One of the traps I fear falling into, writing this blog, is redundancy. The lure of particular landscapes with their migration and settlement histories tend to have parallels, particularly during the middle to late 19th century. Yet, the individual stories and resulting culture of each place remain unique.
Sedona Arizona is one of those places. Besides its jaw-dropping beauty, a significant aspect of Sedona’s culture is the conviction by many, locals and visitors alike, that this landscape’s geology has inherent spiritual significance. Oak Creek Canyon is a crack, or fault, formed by ancient earthquake activity during the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. Traditional lore contends that “native people established spiritual connections with this sacred land and its mystical properties” While my research of local native lore failed to connect established mystical properties here, aren’t all ancient homelands considered sacred?
Hollywood brought the iconic images of Sedona’s red rocks to the big screen with its dramatic stories of the Wild West. Native Americans have lived in the region with its high plateaus, rocky outcrops, wooded canyons and creeks for centuries. Cave drawings from nearby Palatki Archeological Site carbon-date back 6000 years. Just southeast of Highways 17 and 179, is the V~V – a former cattle ranch running along Beaver Creek. Now owned by the forest service and open to the public, the site contains over 1,000 Sinagua petroglyphs and the ruins of a 60-room pueblo. Archaeo-astronomical research indicates the area was a farming settlement, with “the presence of an agrarian and ceremonial calendar covering the equinoxes, the solstices, and the times for early and full corn planting…The use of multiple astronomical images for each calendar marking greatly reduces the probability that such markings were chance occurrences. The intricate geometry presented by the marking events is too exact to discount.” Not everyone initially appreciated the beauty of the region. In 1884, Henry Schuerman accepted a 160 acre homestead in the lower Oak Creek area in lieu of a $500 dept, but didn’t even want it. He even tried to give it away, but couldn’t so his family stayed.
The earth contains a number of geophysical attributes, including magnetic and electrical fields. In the 1980’s a local psychic counselor stated that while spots of high energy exist worldwide, Sedona uniquely includes all three types of known energy vortexes: Strength, Goodness or Balance. These vortexes are formed by whirling energy, which resonates with the body’s internal energy. The theory goes that one’s inner being absorbs the energy of the vortex when in its close proximity, so one should visit that place which best promotes those energies.
Are you a skeptic, or devotee? I see myself as neither. The psychic’s idea that we need to read the earth and its energies like we read a person is grounded in ancient philosophies worldwide. And doesn’t experiencing (or communing with) nature increase the strength, goodness and balance in most people, regardless of the presence of a vortex?? The city boasts an abundance of spiritual guides and spas catering to achieving your optimum state of being. Regardless of whether you are a skeptic or dogmatic follower, the landscape is amazing and its transformation over the course of the day is certainly inspiring.
Literally hundreds of miles of hiking trails wind through Oak Creek Canyon and around the Sedona area, many inside the city limits. Keeping an open mind, I picked up the Vortex Map. Out of the four vortexes, I chose Bell Rock, which is said to eminate all of the energies, strength, goodness and balance. This three mile path (one way) is dusty, and a little rocky, but fairly flat. About half way around the monolith, another trail up the rock beckoned, and I couldn’t resist. Would I feel more energy as I got closer to its center? Not that I noticed. About 45 minutes later, I return to my car to see a busload of tourists disembarking. Yikes! I attempted to hike two of the other vortexes but the parking lots were full (on a Wednesday in April) and threatening towing signs discouraged my parking on the side of the road. GO EARLY.
Downtown is a blend of authentic history, expected kitsch, spiritual shops and jeep tours. John Wayne probably never sat cross-legged, with arms outstretched, eyelids closed humming “ohmmm”, but I bet the actors (gender neutral) who made this landscape famous felt pretty good while they were here.
 I’ve also seen these as Masculine and Feminine respectively
 Experience Sedona 2012, p. 34.
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