There are some people that believe in the healing powers of crystals and that the planets influence our personality, and there are some people that do not. I do not. So, when a friend invited me to hike in Sedona under the pretense of “awakening our spiritual side,” I obliged to appease rather than agree. We had hiked all the way up to Chicken Point and back when I ran into a cactus. My first thought was to immediately start plucking the needles out of my hand for fear of poison. Blood oozed out and boiled against the burning sun above. I willed my legs to lift me just a few more steps to the parking lot for salvation and air conditioning. My friends’ voices calling out to me sounded miles away and my vision faded fast. I woke up sitting at our Airbnb kitchen table with an ice pack on my head while my friend picked the spikes out of my hand with eyebrow tweezers.
Before this tribulation occurred, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Visiting Sedona’s Coconino National Forest is like stepping foot on another planet. “A cathedral without walls” the red rocks tower above resembling alien-like steeples that create an ethereal landscape leaving thousands of visitors in awe each year. In the last decade, Sedona’s visitor rates have tripled. This surge is not only because of its “Instagram worthy” beauty, but for a supranatural purpose. Sedona is one of the few places on earth known for spiritual vortexes. These vortexes are interpreted as areas of concentrated energy rising from the earth. Of the numerous visitors year over year, many report experiencing powerful personal epiphanies while describing similar physical sensations occurring in similar locations. You can actually take a tour to marked spots on the forest map dictating where these spiritual vortexes are. How could you pinpoint a location by a feeling? I decided to pick up a map and find out for myself.
The key to locating these energy spots is to identify the energy direction. It is important to note the difference between a chakra point and a vortex, as there are other places around the world known for their spiritual energy connection. A chakra point is where energy spirals down like a faucet. A vortex is where energy spirals up and out. Like a human body, the Earth has seven chakra points traced along an energy grid, each position referring to a specific resolution i.e. the Crown, Third Eye, Throat, Heart, Solar Plexus, Sacral, and Base/Root chakras. Chakra points are often Volcanoes (i.e. Mount Shasta, Mount Fuji, and Mount Kailas) or other Earth active areas (i.e. Glastonbury, England and Lake Titicaca, Peru), due to the abundant electromagnetic volcanic material and movement of Inner Earth.
A vortex, scientifically speaking, is defined as a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center. You can see these physically as whirlpools, or even tornadoes. You cannot see a spiritual vortex. When asked to describe a spiritual vortex, guides and tourists alike recount feeling an intense sensation across the nape of the neck and shoulder blades. Some even recall a tingling on exposed skin and pulsing of the ground when encountering a vortex. They agree that the energy is felt on the inside, like a pull into your soul. The question is, “Is the earth’s energy really swirling in these spots, with a kinetic electricity that twists the surrounding trees and makes visitors' bodies tingle? Or is the power of the Sedona vortex simply a state of mind-a product of the visitor's perception- and a result of the desire to find a sacred, natural spot where we can encounter an energy larger than ourselves?”
We started our search for energy vortexes at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. For those that are religious, this vortex speaks for itself. Even if you are not religious, the design elegance alone will send tingles up your spine. A white crossed edifice tucked into the red rock creates an overwhelming contrast with the bright blue sky behind, the scene is cinematically captivating. Exiting the parking lot drops into a rocky trail paved with shrubs and cacti. We passed wide open plateaus that resembled amphitheaters overlooking the vast vista. I noticed white lines stacked between the red layered mountainsides. This made me recall the sheer age of the land. Dinosaurs walked along these steppes. Not to mention this entire place had been underwater at some point in history. There is nothing like a natural wonder to make you feel incredibly small.
"There is nothing like a natural wonder to make you feel incredibly small"
We spotted people posing for photos on the rocks above us, which meant we reached Chicken Point at last. I joked that it is called Chicken Point because it is where all the people who are afraid of heights hike to. No one enjoyed that joke. A sign at the base read “Healing in Progress: Please Stay on Trail”; we entered the spiritual vortex. I stood there waiting for the ground to start vibrating or to be swept off my feet in a gust of energy. Neither of those things happened. I closed my eyes to notice any tingles in my body. The air was calm. You could hear faint rustling of leaves as a breeze brushed through the canyon. I opened my eyes again to observe the view. In this moment, I felt thankful. Thankful to be alive to witness such beauty. The secret is, places as devastatingly beautiful as this force you out of the rat race to slow down and appreciate life. Whether you agree with some vortex enthusiasts that the vortexes are a portal for celestial and terrestrial spirits, many people feel inspired, recharged, or uplifted after visiting a vortex. Any day spent outside in sunshine amid a dazzling panorama could be identified as a spiritual experience.
Sedona’s rise in popularity lends to an underlying Escapist culture. Americans are highly stressed due to several factors, the most popular being work and technology. This chronic stress of trying to keep up is eating away at our overall well being creating a condition commonly known as “burnout.” It is not that we have more stress than any other generation, but because we are constantly consuming them. Literally eating stress for breakfast every morning when we check our phones in our beds. During the Great Depression, people escaped the stresses of reality primarily through media. Watching television, reading glamour magazines, to see a life other than the one they were currently living. Now, we are beginning to see a shift away from media as a luxury. The revitalized Escapist Culture is defined by nature and self-reflection, making Sedona the ideal place to visit. Unplugging from technology and connecting to the natural world is critical not only for relieving the pressures we feel, but for our survival. Disclaimer: you do not need to physically connect with a cactus to experience the Sedona spirits. Travelers will have to decide the impact for themselves, this could be the blood loss talking.