enough to give it a try and come out of nudist closet, as it were...for in their heart of hearts, most everybody is a natural-born freebody*.
* With exception of, it's said, roughly one percent of population who are gymnophobic, having an abnormal fear of nudity -- their own and/or that of others (vs. just a normal fear?)
Or they're just letting public traffic flow through for a while longer before advancing some five-year plan to turn place into a totally private -- it's ours, all ours! -- scene. And figured the pandemic provided perfect cover for disguising master plan from public until it was a fait accompli.
In any event...
...take clothing-optional away and the magic was gone...for legions of desolated fans plus potential newbies, deprived of discovering and enjoying the blessings of nature in uber-relaxed, liberating, free-flowing atmosphere that open-minded (vs. clothes-minded), body-friendly policy naturally fosters.
Elsewhere on site, re-hashed vague mission statement and no-this-no-that policy page revealed how new outfit, now revealed as not into running ANY kind of public-minded spa service, for the nonce essentially had copied former negative, non-transparent operation model -- but then, critically, added own, fatal, bohemian-culture destroying twist...
..and even more critically, totally disregarding -- unlike former ownership, who at least let longtime-local management redeem something of place's original spirit if only because it proved great for business -- the altruistic legacy of pioneer founding Stewart family, with its pure love-of-service, de facto nonprofit operation.
One that made place globally popular for having such an extraordinary unassuming blueprint, running a healing refuge in such in a forthright, affordable, down-home manner that people everywhere on visiting found place an incredible gift and blessing.
see Pneuma's new Springs site
also SMS history
New ownership is part of a peripherally-spiritual organization called the Pneuma Institute.
Into transpersonal psychology, sometimes referred to as psychology field's 'spiritual' branch, the international outfit with apparent Romanian roots appears to explore, analyse, and promote peak experiences, altered consciousness, and enhanced awareness in general that transcends smaller self, that, combined with conscious breathwork, is then worked into new tool for formal psychotherapy, focusing on achieving transcendent mindstate of greater self.
Seems conventional Judaeo-Christian tenets are also thrown into the mix just for the heck of it. (Can almost imagine hearing some proclaim, "We are NOT 'spiritual'...but we ARE religious; abandon all false gods, ye pagans and nonbelievers -- and cover your shame!")
Peculiar amalgam's purported central aim is to train therapists and everyday students how to promote reintegration of body, mind and spirit on "profoundly higher levels" of enhanced awareness, thus 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 that at long last an aware and conscious Springs stewardship was working to redeem soul of the place, saving it from decades of unapologetic commercial exploitation...
...that realm would finally become a reinvigorated, affordable sanctuary grounds promoting higher awareness and natural healing...turning nature-rich Springs into thriving, infectiously can-do, community-active oasis fans have long dreamed of, especially in face of such recent rank monetizing...place finally joining wider region's other progressive-minded rural spring resorts.
Ojala que; if only...
Current 'owners' of what has been for the better part of 145 years an affordable, public-friendly, rejuvenating retreat and modest, simple resort clearly appeared bound and determined to drastically mess with it...to point of devastating ruin as far as the global legion of Spring fans is concerned.
They've gone far beyond the mere jonesin' profit focus of former 34-year absentee "owner". More than just impressing own conservative mindset on place, they've reportedly totally scrapped spa, thereby at last showing their true murky colors: intent to seize place to totally set up their own specialized gig.
It would almost seem as if they've been suffering the general public for a while only to help pay the freight and perhaps give public a chance to say goodbye while gradually unfolding their once-secret long-term plan to transform place from public treasure to private domain.
This, in shocking contrast to what more than a few spa idealists have always held the transcendent vision of place becoming...or rather, returning to: a NONPROFIT healing refuge...one embracing the clean simplicity of nature while dedicated to serving the genuine benefit of the greater public, one in constant need of healing and rejuvenation, and thus restoring founder Stewart's long-ago love-of-service operation. An enterprise well-ensconced in nature that -- in its 'civilized' variation at least -- faintly echoed the timeless First Nations people's profound reverence of land and water for its healing properties...medicine that had possibly saved founder's life as young man and made him a true believer.
Again, former everyday visitors of more modest means and bohemian leaning appeared barely tolerated (and then only so long as one didn't even THINK about skinnydipping), as outfit attempted cultivating more affluent -- or at least more conventional-minded -- visitors to cover operations and ownership costs a while.
Actually, covering seemed the main theme all around: cover costs, cover visitors' bodies, cover intentions...
Woefully misguided intent as far as former large fan base was concerned clearly seemed to be privatizing, or at least semi-privatizing, place in order to pursue own peculiar amalgam of psychology shtick, quasi new age, and social and religious affiliation...
...indifferent to or ignorant of place's former historic dedication to providing humanity an openhearted service, an affordable, nature-friendly refuge...one in which to experience profound, often life-altering, spa purification, healing and rejuvenation in the welcoming arms of nature.
They willfully turned their backs on the countless already-awakened, growth-minded, spa-savvy visitors who so deeply valued place's former unassuming, healing culture -- one that any authentic rural mineral spring retreat provides -- plus a teaming sea of others primed to discover and embrace such refuges like long-lost friends.
They've all been effectively thrown out into the cold.
Unspoken message heard loud and clear: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
Away from Stewart Springs' official website, place has long been referred to as Pneuma Retreat Center.
Cheshire at Work
Realm of Stewart Springs as countless have known it is being erased...not unlike guiding trail through dark woods in 'Alice in Wonderland', swept away by big bushy tail of mischievous Cheshire cat, or erosion of U.S. democratic rights and protections under would-be strongman.
Mediocrity triumphing ingloriously.
Slowly and methodically re-branding and re-purposing place, if misguided plan ever succeeded longterm, former universal healing refuge would, if not close to public as some fear, be forever subordinated to the public subsidizing outfit's clinical quasi-new-age shtick as workshop and event retreat for students, members, employees, plus perhaps any like-minded event planners willing to drink the Kool Aid.
Even this conceivably might've been at least semi-okay (think CA Big Sur's Esalan) IF in process they hadn't turned former quasi-bohemian, free-spirited climate upside down and inside out...which of course they did, in spades.
Countless bereft fans know all too well how -- long before shocking gutting of bathhouse -- they banned clothing-optional, kicked out Karuk sacred sweat lodge and emptied gazebo's prayer/love offering altar. Also, upped bath rates -- twice -- took away free monthly employee bath perk (not even a token discount offered) and increased house take on gift shop consignments and masseuse services.
And locals day? Formerly, regional residents got nearly half off; after, only a few token dollars were shaved. "We love our visitors!" neglected old official Springs site still gushed a year after abrupt changes clearly spoke otherwise, sentiment having become fossilized vestige of kinder times (albeit ever so tenuous).
"We respect all religions and spiritual traditions," outfit claimed dubiously on own Pneuma website.
Would it were true, but actions belie noble sentiment. Or could it be that they simply refuse to acknowledge ancient earth religions that predate -- and were ruthlessly co-opted by -- organized Judaeo-Christianity.
As things stand it it hardly made for peak experience to any longtime aficionado unaware of devastating changes until arriving all psyched...whereupon shocked silly.
More of pit experience.
Such visitors -- before new ownership at last unfurled dismal colors now snapping in breeze striking sorrowful disbelief and righteous indignation in hearts of place's former fans -- had many of former 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 as more fully experienced by having freedom to lose unneeded cover...no constrictive condom of cloth, as it were, dulling and crimping sensory wellbeing and body-mind-spirit integration, being in the altogether blissfully enabling experiencing the sauna, coldplunge, and sunning deck's fullest palliative potentials.
Such formerly experienced positive mindstates are, of course, things ostensibly valued by Pneuma's transpersonal psychology mission statement.
Which led one to ask...
What the #%#@! is wrong with this picture???
Rather than place being devoted to healing by becoming more one with nature in eternal present, beyond thought, in process often experiencing immediate and profound rejuvenation, it's become abundantly clear that new outfit is hell-bent on trying to co-opt realm for their own private gig.
Cynic might view their efforts as putting God in a box and under a microscope, dissecting and over-intellectualizing transcendental mindstates in some
in some formalized effort to roll out a super-structured enlightenment model for indoctrinating therapists new ways to aid psychotherapy clients with big bucks now festering away in distant bergs.
Again, effort itself might've seemed 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, by largely re-shuffling Stewart's as place to teach and perpetuate innovative psycho-therapeutic approach -- while also serving as bureaucratic headquarters and courting more upscale visitors to help pay freight through conventionalized spa, plus lodging for travelers largely ignorant of full-on spa culture -- it suddenly worked overwhelmingly against the ability of everyday trekkers with even a whisper of bohemian spirit and abiding appreciation of genuine spas to any longer enjoy affordable, uplifting reintegration of body-mind-spirit via soak-sauna-plunge...until recently, experienced directly, immediately, on the spot.
It's a bizarre situation too weird to easily fathom. For in attempting such focus re-purposing of Stewart's, with consequential severe cultural disruption , it only worked to inhibit Pneuma's purported desire to uplift consciousness...
...except for those spiritual babes in the woods enrolling in academic classes, workshops and intensives. And "neon-Jesus-glowing-in-the-dark" (Dylan) assemblages of insider group events; general-public Stewart newbies wowed by inherent magic and charm of place regardless of set-up...and, over time, aforementioned therapy patients now quietly freaking in distant neurosis-rich cities -- those who are essentially willing to pay big bucks to have someone remind them to breathe deep.
Very mission statement shows a yawning chasm between ostensible goals and 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.
But if former open-minded clothing-optional policy, implicitly recognizing simple mindful nudity as a powerful expression of love and harmony, thereby allowing a far greater healing experience, wasn't generating positive radical change in hearts of visitors (so long as group energies held together despite absence of mindful management support), then writer doesn't know what else could've, half as well or tenth as easily.
For mindful clothing-optional (c/o) has the incredibly rich ability to open one to once again embrace essential physical self as when infants and toddlers, easily fostering profound reintegration of body-mind-spirit.
Rejected option to pursue conscious freebody awareness obviously has staggering potential -- in more normal times, at least -- to serve as an invaluable tool in raising planetary consciousness.
Easily fostering positive radical change, it's light years cheaper and FASTER, in Springs's appropriate, nature-rich environment, than anything else imaginable.
But apparently in eyes of new ownership such an option made for TOO radical a change. Too uncontrollable. Too California. Too real, perhaps? Made own shtick look tame, maybe even lame, in comparison to those embracing mindful body freedom and fast-tracking radical transformation. (Or they've been so intent on re-purposing place to suit own private shtick that, far beyond simply rejecting clothing-optional spa, they honestly didn't give a flying leap about the spa, period.)
In a nutshell: immediate affordable soul enrichment and body-spirit-mind healing -- once had by anyone entering realm with open mind and heart and willing to embrace nature's wisdom, overcoming any exaggerated body self-consciousness and false modesty -- was indifferently sacrificed, along, now, with very bathhouse itself, to mindset promoting delayed, pricey kind led by professionals invested in super-structured, formalized, tell-me-I'm-not-crazy-Doc psychotherapy...
...all within new, buttoned-down environment reflecting new owners' conservative ways...
...and place's former time-honored, dedication to healing humanity through its powerful mineral waters be damned.
Place's set-up clearly appears FAR more concerned with perpetuating its Institute, with ostensible overarching intent to raise planetary consciousness coming in a dismally distant second.
Outfit's therapeutic approach might seem aimed at those with more dollars than sense, ones who think you must PAY dearly to attain spiritual enlightenment and peace of mind.
It bears constant reminding:
Current owner focus and intent utterly straitjacketed -- and now, totally destroyed -- the ability of free-spirited, awakening or awakened beings to affordably enjoy, unfettered, beloved realm's powerful healing energies in open-minded atmosphere for immediate and profound benefit.
With wild healing spirit suddenly as good as banned, every continuing visitor and event organizer was effectively supporting and reinforcing betrayal of place's true spirit by every cent dropped there.
Likewise any choosing to work there. They were either unwittingly or knowingly serving as accomplices, either concern for making rent eclipsing certain knowledge that place's unassuming, down-home ways were tossed off like so much used tissue, or failed to ever grok the realm's sterling public-service legacy in the first place.
It's so depressing, writer needs a shrink. (Hey, they might be on to something...)
One might suspect that outfit was perhaps only flirting with spiritual awareness as mere adunct to dry psychotherapeutic approach, keeping it wrapped up in frosty clinical mindset (and within confines of
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 long enabled in its own low-key way...affordably, easily, and effectively...allowing for often spontaneously gaining profound body-mind-spirit reintegration through relaxed clothing-optional spa regimen -- thus having zero need for any expensive, drawn-out psychotherapy in first place!
Perhaps one of the best arguments for going nude more often is how exposing entire skin to healing rays of sun produces serious vitamin D, activating serotonin in the brain that magically lifts one's mood with release of feel-good endorphins. It's worlds better, easier, and faster than taking any anti-depressants or undergoing long drawn out, pricey therapy.
Nature obviously is the supreme healer.
Most cynical might view situation as no less than the shrink industry trying to snap up Springs to sideline its service, co-opting super-natural therapy as enhanced by c/o, marginalizing it from being any serious competition in lucrative healing field in order to more easily push own intellectually top- heavy, super-structured gig.
It's perhaps not too unlike status quo resisting legalization of medical cannabis as unfair rival to those pushing often useless, frequently harmful, mad-scientist laboratory-concocted snake oil remedies euphemistically called pharmaceuticals...
...at least until staking out 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 hoping to earn their livelihood in a field so long respected and intimately understood.
Not to unduly demonize...
Again, it's not that outfit doesn't undoubtedly do good. Obviously, there are some problems spa treatments alone can't cure.
Pneuma's European-origin eclectic teaching model, rooted in 1960s' humanistic psychology branch, focuses on achieving positive wellbeing and transcendence rather than seeking neuroses under every rock. It no doubt works just fine -- but elsewhere, perhaps in more consciousness-starved regions, time-warped in old millennium and thriving on such professional specialties of dire necessity, providing healing tool for those affluent enough to divvy big bucks for long-term psychotherapy.
But not in the Future State of California -- leastwise not in nature-loving, free-spirited, infinity-minded rural TOP of California, with natural spirit lifter of Mount Shasta...and most especially NOT at ancient mystic healing portal known today as Stewart Mineral Springs.
New wine takes new containers.
Is 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 outfit's bureaucratic needs, conservative mindset and own particular gig?
Those who've cherished sacred realm's fitfully-free, bohemian, sometimes holy-stoned, culture for decades -- despite last owner's constant profit focus -- hold that new ownership intent is absolutely NOT in any alignment blessed by a loving universe.
More analysis and ranting, plus inside dope on former ownership-management directly leading to current abysmal situation, follows below sea of re-posts over controversial sweat lodge removal in December 2017
Livid Outrage Over Evicting Sacred
and other deal-breakers
Removal of 45-year Karuk tribe sacred sweat lodge in mid December 2017 sparked firestorm from now-alienated, brokenhearted Springs visitors on Yelp, Google Review, and SMS Facebook sites -- most posts since deleted or buried.
The following flurry of excerpted reactions were posted online December 2017 through January 2018. Gathered collection reflects perhaps strongest unified voice
ever made of Springs devotees' love of sweat lodge and place as a whole...unfortunately coming only after losing first and now in danger of losing second.
Note: certain passages are emphasized by editor by italicizing and/or underlining, but any all-cap words are 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 boy, and grandfather were survivors of 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 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
"...very 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
"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
Things are bad, all right. But know that this too shall pass...eventually.
All who have deeply loved place envision a positive future for Springs... either with present new 'ownership' hearts miraculously melting or, barring that seeming unlikelihood, with abject failure of oppressive regime and privatization scheme in due course and eventual re-sale to new, appropriate stewardship, one that can redeem spirit of place for wider benefit of all of humanity.
Know that collective vision and concerted efforts by unorganized, de facto Society for Preservation of Stewart Springs can work miracles.
See latter part of in-depth op-ed below, new intro to Rants & Raves, and New Day Dawning.
As mentioned, most of 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 -- oddly -- added rants back to main page, before in September 2018 deleting entire feedback page. Glad to have rescued so many above heartfelt writings in time, saving them from oblivion.
Frustrating to speak your mind only to have words deleted for being discounted as bad for business...regardless of how sincere, insightful, and true words are.
What's that saying? In times of oppression, speaking truth is deemed a revolutionary act.
& in-depth scoping
What the #%! Happened to Stewart Springs??!
New owners erase popular culture to homogenize, privatize realm to support quasi-new-age shtick
No nudes is good news;
Plan to close gates to public?
"Surprisingly [Stewart's] has not been bought out and turned into a high dollar 5-star resort spa. Interesting, that, because several times that has been looked at, but something seemed to intervene. Its almost like the amazing dual springs are meant to be for all the people, especially the ones drawn there for spiritual refuge and healing rejuvenation. "
-- James Tyberonn
"In the circle of life are the laws of nature. If you stay in that circle everything will be OK. Outside that circle are the laws of man. If you only follow those you are in trouble."
--Russell Beebe of Ojibway tribe
by Stu Ward
Longtime Springs volunteer; suspended support in 12-17 after lodge eviction.
First posted late 2017; revised now and then. Writing is arbitrarily split into 12 parts.
Simon says, "Take one giant wrong-headed step backwards."
Stewart Mineral Springs has long held a special place in the hearts of countless around the world.
Many of its most ardent fans and supporters felt that the clothing-optional ban enacted in November 2016 marked a profoundly
wrong-headed, giant step backwards.
And words could barely register the stunned shock and dumbfoundment over kicking out grounds' sweat lodge, ostensibly done to gain affordable fire/liability insurance coverage.
And now, upping outrage clear into the ionosphere, they're reportedly busy destroying the inside of historic bathhouse in order to repurpose the hundred-year old structure to suit their own exclusive-minded purposes as more retreat/workshop space...and the public be damned.
Writer, local work-trade volunteer who'd felt psyched to create and then maintain bathhouses's cold plunge on informal work-trade basis for over 16 years, had for last two years nourished the Pollyanna hope that the outrageous misstep of banning mindful-nudity option would prove a mere de-facto breather...a chance to let dust of old management unsupported clothing-optional (c/o) scene settle before enlightened all-new management forged a new, more aware and integrated policy...
...one inclusive of place's diverse visitor base...one that would naturally attract management and staff as much motivated in fostering genuine healing as in covering rent or mortgage.
Thinking was that with at least tenuous openmindedness by new, way-y-y-absentee 'ownership', once gaining deeper understanding of place and druthers of once-substantial bohemian-leaning support base it would naturally reinstate clothing-optional post-haste. (This, though learning that one member reportedly owns a popular mineral springs resort in Mexico that is, most assuredly, NOT clothing-optional...Ayy carumba! No nudistas aqui, por favor!)
Realm would've then be brought back in alignment with time-honored tradition of every other popular rural mineral springs resort in northwest U.S., all of which allow some measure of mindful nudity in order to foster optimal purifying, healing, and rejuvenation...often triggering profound body-mind-spirit reintegration in process. Similarly, purported rate increase was seen by writer as done only to absorb covering paying workers better than the two bits over minimum wage long doled out by former, sometimes penny-pinching owner.
Nope. Naive me. Took further calamities of removing gazebo spring-house altar, slashing masseuse's and gift shop consignee's take and, coup de gras, kicking out sacred sweat lodge, to realize something was clearly rotten in the state of Denmark. Sadly detached from place, vowing never to set foot on grounds again as things now stand, same as countless other, dyed-in-the-wool, one-time devotees of cherished place.
And, as it turned out, while maybe management positions started getting more pay, any poor schmuck holding, say, grounds handyman position, a job certainly requiring valuable skills, was reportedly still expected to sweat away at California minimum wage, poverty-level pittance of $10.50 an hour.
First new ownership in 34 years as of 1-19-2016 had seemed such a slam-dunk perfect time -- golden window of opportunity -- to forge a dramatic new start of realm... one infused with dedicated energy, bursting with fresh focus and positive grounded perspective, no longer clouded by chronic past profit-hungry preoccupation, with all its chaotic snafus and downers...
...at last gone an often-dire situation so abysmal, place seemed to be vying for Most Dysfunctional Management Award in some bizarro alternate universe.
So what happened? What kept grand re-set button from getting pushed, restoring sacred place to natural peaceful state as the thriving, diverse, open-minded healing retreat spa it's always longed to return to, being locked into its very DNA?
Wanted: workers willing to work cheap
Why instead did place become horrible, jaw-dropping, slow-motion train wreck it is now? A cultural collision thundering around the world, first by banning clothing-optional and reverting back to improbable retread pre-millennium mindset, rife with oppressive body shame and false modesty, rudely smacking of depressing mindless conventionality that so many came to Springs in part to get break from. Then removing gazebo altar of countless prayer and love offerings -- like tearing down a living church.
Absolute last straw, though, was telling Karuk medicine man Walking Eagle to leave after some 45 years of weekly ceremonies, to cease weekly sweat lodge on ancestors' healing lands, lands held sacred by his and other regional tribes since time untold.
Tearing out the tubs and stalls in the bathhouse was only a post-apocalyptic action, one showing "owners'" true intent lest there still be any doubt.
Whether one participated in sweat lodge or not, its loss is incalculable. It represented the last cultural link to the renaissance days of 1970's progressive Goodpasture family's stewardship. Lodge, along with re-introduced c/o, enabled keeping a modicum of bedrock diversity and bohemian-friendly spirit alive at Springs. More crucially, it served to help neutralize steep karma of place created by 1870's massacre of natives on and around very grounds. (see history)
Enter Dragon Lady with Gilded Visions
& Marching Orders
from All-Business Boss
It's said the cause of anything is everything, and the cause of everything is anything.
Without going any deeper here into historic cause and affect that's made Springs the way it is (explored in History and latter part of part 4 in More Rants & Raves,), what happened recently was former 12-year general manager Rowena P.'s long-nurtured vision of "Refining the Culture."
It was perhaps the predictable result of relentless pressure from former San Francisco absentee 'owner' John Foggy
to try to generate greater profits. It became her constant mantra, spoken reverently with glazed eyes, as she and accomplice, late operations manager husband, Ted D., seemed perversely determined to turn a unpretentious healing place steeped in rustic, down-home charm -- simple dedicated spa with no-frills lodging -- into some improbable wannabe upscale resort (not unlike one we have now), embracing shadowy Babylon world's bass-ackwards bourgeois control-freak mindset all dressed up in slick smiley-face for non-discriminating mass consumption.
Fantasyland vision Afield in Schemes was fed by money-siren whisperings of "If you ban it, they will come". It being place's former unassuming spirit of bohemian-leaning, free-spirited -- sometimes holy-stoned -- culture, with tenuously abiding tolerance for lifestyle diversity, including weekly Native American sweat lodge, spiritual card readings...and mindful nudity in certain, suitably unsuitable, bathhouse and creek locations.
Again, clothing-optional policy gave people a rare chance to shake free of what's often a lifetime of body suppression, shame, false modesty, and/or undue physical self-consciousness. Visitors were at last free to be their real, undisguised selves again, as when newborns and toddlers. Policy fostered a worlds more relaxing, often life-changing, spa experience. (For some, though, only after getting beyond initial intense freak-out stage before at last regaining some semblance of un-selfconscious freebody awareness.)
As it turned out, new owners seemed to like the old-culture-destroying refinement idea just fine, thank you. Unspoken message, again, appeared to be something along the lines of 'Cover your asses you shameless heathen or go elsewhere.'
It came as no great surprise, as she herself brokered the deal for 'ownership' change, reportedly for a 10% cut in what some might view as the ultimate sell-out, having milked an extra quarter-million dollars off place, selling to ready-cash buyers with intentions at such tragically grievous odds with original spirit of place...a spirit always hiding just below the surface, clamoring to re-emerge.
The popular Cafe Gratitude restaurant chain's founder was initially a co-owner. Some thought it a very promising sign... that the place was at last going to turn around. But he soon sold his interest. (One perhaps doesn't haven't to wonder too much why in light of the sorry-ass developments going on there.
Maybe she did some big song and dance about lucrative untapped potential of place -- "The upside potential's enormous!" Or bought in as junior partner. Or is still on payroll as consultant. Or simply took the money and ran. Possibly she'd railed how "Everyone hates clothing-optional except a few low-spending, kinky locals; it's killing business, I tell ya..."
Then again, maybe she didn't have to say a word.
Rumors have long abounded as to what they're actually
Maui's Little Beach irregulars >
up to. Again, one is they're determined to ratchet up bigger-spending, ostensibly more respectable (i.e. unabashedly bourgeois), visitorship, including sundry therapists and practicing
To that end, for a while they appeared busy incubating wannabe tony resort: some witnessed the two new fancy tiled tub rooms, replete with shiny, ostentatiously fancy faucet fixtures. (So blindingly shiny, they reminded writer of a Marine Corps honor guard's steel helmet.) And bathhouse was no longer referred to as simply the bathhouse. It became (briefly) "The Wellness Center." And the humble, homely A-frame? Upgraded to The Chalet.
Another rumor: that they were only homogenizing place by erasing countercultural imprint -- sweat lodge, mindful nudity, gazebo prayer and love offering altar, etc. -- in hopes of attracting more everyday, less-discerning travelling mainstream hordes, who'd buy watered-down spa experience and relatively cheap out-of-town lodgings en masse and likewise better reflect own conventional mindset -- hoped to better support operations and fund Pneuma Institute and doings on grounds. (And, hearty souls, wouldn't mind at all in cold weather if heating in lodgings was sketchy; that or they're too numbed to even think of demanding refund next morning in office...if office was even open before having to leave.)
Either way, time's revealed that the overarching, improbable intent is no less than outright repurposing entire place to serve as world headquarters, retreat and teaching center for owners' Pneuma Institute -- again, peculiar amalgam of conventional Judaeo-Christianity, transpersonal psychology, and new-ageism incorporating mindful breath -- with perhaps some everyday lodgers and general-public workshops/retreats/events effectively subsidizing costs a bit.
Unwitting enablers have included several annual workshop retreat event organizers who, it would seem, loved place more for being their own money generator. They appeared calloused to or unaware of how restrictive and oppressive operation's seismic shift was to place's one-time myriad free-spirited aficionados who largely drove recent roaring success of operation.
And some visitors had gotten so hooked on place they were willing to suffer various and sundry new restrictions IF it meant getting another Springs fix. They're determined not to let new scene keep them from spending more time with a dear old friend. So they'll suffer new downside...or go into denial, driving from mind glaring fact that through continued patronage -- even if only once a year -- they're only helping regime tighten stranglehold on realm.
But some wonder how long public might still be welcome at all at place such as it is, especially with bathhouse gone...
...which brings up last dismal rumor: that a long-ran plan is afoot to eventually close gates to the public. Maybe only after years of suffering them to help finance changes -- and perhaps give time for public to get so royally disenchanted with place that they no longer care what the hell they do with it.
In this scenario, obviously, no one would have chance to even try to enjoy, let alone gripe about, dubious changes. Place would become exclusively for private use by owners, to enjoy for themselves holding Pneuma workshop courses, retreats and intensives, plus host related international social gatherings, workshop classes and intensives...
...maybe keep allowing in a few select outside workshops that can stomach -- perhaps even embrace -- new, rock-ribbed regime in order to help cover insurance, management cost, utilities... and place's sky-high county property taxes (about $28,000/year... that's over $500/week, or $77. every single day of the year).
overnight becomes suspect
It turns out a nonprofit like Pneuma is legally allowed to own a for-profit business under California law and then pay regular taxes on it. Perhaps they have no real incentive to work place any more, taking tax write-off somehow by legally juggling against some more profitable operation of one or more of owners, thereby enabling luxury of remaking place into own scene with little to no concern of making nut, as does any regular, sink-or-swim business operation...or even your on-the-ball nonprofit.
Regardless, in every scenario remedial first step is of course to purge place of undesirably free-minded riff-raff; exterminate freaky infestation by those leaning toward freedom-loving, status-quo scoffing, alternative-lifestyle-embracing ways...in other words, basically anyone who likes to skinnydip or sunbathe and sauna nude...or has always wanted to.
Such unacceptably unconventional (yet for countless, sensible and organic) ways -- rejecting anything rigidly over-structured, unduly profit-minded, and/or life-affirming challenged -- are deemed strange, distasteful, offensive, even dangerous for refusing to worship Mammon, to super-organized sensibilities of seemingly tight-wound ownership...along with would-be snooty patrons and/or convention-locked 'consumers' sought as patrons.
So it became an absolute no-brainer to scrap the popular longstanding clothing-optional policy, get rid of springhouse gazebo's prayer altar, and end longstanding weekly First Nations sacred sweat lodge ceremony.
Plus...chip away at longtime Locals Day deal so as to render price break meaningless; raise rates in general -- twice -- and up takes on massages and consigned gift shop items. (Again, bear in mind that the main outfit's a non-profit. How's that for irony? Proves intent is always bottom line, not profit or nonprofit status alone.)
Stripping away place's former spiritually diverse and egalitarian vibe to be blandly remade by social-conservative owners seems at the very least the sad name of the game now. Adding further insult to injury, workers -- those who didn't quit in disgust second day out, that is -- trying to endure new oppressive regime to in order put food on table (or, again, those who never really got what place was about), no longer got free monthly mineral bath. It had been a thoughtful perk offered for decades as reward for dedicated efforts and helped keep workers in sync with spa's healing reason for being, and otherwise often not affordable at low wages.
Invisible co-owners appeared maddeningly indifferent to how ordered changes erased former popular culture so lovingly built, nurtured, and supported over decades by myriad nature-loving Springs devotees and supporters near and far.
For again, it was former fans who had largely funded place's upgrades -- place reported annual quarter-million dollar profit towards end of old ownership -- by enthusiastic repeat visits over decades and turning friends and relations on to it.
Business is business
But, hey, business is business; it's our baby now and we'll do whatever the heck we want with it, so nyaah. Possession's nine-tenths of the law, ya know. (and perhaps under breath: ...and the sooner we turn you yahoos off to it, the sooner we can shut the gates and quit having to suffer your tiresome howls of protest, gritting our teeth trying to make nice to keep your dollars rolling in a while longer before we finally pull the plug. Then we can enjoy it all for ourselves, heh-heh, hah-hah, hee-hee, ho-ho...)
If rumor of plans to eventually slam gates to public is indeed true and not simply unfounded imagining the worst, at first blush it might appear myriad boycotting fans are screwed.
That is, if owners actually think they could actually close priceless public treasure and still enjoy it with even one shred of spiritual integrity after inevitable condemnation by global community for trying to bogart extraordinary realm that's provided 145 years of dedicated public-minded healing to world's people.
A Japanese-American acquaintance told writer he was shocked such a great natural treasure as Stewart Springs wasn't a protected public spa, as is sometimes done in his old homeland with its own historic rural mineral springs.
Any suspecting this is what's happening might grumble, "Well, why not just shut the damn gates now and be done with it?" The fact they're not provides some hope it isn't true, one supposes...that extent of closely-guarded intent is only to try upscaling and/or sterilize place...
...that is, unless simply hoping to avoid riot; or, again, wanting to keep milking unwitting visitors who think everything's hunky-dory, plus veterans finding place borderline tolerable, to fund ultimate privatization goal...until one day imposing front fortress gates swing shut and clueless, eager trekkers are greeted by signs growling:
Private Property - Keep Out - Violators Prosecuted
No Peak Experiences for You
Parapets Manned 24/7
Transcend Yur Sorry Naked Selves Elsewhere
Okay, so parapets probably wouldn't be manned all the time, but you get the drift.
Envisioning perfect future stewardship
Assuming last rumor isn't actual intent (and maybe even if it is)...if everyone who has loved the place boycotts it (worlds easier to do with shut bathhouse) while raising awareness and spreading word how place's former beautiful, wild cultural spirit has been drastically , systematically suppressed to suit private, buttoned-down agenda, how new owners are re-working place to double as own Pneuma world headquarters, in process strangling it to death as lifestyle-diverse, healing refuge for open-minded, everyday people...
...if enough now-estranged Stewart aficionados do this, while at same time visualizing positive future stewardship, THEN current 'owners' might never generate critical level of patronage or, if choosing to slam gates totally to public, manage to have one iota of peace of mind in efforts to promote own brand of slow-cure healing.
Instead they'd rightly feel like do-do -- defeating overall ability of outfit to help people feel better deep down in communion with planetary oversoul, such global consciousness-raising, after all, claiming to be overarching mission goal of the Institute.
They'd be dead in the water...unless having money to burn and couldn't care less if none of formerly dedicated fans come anymore short of willingness to kowtow to new dampened and limited scene of lodging only.
Former zenned-out mandala pattern of bathhouse floors, including sauna. Old boards were torn out about 2012 due to longstanding moisture rot. Management unwilling to take the time and effort to replicate longtime meditation-friendly touch that had helped make place so exceptional
Over time, private-minded stewards would feel far-reaching popular wrath putting the jinx on any such dreary dreams of enchanted realm only serving as shrink-serving as headquarters/retreat/
classrooms and hosting quasi new-age events.
Widespread public disdain, reflecting the mountain of squirrelly karma that diverted scene is building up, would, in the grand scheme of things, utterly neutralize the effectiveness of any good works outfit attempts to pursue.
Staying away in droves alone might foil any such plans. Annual workshop and performance events that had gone on forever there -- like Zavada's and DeLong's -- would fade away as would-be participants and event bookers realize they'd been drinking the Kool-aid, supporting inappropriate use of place by remaining hooked on it, oblivious or indifferent to how operation's former, fitfully unassuming, open-minded ways were pushed off a cliff.
Such workshop/retreat organizers would then, rather than further aid and abet cultural destruction of place -- that is, if any could possibly still still be attracted to place after their reportedly destroying the bathhouse -- find new places for a while. Maybe Flowing Waters just down the hill -- until ownership changes again.
Their joining in unity with de facto boycott and spreading awareness of unacceptable scene -- along with positive visualization -- could hasten the day when the universe manifests a new, non-profit operation under service-dedicated steward(s), repeat visitors enabled to create an infectious, thriving cultural renaissance in the enchanted realm.
Too, would-be followers and supporters of Pneuma world might sour once connecting the dots and realizing that its bureaucratic mucky-mucks had essentially created no less than cultural genocide at the place they'd hoped to re-purpose to pursue psychotherapeutic methodology with ostensible goal of helping heal the world, and offer place for private events...and the general public, many seeking those elusive genuine bohemian healing spas and long having heard Stewart Springs was indeed one, decidedly no longer welcome.
Redeeming frayed honor
Barring having a miraculous change of heart, they could -- saving grace -- erase such gnarly karma by becoming mindful enough to re-sell at a fair price to now-envisioning, perfect new stewardship...those who, again, would transform place into legal nonprofit healing center. (Owners might perhaps even take a loss by way of penance or at the LEAST sell at cost, allowing for any improvements).
International outfit, relocating to a place happily unhindered by current raging controversy, would regain a fair measure of now-mortgaged integrity and credibility...and ultimately gain a powerful POSITIVE role in realm's age-old healing legacy and evolution. And still be free to enjoy it, like everybody else, once perhaps learning to better embrace inner bohemian...or at least no longer mind so much if others do.
If third rumor -- eventual privatization -- is the case, they'll soon realize, if they haven't already (again, assuming they are indeed planning on eventually slamming gates), that such action is NOT doable in the real world.
...not without disastrous self-defeating consequence.
For global wrath and disdain would all but guarantee the inability to ever enjoy the legally stolen place with one nano-particle of peace of mind. It'd leave them feeling like shallow-water pretenders with zero credibility for trying to push shtick there to increase spiritual awareness and heart awakening after having so coldly suppressed accustomed, spirit-attuned, open-hearted, diverse lifestyle of legions of place's biggest fans and supporters over generations.
Foundations built on sandy grave of destroyed people's culture cannot support anything without reeking to high heaven.
Again, with such a grand reality check they'd know they'd be worlds better off, both karmically and practically, abandoning any such plans.
If indeed having bought place only to mold it to double as headquarters and specialized semi-private retreat and teaching center subsidized by general public, with no interest in ever running public-spirited purifying and healing spa and resort -- beyond watered-down version to help pay freight -- then, again, they'll throw in towel. Duly chagrined, they'll relocate, selling place at fair price to one who will honor realm's former affordable, free-spirited healing tradition for the whole world's open-minded, growth-oriented visitorship to enjoy and benefit by.
As said, old general manager finally stepped down late November 2017 only after two interminable years of surreally remote management post-sale from hundreds of miles away, during which time the largely unempowered on-grounds staff rubber-stamped rigid changes as mandated through her from even more distant owners..most living THOUSANDS of miles away.
First remote owners, then remote manager, both out of sync with dedicated purifying, healing, and rejuvenating tradition of place. No great surprise, then, that lamentable situation often made for remote visitors.
Hard to imagine that the writer was alone in hopes that with owner change might come new, progressive-minded management... transforming climate with infusion of grounded, aware focus...as is cultivated by most every other popular rural spring resort in the wider region.
Surely we'd hit bottom and the only way was up.
Nope. Nowhere near bottom. Was Egyptian fish living in denial. Never suspected that new stewards had ZERO intention of ever returning place to its former glory of being a down-home healing retreat...or even the remotest facsimile thereof
Instead, they seemed jonesin' to strip it down and rebuild it to serve own semi-private-focused interests subsidized by public...and maybe just for a while at that...
...a misguided use unapologetically divorced from historic roots of realm that served for most of its 145 years as an affordable, service-loving, nonprofit-in- spirit, purifying, healing, and rejuvenating retreat for the greater good...
...a place untold thousands have cherished as one of nature's extraordinary mystical healing realms.
believing end justified means
Last, longtime head manager set a sterling example of such desired refinement...not. On days she was in front office before being advised she, er, perhaps wasn't the most gracious welcomer, depending on mood, unless in rare public mellow space she'd either offer stony indifference; best forever-put-upon, how-dare-you-invade-my space-and-make-me-have-to-deal-with-you scowl; or, if REALLY pissed, unleash patented fire dragon outburst, in twinkling of eye biting off the head latest unsuspecting arrival for no apparent reason whatsoever.