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Earlier take
What Happened to
Stewart Springs?

This analysis was written years before the current 'owner' group's intentions became more painfully obvious. Such ramblings offer the reader yet another take on understanding the drastic upheaval and what those interested might do to rescue it;. Some thinking is outdated, but other thinking remains as valid as ever for getting a better understanding on the current situation.  

Is there hope,

or are we screwed?

Anyone the least bit bohemian who visited Stewart Mineral Springs after November 1, 2017, when the popular clothing-optional policy of 17 years was summarily scrapped, or especially since the sea change in December 2017 with the kicking out of the 45-year sacred sweat lodge, is all too aware of the tragic turn of events...events unfolding LONG before March 2020's state-mandated closure of bathhouse due to the Covid scare, and, soon after, the stunning May 2020 announcement of the new 'stewards' decision to KEEP it closed...THEN tearing out the tubs to re-purpose the age-old spa sanctuary along with rest of the grounds just to suit their own, mostly private-minded, public-indifferent dreams and schemes.

One might conclude, not unreasonably, that the actions were all part of a misbegotten plan to convert the place they wrested away from the global community -- a revered, public-friendly spa healing realm -- into a Keep-Out-It's-Ours-All-Ours-Deal-With-It, exclusive retreat...their own event, headquarters and workshop compound for Pneuma's shtick. Plus, as if only to help pay the freight a smidge, allow in select outside groups wanting a nice grounds to rent and are a fit with their depressingly buttoned-down, apparently a not-so-fun fundamentalist mindset. (Though hard to imagine, some might actually LIKE the peculiar flavor of Kool-Aid they're dispensing.)

In light of the recent pandemic, economic meltdown, racial-injustice reckoning, epic wildfires, mis-information viruses, catastrophic floods, droughts, etc., some might no longer have a desire to gain an understanding of where the Springs' current 'ownership' is at...or their now spa-less, astonishingly public-indifferent designs for the legally seized realm.

 

Or, more crucially, be curious about the rarefied healing place's singular, checkered history.

If so, it's understandable. People's feelings towards the place -- until 2017 nominally dedicated, by dint of its traditional (if long fading) public-minded spirit, to serve the public good with an affordable, mindful spa and healing and restful retreat -- had tended to run to extremes...perhaps not too unlike an intense, fickle love affair flipping from red hot to ice cold in an instant and then back again.

But more's the pity. For the more one groks the time-shrouded place -- both its recent history and especially its older one -- the better handle and greater appreciation one might gain of its subtle energetic patterns and long-established roots: serving as an affordable purification, rejuvenation and healing refuge  -- a de facto public trust existing to serve the public.

 

It's then easier to visualize a positive, do-able future with the push of a grand re-set button...either with present 'owners'' radically changing their tune, or -- far more likely, once their public-be-damned, diversionary designs on the place go bust, as surely they will in time -- they're at last chagrined to realize that trying to seize  a place so globally revered was perhaps not their swiftest move ever.

They'll muster the grace to make amends by 're-selling' the grounds to an appropriate stewardship at a fair price, allowing for the realm's intangible but very real and valuable good-will asset having been so heedlessly squandered...thereby ultimately redeeming themselves somewhat and gaining, albeit offhandedly, a positive role in the Springs's continuing historic legacy.

With positive visualization, manifesting the appropriate stewards by dint of enough fans' collective focus and organizing, we can bring the place back full-circle to the sterling service-grounded nonprofit-in-spirit healing retreat it started as seven long generations ago.

Otherwise...with so many having traditionally being forever fickle towards it -- happy to make use of the place when convenient but never allowing room in their hearts to cultivate a hope for seeing it restored back to a dedicated, public-friendly, service-minded realm  -- one might as well kiss the place goodbye.

 

No doubt such a defeatist attitude was borne of the place having been so rudely, ineptly mismanaged and/or neglected in recent decades that its original public-minded focus was often diverted or watered down since leaving the Stewart family's dedicated hands in the 1950s (see history).

 

People couldn't let go of the resulting skeptical attitude. "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," an acquaintance once told the writer with dismaying certainty, referring to the Springs. Such had been unable to glimmer the possibility of rekindling the (unbeknownst to them) realm's one-time altruistic, down-home operation with full-tilt service dedication. Continuing on with such toxic thinking now will only work to let the place remain forever seized from the public, its now estranged fans having to settle for wistful remembrances of the place's bygone glory days while seeking out other kindred rural spas, most hours away...or, perhaps more commonly, going without.

 

Fans must realize that the collective energies of mineral spring aficionados everywhere towards the realm long known as Stewart Mineral Springs could well determine its future; the more we hold its former energy and envision its redemption, the more likely it will actually happen.

What ill tidings have befallen the

erstwhile magickal realm?

Bear in mind that many posters of the countless ecstatic raves reposted on the Review Rants & Raves page, had they visited between November 2016's shocking clothing-optional ban and May 2020's magnitudes-greater bathhouse shutdown, would've felt like rescinding them in a heartbeat. They'd've been loathe to encourage any patronage whatsoever as things stood. (A moot point now, with the grounds closed to all except select prearranged groups who might somehow still manage to enjoy it even without mineral baths, wood-fired sauna, creek coldplunge, massage services, or weekly sweatlodge ceremonies.)
 

"The Illuminati have taken over the Springs!," wailed one early on. Don't know about that exactly, but it didn't take too big a stretch of the imagination to sense that the Springs operation had suddenly, somehow, seemed to have gone over to the dark side...the new conservative 'ownership' appearing to manipulate and intellectualize spirit towards non-public, niche professional ends...setting up rigid rules to assure keeping a tight handle on visitors (or totally ignoring them unless trying to partake in a long accustomed skinnydip), so no one would enjoy the place TOO much...besides them, that is, during affiliated gatherings at 'their' new Shangri-la, and any willing to rent out the place who are hunky dory with the new spirit-crushing restrictions and severely dampened atmosphere.
 

They tried to make the place a better fit to perpetuate their Pneuma Institute -- a peculiar international amalgam of quasi-new-age/conventional/fundamentalist-religion/psychoanalytical shtick, all wrapped up in smiley face for public consumption.

Tragically, such rash actions erased the place's former, fitfully free spirited climate -- a longstanding one they apparently couldn't, or wouldn't, understand, appreciate or respect...and couldn't WAIT to get rid of. Apparently, along with the very heart and soul of the place, the mineral spa -- for over a century providing a far-flung humanity with healing waters and saunas. That is, at least once people rejected their lame attempt to turn it into a conventional, mandatory cover-up scene beyond one's private tub. But for all anyone knows, they might've intended to close down spa service permanently all along, not being at all that spa-minded, and were eager to re-purpose their 'valuable realty' space to something far more to their liking on 'their' new property.
 

Stewart Springs had long been a place with an endearingly old-timey air...one managing to evolve in leaps and bounds over the ages into the quasi open-minded bohemian retreat people had come to love and cherish...despite the longtime S.F.-based, former 'owner's' relentless profit focus and consequent over-wound management seemingly all but clueless to  the relaxed ways of genuine mineral springs culture with their simple, unassuming focus on down-to-earth purification,  healing and rejuvenation.

The current buttoned-down, seemingly tone-deaf absentee-steward mindset and policies are now intractably disconnected from the cooperative spirit embraced by every other popular rural mineral spring resort in the wider northwestern U.S.

 

Tearing out the tubs to re-purpose the bathhouse left no doubt of this whatsoever.

"Refining the culture"

While grimly enduring the light bohemian foothold on the place over her decade-long tenure, former head manager Rowena P.  envisioned 'Refining the Culture' -- her pet phrase and constant mantra. No surprise then that she -- knowing 'owner ' Foggy leaned towards divesting of it once his daughter Crystal took a pass on continuing to manage and eventually inherit it after having given it a try -- served as broker for the property transfer. She reportedly pocketed over a quarter million dollars commission fee -- what some might call the ultimate Springs sellout. 

 

While she loved the springs too in her own way as far as she understood it, her love of lucre was obviously greater than any desire to preserve it for the good of greater humanity by seeking out an appropriate party...rather than the first one down the pike with a casual,  "You think the owner might be interested in selling the place?" query and a load of money.

One of their Facebook Pneuma website statements early on perhaps offered a clue where they were at: "Formation of Spiritual discernment is a great need for our present time! Pneuma offers such formation programs..."

Yes folks, buy your way into enlightenment, we know the way! Special discount on three-day class intensive, this week only.

Formerly, self-empowered and spiritually disciplined visitors gained such discernment on their own, thank you very much. No need to pay a blessed cent past bathhouse admission or lodging, the staggering healing and transformative power of realm's special natural forces being the greatest teacher of all...for free.

First gave benefit of the doubt

This sometimes-naive writer's own, earlier, pre-sale rants on former inappropriate 'ownership' focus, interspersed with re-posted rants and raves of others, were hoped to be ancient history by now and long ago deleted from this site.

The present absentee 'ownership' -- again, peripherally involved in transcendent awareness via its Pneuma Institute -- was given every benefit of the doubt for nearly two interminable years, despite the oppressive clothing-optional ban that, begun nine months in, threw the place into instant mourning and outrage over the healing retreat's suddenly banned body freedom.

 

Unbelievably, the new management dully ignored c/o's near-magical ability when pursued mindfully to foster body-mind-spirit reintegration on higher levels in a twinkling, along with a re-awakened sense of authentic self.  (But then, they're seemingly into transcending personal self.)

The thinking was that they'd been sadly misinformed somehow, perhaps taken in by the at times Machiavellian wiles and wonky upscale visions of the longtime former management team. Knowing she had a big fish on the line, one could practically hear her having pitched, "The upside potential here's enormous!" and "Everyone hates clothing-optional except a few wild, low-spending locals -- it's killing business, I tell ya!" Again, perhaps the prospect of earning a dazzling commission had blinded her to the point she was easily taken in by their reported glib assurance that they basically liked the place "just the way it is" and was clueless to their well-hidden draconian intent. (If they actually said this to her,, as she told the writer they did, it was no doubt the biggest, most baldfaced lie ever uttered in the history of the place.)

How to alienate supporters

in three easy steps

Writer's now long abandoned hope: that they'd come around once realizing the wool had been pulled over their eyes. They'd be chagrined to realize they'd been unwittingly destroying the place's rich culture and longtime core support of those who treasure genuine rural healing and rejuvenating spas  as well as the many medicine lodge followers anchoring the land.

They'd then naturally make amends, wanting to do everything possible to keep such a loyal, growth-minded visitor base happy, working to keep the singular realm's nonprofit-in-spirit, love-of-natural-healing service DNA intact while still making a decent return for their effort.

 

 A win-win-win formula, rewarding to legal stewards, management team and visitors alike. Right?

Wrong.  Dead wrong. Turned out the wool was over the writer's eyes. The current 'owners'  appeared sold on her "Project Refine/Homogenize the Culture"...but then soon revealed their own, public-indifferent twist -- one they waited a good while to unfold.

 

For, along with an intent to 'cultivate' the place's clientele (i.e., turn more upscale, conventional and 'bourgey friendly' -- devolving former quasi-bohemian almost paradise into yet another lah-de-dah, 'Your water's drawn;  ya got forty minutes, meter's running so best not dawdle" retreat (for a while) -- they systematically turned upside down the place's very social climate and time-honored dedication to serving a far-flung public.

Mindlessly, the new 'owners' changed it to suit their own headspace and intent ...even though maybe only flying in to visit a day or two a year from L.A. and Central and South America -- switching focus to having the entire grounds serve first and foremost as Pneuma Institute's international headquarters, workshop, private retreat and classroom space...

...thus essentially becoming its own public-supported retreat/headquarters. With the bathhouse spa dismantled, it's easy to see that getting rid of nudity and pow-wow drummers and everyday people in general was just the first remedial step in their public-indifferent privatization and repurposing scheme. (See the flood of scathing comments over ending Karuk weekly sacred sweatlodge ceremony on home page -- scroll down a long ways.)

Clearly it seemed people were now welcomed to the grounds ONLY to subsidize Pneuma operation and 'ownership' costs a bit rather than out of any giving spirit to provide any affordable purification, healing and rejuvenation, long the place's simple noble tradition.

 

Lest one forget, the place had, until 2016, barring a few egregious disconnects by inappropriate stewards after the 1950s' Stewart family divestiture, been offering, what in recent times became a teaming sea of visitors, simple, down-home healing-water spa service and basic retreat lodgings for over 140 years.

 

Without formally setting up legal protection through dedicated nonprofit status -- thus preventing any changing legal stewards of the moment doing with the place what they wanted, like some fresh canvas to paint on whatever they might fancy -- the place was left vulnerable, forever at the mercy of the latest titleholder's whims, consciousness level, or pet shtick.

 

Many visitors over the decades assumed, or at least wanted to believe, that the place was somehow locked into virtuously serving as a dedicated public trust, a modest natural healing retreat existing to serve the greater public good. Alas, it was a happy illusion. One fostered by the last 'absentee owner's' long 34-year run, during which time he essentially let things be, more or less -- according to the lights of the dedicated family management, which, it turned out, worked to re-activate the place's traditional healing-minded spirit -- just so long as the green kept rolling in.

Pneuma's own website dispelled any notions of resurrecting this original focus of the place early on, the second they tipped their hand by referring to Stewart's as Pneuma Retreat Center...

...and later, if any doubts yet remained, by announcing their intent to convert the historic bathhouse into more private retreat and class space (once ripping out all the tubs, of course)...and then, perhaps the final insult, officially change the very name of the realm (the words "formerly Stewart Springs") soon residing underneath the Pneuma title) and junk the Springs' website altogether.

Had the founder's name been kept at first merely for sake of illusory continuity perhaps, hoping to minimize public outrage until the shocking conversion was a done deal?

(Imagine how stalwart California pioneer and founder Henry Stewart and family might react if time-traveling to now.)

Elsewhere, the place and its legal 'ownership' have been variously referred to as Golden Eagle resort, Kairos Inc., and Logos, Inc. Wouldn't be surprised if there isn't another name or two floating about obfuscating ownership and accountability over what's going on...again, starting LONG before the virus upended things further...a debacle viewed as an unspeakable travesty by a legion of the realm's devastated fans.

Painful fact: Stewart Springs is, currently, no longer Stewart Springs.

Not only does the former all-business focus appear live and well -- now with new narrow organizational focus replacing the former unassuming spa and hospitality service -- but has been ramped up a full magnitude or three.
 

And maybe something worse. For again, it looks as though the unapologetic intent might be -- if they can't find enough groups fool enough to buy into their now ridiculously restricted scene to hold events, retreats and workshops -- no less than the full closure of the grounds to the public. (Some say essentially it already is.)

 

As it stands, reportedly no individual visitors or overnighters are allowed. Not that many would even want to now without the bathhouse, never mind no skinnydipping or full sunbathing, except maybe those attracted to rustic, semi-affordable lodgings.

 

And, of course, anyone enrolling in their pricey workshops or events or hosting one of their own happenings is still tentatively welcome...if willing to sign some no doubt depressingly restrictive boilerplate agreement and can stomach the rigid new climate  -- of course ideally it would be those who sport the same buttoned down mindset and share a healthy disdain for the former free spirited culture that had so rudely cramped the style of the more lah-de-dah, (dare one say fascist-friendly?) element from more fully enjoying the fabled, often bedeviled realm.

Rumors running wild -
What's the truth?

As said, at first blush it had appeared to some that the new operators had perhaps only inadvertently, ingloriously, shot themselves in their collective foot...that they were dooming the once-viable public-dedicated operation only for having unwittingly, cavalierly disregarded the place's long-established (but long fading under successive, often inappropriate stewardships) healing spa tradition of serving the wider public...in the process alienating countless supporters and obliterating the former loyal-visitor base. Surely in time they'd realize their grievous error, feel chagrined and apologize for having made such grievously misguided changes, and bring the place back on even keel.

Countless fans got the bum's rush

As time has proven, they couldn't have cared less.

They apparently had the bucks to give the huge, long-established visitor base the bum's rush while leisurely turning the place upside down and inside out to suit their own purposes and perhaps that of a new, hoped-for upscale spa clientele...again, possibly only tenuously sought for a while to help subsidize 'ownership' costs a while...and maybe give a now-alienated public the chance to get used to the idea of having irreversibly lost their happy place while gearing up for the fuller transition to serving as essentially a private compound...maybe ultimately slamming the imposing twin entrance gates shutter than a bygone old west fortress under attack by heathen savages.

What totally boggled the minds of countless who have long treasured the place as a vital, extraordinary healing realm dedicated to healing is how they tried to lay claim to champion furthering higher consciousness with a straight face, attempting as they did to build a scene to further said avowed aim atop the very ruins of the time-honored culture they so thoughtlessly destroyed.

More than a few might've cynically regarded such an awareness-disconnected pursuit -- what might, again, be called bourgeois spirituality -- as seemingly little more than wanting to hoard the longtime revered grounds expressly to suit their own private professional interests (which, as said, not all in their field find effective therapy) and then put a warm fuzzy spin on it, hoping people would buy it.

Bathhouse re-purposing

highlighted dumfoundingly inappropriate

absentee-stewards' intent

With the bathhouse spa toast, at least for now, the grounds are reduced to a bare-bones, lodgings-and-events-only operation. Legal land holders appear to cling to the hope of continuing to pursue their own gig and resume converting the place into an international headquarters, classroom, retreat, private celebration space and bureaucratic center, showcasing clinical, super-structured Pneuma teaching and practicing model of transpersonal psychotherapy...

...and, riding on the coattails of the place's one-time phenomenal popularity, continue renting out lodging and remaining facilities to a select public on group basis only for events and workshops...those indifferent to (or ignorant of) the place having been essentially stolen from the public...and those enrolling in classes and retreat/event organizers to cover some of the rent, hoping enough people will still want to stay there, even without the century-old purifying spa facility -- which, along with the sweatlodge in later decades, were the heart and soul of the realm (among man-made improvements, at least) -- all so they could keep bogarting the joint to pursue their own gigs and enjoy the place more exclusively, without any troublesome riff-raff upsetting their 'What?-share-OUR-place-with-the-great unwashed?--are you nuts?' mindset.
 

Many might deem such a spa-bereft set-up a terminally lame scene for being a cake without the frosting. Certainly to any and all accustomed to enjoying the healing realm's uber relaxed open-minded atmosphere, the creek providing a continuous soothing soundtrack while day tripping or overnighting, leisurely coursing through one's spa regimen liberated from the tyranny of cloth if so choosing, often leaving reluctantly and anticipating returning as soon as possible.

Many would think such a lodging- and groups-only scene could never work, both the bathhouse and sweat lodge being gone...unless finding enough would-be patrons who, again, knew or cared nothing about place's legacy and didn't realize the new offerings were built atop the ruins of a destroyed, long established, deeply venerated healing culture tradition...unless maybe believing the new 'owners' had somehow most nobly rescued the place from miscreants, perverts, and other assorted rabble who'd been ruining the grounds for the more deserving to enjoy -- people who count...dollars in their sleep.

The more likely scenario, again, is perhaps continuing to lukewarmly invite outside groups as part of a long-term transition plan to convert the once public-friendly domain into a fully exclusive private one. One touting a cheery new sign: 'Private Property - Keep Out - Trespassers will be Prosecuted.'

Decisions, decisions...

or Karma's a bitch

Yet another take: might it be that, despite their former Springs website having painted such a seductively rosy picture with their touted fabulous emerging plans for the place, plans obviously aimed at their own groups and some elusive, affluent, altruism-challenged, tradition-indifferent public  --  the current lodging- and workshop-only operation will fail miserably. They'll realize they'd been trying to staunch the hemorrhaging of funds sucked into a money-pit and at last awaken to the fact they'd been in staggering denial.

Then they'll decide how and when to best divest of what turned out to be a sorely misguided investment, in their covetousness having dared ignore the global sentiment towards a place so long cherished that it became regarded as a de facto public institution dedicated to serving the greater good.

 

The operation has been treading water at best all along...even before the pandemic roared onto the scene, throwing a giant monkey wrench into its already shaky operation, perhaps indirectly providing the coup de gras to aid their grievously misguided intentions to re-purpose the entire place just to suit their own private thing.

 

it wouldn't be the place's first diversionary bust.

"All right, we've got it...now what'll we do with it?"

For over a half century the operational blueprint of the original 78-year, service-grounded stewardship of the Henry Stewart family had been fading away, watered down, dismissed by various as a foolish waste of valuable property and resources.

At times it seemed their noble lost dream could be sensed only by the more openhearted and natural health minded, those who gravitated towards holistic living and healing and were already conscious or awakening and revered Mother Earth's rare and precious medicine.

So over time the place attracted inappropriate legal 'stewards' -- those who brought in their own wonky, pie-in-the-sky, profit-minded and/or private-use brainstorms...intentions that never panned out.


For obvious reason: such powerful and sacred land, with its long tradition of serving as a de facto public trust, resonates ONLY with and supports stewards dedicated to pursuing purifying, healing and rejuvenation...those wanting to share it in the joy of service...

...and causes only chaos, financial hardship and busted fantasies for any so foolish as to fly in the face of such spiritual realities and revered traditions by pursuing ANY other use of nature's gift to mankind.

                                  see  history

Time has proven time and again that anything short of working hand in hand with nature and sharing the blessings of the land with all seeking the healing gift of mother nature  is ultimately a doomed effort. Like spitting in the wind.  

Before the virus outbreak forced the bathhouse closure -- then perversely throwing the baby out with the mineral water and making it permanent -- they seemed willing enough to take the cash of any who could stomach the changes.

Especially newbies knowing no different...perhaps most especially upscale, "cultivated" visitors into charming exclusive resorts offering over-solicitous, prim-and-proper, no-nonsense service; or their own affiliated groups, into super-structured, new-age-tinged teaching programs -- weirdly overlaid with buttoned-down, guilt-based morality and dry, over-intellectualized teaching models  -- rather than the former, trey distasteful, hippie-ish, help-yourself-and-welcome, clothing-optional spa purification, healing, and rejuvenation dance in which one connected directly with Mother Earth, thank you very much.

County's property tax meter is running

at seventy-seven dollars a day

The continued halfhearted catering to the public, now only on group basis to a spaless grounds, appears more than anything to reflect only the expedient hope of offsetting the $2.6 million purchase price and not inconsiderable ongoing operating expenses.

 

Some $77.00 is needed now every day of the year just to cover the annual county property taxes.

 

One wonders, again, if they hadn't perhaps finagled a tax write-off of some sort against another, successful branch of the international outfit or that of one of the co-owners', thus having no worries about losing in droves the patronage of once-dedicated repeat visitors. Or took out second mortgages on homes or other land holdings to meet the purchase price, optimistic that changes would be embraced by the greater public...and they're now beginning to freak on a gnarly, grand reality check.

In any event... such misguided changes have, tragically, erased the former wild, beautiful -- often free-flowing, at times holy-stoned -- energy of the place. Energy that over recent decades made it a favorite place both for locals and regional, national and global sojourners on nature-friendly, life-affirming paths and pulled in by the magic of the Mt. Shasta region.

 

Despite the 'owner' groups' attraction to the realm, having done many workshops there in times past, the outfit's exclusive focus and relatively conservative -- some say fundamentalist -- mindset struck true blue fans

as being at unbelievably depressing odds with the healing retreat's long-abiding spirit... one until recently at least fitfully open-minded despite the constant profit preoccupation by management, its bohemian spirit enduring absent any limiting doctrinaire mindset as now weighs down the realm's former relaxed air like a ton of bricks.
 

The cynical might view Pneuma's focus as little more than trying to cram the wild, infinite Great Mystery life force into a handy-dandy box for three-dimensional clinical analysis and packaged, monetized promulgation, serving as a branch of that high-end healing profession known as psychotherapy.

Their site proclaimed, "Our intention is the Spirit to be always present in each of our actions." Talk about your serious disconnect. Why does that saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions", so readily come to mind?

Seemingly progressive psychology branch

Pneuma's hybrid system, as noted, incorporates psychology's fourth branch, known as transpersonal psychology.

It grew out of humanistic psychology and the human potential movement of the mid-'60s through early-'70s. Again, it's since been academically debated within psychology circles about how effective its therapeutic approach really is.  see here

 

Sometimes referred to as the 'spiritual branch' of psychology, the discipline apparently seeks to formally study, promote and train transcendence of personal being through such things as mystical trances, peak experiences and other altered states (reportedly including, with some within Pneuma, at least, the use of ayahuasca) and enhanced spiritual awareness in general -- aided by focused deep breathing. It endeavors to integrate its departing methodology of fostering such transcendent mindstates into the formalized, gazillion-dollars-an-hour psychotherapy rack- er, profession.

Like Spock, they perhaps distrust emotions as irrational. And, sadly, parted ways with one of the branch's human-potential movement/humanistic roots, which had in the more liberal, often more radical times successfully incorporated mindful nudity into its select group-therapy workshops.

Promising therapeutic breakthroughs were being made then, having realized the profound mind-body-spirit re-integration and awakening of authentic being which simple mindful nudity could foster in appropriate environment and under mindful direction. It enabled people to become far more aware, sensitive and present. (In the 60s, famously at Big Sur in California's Esalan Institute, as prominently featured in then prominent Life magazine.)

Fast-forward and nope, we'll have none of that here anymore. Not in "our" Springs, no siree; don't even think about it. Oughta be ashamed; shades of Sodom and Gomorrah; nude's rude and crude, dude; oughta be eschewed and roundly boo-ed...
 

But then, along with its current conscious breathwork, they also threw into mix Judaeo-Christian tenets with all their baked-in body guilt and crushing burden of Original Sin... putting a decided damper on anyone simply hoping to luxuriate in the rare opportunity, in a perma-dressed world, to enjoy getting unabashedly, mindfully nekkid in a natural environs for a while...whether solo, as a couple, family and/or socially.

Theirs seems a peculiar amalgam indeed, one foot planted on relatively solid ground of innovative, growth-minded psychotherapy, the other in the sinking quicksand of outmoded, guilt-based morality and all its attendant baggage and restrictive thinking.
 

 

The more impressionable might imagine a therapy session going something like this:

"All right, lie down on the couch and get fully comfortable; now breathe deep and -- no, not that comfortable, please leave your clothes on...[later] Well, praise the Lord! Now, how does this enhanced mindstate make you feel? Be specific and -- oh darn, time's up. Hold that thought til next session. By the way, your last check bounced; we'll need to take a card this time."

Okay...in fairness, the system might indeed well prove excellent therapy for any so inclined who can afford it, and is maybe worthy of being cultivated -- in appropriate places.
 

But diverting the age-old prime focus of Stewart Springs, turning the place inside out to facilitate it?  A place so accessible and rich with healing energies that it already naturally fosters altered consciousness, peak experiences, transcendent awareness, and profound healing beyond measure?

...without any help from dry, super-structured workshop intensives and long-term instruction on how to get yourself and others enlightened: This week only, $2,000 off our two-year credential program. Become a certified graduate of the Institute and start making big bucks doing the same thing teaching and enlightening others!

Enlightening wallets, anyhow.
 

No need to put God in a box...leastwise, not at the expense of the countless longtime Springs fans and sea of others now deprived of its healing magic and receptive, open-circuit atmosphere, so conducive to cultivating breakthroughs into higher awareness on a massive human scale that beggars anything the current occupiers could ever even begin to reach.

image_edited.jpg

Perfect little Buddhas crystal formation of Stewart Springs mineral water, photograph by famed water analyst Dr. Emoto's team who once visited; they were no doubt amazed by its pronounced and intricate structure

Again, no doubt it might work fine in more consciousness-starved areas and profession-rich, neurosis-inducing urban scenes, but is one mindbogglingly poor fit in the northern bohemian wilds of the Future State of California, its denizens and aware visitors already soaring through the cosmos.
 

No coals needed in Newcastle, thank you.

'More than a Peak Experience'

One can maybe blame Mt. Shasta's chamber of commerce for ages ago having come up with the classic slogan still posted on Interstate 5' southbound's vintage billboard: "Mt. Shasta -- More than a Peak Experience". The term 'peak experience' was, of course, coined by Abraham Maslow, of the earlier humanistic movement that focused on fostering positive, transcendent wellbeing over looking for neuroses under every rock. No doubt at some point the sign caught the eye of one travelling in the psychology-focused group -- "Wow, the region's psych-friendly!" -- thus planting the seed for the eventual snapping up of the beloved Springs, one that has for so long cried out for APPROPRIATE stewardship to redeem its legacy...

...and for the current abysmal overhaul attempt by the new, woefully misguided 'owners' to proceed: too much nudity, too many trees, too much drumming, too many pagan cards, too much...aggrh, I need my shrink!

pick a rumor, any rumor...

Various overarching 'owner' intent, according to different rumors, have included transforming what was until late 2016 a ridiculously popular rural spa retreat into:

1. A sterile posh resort, serving as backdrop for Pneuma headquarters and transpersonal training classes, workshops, and related retreats. Suffering select outside groups willing to drink the Kool-Aid to help fund Institute and cover operating costs and recoup some of purchase price by leasing now spa-less grounds for events/retreats

2. A private domain; at some point the gates slam shut to  the entire public, privatizing Stewart Springs outright for the exclusive use of Pneuma Institute and its sundry affiliations

Both disheartening prospects, the latter rumor especially fillls with dread any who has treasured the realm, making one pray it isn't true -- or if so will fail miserably.

 

Whichever the case, in both scenarios the remedial first step in revamping operation was to get rid of the riff-raff: everyday alternative-culture friendly, freespirited, or at least openminded visitors, the very ones who had supported and championed the place since the renaissance Goodpasture-ownership era of 1970s, so much so, the place had reportedly started turning a healthy profit for first time ever, during the last few years under 'owner' Foggy's absentee stewardship.

 

Such visitors naturally locked into the healing spirit of the land's powerful mineral waters and the operation's (fitful) tradition of offering unassuming, more or less down-home service.

This in turn fostered a tenuously progressive social climate, one conducive for people from all walks of life to experience tuning into deeper self and nurturing higher being. Again, happening despite recent decades of ​profit-driven 'ownership' intent and resulting control-freak management so often crimping the scene on subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) levels.

New 'owners' either couldn't connect the dots or didn't want to, having a dandy dot matrix of their own: diluting focus and effectiveness of affordable body-mind-spirit therapy of the time-honored spa regimen into a sideline money maker (for a while at least) to subsidize costs while focusing on their own pricey clinical psychotherapy approach...
 

...and use the place as its international headquarters, running formal indoctrination workshops, from time to time enjoying it all to themselves as their own baby...all the while thanking the Lord for being rich enough to rescue the place from the riff raff ruining it for the more deserving bourgeois to enjoy in an atmosphere more befitting the dignity of their elevated stations in life. "Taupe...the walls must be taupe!"

It would now seem obvious that the fox was left guarding the hen house. Almost as if re-purposing the traditional spa therapy retreat was done in order to take out of circulation unfair, cheap competition in the lucrative healing market...diverting focus onto their own, pricey, over-intellectualized, full-chakra-imbalanced therapy regimen while upgrading lodgings to lure booking groups that would embrace (or at least tolerate) the disruptive changes.

 

Sounds like a plan. What could go wrong?

Some might've viewed the seeming stony attitude as, "Hey, we stole the Springs from you fair and square with our hard-earned cash. We're pursuing our own gig here now and whether you like it or not doesn't concern us. It's our baby now. Accept the changes or go elsewhere. Have a nice day... [aside:] or not. Damn hippies, shameless nudists, pitiful pagans...public service? gimmeabreak...mumble grumble..."

 

 

 

 

< An unabashed freebody lifestyle can

 prove unnerving to clothes-minded sensibilities

Even though they clearly have privatizing intent -- rather than just proving inept trying to go more mainstream as one might've perversely hoped was the case -- unless they've unimaginably deep pockets, its a simple matter of time before the operation, seriously hemorrhaging red ink, becomes too much a drain.

As word saturates the planet how the new 'owners' destroyed the historic refuge's revered spa and long healing traditions, they won't be able to entice enough workshop/retreat/event organizers to ever fill the coffers. Not in long run. Or keep any more mindful staff on board, those willing to enforce and endure the muted, tightly controlled scene and not run off screaming by the second day.

With the pneumatic tires of Pneuma's wilderness outpost vehicle thus springing serious leaks, they'd be prompted to either radically change their tune or, if remaining unyielding in hopes of transforming the place to suit their own private-minded agenda yet remain dependent on some public patronage, concede defeat and look for more suitable headquarters elsewhere...putting the place back on the market for new stewards -- service-loving, nonprofit-minded folks -- to rescue with the essential aid of a progressive-minded benefactor...

...if there's any justice in the world, again, at a discount for the mountain of destroyed good will they caused -- that intangible, priceless business asset they tossed off without a thought to accommodate their own private shtick. In so doing, as said, they might thus salvage a bit of now-tattered integrity and credibility and thus ultimately gain redemption and an offhandedly positive role in Stewart Springs 146-year legacy.

For a while they seemed to try to go all posh -- the once-humble bathhouse was, until gutted, grandly referred to as the "Wellness Center" and A-frame's pedigree was upped to..."the Chalet".

Now, even among would-be clientele and perhaps even their own group members, one hopes they'll have enough social conscience to realize something's just not right, something's seriously out of whack, and so refuse to support it. 

 

As word keeps spreading how the new, abysmally absentee 'owners' -- whether willfully or unwittingly is moot now -- alienated thousands of former faithful fans and longtime supporters, poisoning the place's semi-bohemian vibe and creating a veritable Matterhorn of bad karma for their ostensibly laudable causes, then such 'owners' might, again, never gain enough steam to make a viable go of whatever misguided fantasies for the place they might have.

Unable to successfully subsidize their over-organized, credentials-dispensing shtick and tiring of pouring cash down a money pit, again, they'll sooner or later give up and seek headquarters elsewhere...putting the place back on market -- and, ideally, muster the grace to find an appropriate buyer or buyers (or be approached by same).

If, however, the intent is indeed on outright privatizing and they've the bucks and wherewithal to keep running at a big loss, and/or have finagled some legal tax write-off, on the surface it might look as if fans are screwed. As others have pointed out, assuming this is case boycotting and badmouthing only helps along a bleak transition.

It would enable swinging the fortress gates shut to the public that much sooner with minimal howling from the disenfranchised. 2-15-18 Yelp review by Reality Check Z, of Napa, CA would be music to their ears: "Very poorly run operation. Stay away". Hee-hee, please stay away. Also, the 2-22-18 Yelp review from Share S., of Seattle. WA: "Worst place i have ever stayed. No heat i frooze to death awful management who does not care." Heh-heh, glad you got the message; keep those rants coming!

With fans thus giving up on the once-magical, universal-spirited, affordable healing refuge (in the mid 1990s, on locals day saunas were $5, baths $10), and aware newcomer groups being duly repulsed, the present detached absentee "owners" of the new acquisition and their affiliated groups would be left alone to enjoy their legally-stolen paradise...but with what could only be contentious un-peace of mind, sensing, if only vaguely, the dire reckoning force they unleashed on themselves.

In any event, no bothersome demanding riff-raff blocking their midnight sun while pursuing their own particular quasi-spiritual teaching model amid a refuge now safe from the distasteful teeming hordes of everyday people,

so abominably clueless and unsympathetic to the crushing burdens and grave responsibilities of the deserving rich.

 

We'd then at least more fully appreciate how the original First Nations soakers felt when their sacred medicine grounds were destroyed in the 1870s' massacre by intolerant white settlers, likely stirred to a frenzy by hired railroad guns, and the next generation seeing the place turn into a white man's resort, one eventually sporting an old-west cavalry fort entrance as if to keep them out.   see history

Perhaps the best hope -- should this actually be the intent and not simply an unfounded, assuming the worst, sky-is-falling rumor -- is to continue shaming and appealing to their greater selves, through social media, as so many have done. (see sweat lodge removal outrage re-posts on home page; also clothing-optional-ban, re-posted rants later this page.)

Offer them grand reality check of the dire consequences IF misguided enough to think of continuing going forward with such egregiously misguided use of the de-facto public-trust healing refuge, having already done too dastardly a deed to ever experience a shred of peace of mind or abiding enjoyment of the place having created such a giant boatload of gnarly, stinking-to-high-heaven bad karma that it beggars comprehension.

Assuming they do realize this in time (again, if indeed there is in fact such a plan to fully close place to the public), they'll either come around and change course or, if feeling they'd blown it too royally to even try redeeming their scene, sheepishly concede defeat, re-sell, and look for more suitable headquarters elsewhere...

...guaranteed to be one more peaceful and fruitful, no more outraged public diverting focus to do good works for having to constantly put out brush fires of negative publicity...

.. and the place can get back to the genuine love-of-service spirit it was founded on so long ago.
 

Maybe some reader knows of possible someone(s) and can connect them -- or IS that someone, or part of a like-minded group. Perhaps ideally a contingent of so-inclined Springs fans could work on a volunteer work-trade basis with buyer(s), offering focused, informed support, donate handy resources, some possibly making available further  seed money as needed for day to day operational expenses. Also brainstorming on do-able ways to resurrect the realm and develop committed community support. Thus, with a few full-time, paid positions as needed for everyday operation like manager(s), legal, accounting. publicity director and construction projects and upgrades, an informed, fully staffed, dedicated and transparent operation could be established. almost from the very get go.  
 

Stating the obvious: the more now-estranged conscious Stewart Springs fans visualize the place  becoming fine-tuned as a legally-chartered nonprofit mineral springs retreat/resort, charitably dedicated to serving the greater good, the sooner such a vision might manifest.

'Owner' change at first seemed promising

Despite the initial promise of what appeared enlightened intent by the new ownership as of 1-19-16 -- first in 34 years despite a raft of false rumors to contrary circulating for decades, and place having enough charm to spare for first-timers to enjoy -- things are now unspeakably dispirited to anyone who ever knew it in mellower times...
 

...to the point myriad, including writer, have vowed never to set foot in place again until 'owners'' hearts miraculously melt or, far more likely, they give up their misguided plans and sell to new, progressive-minded stewards. Or, if indeed hellbent on eventually privatizing and shutting fortress gates, and actually succeeding in achieving their woefully dismal goals (though hard to imagine a just universe allowing it), perhaps never.

 

What's most galling is how, in the name of the proclaimed pursuit of inner peace and world enlightenment, they could so mindlessly erase the quasi-bohemian  social climate that's been the hallmark of the place for fans and lovingly built up over the decades, a climate that aided visitors in having so many transcendent experiences, life-changing breakthroughs and bushelfuls of treasured memories.

It was a people's culture that evolved despite the profit-minded focus of absentee 'owner' of the previous 34 years. Again, saving grace, he was liberal-minded enough to let late local manager Mary H. and family run the place in a way reviving something of its original spirit under the Stewart's. And a way suiting popular visitor preferences, which eventually included turning the place clothing-optional beyond one's tub should one so choose. He realized that droves of open-circuit, free-spirited and growth-minded travelers the world over either seemed to totally resonate with the liberalized policy, quickly learned to, or at least tolerated it as simply the way things were -- as do visitors to any well-established clothing-optional mineral springs resort.

At the risk of stating the obvious too often: the former freebody atmosphere had embraced Mother Earth's healing power, allowing becoming one with the elements, unshackled from society's mandatory cloth cover-ups, making for WORLDS easier and faster purifying, healing and rejuvenating.
 

There was ZERO need to dryly analyze spiritual influences on the psyche or pursue any particular approach to enlightenment or salvation to the exclusion of one's own unique awareness, lifestyle, and belief systems, as now seems the case...all in name of an unwieldy, seemingly impersonal scientific discipline...one oddly overlaid and entangled with the claptrap of organized religions.

Altering the grounds to mirror 'ownership's' more conservative ways and private-minded re-purposing intent obviously precluded (even before scrapping bathhouse operation) letting visitors enjoy the place any more for having the option to sauna nude, skinnydip in the creek or sunbathe au natural -- even if receiving profoundly more benefit in the process...healing benefits long accustomed to and embraced b​y countless.

Or visit mineral water source gazebo to center and reflect and leave prayer and love offerings, building up the momentum of the realm's powerful medicine wheel. Or be inspired by the various time-enchanted divining cards during purification and relaxing in the bathhouse lobby, helping activate and reinforce higher consciousness in the moment, not years later during $200+/hour shrink session in some obscure urban outpost. Or experience a life-changing miracle in the ceremonial sweat lodge, connecting participants with deeper-most, prehistoric roots of the American continent.

Not that they were actually thinking this, but it sometimes seemed that their overarching attitude and strategy essentially boiled down to something like the following:

"Hey, if everyday visitors have illuminating and liberating experiences on their own, in part for being allowed the freedom to gallivant about in their birthday suits, it'll make our own vested formalized method on how to cure what ails you look pretty damn lame.
 

"Can't have that; we'd appear irrelevant, maybe even stodgy. Would-be enrollees in the classes wouldn't be anywhere as attracted and thus support our operation costs. Gotta dial down scene to make our own shtick, with the goal of 'profoundly reintegrat[ing] body-mind-soul on higher level' [their actual words], actually look liberating or we might be screwed."

Verdict in the Court of Public Opinion

Overwhelming evidence supports a verdict that the new 'ownership' flagrantly betrayed the place's public-minded healing spirit -- again, no matter any more whether re-purposing was done in ignorance of divine law or in willful rebellion -- while imposing the hard, worldly edict of 'Whoever has the gold makes the rules, deal with it -- greater good? That's a good one; gimme a break!'

 

Consider:

 

Exhibit A: scrapping therapeutic, 17-year clothing-optional policy

Exhibit B: ridding springs gazebo of love and prayer offerings altar

Exhibit C: ending 45-year weekly sacred sweat lodge ceremony

Exhibit D: slashing take of masseuses and increasing take on consigned gift shop items

Exhibit E: no longer offering employees free monthly bath, decades-old tradition

Exhibit F: clear-cutting over an acre of mature trees on grounds above main road below cabins, for new septic system leach field for bathhouse greywater, pumped across creek. (surely a more ecological solution was out there)

Exhibit G: removal of rich assortment of inspiring divining cards from bathhouse lobby table

Exhibit H: permanently ending spa operation

 

One shudders to think what the next exhibit might be...

If the ultimate plan is to privatize and close the place outright to the unwashed masses, as now appears the case for having dismantled the bathhouse fixtures ("Hey, it's valuable real estate going to waste"), perhaps they've only been trying to piss everyone off all along. That way, nobody would mind if the gates actually DID slam shut and new signs greet hopeful, yet-uninformed trekkers (there are still some), basically saying:

Go Away - Private Property - Trespassers Prosecuted -

No Bliss for You - Transcend Yur Sorry Naked Butts Elsewhere - What Sacred Waters?

Bigger Duh

The over-commercial, conventional-minded ways of recent decades at the Springs, so rife with authoritarian stances it seldom even bothered to mask intentions to milk the place blind, has long interfered with earnest, original focus of place's pioneer namesake founder: relaxed purification, healing, and rejuvenation in the tranquil arms of nature. Simply and affordably. And before that, centuries of peaceful, reverent sharing of healing land and waters by the First Nations people.

Fans of the place, including writer, had tried making the best of a bad situation, and for a long while were fitfully successful, as nature's wild and free spirit prevailed. Former absentee San Franciscan owner, John Foggy, beyond his relentless profit focus, appeared something of an easy-going, liberal-minded Libran who let many things be if they appeared good for business. 

Since the recent intolerable developments, the former 34 year regime, flawed as it was, looks pretty damn good now. Can just hear Foggy chuckling, "Betcha miss me now, huh?"

~ Despite all, dreams of 

a peaceful planet persist.

How much longer will fans be deprived of one of their former favorite places on earth?

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