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further ranting

& in-depth scoping

What the #%! Happened to

Stewart Springs??!! 

New 'owners' erased popular culture,

privatized realm for own quasi new-age shtick,

costs subsidized by select group bookings

No nudes is good news;

Place closed to individual visits;

Bathhouse tubs torn out to re-purpose building

"Surprisingly [Stewart's] has not been bought out and turned into a high dollar 5-star resort spa. Interesting, that, because several times that has been looked at, but something seemed to intervene. Its almost like the amazing dual springs are meant to be for all the people, especially the ones drawn there for spiritual refuge and healing rejuvenation. "

-- James Tyberonn

"In the circle of life are the laws of nature. If you stay in that circle everything will be OK. Outside that circle are the laws of man. If you only follow those you are in trouble."

--Russell Beebe of Ojibway tribe

by Stu Ward

Longtime Springs volunteer, suspended all support in 12-2017. First posted in late 2017, this former-insider spiel is revised or tweaked every now and then for continued relevancy. Remaining are some skeletons of earlier sussing of 'owner' intent and public use when bathhouse was still open. Make due allowances.

Writing's arbitrarily split into 12 parts.

part 1

Simon says "Take three giant steps backwards."

Clothing-optional bites the dust, then sweatlodge, then time-honored spa service

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

Many of its most ardent fans and supporters felt that the clothing-optional ban enacted in November 2016, the first of long string of unpopular changes, by itself marked such a profoundly wrong-headed, giant step backward it defied all understanding.

Later, words could barely register the utter dumbfoundment over kicking out the grounds' sweat lodge, ostensibly done to gain affordable fire/liability insurance coverage, though the lodge was reportedly informed the owners had their own shaman, so they no longer wanted theirs there, sorry, hope you understand.

Then, upping outrage clear into the ionosphere, after being unable to successfully switch bathhouse operation to mandatory cover-up after 17 years of  (mostly) mindful radical body freedom, they gutted the inside of the bathhouse to entirely repurpose  the hundred-year old spa structure to suit their own exclusive-minded purposes...

...and a realm's 147 year-old healing spa tradition, benefiting an entire global community, be damned.

Later depressing developments: officially changing place's name to Pneuma Retreat Center and disallowing individual (if spa-less) visits beyond group bookings.

Writer, a local work-trade volunteer, psyched to create and maintain the bathhouses's cold plunge on informal work-trade basis for 17 years, had for the first two years of change kept a Pollyanna hope that the outrageous, first misstep of banning mindful-nudity option would prove to be only a de-facto breather...a chance to let dust of old management unsupported clothing-optional scene settle before enlightened all-new management forged a new, more aware and integrated clothing-optional policy... inclusive of place's diverse visitor that would naturally attract management and staff as much, or more, motivated in fostering genuine healing than merely covering rent or mortgage.

Thinking was that, with at least tenuous openmindedness by the new, way-y-y-absentee 'ownership', once gaining a  deeper understanding of the place and the druthers of once-substantial bohemian-leaning support base it would naturally reinstate clothing-optional, post-haste. (This, though learning that one 'co-owner' reportedly owns a popular mineral springs resort in Mexico that is, most assuredly, NOT clothing-optional...'Ayy-yy carumba! No nudistas aqui, por favor!')

The realm would then be brought back in 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 in order to foster optimal purifying, healing and rejuvenation...and often triggering profound body-mind-spirit reintegration in the process. Similarly, purported rate increase was seen as done only to absorb covering paying workers better than the two bits over minimum wage long doled out by former, sometimes penny-pinching, absentee steward.

Nope. Naive me. It took 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 sweatlodge, to realize something was indeed rotten in the state of Denmark. Sadly, writer detached from the place, vowing never to set foot on grounds again as things stood -- the same as countless other now-estranged devotees of the cherished place.

And, as it turned out, while maybe management positions started getting better pay, any poor schmuck holding, say, a grounds handyman position, a job certainly requiring valuable skills, was reportedly still sweating away at California's minimum wage, then a poverty-level pittance of $10.50 an hour.

The first new 'ownership' in 34 years as of 1-19-2016 had seemed such a slam-dunk perfect time -- golden window of opportunity, even -- to forge a dramatic rebirth of the realm... one infused with dedicated energy, bursting with fresh focus and positive grounded perspective no longer clouded by chronic past profit-hungry preoccupation, with all its chaotic snafus and downers... last gone an often dire situation so abysmal, the place almost seemed to be vying for the Most Dysfunctional Management Award in some bizarro alternate universe.

So what happened? What kept the grand re-set button from getting pushed, restoring the realm to its natural peaceful state as the thriving, altruistic, open-minded healing retreat spa it's forever longed to return to, qualities locked into its very DNA?

Wanted: workers willing to work cheap

Why instead did place become a horrible, jaw-dropping, slow-motion train wreck? A cultural collision thundering around the world, first by banning clothing-optional and reverting back to a retread pre-millennium mindset rife with oppressive body shame and false modesty, rudely smacking of the depressing conventionality that so many came to the Springs in good part to get away from. Then removing gazebo altar of countless prayer and love offerings -- like tearing down a living church.

The absolute last straw was, of course, telling Karuk medicine man Walking Eagle to leave after the lodge's some 45 years of ceremonies, to cease weekly sweats on ancestors' healing lands, lands held sacred by his and other regional tribes since time untold.

Tearing out the tubs in the bathhouse later was only a post-apocalyptic tragedy, one showing, lest any doubts yet remained, the "owners'" true intentions for the place.

Whether one participated in the sweatlodge or not, its loss was incalculable. For 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 policy, had enabled keeping a modicum of bedrock diversity and bohemian-friendly spirit thriving at the Springs. And, crucially, it served to help neutralize the horrible karma of the place created by 1870's massacre of natives on and around the very grounds.

 (see history)

part 2

Enter Dragon Lady with Gilded Visions

& Mar​ching Orders from an All-Business Boss

It's said the cause of anything is everything, and the cause of everything is anything.

Without going deeper here into the historic cause and affect that made Springs the way it is now (explored in History and latter part of part 4 in Yet More Rants & Raves,), what happened in recent times was the former 12-year general manager Rowena P.'s long-nurtured vision of "Refining the Culture."

It was perhaps the predictable result of relentless pressure from former San Francisco absentee 'owner' John Foggy

to generate ever greater profits. It became her mantra, spoken reverently with glazed eyes, as she and accomplice, late operations manager husband Ted D., appeared determined to turn the unpretentious healing place steeped in rustic, down-home tradition -- a simple dedicated spa with no-frills lodging and event space -- into some improbable wannabe upscale retreat center. Not too unlike the one we have now, embracing shadowy Babylon world's bass-ackwards, bourgeois, control-freak mindset, all dressed up in slick smiley face for public consumption.

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

Again, the clothing-optional policy had offered countless people the welcome chance, if they so chose, to publicly shake free of a lifetime of body suppression, shame, false modesty and/or undue physical self-consciousness. Visitors were at last free to become their real undisguised essential selves again, as when newborns and toddlers, thus aiding in the process of being reborn. The policy, when upheld mindfully by daily group energies (despite little to no mindful support from management), fostered a worlds more relaxing, effective, often life-changing spa experience. (For some, like writer ages ago, it was only after getting beyond initial intense freak-out stage before regaining some semblance of non-self-conscious freebody awareness.)

As it turned out, the new 'owners' seemed to like the old-culture-destroying refinement idea just fine. The unspoken message was 'Cover your asses, you shameless heathen.'

It came as no great surprise, as she herself had brokered the sales deal, reportedly for a 10% cut. Some might view this as the ultimate sell-out, having milked over an extra quarter-million dollars off the place by selling to ready-cash buyers, ones with their at first well hidden intentions at such grievous odds with the original DNA spirit of the place...a spirit, again, always hiding just below the surface, clamoring to re-emerge.

Writer later heard a rumor that the operation's reported revenue levels had been exaggerated during sale negotiations. If true, perhaps a shady ploy was felt needed to cinch the most lucrative deal possible with eager but largely uninformed buyers. If so, it might explain why the vibe of current stewardship at times often seemed so sour and put out, as if having buyer's regret, realizing their coveting of the place had stymied exercising any better due diligence, and they were left to try to make the best of a bad deal.

In any event, que lastima.

The founder of Cafe Gratitude, a small, poppular California restaurant chain, Mathew Engelhart (author of Sacred Commerce), was initially a co-owner. Many fans thought this a very promising sign... that the place was at last actually going to experience a grand turnaround in consciousness. But he soon sold his interest. One perhaps doesn't haven't to wonder too much why in light of the sorrowful developments that went down there since he bailed.

Maybe the former manager did a big song and dance about the lucrative untapped potential of place, inflated figures and all -- "The upside potential's enormous!"   Then simply took the money and ran. Possibly she'd 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 a word, the place selling itself.

Rumors plentiful

Rumors abounded as to what they were actually up to.  

Maui's Little Beach irregulars  >

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

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

Seemingly towards that eventuality, for a while they appeared busy incubating a wannabe tony resort: many witnessed the bathhouse's two new fancy tiled tub rooms, replete with shiny, ostentatiously fancy faucet fixtures. So blindingly shiny, they reminded writer of a Marine Corps honor guard's steel helmet. And the bathhouse was no longer referred to as simply the bathhouse. It became (briefly) "The Wellness Center." And the humble, bare-bones A-frame? Upgraded to "The Chalet."

Well, la-de-dah.

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

Either way, time revealed that the overarching, outlandish intent was no less than modifying the entire grounds to accommodate their own shtick. First and foremost, to serve as world headquarters, retreat and teaching and indoctrination center for their Pneuma Institute -- again, a peculiar amalgam of conventional Judaeo-Christianity and transpersonal psychology, with a strong focus on mindful breathing techniques as a new, innovative psychotherapist aid.

Unwitting enablers included several longtime annual workshop retreat event organizers.  It seemed that perhaps they loved the place more for being their own money generator. It struck some that they appeared either indifferent to or dismally unaware of how restrictive and oppressive the operation's seismic shift was to the place's one-time myriad bohemian-minded fans, the very ones who'd largely driven its former roaring-success level of operation.

Similarly, some visitors got so hooked on the place that they were willing to suffer various and sundry new restrictions IF it meant getting another Springs fix. They were determined not to let the new scene keep them from spending more time with their dear old friend, even if it was now in dire straits. With a "Sure, it's unfortunate, but what can you do? will NEVER get it right" attitude,  they suffered the new dismal downside...or went into denial, driving from mind the fact that through continued patronage -- even if just once a year -- they were effectively helping  the new, decidedly non-public-minded, regime to further tighten its stranglehold on the former quasi free-spirited realm.

But some wondered how long the public might still be welcome at all at the place such as it was, especially with the bathhouse gone...

...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 time for people to get so royally disenchanted with place that they no longer cared what the hell they did with it.

In this scenario, obviously no one would have a chance to even try to enjoy, let alone gripe about, the calamitous changes. The place would become exclusively for private use by the 'owners' to enjoy for themselves, hold Pneuma workshop courses, retreats and intensives, and host related international social gatherings, workshop classes and intensives...

...maybe, again, they'd keep allowing in a few select outside workshops in that could stomach. perhaps even embrace, the rock-ribbed regime, even without the spa, to help cover insurance, management, utilities -- and the place's new sky-high annual county property taxes. Based at roughly 1% of last sale price, its now about $28,000/year, or over $500/week  or $77. every day of the year;  it's like having to feed a parking meter 13 quarters every hour around the clock.

Is it any wonder they reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection early on from creditors?

part 3

Bohemian lifestyle

becomes suspect overnight 

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

Regardless, in every scenario the remedial first step was, of course, to purge place of the riff-raff; exterminate the freaky infestation of those leaning toward freedom-loving, status-quo scoffing, alternative-lifestyle-embracing other words, basically anyone who likes to skinnydip, nude sunbathe or sauna nekkid or was at least open-minded enough to give them a try.

Such unacceptably unconventional ways (yet for countless, sensible and organic) -- rejecting things over-structured, unduly profit-minded and/or life-affirmation challenged -- are deemed strange, distasteful, offensive, even dangerous, for the refusal to worship Mammon and pay obeisance to the arbitrary power of the super-organized sensibilities of the tight-wound ...along with would-be gullible patrons  willing to buy into their story of being so laudibly 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 and end the longstanding weekly First Nations sacred sweatlodge ceremony... -- before it became obvious fans weren't buying their brief new 'respectable' bathhouse operation once canning c/o and so closed down spa operation permanently to repurpose the building -- chip away at longtime Locals Day deal so as to render the price break meaningless; raise rates in general twice, and up 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.)

Stripping away the place's former quasi bohemian, spiritually diverse and egalitarian vibe seemed to be the name of the game. Adding further insult to injury, workers -- those who didn't quit in loathing the second day out, that is -- trying to endure new oppressive regime to put food on table (or, again, those who never really got what place was about), no longer got a free monthly mineral bath. It had been a thoughtful perk offered for decades, as a reward for dedicated efforts, one that kept workers in sync with the spa's reason for being and were otherwise not affordable at the prevailing starvation wages.

Invisible 'co-owners' appeared maddeningly indifferent to how the ordered changes erased the former popular culture so lovingly built, nurtured and supported over decades by myriad nature-loving Springs devotees and genuine-spa supporters near and far.

For, again, it was the former fans who had largely funded the place's upgrades -- it reported a robust annual quarter-million dollar profit towards the end of the old 'ownership'  (that is, if the figure wasn't a calculated exaggeration to get a higher sale price) -- by enthusiastic repeat visits over decades and turning flurries of friends and relations onto it. 

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 perhaps under 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 to keep your dollars rolling in a while longer before we finally pull the plug. Then we can enjoy it all for ourselves, heh-heh, hah-hah, hee-hee, ho-ho...)

If the rumor of plans to essentially slam the gates to the public is indeed true, then at first blush it might've appeared fans were screwed.

That is, if 'owners' actually think they could close such a priceless public treasure and still enjoy it with even one shred of spiritual integrity after the condemnation of an entire global community for trying to bogart the realm that had provided dedicated purification and healing to the greater public for the better part of 147 years.

A Japanese-American acquaintance once told writer he was shocked 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 was a public trust or something; it just had that kind of vibe.

Any suspecting this is what was happening might've grumbled, "Well, why not just shut the damn gates now and be done with it?" The fact they hadn't (last known) provides some hope it isn't true, one supposes...that the extent of closely-guarded intent is only to try upscaling and/or sterilizing place and without the time honored spa...

...that is, unless they simply wanted to keep milking unwitting groups who thought everything is hunky-dory to fund some ultimate privatization goal...until one day the imposing front fortress gates indeed swung shut and clueless trekkers are greeted by new signs growling:

Private Property - Keep Out - Violators Prosecuted

No Peak Experiences for You

Parapets Manned 24/7

Transcend Yur Sorry Naked Selves Elsewhere

(Okay, so the parapets probably wouldn't be manned all the time, but you get the drift.)

part 4

Envisioning perfect future stewardship

Assuming the last rumor isn't their actual intent (and maybe even if it is)...if everyone who has loved the place boycotts it (worlds easier with bathhouse dismantled and no nongroup visitors allowed), while raising awareness and spreading word how place's former wild cultural spirit has been systematically suppressed to suit a private buttoned-down agenda, how new 'owners' are re-working place to double as own Pneuma world headquarters, in process strangling it to death as a lifestyle-diverse, healing refuge for everyday people...

...if enough now-estranged Stewart aficionados did this while at same time visualizing positive future stewardship, THEN current 'owners' might never generate a critical level of patronage or, if choosing to simply slam gates totally to public, manage to have one iota of peace of mind in their efforts to promote their brand of pricey, slow-cure healing methodology while luxuriating in their own little Shangri-la, stolen from the public.

Instead, they'd rightly feel like doo-doo. This -- on top of possibly their coveting the place having blinded their better judgement and now experiencing buyer remorse -- 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, after all, claiming to be the overarching mission of the Institute.

They'd be dead in the water...unless having the money to burn and couldn't care less if none of the formerly dedicated fans come anymore short of a willingness to kowtow to the new dampened down and limited scene of lodging only and then only as booked groups who are indifferent to having erased a rich, altruistic tradition of helping heal the masses.

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 longtime meditation-friendly touch that had helped make place so exceptional 

Over time, private-minded stewards might feel the far-reaching popular wrath putting the jinx on any such dreary dreams of the once-enchanted realm serving as their own private headquarters/retreat/

classrooms for the shrink industry and host to quasi new-age events, private celebrations and training-wheel spiritual workshops.

Widespread public disdain and condemnation -- reflecting the mountain of squirrelly karma their diverted scene has been building up ever sense the legal transfer -- would in the grand scheme of things neutralize any effectiveness of the good works the outfit hopes to make.

Staying away in droves alone might foil any such plans.  Annual workshop and performance events that had gone on forever there -- notably Zavada's and DeLong's -- would fade away as would-be participants and event bookers realized they'd been drinking the Kool-aid, supporting highly inappropriate use of the place by remaining hooked on it, oblivious of or indifferent to how the operation's former open-minded ways and bohemian spirit had been pushed off a cliff.

Such workshop/retreat organizers would then, rather than further aid and abet further cultural destruction of the place -- that is, if any could possibly still still be attracted to it after dismantling the bathhouse -- find new places for a while (maybe Flowing Waters, just down the hill), until 'ownership' at last changes again with visualized appropriate stewardship bringing things back around, at long last making everything all right.

Their joining in unity with de facto boycott and spreading awareness of unacceptable scene would hasten the day the universe manifests a new, nonprofit operation under service-dedicated steward(s). Then visitors might once again create a new, infectious, thriving cultural renaissance in the would-be magical realm.

Too, would-be followers and supporters of Pneuma and adjunct group-ownership outfits and causes might sour once connecting the dots. They'd realize that its bureaucratic mucky-mucks have essentially enacted a cultural genocide at the place they'd hoped to re-purpose to pursue their psycho-therapeutic methodology and be a private Shangri-la from time to time for all connected parties.

They'd be shocked to their shoes to learn how the general public, among them countless seeking elusive genuine rural healing spas, were suddenly left out in the cold, the former nature-attuned lifestyle of thousands suffering severe frostbite, their body-mind-spirit health regimen of long years drastically thrown out of whack.

Part 5

Redeem frayed honor?

Barring having a miraculous change of heart, they could -- saving grace -- work to neutralize such gnarly karma by being mindful enough to re-sell at a fair price to now-envisioning, perfect new stewards...those who, again, could transform place into a legal nonprofit healing center and engage the community to plug in with all its diverse gifts, talents and resources. Current holders might perhaps even take a loss by way of penance for all the destroyed good will, or at the LEAST sell at cost, allowing for improvements made.

International outfit, relocating to a place unhindered by the current gnarly controversy, free at last of their unwise 'purchase',  would then regain a fair measure of now-mortgaged integrity and credibility...and ultimately gain something of an offhand POSITIVE role in realm's age-old healing legacy and evolution. And, of course, they'd once again be free to enjoy it along with everybody else -- perhaps even learning to better embrace their inner bohemian...or at least no longer mind so much if others do.

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

...not without disastrous, overwhelmingly self-defeating consequences.

For, again, global wrath and disdain would all but guarantee the inability to ever enjoy the legally stolen place with even one nano-particle of peace of mind. It'd leave them feeling like shallow-water pretenders, having zero credibility for trying to push their shtick purportedly to increase spiritual awareness and heart awakening at the price of having so wrongheadedly erased the place's accustomed spirit-attuned, open-minded atmosphere for legions of the place's former diverse fans and supporters to enjoy and benefit from.

Stolen paradise

is hell

Any foundation built on the sandy grave of a willfully destroyed people's culture cannot support anything without it reeking to high heaven.

If indeed having bought place only to mold it to double as headquarters and specialized semi-private retreat and teaching center, subsidized by the general public, with no interest in ever running a spa beyond a rejected superficial level -- then, again, they'll throw in the towel, duly chagrined, relocate and sell place at a fair price to one(s) who will honor realm's former simple, affordable, free-spirited healing tradition, recognizing the realm as a blessing and gift for all.

Holding breath

As said, the former general managership finally stepped down in late November 2017, only after two interminable years of surreal, remote management post-sale, from hundreds of miles away, during which time the unempowered on-grounds staff rubber-stamped rigid changes as mandated through her from the even more distant 'owners'..most of them THOUSANDS of miles away.

First remote 'owners', then remote managers. Both out of sync with the dedicated purifying, healing, and rejuvenating tradition. No great surprise then that the lamentable situation eventually made for remote visitors (that is, no visitors).

It was hard to imagine that the writer was alone in hopes that with stewardship change would at last come a new progressive-minded management...a transforming climate with generous infusion of grounded, aware 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 bottom. Writer was an Egyptian fish living in denial. Never suspected the new 'stewards' had zero intention of ever returning place to its former glory of a down-home healing retreat...or even the remotest facsimile thereof.

Instead, they were jonesin' to strip it down and build it back up just to serve their own semi-private interests... egregiously misguided use, utterly divorced from historic roots of the realm that, again, served for most of its 147 years as an affordable, service-dedicated, nonprofit-in-spirit, purifying, healing and rejuvenating retreat for the greater good of the whole bloomin' world...

...a place untold thousands had come to  cherish as one of nature's extraordinary, mystical healing realms.

One-percent wannabees

believing end justifies 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 she, er, perhaps wasn't always the most gracious welcomer, depending on mood, unless in rare public mellow space she'd either offer 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 a patented fire dragon outburst, in the twinkling of an eye biting off the head of the latest unsuspecting arrival for no apparent reason whatsoever.

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

...or at least have more time alone to cope with his terminal illness, being majorly put out  having to deal with the paying public but suffering the situation as the price he had to pay for having gained ready access to such purifying waters that could hopefully reverse, or at least postpone, catastrophic liver failure.

Living sacrifice?

Former little known fact: at the beginning of the tenure, his partner sought the purchase of a live chicken down the road to make a sacrifice in hopes of auguring greater success and prosperity for the operation. Sounds a tad self-defeating. Violently ending life as 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, now more than ever things didn't add the point that long-time devoted fans drove down hill stunned, shocked, utterly devastated at the dismal sea change. They were in jaw-dropping disbelief, as if wanting to wake up from a bad dream.

Bland leading the bland

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

Such basic hospitality-biz 101 was naturally (un-naturally?) ignored beyond a superficial level, in seeming willful indifference to and/or lamentable ignorance of place's former glory as a service-loving rejuvenation retreat dedicated to serving the wider public.

There's no longer much there there now.

The place often seemed to be running on the fumes of its natural-setting, charming quaint structures and bygone reputation -- and the new synthetic fuel of more bourgeois-minded looking to perhaps slum a bit at rural spa getaway, plus any members of old base willing to turn a blind eye in order to get yet another fix, blocking out the cold reality of in so doing supporting such an egregiously wrongheaded new scene by what some might view as nothing less than an occupying force.

For rather than provide genuine service, as the place so often did -- with quiet integrity, hospitality, and universal spirit (last time full-tilt in 1970's under the Goodpastures) -- the new 'owners'  have continued milking it, only now to support repurposing, private-minded ends.

Not much hope for transcendent experiences in that...except for perhaps spiritually aware newbies and general-public students with money to burn, wowed by grounds and appreciating their formal, super-structured, intellectualized approach...and perhaps practicing professional therapists, drowning in old over-analytical, negative-dwelling methodology, often becoming hopelessly depressed themselves in process, desperate to incorporate some more positive approach into their cushy practices that typically can bring in over $136,000 a year.

(Fact: a recent study revealed that over 40% of long-term psychotherapy cases didn't seem to improve patient's condition at all, and sometimes actually worsened it.)

Part 6



made place unbearable

(well, duh)

While banning c/o under the handy excuse of wanting the place to be "more family-friendly", to countless its overarching intent instead seemed to be wanting to make the place more bourgeois-friendly -- to the point the more impressionable and cynical-minded might view 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 humble high-minded hordes... 

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

...or actually intent on swinging  the gates shut, perhaps hoping to follow suit of the St. Germain compound north of Dunsmuir, for ages also open-to-general-public as similarly historic Shasta Springs, now strictly a private-use, depressingly walled-off, gated compound but for a token one day a year last known.

Writer would love to be proven wrong, but developments are far from encouraging.

There appears no way they could redeem themselves now, short of having a dramatic spiritual awakening and suddenly becoming aware how egregious their actions have been on the karmic level...and, duly chagrined, re-locate...and, saving grace, salvage their now-tattered integrity by taking care to find the right person(s) to sell it to at fair price... a person or group with the appropriate mindset

to share the sacred land on a nonprofit, service-minded basis with any and all seeking affordable, down-to-earth purification, healing and rejuvenation, as been until recently for the better part of almost a century and half the place's forthright, benevolent tradition.

(Any so-inclined Springs devotees might do well to tap possible connections and work to manifest future stewards or study procedures on how to successfully turn the Springs into a nonprofit healing retreat, or whatever legal framework will satisfy the regulatory powers that be.)

Glory days

of the Springs

On the community level of having plenty of there there -- the place as a veritable energetic cornucopia for personal transformation -- it's sadly devolved from 40 years ago when the 1970's Goodpasture stewards actually lived on grounds and served as engaging, down-home hosts. Now it's one in which no one besides opaque management and a possibly nondisclosure-signing staff knows who exactly the new, 'stewarding'-by-remote owners' actually are. 

Not until after four years, on May 1, 2020, was there even one peep of direct, relevant communication (beyond no-this, no-that policy) offered to the legion, once-faithful visitors, through websites or possibly even by posting in office. Only after two years did they matter-of-factly announce one day their intent to make over the place to ostensibly double as Pneuma's world headquarters and retreat center...but only on their own site...and had the temerity to refer to Stewart's as Pneuma Retreat Center. (And then later pen a website notice, dripping with crocodile tears, of the 'painful' decision to close the bathhouse forever. It struck the writer as something akin to the executioner seeming to empathize with the condemned's right to live just before taking his life.)

There was zero outreach to the former myriad faithful. What could they have said at that point, anyhow? One brief site statement, essentially saying "W're sorry we changed the Springs, but hope you can still enjoy it" rang a bit hollow.

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

...and those who love(d) Springs most -- as an affordable, culturally-diverse, unassuming and freebody-friendly rural healing retreat -- clearly didn't need to know diddly-squat.

The wizard was well hidden behind the curtain...had the gold and made the rules...issued thunderous God-like pronouncements of new oppressive policies to fit own worldview and private shtick to accommodate their own ulterior motive for snapping up the place, aided and abetted by a former management who never really 'got' the place.

No doubt they feel they've earned the right after shelling out some $2.6 million. But time and public response might well prove such a material-world's conventional assumption dead wrong -- again, if privatization isn't the ultimate goal, and maybe even if it is.

With most any other business, sure. But not a historic sacred healing with a generations-old public-minded tradition of serving as non-profit in spirit, a peaceful purifying and rejuvenating retreat on a perennial mission to help heal all who have found the place.

Such public-minded healing and rejuvenating institutions are, obviously, needed now more than ever by myriad mindful travelers seeking respite from the rigors of the road, often feeling discombobulated by ever more intense urban/suburban/rural realities and still-dominant oppressive energies yet troubling God's green earth, seeking sweet relief.

And, crucially, one in which there is a constant need to continue erasing karma of horrific massacre on and around land in 1870's (history) by keeping focused on genuine healing service rather than hellbent on exploiting nature's gifts for expedient gain and/or diversion to private-minded ends.

While modest price increases to visitors and decreased take for gift-shop consignees and contracted masseuse staff would've been more understandable IF it went to cover more decent worker wages (and cover new, far steeper county property taxes), beyond a certain point it simply became uncool...and terminally dispiriting for putting an even deeper pall over place. Bigger staff, some at

better pay, to enforce oppressive changes and drive up overhead, while former faithful visitors vanish in droves? Not the best formula for success or proper focus to serve the greater good. Better having the former skeleton staff, working for peanuts, there because they loved the place and turning others onto it more than the paltry paycheck.

All who treasured the realm and its free-minded culture must play Toto, pulling back the curtain and revealing the misguided attempts to detour the place's former longtime public trust focus just to suit the private-minded interests, so seriously misplaced there -- while at the same time intensely visualizing a future perfect stewardship rescuing the realm.

Otherwise, if successful and enough uninformed patrons continue supporting it, or give up on it like it's gone forever -- and workers, more concerned with a paycheck than honoring the place's sterling heritage as a de facto public trust, continue on there -- 'owners' might actually establish a beachhead and decide it's worth their while to continue keeping the place hostage from ever again serving the greater public good.

Analysis continues here