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SEDONA Arizona - Arizona is famed throughout the United States for its many attributes such as majestic sunsets rugged deserts spectacular gorges and breathtaking mountains.
Located in the Sonoran Desert of Northern Arizona the town of Sedona lies in the Verde River Valley and is mostly
surrounded by “red rock formations.” As if these strikingly beautiful landmarks were not enough, the town also boasts of multiple vortex sites. What these sites are and how people from all over the world have flocked to them was the subject of our most recent investigation.
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What is a Vortex as understood by the New Age movement? A Vortex is, simply put, an area of high energy concentration. This energy is not necessarily electromagnetic or gravitational, but mostly psychic in nature. So a person will usually (according to those that believe in them), experience feelings of inner peace, creativity, and an uplifting spirituality. And Sedona, because of its massive iron oxide deposits—which gives the cliffs and surrounding mountains their orange-red hue—and its placement upon an ancient fault line is considered one of the few places in the world to have an abundance of vortexes.
But just as important to understanding what a psychic vortex is, one must also grasp the power of the landscape. The rock formations radiate a reddish fluorescence in the morning and evening sun that is so moving that if it weren’t for the green shrubbery sprinkled across those vistas, then a newcomer may suppose that he had just arrived upon the planet Mars.
But even more unusual are the unique and sometimes bizarre formations of the rocks themselves. The locals find meaning in the very shapes of some of these. There are the snoopy rock, coffeepot rock, cathedral rock, and bell rock, among many others. With this as a background, its no wonder that celebrities like Walt Disney, Lucille Ball, and Orson Welles have lived or frequented there. Many persons of note still do for that matter. But regardless of the notoriety of the inhabitants, there are a large number of folks there who are “on the path” or, to put it another way, seeking spiritual fulfillment.
Because I was staying in Sedona for only a few days, I thought it prudent to utilize the services of a tour guide. She was a short, heavyset woman who wore a khaki safari hat, a stonewashed, blue jean, button-up shirt and blue denim pants. Her demeanor was a very reluctant one, which I assumed was due to her being unused to guiding a writer. Nevertheless, we soon picked up the rest of our crewmembers, two baby boomer couples in their sixties. Little did I realize that we would all become pretty good friends, especially after an unusual creekside ceremony at the end of the day.
Our first stop was the “Airport Vortex.” I admit that I was leery about the vortex phenomena and was already working overtime in my mind to debunk it. I said to myself, this whole thing is just for a bunch of gullible people looking for something that they can’t find elsewhere; they’re broken in some way.
At the time, I couldn’t help but think that the trail to the mountaintop seemed like a religious pilgrimage and I, the unbeliever. Yet I made the most out of the opportunity to see such spectacular views and dutifully walked the rocky, dusty footpath to the top of a mountain where the entire valley could be seen in one glance.
The sight was grand beyond description; it was a masterpiece millions of years in the making. After lingering for a while and taking it all in, I began the descent, eventually meeting up with one of the other members of my party, Jim (names have been changed). He and his wife had also scaled the same height and they were also leaving. Jim was a nice, unassuming man who wore casual clothing that consisted of shorts, a T-shirt, and docksiders. His rusty blonde hair was quickly forsaking the top of his head but he maintained a healthy goatee to compensate. Perhaps his youth was wild, judging from the black tattoo on his forearm. But on this point I would only be guessing. His quiet, bespectacled wife said very little during our time together, but she was never far away.
We exchanged pleasantries as we descended and from the casual, easy conversations that Jim and his wife had earlier with our guide, JD, it was clear that this was not their first tour. JD, incidentally, had remained at the bottom of the trail to wait by the tour bus when we returned.
“So, what did you think?” she queried me with a still defensive manner.
“It was nice,” I responded.
“It made you want to climb, didn’t it?” she asked. By “it” she meant the vortex energy.
“Uh, I suppose.” I muttered this last phrase with tepid enthusiasm. I thought to myself, everyone wants to climb a mountain. That’s what humans do. But I left these thoughts unspoken.
“Did you feel the positive energy?” she followed up.
“Well, its very subtle.” Her voice grew weak as she trailed off.
We soon packed ourselves into the bus and repaired to the “stupa” on the other side of town.
A stupa is a Buddhist shrine. The word stupa when literally translated means “heap.” It is, in essence, a mound where Buddhist relics or even the remains of a saint are placed. On top of this is constructed a beautiful but tasteful shrine with a little Buddha statue perched inside a niche on one side.
This particular example of a stupa was called the Amitabha Stupa. Tradition, I was told, dictates that seekers of enlightenment were to maintain silence at the shrine on the top of the hill though some talking was permitted on the pathway leading there.
As we trekked the narrow but charming little trail to our destination (it being only about 100 yards away), I had an interesting if not enlightening exchange with Jim’s wife. She was the first to speak in the following dialogue.
“You’re left-handed.” She probably surmised this from my constant notetaking.
“Four out of the five of us are left-handed,” she said, confident that her declaration carried significance. By the “five of us” she meant myself, herself, her husband and the other couple that I later learned were her sister and brother-in-law. The fact that she found significance in that mundane and even inconsequential fact reinforced my suspicions that maybe the Sedona vortexes were nothing more than the self-perpetuating beliefs of people searching for relevance and meaning in their lives. One can find whatever one truly seeks.
The shrine area itself was peaceful. All speaking more or less ceased as the handful of people there either sat quietly on a few benches or slowly walked around the stupa. It seems that walking three times around the shrine while reciting “wishful prayers for suffering beings or world situations”—as recommended on the plaque at the beginning of the path—was taken literally.
I was yet the unbeliever but still able to enjoy the peaceful serenity of the red, craggy cliffs behind me and the quietness of the whole scene.
There was actually one, distinct noise that gave the atmosphere an underlying energy. It was the four strands of multicolored, triangular flags that stretched from the top of the altar to edges of the circular, gravel clearing where the stupa sat. The flags were flapping rapidly overhead from the slight but constant breeze. The sound reminded me of the hungry lapping of a well-fed fire. At about the time I was considering that sound, my attention was caught by the sight of another statue perched on a small earthen ledge not but 30 feet from the stupa. It too was a Buddha.
At precisely the time that my eyes lit upon the statue, a muscular, tanned man wearing shorts, hiking boots and no shirt plunged from out of the background and turned to face the idol. His trusty Labrador Retriever was by his side as they had probably been on a short hike. His long, curly brown hair caught the wind like the flags did as he affectionately stroked the Buddha’s metallic cheek with familiarity. A few seconds later and he literally hopped into the background again, resuming his hike with that faithful companion not far behind.
From there, we soon disembarked from the stupa. Then JD took advantage of the inaction to explain that she had been working on ways to help people explore “new potentialities by utilizing their own energy.” There was also talk of how to release pain and cope with trauma in one’s life. This was a recurring theme during our time together: coping with trauma and learning to heal.
Returning to her “energy work,” she explained that she was new to the practice and taking volunteers. Always open to new experiences, I stepped forward first. This would later form the creekside experience that I mentioned earlier.
But first we went to a small coffee shop where our “animal cards” and “oracle cards” were read. These, as one might expect, were a form of fortune telling. Unfortunately, space does not permit me to divulge the contents of my cards but they were generally positive and uplifting, which I appreciated. And even though the cards tended to be vague, these techniques can oftentimes give a reflective individual positive thoughts to ponder and meditate upon. From that standpoint, I was becoming more open-minded and relaxed.
She then showed us how to “read our own fortunes” by asking one of our group’s members to gather some printed material out of the coffee shop, from the newspapers to business cards. Jim was dispatched to do this and he quickly returned with his hands full of various papers. Dropping one of the pieces of literature from the hastily assembled pile, JD exclaimed, “That one chose itself!” It was promptly set aside for Jim to ponder later. She then instructed him to shuffle through the remaining papers randomly and to stop anywhere he felt inclined. Jim did so and was asked, “What does that particular paper mean to you? How does that fit into your life?” He rapidly “connected the dots” and was astonished to learn that the seemingly random choice had significance.
Shortly thereafter, we retired to a spot on the banks of the Oak Creek at the outskirts of town. The streaming flow of water sounded like the confused noise of a tumultuous crowd as it rushed past us. It was now time for JD’s promised energy work that would help us reach new plateaus and discover unseen horizons of effectiveness.
Mike (the brother-in-law of Jim’s bespectacled wife), who appeared to be along for the ride since he never really spoke much, was the first to stand with his eyes closed and his hands by his side as she performed her healing. He was typical in many ways. He wore glasses, a simple striped button-up shirt, jeans, a ball cap, and was thoroughly forgettable. But rather than focus upon Mike’s experience, I will transition to Jim’s, as he was a far more interesting character to me.
Jim stood there as Mike had done previously and I was positioned behind him, ready to catch him if he should collapse (we learned the necessity of this procedure from Mike’s unfortunate experience).
JD then started to manipulate the energy around our goateed friend. Everyone remained silent while she stroked the air about six inches from Jim’s head, chest, and back. After a few minutes, the air stroking had a visible effect; Jim started snorting, wobbling and losing his balance. Since I was in doubt whether his rubbery legs would support him, I grasped him under the armpits to prevent a fall.
A few moments later and he started crying like a baby for a bottle. It was clear to me that the poor man had unresolved issues from a childhood some fifty years ago. Between sobs he muttered something indicating that he had suffered some sort of trauma at age twelve. It was then that I formed the opinion that Sedona was primarily a place for baby boomers to “find themselves,” something that many have been unable to do for the past fifty or sixty years.
JD then took Jim’s right hand and raised it so that his arm was extended with his palm facing up. She began plucking “gifts” from the air and placed five or six of them into his hand. She next instructed him to do the same with his left hand, plucking and placing gifts into his right. After he had done this, she closed his right palm into a fist and said, “Place the gifts in your hand anywhere upon your body.”
After placing the gifts into his midsection, she clapped her hands with a startling sound and proclaimed, “Integrate now!” Minutes later and Jim was feeling much better, having been reassured of his worth.
I was next in line. But as you can plainly see, space forbids me from describing my “healing.” But I will say that as we traveled out of that canyon later in the evening, we were all much closer and genuine friends, even I with JD.
The following morning I stepped outside of my hotel into the ethereal beauty of a desert paradise and thought, this has been the most interesting and reenergizing experience of my life. Maybe I’ll come back for a future story.?