The New Age Capital of Sedona, Arizona

The Red Rock Country of the American Southwest glows with an almost unearthly light at times. (Bob Sessions photo)

The Red Rock Country of the American Southwest glows with an almost unearthly light at times. (Bob Sessions photo)

Groupies aren’t just associated with rock music—landscapes have them as well.

I came to this conclusion on a trip Bob and I took to the American Southwest. In one campground after another we met people who have fallen in love with Red Rock Country. Some travel full time in this region; others come here again and again.

Red Rock Country refers to the parts of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona where red sandstone rock predominates. Easily erodible by wind and rain, the region has been shaped over millions of years into canyons, buttes, and sinuously shaped formations such as hoodoos, arches, natural bridges, and arroyos. It’s little wonder that this landscape includes nine national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce.

A slot canyon in Utah shows the effects of millions of years of wind and rain. (Bob Sessions photo)

A slot canyon in Utah shows the effects of millions of years of wind and rain. (Bob Sessions photo)

I think I’m becoming one of these Red Rock Groupies myself, because this landscape is as inherently spiritual as any I’ve seen. The colors are part of it—rich hues of every shade of red, pink and orange. The sunlight plays with the peaks and canyons, lighting up one portion of the landscape after another as the day progresses. In the evening, all you want to do is just sit in a chair and gaze at the rocks, enraptured.

I was particularly delighted to visit a place I’ve wanted to explore for a long time: Sedona, Arizona. New Age capital, site of alien landings, and center for energy vortexes. How could the Holy Rover not be fascinated by Sedona?

Some towns just luck out when it comes to scenery. That’s certainly true for Sedona, which has one of the most exquisite physical settings of any place I’ve been. Located in a valley, it’s surrounded by red rock formations. Forests create ribbons of green against the red, and the sky is almost always a brilliant blue.

This dramatic landscape has attracted a diverse range of people. There’s too much wealth in Sedona for my taste, to be honest, with multi-million-dollar homes lining the hills (though they’re less obtrusive than in many comparable towns because of strict zoning laws). But the folks who most fascinated me were those who are attracted to Sedona because it’s said to be surrounded by energy vortices.

Who needs to study philosophy when aura photos are available? (Bob Sessions photo)

Who needs to study philosophy when aura photos are available? (Bob Sessions photo)

What is an energy vortex? I’m so glad you asked, because I spent $10 on the book Sedona’s Best Vortex Guidebook, written by Jamie Rota, one of the owners of the Center for the New Age in Sedona. According to Rota, there are seven major vortices in the Sedona area, places that she describes in this way:

These vortices are various locations in nature where vital energy is emitted in great abundance. The vortex centers have an aliveness and intensity of life-force energy that is amplified and concentrated. This spiraling energy flowing from the earth has been documented by human experience over the years and has been responsible for spontaneous healings and spiritual awakenings for hundreds of people.

Part of what I loved about Sedona was the sheer oddness of it, which was obvious at our very first stop, an information center on the edge of town. I came back to the car with a stack of brochures advertising psychic readings, aura photos, past life regressions, and UFO sighting tours.

Try as I might I couldn’t convince Bob to spring for aura photos or a UFO tour, but we did have a grand time just wandering through the stores. Sedona is, I swear, the best place for eavesdropping in the entire United States.

As I entered one shop, for example, these were the first words I heard: “We’re out of fairy dust and unicorn tears,” said one store clerk to another.

In another shop, I overheard a long conversation between the owner and a woman who was trying to decide which crystal to buy. “You’ll be led to the right one,” the woman assured her. “Just listen to your inner voice.” She talked about the various kinds of crystals and their powers, from increasing intuition to healing illnesses. The customer agonized over which one to buy, considering first this one and then that one. Finally the stress of the decision became too much for her and she left.

The owner turned to me and shook her head. “She’s blocking her energy,” she said sadly. “The crystals were talking to her and she couldn’t hear them.”

We also visited with a man who was trying to get us interested in a jeep tour of the area, but then the conversation wandered to what it was like to live in Sedona. “I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I’ve seen quite a few UFOs over my house,” he said. “I can often see the silvery underside of their ships. And out of town there’s a place that’s supposed to be an alien landing site, only you can’t get to it because it’s protected by men in black.”

It turns out that this guy is from Milwaukee originally. Dear Readers, if even Milwaukee natives get drawn into the Sedona vibe, maybe there’s something to what they say about the energy here.

While Bob was skeptical about the aura photos and UFO tours, I had a psychic reading at the Center for the New Age. In addition to tarot cards, crystals, books, jewelry, and angel paraphernalia, they also have a concierge desk staffed by a helpful woman who will connect you with various mediums, healers, and psychics who have offices on site. You flip through a three-ring binder filled with descriptions of their services and then head upstairs.

My psychic-of-choice was a pleasant woman (dressed in purple, naturally) who introduced herself by saying she’d been a consultant for Deepak Chopra in the past. We talked first about diet. She said I should improve mine and recommended adding more vinegar to my foods. She told me I should try to raise my vibration level by focusing on positive things. I should aim for at least 500-575, she said. She gave me an affirmation to say throughout the day: “I feel good now.”

I can’t say it was life-changing, but she was encouraging and warm. I know that Deepak Chopra has been very successful and so I have high hopes for myself as well. I liked how she promised to pray for me, for I am not one to discount the power of prayer.

I loved this mural on the exterior of the Center for the New Age in Sedona. (Bob Sessions photo)

I loved this mural on the exterior of the Center for the New Age in Sedona. (Bob Sessions photo)

Bob and I also spent time in three of the Sedona energy vortices. To be honest, I’m not sure they felt a lot different than other beautiful places we’ve been in the Southwest. But the hiking was gorgeous. Something about the combination of the deep red of the rocks and the green of the trees was almost mesmerizing, and I could see why people get entranced by Sedona and don’t want to leave.

On our last night in town we went up the hill to Airport Vortex, which is said to have the best sunset views in Sedona. There we were joined by close to a hundred people.

The more time we spent watching the sunset, the more amazing it seemed. People were chatting to strangers. Nobody had their noses buried in their phones. I met people from Israel, Connecticut, Germany, and Florida. All of us were united in our experience of beauty, watching as the light illuminated the red rocks all around us.

It felt like a New Age version of heaven, with all nationalities coming together to watch the sky open. Was it a vortex? I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure it raised my vibration level.

Related: Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross and Amitabh Stupa and Peace Park

The view of the sunset from Airport Vortex in Sedona was stunning. (Bob Sessions photo)

The view of the sunset from Airport Vortex in Sedona was stunning. (Bob Sessions photo)

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