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Rant

& in-depth scoping

 

What the #@%! Happened

to Stewart Springs??!! 

 

  • New 'owners' erased popular bohemian culture

  • Privatized realm for own quasi new-age shtick

  • Trying to subsidize costs by letting in select groups only - no more individual visits

  • No nudes is good news

  • Bathhouse tubs, stalls and sauna torn out

 
 
 
 

 

"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

Former creek cold plunge at Stewarts, below bathhouse


 

Stewart Mineral Springs has long held a special place in the hearts of countless mineral spring and rural retreat fans around the world.

 

Many of its most ardent former fans and supporters saw the clothing-optional ban enacted in November 2016 as but the harbinger of a long string of abysmal changes that eventually would erase the very spirit of the place. It was one that, even by itself, marked such a repressive, giant step back, it defied all understanding by the place's more open-minded visitors.

A year later, words couldn't begin to register the dumbfoundment over kicking out the grounds' Karuk sweatlodge, ostensibly done to gain affordable fire/liability insurance coverage, though the lodge was reportedly informed that the new 'owners' had their own shaman and so no longer needed or wanted theirs on 'their' new grounds.

 

Then, upping spa devotee shock and outrage clear into the ionosphere, after being unable to successfully switch bathhouse operation to mandatory cover-up following a 17 year policy allowing a bit of (mostly) mindful, low-key body freedom, the absentee stewards gutted the bathhouse, intent on repurposing the entire hundred-year old structure to suit their own, non-spa intentions...

...and the realm's fitful but enduring 147 year healing spa and rejuvenation retreat legacy of benefiting the greater good be damned.

 

One might've suspected that this was the intent all along, that the public's rejection of their new mandatory cover-up policy, combined with the global upheaval of Covid 19, was merely used to mask private minded reasons for buying the place.

 

Later depressing developments included officially changing the place's name to Pneuma Retreat Center and disallowing individual (if by then spa-less) visits beyond reportedly picky multi-day bookings by groups willing to drink the Kool-Aid they were dispensing, and in May 2020 abandoning spa service altogether.

 

Writer, a local former work-trade volunteer, had been psyched to create and maintain the bathhouses's cold plunge on an informal work-trade basis for 17 years. During the first two years of new ownership, a Pollyanna hope  was kept alive that the outrageous first misstep of banning simple nudity would prove only a de-facto breather...a chance to let the dust of old management-unsupported clothing-optional scene settle before an enlightened, all-new management forged a more aware policy...

 

...one inclusive of the place's diverse visitor base...one that would naturally attract a management and staff as much or more motivated to foster genuine service rather than just plug into yet another gig to cover rent or mortgage.

by Stu Ward

Longtime Springs volunteer, suspended all support 12-2017; hasn't set foot on the grounds since. 

First posted in late 2017, this former-insider spiel is revised or tweaked every now and then for continued relevancy. Remaining are a few skeletons of earlier sussing of 'owner' intent and public use when bathhouse was still open and perhaps an over-focus on radical body freedom; make due allowances. Writing is arbitrarily split into 11 parts.

 

For similar, semi-informed rants and analyses, see Home Page, New Day Dawning, Gone the old Merry-go-Round and towards end of Yet More Rants & Raves.

 

part 1

Simon says, "Take three giant steps back":

Clothing-optional bites the dust, then the sweatlodge,

then the time-honored spa.

 

The deluded thinking was that with at least a some open mindedness by the new, way-y-y absentee group 'ownership' (some living thousands of miles away), once gaining a  deeper understanding of the place's extraordinary (if faded) dedication to serving the public and the druthers of its once-substantial, bohemian-leaning support base, they would reinstate clothing-optional post-haste. (Until, that is, learning one 'co-owner' reportedly owned a popular mineral springs resort in Mexico that is, most assuredly, NOT clothing-optional...'Ayy-yy carumba! No nudistas aqui, por favor!')

image_edited_edited.jpg

The realm would then be brought back into alignment with the time-honored tradition of every other popular rural mineral springs resort in the greater northwest U.S., all of which allow some measure of mindful nudity during spa rounds to foster optimal purifying, healing and relaxation...often triggering profound body-mind-spirit reintegration and re-awakening of authentic self in the process. Similarly, the reported rate increase was seen as done only to absorb covering paying workers better than the two bits over minimum wage long doled out by Stewart's former, sometimes penny-pinching, absentee steward, John Foggy.

Nope. It took the further calamities of removing the gazebo spring-house altar, slashing masseuse's and gift shop consignee's take and, coup de gras, kicking out the sacred sweatlodge, to make the writer realize something was indeed rotten in the state of Denmark. Devastated, I broke away from the place that had been home away from home for decades, providing incredibly fulfilling volunteer work service while enjoying the grounds the same as any other grateful visitor. I vowed never to set foot on its grounds again as things stood -- the same as countless other now-estranged devotees of the long-cherished realm.

As it turned out, while management positions maybe started getting better pay (more motivation to do whatever one's told, no questions asked), any poor schmuck holding, say, a grounds handyman position, a job requiring certain valuable skills, was reportedly still sweating away at California's minimum wage, then the poverty-level pittance of $10.50 an hour.

The first new 'ownership' in 34 years as of 1-19-2016 seemed a slam-dunk perfect time -- a golden window of opportunity -- to forge the dramatic rebirth of the realm... one infused with dedicated energy bursting with a fresh focus and positive, grounded perspective, no longer clouded by chronic profit-hungry preoccupation or attendant chaotic snafus, disconnects and assorted downers...

...at last gone a dire situation sometimes so abysmal it could seem the place was vying for the 'Most Dysfunctional Management' award in some bizarro alternate universe.

Stewart Springs covered walking bridge, with pond statue in foreground

Then -- the absolute last straw for many -- telling Karuk medicine man Walking Eagle to leave, ending the lodge's some 45 years of open-to-the-public ceremonies, weekly sweats on the indigenous ancestors' healing lands held sacred by regional tribes for time untold.

 

The later tearing out the tubs in the bathhouse was only the post-apocalyptic tragedy. One showing, lest any doubt remained,  that the "owners'" intentions for their new place were heartbreaking beyond belief.

Whether one participated in the sweatlodge or not, its loss was incalculable; it represented both the last cultural link to the renaissance days of 1970's progressive Goodpasture family's stewardship, as well as the prehistoric reverent use of the land.

 

The lodge, along with the re-introduced  c/o (clothing-optional) policy, had enabled keeping a modicum of bedrock diversity and quasi bohemian-friendly spirit thriving at the Springs despite the off-putting. profit-jonesin' headwinds. And, crucially, it served to continue neutralizing the horrible karma of the place created by the 1870's massacre of natives on and around the sacred healing grounds.

     see history

 
 

part 2

Enter Dragon Lady with Gilded Visions

& Mar​ching Orders from Former

All-Business Boss

 

 Lao Tse said the cause of anything is everything and the cause of everything is anything.

Again (not meaning to over-dwell on the subject here, but radical body freedom was a personal crusade at the time of original posting), the clothing-optional policy offered visitors an invaluable chance to -- if one so chose -- shake free of a lifetime of sociably ingrained negative body image. Visitors were free to be their real, undisguised, essential selves as when newborns and toddlers, getting whatever spirit-demeaning body objectification out of their systems and awakening an reintegration of body, mind and spirit on more holistic levels. Radical healing is what any mineral springs resort worth its salt was all about, and radical body freedom is a vital component for gaining maximum benefit.

 

The policy, when consciously upheld by daily group energies despite little to no support from management (which instead offered mere tolerance, as it appeared great for business), fostered a more relaxed, effective, and sometimes even radically life-changing  experience.  

As it turned out, the new 'owners' seemed to like the old-culture-destroying refinement idea just fine, thank you. Their unspoken message once showing their true colors: 'Cover your asses, shameless heathen.'

It became her mantra, spoken with glazed eyes, as she and accomplice, late operations manager and husband, Ted D., seemed perversely determined to try turning what was a unpretentious healing place long steeped in rustic, down-home service -- a simple dedicated spa with no-frills lodging and event space -- into some improbable wannabe exclusive upscale resort...on one level not too unlike the one we have now, which seems to embrace a shadowy Babylon world's bass-ackwards, bourgeois control-freak mindset all dressed up in smiley face for public consumption.

 

Their Field of Schemes fantasyland vision was fed by money-siren whisperings of "If you ban it, they will come" -- it being the place's former bohemian-leaning, free-spirited, sometimes holy-stoned, culture. One with an at least tenuously abiding embrace of lifestyle diversity and universal spirit, including weekly Native American sweat lodge, medicine card readings -- and mindful nudity in suitably unsuitable areas of the bathhouse, sundeck and creek.

Without going deeper here into the historic cause and affect that made the Springs the way it was over the ages (explored in History and the latter part of part 4 in Yet More Rants & Raves), what happened in more recent times was the former 12-year general manager Rowena P. coming aboard in 2006 with a vision of "Refining the Culture."

 

It was the predictable result of relentless pressure from the former San Francisco absentee 'owner' John Foggy to keep increasing profits.

 

So what happened? Obviously, the place got sold to the wrong people. Foggy apparently wouldn't lose any sleep over what the new deed holders might do with the place for which he'd spent 34 years as 99% absentee legal steward, alternately neglecting and lavishing money into it. That's what kept any grand re-set button from being pushed by outgoing management, hamstrung by letting profit hunger eclipse genuine service, to find a good match for new legal guardians. Ones who'd be happy to restore the realm to its natural state as the thriving, public-dedicated healing spa retreat it's always longed to return to, an open sharing spirit being locked in its very DNA.

 

Wanted: workers willing to work cheap

Instead, the place became the horrible, jaw-dropping, slow-motion train wreck of a disaster it is now. A cultural collision felt around the world. First by banning clothing-optional and reverting to a retread pre-millennium mindset rife with a depressing alienated body attitude so many came to the Springs in part to get away from. Then removing the gazebo altar of countless prayer and love offerings -- almost like tearing down a living church.

It perhaps came as no great surprise, as she herself brokered the sales deal, reportedly for a 10% cut, or over a quarter-million dollars. Some might've viewed this as the ultimate sell-out, handing over the once de facto (if tenuous) public-dedicated spa and spiritual retreat to the first ready-cash buyers coming up the road. Ones with, as it turned out, initially well hidden intentions at mindboggling odds with the historically relaxed, public-friendly, spa-focused tradition of the place... a place, again, with a dedicated, charitable-minded spirit hiding just below the surface clamoring to re-emerge.

 

Writer later heard an insider rumor that the operation's reported revenue levels had been exaggerated during the protracted sales negotiations and legal transfer; perhaps such a ploy was felt needed to cinch the most lucrative deal possible with the eager but largely uninformed buyers.

 

If true, it might explain why the vibe of new stewardship at times could seem so sour and put out, as if maybe having buyer remorse, realizing how coveting of the place stymied exercising any more due diligence and they were left trying to make the best of a bad deal. (When banning clothing-optional went over like a lead balloon, causing visitor volume to evaporate overnight, their thinking might've gone something along the line of, "Good, we didn't want to run any damn hippie spa anyhow. Now we'll just end bathhouse service altogether and recycle the building to something else. After all, we own it, so we can do whatever we damn well please; people might not like it, but tough. Whose property is it, anyway?")

 

In any event, que lastima.

Historic nudist photo

Maybe the former manager had done some big song and dance about the lucrative untapped potential of place, inflated figures and all -- "The upside potential's enormous!"   Then took the money and ran. Possibly she railed how "Everyone hates clothing-optional except for a few low-spending, kinky locals; it's killing business, I tell ya..."
 

Then again, maybe she didn't have to say anything, the place practically selling itself.

Maui little beach clothes-free rregulars

who could afford Pneuma's pricey two-year course programs to gain credentials to integrate its transpersonal psychology approach into therapy practice and/or in turn teach others how to better tap into the lucrative high end of the healing field.

(See 2013 academic article questioning the transpersonal psychology branch's effectiveness; also the 2015 book, "Revamping Psychology: A Critical Review of Transpersonal Psychology",

on Amazon)

Seemingly towards that end, for a while they appeared busy incubating a wannabe tony resort. Former regulars had earlier witnessed the bathhouse's two new fancy tiled tub rooms, replete with shiny, ostentatiously fancy faucet fixtures. (They were so blindingly shiny they reminded writer of a Marine Corps honor guard's steel helmet.) That they were renovated at a snail's pace, well over half a year, was maybe an indication of how disconnected the new owners were from the idea of keeping the spa running... a spa long dedicated to serving the great unwashed masses as a  public-minded service for the greater good. Early on the bathhouse, no longer referred to as such, became (briefly) "The Wellness Center." And the humble A-frame house? Upgraded to "The Chalet."

Believe it or not, Mathew Engelhart, the founder of Cafe Gratitude, a small popular California vegan restaurant chain, was initially one of the new co-owners. Many thought this a promising sign indeed... that the place was maybe at long last going to experience a grand turnaround in consciousness and renewed dedication to offering the public healing spa service and simple lodgings. But he soon sold his interest. (One perhaps doesn't have to wonder too much why in light of the sorrowful developments that unfolded after he bailed.)

Rumors plentiful

Rumors abounded as to what exactly they were up to. 

 

One was that they were determined to ratchet up a bigger spending, ostensibly more respectable (i.e., unabashedly bourgeois) visitorship, including Pneuma-interested therapists and practicing psychologists

  

              Maui's little beach irregulars> 

In the immortal words of Annie Hall, "Well, la-de-dah."

Either way, time revealed their overarching intent -- if not all along, then in midstream, after droves of fans accustomed to body freedom rejected mandatory cover-up -- was to upend the entire place's long-dedicated operation to accommodate their own shtick: first and foremost to serve as world headquarters, retreat and teaching and indoctrination center for their Pneuma Institute - a peculiar, seeming amalgam of conventional Judaeo-Christian mindsets and transpersonal psychology, with strong focus on mindful breath as a psycho-therapeutic aid, mixed in with abiding interests of other co-owners: Central and South American

shamanism.

Stairway to a cabin at Stewart Springs

Another rumor: that they were only homogenizing the place by erasing an undesired countercultural imprint -- sweat lodge, (mostly) mindful nudity, gazebo's love altar and all -- in hopes of attracting more everyday, less discerning, travelling mainstream visitors. Those who'd buy a watered-down spa experience and relatively cheap out-of-town lodgings en masse, those who'd better reflect their own conventional mindset. (And yet, hearty souls, wouldn't mind if in cold weather the heating in lodgings was sketchy. That, or they'd be too numb to even think of demanding a refund the next morning in the office -- assuming the office was even open before having to leave.)

image_edited.jpg

Unwitting enablers early on included several longtime annual workshop retreat event organizers.  It seemed perhaps they'd loved the place more for being their own money generator, disregarding the owners' detouring intentions for it. It struck some they appeared either indifferent to, or perhaps in denial of, how restrictive and oppressive the operation's seismic shift had become to the place's legion fans, the very ones who'd driven its level of operation through the roof in recent decades.

Similarly, some visitors had gotten so hooked on the place they seemed willing to suffer the new restrictions if it meant getting another long-accustomed mineral water fix. They were determined not to let such things keep them from spending more time with their dear old friend now in dire straits. With a cynical, "Sure it sucks, but what can you do? -- management will NEVER get it right" attitude,  they suffered the new slings and arrows...or, again, went into denial, driving from mind the fact that through continued patronage -- even if dropping coin there just once a year -- they were effectively helping the public-indifferent occupational forces further tighten their stranglehold over the realm.

Covered bridge walkway to Stewart Springs bathhouse (before a car bridge was built)

Some wondered how long everyday people might still be welcome at the place, such as it was, especially when, in 2020, the bathhouse's century-old spa service suddenly vanished into thin air...

...which brought up yet another dismal rumor: that some long-range plan was afoot to eventually close the gates to the public outright. Maybe only after years of suffering them to help finance the changes -- and perhaps give people time to get so disenchanted with the place that they no longer cared what the hell they did with it.

In this scenario (which, as of late 2023, has, alas, essentially come to pass), obviously no one would even have a chance to try to still enjoy it, let alone gripe about the place. It would become exclusively for private use by the 'owners' to enjoy themselves, hold Pneuma workshop courses, retreats and intensives, and host related international social gatherings, workshop classes, intensives, maybe embark on one of their oft-rumored ayahuasca trips (while at the same time reportedly condemning cannabis use)...

image.jpg

...maybe, again, allowing in a few select outside workshops who could stomach, maybe even embrace, the rock-ribbed, buttoned-down regime to help cover insurance, management, utilities -- and the place's new, sky-high annual county property taxes.

 

Based at roughly 1% of the 2016 sale price ($US 2.6 million), it's now about $28,000 a year.

 

That's over $500 a week, or $77. every day of the year. That's like feeding a parking meter thirteen quarters every hour around the clock to keep the county from towing the place away for tax default (again, as it first happened in the early '80s, when Foggy got it).  history

 

Is it any wonder they reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection early on from creditors, maybe employing the age-old corporate trick of having set up a separate legal offshoot entity whose debts the mother corporation couldn't be held legally liable for or its deep pockets tapped to make things right?

 

part 3

Bohemian lifestyle

became suspect overnight 

 

It turns out that a nonprofit like Pneuma is allowed to own a for-profit business under California law and then pay regular taxes on it (or run at a loss). Perhaps they had no real incentive to work the place more, taking a tax write-off somehow by legally juggling against some more profitable operation of one or more of the 'owners',  or Pneuma footing the bill (or, again, declaring bankruptcy to shake off creditors), thereby enabling the luxury of remaking the place into their own, essentially private scene with little to no concern of ever making their nut, as does any regular sink-or-swim business operation or on-the-ball nonprofit.

Regardless, in every scenario the remedial first step was to purge place of the riff-raff; exterminate the freaky infestation of bohemian- and countercultural-friendly who leaned toward freedom-loving, status-quo scoffing, alternative-lifestyle embracing ways...or, essentially, anyone who liked to skinnydip, sunbathe nude, or sauna in the buff. Or was open-minded enough to give them a try in the appropriate and supportive rural atmosphere Stewart Springs provided.

Such unacceptably unconventional ways (yet for countless, sensible and organic) of generally rejecting anything over-structured, unduly profit-minded and/or life-affirmation challenged were deemed strange, distasteful, offensive, even dangerous, for the shocking refusal to worship Mammon and pay obeisance to the arbitrary authority and tightly-organized sensibilities of the ambitiously over-wound ...along with the would-be gullible, well-healed patrons willing to buy into the crock narrative of being nobly dedicated to spiritual uplifting and planetary healing.

So it became a no-brainer to scrap the popular longstanding clothing-optional policy, get rid of the springhouse gazebo's prayer altar, end the longstanding weekly First Nations sacred sweatlodge ceremony...

image_edited.jpg

The invisible 'co-owners' appeared maddeningly indifferent to how the ordered changes systematically erased a culture lovingly built, nurtured and supported for decades by legions of nature-friendly Springs devotees and rural spa enthusiasts.

Getting rid of the place's former quasi bohemian, spiritually diverse, egalitarian vibe had, again, become the first order of business. Adding further insult to injury, workers -- those who didn't quit in shock and loathing the second day out, that is -- trying to endure the new oppressive regime to put food on the table (or who never really got the place) -- no longer received a free monthly mineral bath, the thoughtful perk offered for decades, reward for dedicated efforts that kept workers in sync with the spa refuge's time-honored reason for being  -- and otherwise not affordable for most at the previous near-starvation wages.

...plus -- before it had become blindingly obvious the public wasn't buying their new, 'respectable' bathhouse operation and so shut down spa operation permanently -- chipped away at the longtime Locals Day deal so as to render the price break meaningless; raised rates in general twice; and upped the takes on massages and consigned gift shop items. (Again, bear in mind their umbrella outfit's a nonprofit. How's that for irony? It proves intent is always the bottom line, not profit or nonprofit status alone.)

For, as said, it was the former fans -- those who fully resonated with genuine mineral spring spas -- who had largely funded the place's upgrades by enthusiastic repeat visits over the decades and turning friends and relations onto it. It reported a robust annual quarter-million dollar revenue towards the end of the old 'ownership'  (again assuming this figure wasn't just a calculated exaggeration bandied about to try goosing a higher sale price).

Business is business

But hey, business is business. It's our baby now and we'll do whatever we damn well please with it, so nyaah. Possession's nine-tenths of the law, ya know. And, maybe, under their breath: And the sooner we turn all you yahoos off to it, the sooner we can quit having to suffer your tiresome howls of protest, gritting our teeth trying to make nice just to keep a few paltry dollars rolling in before we finally pull the plug. Then we can enjoy it all for ourselves, heh-heh, hah-hah, hee-hee, ho-ho! And maybe, if we get tired of it sometime down the road, we cansell it to the highest bidder and make a killing, How 'bout that? 'Public good'? Gimme a break...

Stewart Springs' wood-fired sauna in bathhouse

If the rumor of plans to slam the gates shut to the public (rather than the current effective 99.9% exclusion) is true, then at first blush it could appear fans are screwed.

That is, if 'owners' actually think they can close such a priceless public treasure and still enjoy it with even one nano-particle of spiritual integrity or peace of mind in the wake of the righteous condemnation of the global community for trying to bogart a realm more dedicated than not to serving the greater public's well being for 147 years.

Again, it's just possible their overarching reason for buying the place (or what it later boiled down to after driving the once altruistic-minded operation into the ground) was to serve as a long-term realty investment. Are they, even now, just toying with using it a while before sometime down the road selling it at an ungodly profit to the highest bidder, regardless of what they intend to do with it? (Leave us hope not.)

A Japanese-American acquaintance once told the writer how shocked he was that such a great natural treasure as Stewart Springs wasn't a protected public spa as is sometimes the case in his old homeland with its own historic, developed rural mineral springs. Others assumed the place actually was some sort of public trust; it just had that kind of vibe: a place that existed for the public's well being.

Any cynic suspecting this was what was happening might've grumbled, "Well, why not just shut the damn gates now and be done with it?" The fact they haven't (at least absolutely, last known) provides some hope it isn't true, one supposes...that the extent of the closely-guarded intent (or playing it by ear effort) is only to try upscaling and/or sterilizing the place, just now without its time-honored spa, mostly for their own groups and related clientele.

...that is, unless they want to keep halfheartedly milking a few select, unwitting groups who think everything is hunky-dory, until one day, tired of trying to make nice with people increasingly realizing they appear indifferent to the lofty notion of serving the greater public, the imposing front fortress gates indeed swing shut and clueless trekkers are then greeted by signs growling:

Private Property - Keep Out - Violators Prosecuted

No Peak Experiences for You

Parapets Manned 24/7

Transcend Yur Sorry Naked Butts Elsewhere

Maybe, even, if they eventually decide to close shop and flip the place:

Auction next Tuesday

For Sale to Highest Bidder

above our Undisclosed, Outrageous Reserve Minimum

(Okay, so that last part probably wouldn't be included.)

 

part 4

Envisioning a 

perfect future stewardship

 

Assuming the last rumor isn't their actual ultimate goal (and maybe even if it is, assuming they actually agreed on one; group ownership can make for conflicting intents and interests)...if everyone who has ever loved the place steps up a positive focus on the place,  holding its time-honored energy and visualizing a future stewardship redeeming the scene (and anyone able to work on finding one) -- THEN the current 'owners' might never generate a critical level of patronage...or, if indeed having pockets deep enough to slam the gates to the public and not be bothered, manage to have one iota of peace of mind trying to enjoy the Shangri-la they effectively stole away from the public.  

Instead (here giving them credit for having some social conscience), they'd feel like doo-doo. This -- on top of their coveting the place having blinded any better judgement -- their socially destructive changes hampering the overall ability of the outfit to actually help people feel better and in closer communion with the planetary oversoul, such global consciousness-raising -- ahem -- claiming to be the overarching mission of the Institute.

They'll have come to their senses and redeem a now-tattered honor by transferring the grounds to appropriate stewards at a fair price.

In photo: former zenned-out mandala pattern of bathhouse  floors, including sauna. Old boards were torn out around 2012 due to longstanding moisture rot. Management and/or owner were unwilling to take the time, expense and effort to replicate the longtime meditation-friendly touch that had helped make place exceptional. 

They'd realize the current widespread public condemnation -- reflecting the mountain of squirrelly karma their diverted scene created since soon after the legal transfer in early 2016 -- has been neutralizing the effect any good works the outfit might ever hope to achieve.

 

Former devotees, no longer feeling welcome, stayed away in droves long before they scrapped spa service outright.  Annual workshop and performance events that had gone on forever there (notably Zavada's and DeLong's) soon faded away. Would-be participants and event bookers realized they'd been unwittingly drinking the Kool-aid, supporting a staggeringly egregious misuse of the place, by remaining dependent on it. They'd at first perhaps been in denial of how the operation's former often-relaxed atmosphere, flowing like the creek running through it, had been unceremoniously pushed off a cliff.

Whether or not the current 'owners' ever come around on their own, realizing they've made a monumentally serious miscalculation (here assuming they didn't buy the place primarily as a realty investment), energetic forces, especially leavened with positive visualization and the spirit of forgiveness, could hasten the day the universe convinces them it'd be a very good thing to move on and let new, appropriate stewards resurrect an operation that furthers the 78-year Henry Stewart family legacy and that of the few dedicated since.

 

One under energized, service-dedicated stewards who find more reward in service than in trying to get rich off the place, or bogart it for themselves to do their own thing. A fresh stream of mindful visitors, building up a thriving scene once again serving the public benefit. An oasis for any seeking healing nature's way while attuning to the land's powerful medicine.

 

A weary world might then again breathe a little easier.

 

 

Even current and would-be followers and supporters of Pneuma and adjunct group-ownership outfits and causes might sour once connecting the dots. They'll realize how its bureaucratic mucky-mucks have essentially waged cultural genocide -- what more than one stunned fan called "a crime against humanity."

 

They'll be shocked to learn how the general public -- notable among them the myriad nature friendly seeking out what had been one of the few genuine rural healing mineral-water spas left around -- were callously thrown out in the cold...how the former nature-attuned lifestyle of thousands has been suffering frostbite for years ever since, their long accustomed natural body-mind-spirit health regimen disrupted just so a few private-minded people with enough dollars could toy with the legally seized realm just to enjoy for themselves, pursue half-baked fantasies, maybe make a killing selling the 'property'  sometime in the future. 

If the third rumor -- eventual privatization, regardless -- is indeed the case, they might soon realize, if they haven't already, that such action is NOT doable in the real world...

...that is, not without mindbogglingly self-defeating consequences which an apparent state of denial is keeping them from realizing is happening , maybe holding that material wealth and control trumps any and all spiritual healing focus, even as they toy with mustering it into the often dismal field of psychology.

Again, assuming that they DO have enough awareness, the global wrath and disdain of their actions will guarantee an inability to ever enjoy the legally stolen place with any true peace of mind. It will leave them feeling like shallow-water pretenders, having zero credibility for trying to push a shtick purportedly dedicated to increasing spiritual awareness and heart awakening at the exorbitant cost of destroying the spirit-attuned atmosphere and spa services that legions of fans and supporters and dedicated stewards had fitfully built up over 145 years... 

...one that echoed the indigenous pre-history cooperative use of the extraordinary realm

for healing all who seek its amazing purifying and transforming properties

Part 5

Redeeming frayed honor

Barring a miraculous change of heart, the current property holders could -- saving grace -- work to neutralize their gnarly karma (assuming here, again, they're mindful enough to realize they have it) by selling the property to one(s) who would restore and continue its legacy, maybe transform the realm into a legal nonprofit healing and retreat center. People who would engage the global community treasuring the realm to plug in with their many gifts, talents and resources. Current holders might even take a bit of financial loss by way of penance for all the destroyed goodwill they created, or, at the very LEAST, sell it at cost, allowing for the expenses of any upgrades and repairs made minus the cost to replace all the historic bathhouse tubs they sold off and restore the bathhouse's spa plumbing and sauna.

 

The international outfit, its headquarters relocating to a place unhindered by the mountain of bad vibes of their own making, free at last from the consequences of the unwise past actions, could regain a healthy measure of their now-mortgaged integrity and credibility...and ultimately thereby gain something of an offhand POSITIVE role in the realm's age-old healing legacy, while strengthening the effectiveness of their transpersonal psychology focus. (And, of course, be free to still enjoy the place along with everybody else -- perhaps even learn to embrace their apparently now-suppressed inner bohemian or at least try not to mind so much that others do.)

Stolen paradise is hell

A foundation built on the sandy grave of destroyed popular culture cannot support anything without stinking to high heaven.

If indeed they bought the place only to mold it to double as their headquarters and have a specialized semi-private retreat and teaching center, one maybe subsidized by the general public, and had zero interest in ever running a spa beyond on the attempted and rejected superficial level -- they've a monumental reality check in store. At some point they'll likely realize they need to relocate and turn over the place to one(s) wanting to honor and restore the realm's original dedication.

 

Ones who recognize it as a blessing and gift to be shared with the greater public and once again enable people to follow their path towards greater being while harmonizing with the land's transformative healing properties and helping each other along the way.

Or, barring their having the requisite social conscience and spiritual awareness to make such a mindful transfer, the universe could still cause them, for totally unrelated reasons, like the place becoming too much a luxury and not paying for itself, to want to abandon their occupation of the property and relocate, selling to the first party making a reasonable offer and fans praying it's the right one.

 

That's why it's crucial fans intensely visualize  a suitable benefactor all lined up and ready to pounce.

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Holding one's breath

The former, surviving co-manager, Rowena P., finally stepped down in late November 2017, after two interminable years of surreally remote management post-sale from hundreds of miles away, during which time an un-empowered on-grounds staff rubber-stamped changes mandated through her from even more distant 'owners'...most living THOUSANDS of miles away.

First remote 'owners', then remote managers. Both out of sync with the place's once totally dedicated but long fading tradition. No great surprise then that such a lamentable situation eventually made for remote visitors (that is, NO visitors).

It was hard imagining the writer had been alone in the hope that with stewardship change would at long last come a new, progressive-minded management...one bringing a generous infusion of grounded, aware focus...as cultivated by most every other popular rural spring resort in the wider region of northwest United States worth its salt.

 

Surely we'd hit bottom and the only way was up.

Nope. Nowhere near the bottom. Writer, perhaps among others, was an Egyptian fish living in denial, refusing to consider the possibility that the new 'stewards'  had no intention of ever returning the place to its former glory, or even the remotest facsimile thereof.

 

That they were maybe jonesin' to strip it down and build it back to suit their own private interests, while perhaps subsidizing costs by renting out the grounds' remaining, now spa-less, facilities to a few uninformed or indifferent groups once in a while...

 

...making for an egregiously misguided use utterly disconnected from the historic roots of the realm. One that served for most of its years as a genuinely service-dedicated, nonprofit-in-spirit, purifying, healing and rejuvenating retreat. One open to the greater public, for the whole world to enjoy and benefit by...

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One-percent wannabees

believed end justified means

The last, longtime head manager set a sterling example of such desired refinement...not. On days she was in the front office -- before being advised that she, er, perhaps wasn't the most gracious welcomer -- depending on mood, unless in rare mellow one she'd offer either stony indifference; her best forever-put-upon, how-dare-you-invade-my space-and-make-me-have-to-deal-with-you scowl; or, if REALLY pissed, unleash her patented fire dragon outburst, in the twinkling of an eye biting off the head of the latest unsuspecting arrival for no apparent reason whatsoever.

...a place untold thousands cherished as one of nature's extraordinarily special, mystical healing realms.

Her late co-managing, slowly dying husband Ted -- whose dire condition was no doubt largely the cause of such rude freak-outs -- in turn would display a frosty, all-business cordiality when still on his feet...as if perhaps practicing for eventually serving some richer clientele. He'd almost grudgingly (but quickly, nonetheless) take one's money, as if resenting having to wait on such low-brow traffic when he'd so much rather be sucking up to refined big spenders and having their money-to-burn lifestyle rub off on him...

 

...or at least have more time alone to cope with his terminal illness, feeling put out in having to deal with the demanding paying public but suffering it as the price to pay for having ready access to the purifying waters that could, if not reverse, at least postpone a catastrophic liver failure.

Living sacrifice?

A former little known fact: at the beginning of the tenure his partner sought the purchase of a live chicken down the road; she wanted to make a sacrifice in hopes of auguring greater success and prosperity for the operation newly under their management. Sounds a tad self-defeating, no? Violently ending a life as a means of helping an operation ostensibly dedicated to healing and perpetuating life? Didn't compute.

Even allowing for the sometimes pronounced wayward inclinations of the old regime in recent decades, under the present regime things got ten-fold further out of whack...to the point long-time devoted fans drove down the hill stunned, shocked, devastated at the dismal sea change, as if wanting to wake up from a nightmare, in jaw-dropping disbelief such a long cherished healing place could be so willfully destroyed by anyone, for any reason.

Bland leading the bland

Of course, constantly working with a teeming public, as Ted and Rowena did, could be a bear even under the best of circumstances. But with right-intentioned stewardship at the helm, rather than chaotically wiping-out -- spilling blood out the gate for luck and ratcheting up a graceless siege mentality -- one learned to surf the energy waves, not try to control or resist them, embracing even monster waves by working in a can-do team spirit and keeping things flowing in positive current with a minimum of snafus. Oregon's Breitenbush Springs, among others, has proven that a positive, practical, dedicated business approach works wonders in running a successful mineral springs resort, treasured by the public.

Such basic hospitality-biz 101 was of course ignored beyond the superficial level, in seeming indifference to and/or abject ignorance of the place's former glory as a service-loving, charitable-minded rejuvenation retreat dedicated to serving the public good.

There was no longer as much there there.

 

Not much hope for transcendent experiences in that...except perhaps by spirit-awakening newbies; general public students with money to burn and wowed by the grounds and appreciating Pneuma's super-structured, over-intellectualized material world approach to try understanding the human mind and heart; and perhaps practicing professional therapists, drowning in over-analytical, negative-dwelling methodology, often becoming chronically depressed themselves in the process, desperate to incorporate some more positive approach into a cushy practice that on average brought in $158,000 a year in the U.S. in 2023.

 

(Fact: a recent study revealed 40% of long-term psychotherapy cases didn't improve the patient's condition and sometimes worsened it.)

Part 6

Outlawing

going bare

made the place unbearable

 

While banning c/o under the timeworn reasoning of wanting to make the place "family-friendly", to countless its overarching intent instead seemed to be wanting to make the place bourgeois-friendly -- to the point the more impressionable and cynical-minded might've started viewing it as having aspirations of becoming a peoples'-culture alienated clip-joint for people with more dollars than sense, a lost-in-space, keep the riff-raff out, man the parapets, highfallutin' hideaway for haughty hosers of the humble high-minded hordes... 

 

 ..that, or some similarly profit-focused operation catering to the undiscriminating masses...non-connoisseurs of genuine healing mineral springs and spa culture, those happy to dabble with something different and trendy in a nice setting and are okay with threadbare, under-heated lodgings and  body-repressive c/o ban and scrapping a 145 year spa tradition; clueless and energetically disconnected...zipping in, dropping lucre, and herded out in one fell swoop. (Before the bathhouse closure, it was, "Sorry, it'll cost extra to sauna after check-out time...well, we don't CARE what other places allow...Next?")

...or actually intent on swinging  the gates shut, perhaps following suit of the Saint Germain compound on the northern outskirts of Dunsmuir, for ages also open to the general public as similarly historic Shasta Springs, now strictly a private-use, walled-off, gated compound except for a token one day a year, last known.

Writer would love to be proven wrong, but developments aren't reassuring. There appears no way they can ever redeem themselves now short of becoming aware how self-defeating their actions are on the karmic level...and, chastened, re-locate and, saving grace, salvage credibility by finding the right person(s) to 'sell' it to at a fair price. (That, or if remaining cluelessly unrepentant, for some other reason feel pulled to sell and fans visualize the new legal steward snapping it up being a perfect fit.)

The right person(s) would be investors/benefactors with an appropriate mindset. They'd be psyched by the idea of sharing the blessings of the land as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit charity, dedicated to serving as an affordable, down-to-earth purification, healing and rejuvenation retreat, thereby redeeming the realm's priceless legacy.

 

Any so-inclined Springs devotees would do well to bestir themselves and tap possible connections to work to manifest such future stewards. Study the procedures of how others like Harbin and Breitenbush successfully turned a mineral springs resort into popular nonprofit healing retreats. Learn how they built the legal frameworks to satisfy the regulatory powers that be and eliminated the daunting tax bite for-profit enterprises fork over that keep its members forever scrambling to increase revenue to prevent falling behind the eight ball and thus making benefiting from an ostensible healing spa resort prohibitively expensive.

 

Is there anyone out there with financial means interested in advancing this vision into manifestation?  Does a reader know of someone with an embarrassment of riches who might leap at the chance to resurrect the realm as a good-karma deed?

 

Obviously the more people get involved, the more critical momentum can be generated to actually make it happen. Find lawyers versed in establishing nonprofits and people into public media. Plus, of course, a progressive-minded benefactor. One who would be intrigued at the prospect of catalyzing such a grand adventure: manifesting a feel-good legacy by redeeming and protecting the revered place once and for all. One ready to jump when the current occupiers decide to throw in the towel.

 

There was zero outreach to the former myriad faithful. What could they have said at that point, anyway? Their one brief site statement, essentially saying "We're sorry we changed the Springs you loved, but hope you can still enjoy it" rang more than a little hollow.

Glory days

of the Springs

On the community level of having plenty of there there -- the place being a veritable cornucopia for personal transformation -- it devolved from when, in the 1970's, the Goodpasture family stewards lived right on the grounds, serving as engaging, down-home hosts. Now, it's one in which no one besides an opaque management and a possibly nondisclosure-signing staff even knows who the new, 'stewarding-by-remote' owners' even are (or maybe care: a job's a job)

Not until after four years, on May 1, 2020, was there even one peep of direct, relevant communication offered the legion of once-faithful visitors, through news releases or websites or (as far as known) even posting in the office beyond maybe something in microscopic print. Only after two years did they matter-of-factly announce their intent to make over the place as Pneuma's world headquarters and retreat center...on their own site...and had the effrontery to refer to Stewart's as Pneuma Retreat Center. (And then penned a website notice dripping with crocodile tears of the 'painful' decision to close the bathhouse forever.)

 

It struck the writer as akin to the executioner empathizing with the condemned's right to live...just before whacking off his head. As if they knew they were in the grip of something so incontrovertibly wrongheaded, so dumfoundingly ill-suited, so egregiously misguided, that it defied words...yet, being financially and professionally committed and locked into a scientific discipline that traditionally doesn't acknowledge the existence of anything that can't be quantified, like spirit, they proceeded anyhow. The love of the idea of headquartering their own little private, lucrative shtick amid such a sumptuous, secluded nature setting obviously eclipsed any love for the great unwashed masses or a 147 year-old tradition of (mostly) serving the public good.

The wizard was well hidden behind the curtain...had the gold and made the rules...issuing thunderous God-like pronouncements of new oppressive policies suiting private-minded schemes and dreams.

Such public-minded natural wellness institutions are needed now more than ever by both regional residents and myriad mindful travelers seeking respite from the rigors of the road -- those often feeling discombobulated by the intense urban/suburban/rural realities and the still-dominant, oppressive energies yet troubling our fair planet -- all seeking the sweet relief such places can offer.

And, crucially, one in which there is a constant need to continue erasing the karma of the horrific massacre that occurred on and around land in 1870's (history)  --that's obviously when things first went wrong for the place -- by keeping focused on genuine healing service rather than bent on exploiting nature's gifts for gain and/or the grounds being diverted for mostly private use and enjoyment.

No doubt they felt they'd earned the right after shelling out some $2.6 million. But time and public response could, again, prove such a material world conventional assumption dead wrong.

 

With most any other business, sure. But not such a historic sacred healing ground with a generations-old, dedicated tradition of serving the public good as a non-profit-in-spirit, peaceful purifying and rejuvenating retreat, locked into a time-honored mission of affordably sharing its healing waters and mystical land with all seeking its medicine.

While the modest price increases to visitors and decreased take for gift-shop consignees and contracted masseuse staff would've conceivably been understandable, maybe even accepted, IF it had gone to cover more decent work wages for all, that wasn't the case.

 

At some point it became obvious they were only scrambling to try mitigating the not inconsiderable financial investment they'd taken on, heedless of how price increases hurt visitors' pocketbooks. It was terminally dispiriting, putting an even deeper pall over the place. For while there was a bigger staff -- some in management roles at good pay, in effect bribed to enact and enforce oppressive changes -- others, as said, still toiled at slave wages.

Former faithful visitors vanished in droves. Not exactly the best formula for success or proper focus to serve the greater good. Better to still have the former skeleton staff working for peanuts because they loved the place and turning others onto it more than any better-paid but clueless workers even further crimping the ability of the healing energies of the land from being shared with the public.
 
All who have treasured the realm and the growth-minded culture it's evolved in recent times now play Toto, pulling back the curtain and revealing the misguided attempt to detour the place from its longtime de facto public trust tradition (see Historywhile visualizing a future perfect steward with the means and heart to rescue the realm to again serve the public -- and fans mobilizing to help make it happen.

 

Otherwise, if one gives up on it like it's gone forever and ignores their own inner higher power to effect transformation through grounded visualization, it could be gone forever. The 'owners' might, despite themselves, actually establish some permanent beachhead and forever hold the one-time people's retreat hostage, or tire of the place and sell it to yet another inappropriate steward.

 

Do enough people who have cherished the realm find such a sorry fate totally unacceptable? 

 

 read more

 

Unlike some regional sister springs, transparent in operation and upfront in communication with both staff and visitors, the decades of nontransparent 'owner' vibes at Stewarts had set it apart in a bad way. The former opaque, locked-down Batmobile management under the old 'owner' continued its un-merry way, new 'owners' invisibler than a cloaked Klingon warship ready to strike, keeping everyone in the dark except those who needed to know... 

...and obviously those who loved the Springs the most didn't need to know diddly.

 
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